Essie Rock Star Skinny nail polish review

Having finally cleared my Christmas backlog, here’s one from…  Autumn. Oops.

Essie’s Rock Star Skinny is a deep dark red, almost brown, with the merest sliver of silver shimmer. At the time (Winter 2008), the name proved a little controversial but I totally understand the vibe that Essie were going for – a sexy vampy colour, best worn with rock star attitude, guitar turned up to eleven, leopard skin skinnies optional – and it’s bang on.

What does it say about me that all the best words I can use to describe this shade are alcoholic beverages?! Rock Star Skinny is a burnished burgundy, claret or sherry, which looks more crimson or brick brown depending on the angle and lighting. What it very rarely looks, however, is shimmery. The silvery glimmer is really noticeable in the bottle yet barely shows once it’s on the nails, only visible under very strong artificial lighting (which I’ve tried to show in the picture with the flash, below).

This was a shame as the hint of shimmer was one of the main reasons I opted for Rock Star Skinny in the first place. It gave it a bit of edge that set it apart from the countless other deep blood reds out there, so I was disappointed when it didn’t really come through. In fact, from certain angles, it looked decidedly dull and flat (see above). So I decided to rectify things myself by trying a few glittery topcoats – Zoya’s Gloria turns it into a gorgeous glowing russet (below left) whilst Zoya’s Allegra made it a hypnotic shade of magenta (below right). I loved how much richer, deeper and multi-faceted it became once a shimmer was added and it’s a shame Essie couldn’t find a way to make the silver threads show up more themselves.

That being said, I did find Rock Star Skinny to be a bit of a grower. I found myself liking it more with each passing day as it’s a mature, less showy take on red that works well with most colours and styles. It would be a decent alternative for those that want a change from black and could just about work for everyday working life.

Formula-wise, it felt a little thin and required three coats to get an even opaque colour, with the first coat a lot more obviously crimson than the third.

Rock Star Skinny does live up to its name, but it could have been so much more. Think of it as a very good first single with bags of potential… before Essie knock our socks off with an even more stellar album to come!

Looks good with: guitars, sunglasses worn indoors, bad gal attitude
Drying time: <5 mins
Coats required: 2-3
Chips: 3 days

Essie Rock Star Skinny nail polish, 2008 Winter Collection, $60, Cher2

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