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The Fashion Finds Nail Polish Test:

Chanel,   MAC,   Hard Candy,   and Revlon.

Our Buying Beauty tests are always a surprise, especially when drugstore brands topple the mighty department store products. It happened again this time! The prized Chanel polishes were out-tested on and find out for yourself. --Gina

By Darcy Meadows

Spring is here, which of course means it's time for cute summer dresses and accordingly adorable sandals, with your favorite new spring colors painted on your toenails and fingernails.

We always aim to please here at Fashion Finds,'s our Nail Polish Test!

We picked a cross-section of brands, including drugstore and department store labels: Chanel, MAC, Hard Candy, and the ubiquitous Revlon. We ended up with a large selection of shades. We drew from the newest spring colors; the stand by, ever popular, dark shades; all the way to the newer funky shades offered by several lines.

From Chanel, we selected "Morocco," a new shade. It's a very rich earth brown, much like the "mochaccino" offered by Revlon, but much more feminine, with a hint of sparkle in the mix. And we couldn't resist Chanel's already classic "Vamp," which is a very rich, deep red, described best as resembling dried blood. Of all the shades we tried, this was my favorite.

From MAC, we went with a pair of hip colors. First we selected "Glacier," which is a beautifully feminine silvery/lavender. And secondly, "Ooh," which has a dark purple base with a rainbow of glittery highlights.

From Hard Candy, we chose "Bubble Gum", a classic pink, and Hard Candy's new spring shade of green called "Greed."

The colors we chose from Revlon consisted of, first, "Thunder," which is a purple/gray combination. Next we chose "Steel," which is silver gray. "Mochaccino" is exactly what it sounds like: a beautifully rich, dark creamy brown. And lastly, "Brazenberry," a purple/pink edgy color.

As in previous Fashion Finds tests, I asked three people to help out, and I was the fourth. My group of testers included my sister Robin, my friends Lee Ann and Chris, and me. Chris, Robin and I are all Caucasian, and Lee Ann is Hispanic. Chris and I both have long nails we are really picky about. Robin and Lee Ann have shorter nails, and place less importance on their nail appearance.

We took all four brands, Chanel, MAC, Hard Candy and Revlon, chose the colors we preferred, and applied two coats of each (as every product instructed for best results). Then we waited. I instructed each tester to make notes on how well the polishes applied (texture, thickness, etc.), how rich the color was, how natural it looked, if it smudged or bubbled at all, how long it took to dry completely, and, most importantly, durability -- how well it held up to the hustle and bustle of their daily routine before starting to chip.

My sister Robin was the first to finish her testing. She started with Revlon in "Mochaccino." She loved the color: "Very rich and a nice matted look, no sparkly appearance that the industry is trying to force upon us!" Robin reported that the texture was "good," and she loved that it dried almost immediately. She is a mother of three, and therefore is forever having to wash dishes, give the kids a bath, cook dinner and the like. The issue of durability was the most critical aspect of this test, and at first, Robin said Revlon didn't last any longer than other polishes. "It started chipping the second day of wear, which is pretty right for me. My polish always chips quickly due to my active mothering."

However, after Robin tried the other brands, she changed her mind about Revlon's durability. As I was writing this column, Robin was still in test mode, and was trying Revlon's "Thunder." She was on day four, and it hasn't started chipping yet.

The second brand Robin tried was MAC in "Glacier." She hated the shade, and I overheard her complaining of the consistency and application. Robin said, "The product was entirely too thick and does not spread evenly or nicely at all." As for durability, "it lasted for about three hours and then I gave the kids a bath. I noticed a few hours later it was chipping! Not good! I will never wear this again, unless my sister forces me too," she huffed, adding slyly, "At gun point!"

Next up for the hard to please Madame Robin was Chanel in their new shade, "Morocco." Robin complained that the brush was too thick, causing the product to "bunch up around your cuticles more than most polishes." However, after a few seconds with the cuticle swabs, and some handy polish remover -- viola! "Gorgeous, rich color, and even longer durability than the previous two, lasting a whopping three days before the chipping started." Robin enjoyed this product more than the others, loving the color, "Even though it did have a little sparkle to it, but very natural, earth-toned, and desirable for spring fashion."

Last on Robin's testing list was Hard Candy in "Greed", a pale green color. She did not like the shade: "I'm a mother of three walking around the neighborhood with candy green color nails!" The pale green shades are an important part of this spring's look, but Robin wasn't buying it. The worst news, as far as my sister Robin is concerned? This stuff lasts! It's very durable, which made Robin fairly unhappy, and after day three she removed it, apologizing that she just couldn't wait for it to "wear off".

So, Robin's final thoughts: she rated Hard Candy number one in durability. Close behind was Chanel. Revlon was next, and MAC was last. She hated MAC's lack of durability, texture, application, color, and added "It literally took an hour and a half to dry -- one coat! Is that normal?"

The next lady to finish up her testing was my dear friend Chris. She works for a PR firm, which calls for a lot of typing and writing, which is definitely hard on the nails. (Don't I know it!) She tried Revlon first, in "Steel". Chris loved the shimmering, daring gray color, and she told me it dried amazingly fast. She liked the texture and application, saying "I was on the way out the door when Darcy gave me the product, and it had dried smoothly by the time I got to the car. Now that's quick for ya!" As for durability, Revlon "Steel" lasted three days before chipping, which she said was normal wear for her.

Next Chris tried MAC in "Glacier." Contrary to Robin's opinion, Chris loved the shade. "It's one of the best, happy spring shades this year, I think. Very feminine and fun." It dried relatively fast for Chris, and applied nicely. It lasted for two days before she noticed the first chip.

Next up for Chris was Hard Candy in "Bubble Gum." She too was apprehensive about showing up at work with pink nails, but for the sake of Fashion Finds, Chris gave it the good college try. Once at the office, she "got several compliments on it." She called me with a definitely changed attitude toward my "kindergarten colored goo"! In fact, she had to fight my niece over the bottle. In the durability department, she too found Hard Candy was "hell bent on staying put!"

Chris' last test was Chanel's "Morocco." She loved the new color, reporting it was "natural looking with a twist of fashion glitz." Chris liked Chanel's durability; it lasted four days before the first chip. However, she, too found it was "a little thick and hard to apply correctly with the thicker brush."

Chris graded MAC and Revlon for the best colors and easiest applying. But she had to vote for Hard Candy as the most durable and error proof product. "Hard Candy is actually very watery when you apply it, so you can't really apply too much and get that thick, bubbled look. But it dried evenly and stays on until you take it off!"

The next tester was Lee Ann. She is also a mother, so durability was important to her. Her first test was Revlon in "Brazenberry." "The color was very rich and fun!" Lee Ann said, "It's a purple/red shiny combo, which can't be considered natural looking by any means, but that's the point. Its supposed to be fun." She reported that Revlon dried quickly and evenly. As for durability, she reported that it lasted three days before the first chip.

Next Lee Ann tested MAC in "Ooh." "I loved it, very fashionable and daring!" It took a long time for it to dry on Lee Ann's nails, as it did for Robin, but the overall performance was much more enjoyable for Lee Ann, lasting for three days before starting to chip.

Chanel's "Vamp" was her next test. She loved the "rich, deep" color. It dried fast for her, but unfortunately only lasted one day before it started to chip. Lee Ann reported, unhappily, "For fifteen bucks a bottle, I expect it to last for a month!"

Lastly Lee Ann tried Hard Candy in "Bubble Gum". She's not very into the light pinks and frilly colors, but it went on very smooth, very evenly and lasted very long -- more than four days. "Chanel needs to take a lesson from them. Hard Candy charges $12.00 a bottle for good reason -- it lasts a long, long time."

Lee Ann's final opinion had Hard Candy taking the durability award with flying colors! She enjoyed the texture and colors offered by MAC better, however.

I was the last one to finish testing. I first used Revlon in "Thunder", a gray/purple shade that I loved. The applying was not easy, as it seemed overly thick and messy. Once on though, it lasted for three days before I noticed the first chip.

Next I tested MAC in "Ooh." Let me say that I loved this color, and "Glacier" offered by MAC as well. They are two totally different shades, one quiet and feminine, the other loud and daring. But both as nice to look at! I enjoyed "Ooh" very much. It applied very easily for me, and lasted three days before the first chip. I am wearing "Glacier" right now (my second application), and this time I found the application messier, seeming thicker and harder to apply in a smooth fashion than the other products. Take your time, and the results are pretty good.

Next I tried Hard Candy in "Greed." I found the major difference in the Hard Candy colors is that the shades are pale -- think of a cloudy matte look. Hard Candy is a very thin, wet formula, that is really easy to apply evenly and smoothly, and lasts forever. Four days on this one, for me.

Lastly I tried Chanel's "Vamp." I LOVE this color. Very feminine with that Scorpionic aura! I found its application messy. As my sister Robin reported, I too found that it bunched around the cuticle. But once I worked a bit with the cuticle swabs, I achieved a very natural look. I was, however, very disappointed in its durability. It started to chip on the second day, which as Lee Ann said, for $15.00 dollars a buy, is unacceptable!

My final picks are Chanel and Revlon for the best colors and look, and MAC and Hard Candy for durability. Hard Candy's positioning as a youthful product might not be everyone's taste, but it does indeed last. MAC is also one of those products that you either love or you hate, there's no middle ground. Personally, I love it.

Here are the final grades:

Concerning durability, Hard Candy gets the A, then Chanel, then Revlon and last, MAC.

Concerning color, Hard Candy doesn't offer the range of sophisticated colors that, say, Chanel, does. But suppose you could get Chanel colors made by Hard Candy? Now that would be a huge hit! Are you listening, Hard Candy?

A final note: my four year old niece, Cheyenne, begged to use Hard Candy. She alternated between "Greed" and "Bubble Gum" for every fingernail and toenail. She spent the entire weekend playing baseball, riding bikes, playing at the park and swimming. She is asleep in the other room right now, with every nail perfectly presentable -- not one sign of chipping. Now that's either scary, or a tribute to Hard Candy. They sure are doing something right!


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