The other day, I had lunch with a friend who was sporting turquoise nails and I developed a sudden finger fetish, quietly coveting her aqua talons all afternoon. Having not painted my nails in about ten years, it suddenly struck me that there was a whole rainbow-coloured world of make-up that I was wilfully neglecting – and I felt the need to rectify it immediately.
Not as easy as it sounds. Without my trusty Boots to fall back on, I headed to the local equivalents (Sasa, Bonjour, Colormix) and checked out their huge vats of pick n mix nail polish. They were cheap (average $15) but not so cheerful – colours already separating in the pots, brands I’d never heard of and signs imploring me not to try out the goods. When I sneakily opened one, the sad thin lacquer dripped down, morose and unloved. No thanks. I trusted the Revlon and Maybelline concessions more but their limited range of colours left a hole in my technicoloured heart and although I’d heard you could buy good stuff at salons that did manicures, I felt a little odd rocking up at one without wanting a treatment. So it was a case of Sassy Hong Kong to the rescue.
Through Sassy’s fantastic website, I found out about a shop called Cher2, a candyland of nail polish that stocked every colour under the sun. What’s more, this was real nail varnish, made by established brands OPI, Essie and China Glaze, but sold at nearly half the normal retail price. In Hong Kong, you come to rely on such tip-offs because these secret goldmines are invariably tucked away in shabby, unassuming office buildings with those scary lifts where you have to open the doors yourself. I felt like an explorer navigating these old and dusty corridors in search of the treasure trove – and this quiet haven with racks and racks of rainbow explosions was definitely some glorious treasure for a make-up mavens like me!
I’d taken my first tentative toe-dips of getting back in the nail polish groove by doing my thumbnail with a tester pot of ‘it-shade’ Particuliere in Chanel. Classy, I know. I’d selected that mould-colour out of curiosity more than anything else, but over the past few days it had grown on me… rather like mould, I suppose! Armed with painted thumb, I asked the Cher2 shop assistant for the most similar colour they had. The girl was brilliant, knowing her stock exhaustively and producing about five different variants, with us eventually settling for OPI’s Over The Taupe as the most accurate dupe. So here we are.
I’m so in love with this shade right now. I love how subtle it is, yet also how very grown-up. Mushroom, putty, greige, mink, taupe, mould, cloudy coffee, sludge – call it what you will but it’s a sophisticated and seriously arresting blend of brown, grey, beige and even a touch of pale purple. I’d also forgotten how great wearing nail varnish makes you feel, like you’ve made an effort even on off-days, and I keep staring at my pinkies in pleasure. Yes, the finger fetish is back!
As for the nail varnish itself, I found it a little thicker and gloopier than I was expecting. OPI’s fatter brush took a while to get used to and I found the Chanel one easier to apply but this is as much due to the deterioration of my nail painting skills over the intervening decade (when advising me on base coats, the Cher2 assistant told me I had healthy nails – probably because I hadn’t painted them in ten years!) as to any shortcomings of the lacquer itself.
Despite lack of skill, I’m sadly still a bit of a perfectionist. I’d paint, not be entirely happy, try and tidy it up with nail varnish remover but manage to get acetone on other nice nails, meaning I had to start all over again, several times! It also seemed to take an age to dry, possibly because I didn’t leave enough time between coats (and you definitely need two coats, just one is too streaky and uneven) – I was amazed that it was still tacky over an hour after application, causing me to perennially smear it on things, meaning the final finish wasn’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped. 90 minutes and three rounds later, I was practically high on nail varnish remover fumes – but I had beautiful nails. Well, from a distance anyway!
I think I need to go a few more rounds with OPI to decide whether the thicker polish and fat brush works for me, but I really adore the colour. Two days on and I’m still chip-free, which speaks highly of the quality, especially reasonable at Cher2 prices.
I’ll be back on the nail varnish wagon again soon with the other two shades I bought so watch out for reviews of them! In the meantime though, I’ll just stare lovingly at my fingers some more…
Looks great with: Black, cream, smart/casual look
Drying time: +10-15 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: After 2 days
OPI Over The Taupe nail polish, Summer 2009 Bright Pair Collection, $70, Cher2
All Cher2 locations in Hong Kong:
– 1E Po Foo Building, 84-94 Percival Street/1 Foo Ming Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2882 2528
– 809, Mong Kok City Centre, 74-84 Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, 2886 1132
– 1202A Century Square, 1-13 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2810 0171
– 607 Kowloon Centre, 29-39 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2730 0701