I love Chanel. I love their bags (although I doubt I will ever own one), I love their fragrances (particularly the fresh, creamy florals of Coco Mademoiselle). I do not, however, love their nail polish. The colours may be beautiful, but the formula is notoriously prone to chipping, and the thin, spindly brush makes application fiddly and inevitably streaky. A disappointing combination, really, for such an expensive and iconic brand. That was until last month, when Chanel launched their updated and reformulated Le Vernis polish in a new longer-wearing formula, complete with a chunkier brush.
Like its predecessor, the new formula is five-free, which means it’s clear of the five most toxic chemicals regularly found in nail polish – formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor and formaldehyde resin – but contains safe bioceramics to ensure the polish stays put for seven days. Four of their most iconic shades remain, so if you’re fond of Pirate, Ballerina, Particulière and Rouge Noir, panic not. But 11 new colours (including a pinky beige, raspberry red and classic navy) have been released to create an elegant, streamlined edit of 15. My favourite is a cheerful summer-ready colour called Gitane in poppy red. As promised, the wider brush makes application smoother and far more manageable, and I was very impressed by the wear. I hurriedly applied just one layer, without the gel top coat (which is also said to be very good), and, five days later, my usually flaky nails are still in top order.
Undoubtedly, the high street has some great options. Barry M, Bourjois, Revlon and Essie easily rival higher-end brands in terms of formula, longevity and even shade range. But here’s the thing: even with this info in full possession, I’m still tempted by designer nail polishes. While £18 for a nail polish is expensive when compared with the high street, it’s still not an obscene amount of money to pay for an occasional indulgence. High-end nail polishes enable some women – women like me – to buy into a brand they admire at a more affordable price. It allows us to own a little piece of luxury.
Last week, I came across YSL’s new summer collection, which boasts, as always, a beautiful range of shades and products. But the one in particular that really sailed my boat was a bewitching midnight-blue nail polish, flecked with a molten, metal sheen. The bottle looks glorious – a weighty glass vial complete with the brand’s embossed gold lid. It’s due out next Wednesday and it’s got my name written all over it. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but – ridiculous as it may seem – when I wear this nail polish, as with Chanel’s, I’ll feel a bit more sophisticated. A bit more special. And, sometimes, it’s worth spending a bit extra to feel sophisticated or special. That feeling, for me at least, is worth the investment.