Monday, July 7, 2014

Product Review: Essie Nail Polish in "Bikini So Teeny"

By Randi Reed
FTC Disclosure: I purchased this product myself.

We’re experiencing a heat wave in Southern California…the unusually humid kind for this time of year, where the air feels so heavy, it feels hard to breathe.

I wanted something cool. Anything cool. Ice water wasn’t doing it. Iced blended mochas, though darn tasty, weren’t quite cutting it, either. Perhaps color psychology—the art of surrounding yourself with a color that depicts the mood you want to create—was in order. Maybe seeing a cool-toned color on my nails in my peripheral vision as I typed might do the trick.

Lacking central air and needing a quick fix, I dug around in my nail polish drawer…

Summery bronze? NO! No warm colors. Pink? Since when have I been a “pink person”? Purple? No, I do that all the time. Green? That’s not quite it. It doesn’t say “July.” Then my fingers landed upon the bottle of Essie “Bikini So Teeny” I bought last spring but had only used once.

Despite a few bottles of evidence to the contrary, I’m not really a pastels person. I like them in magazine ads and in the bottles, but once home from the store and on me, it’s…just…no.

Today was another story. Today, Essie “Bikini So Teeny” seemed the perfect color. It looked…cool and breezy. It reminded me of the colorful ice cream cones you see in cartoons, like a flavor Huckleberry Hound would love. Or maybe it just looked like whacked-out blueberry gelato?

Essie "Bikini So Teeny" on bright white paper (believe it or not), in afternoon sun,
In real life this color is not this dark or bright blue. (Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Uninspired by my list of blog topic ideas, it was also an opportunity to review “Bikini So Teeny” for those who’d seen it but hadn’t got around to actually trying it. So, off I went gleefully to apply it. OK, that’s a stretch. It’s too humid to do anything “gleefully”. But three coats and a top coat later, here we are: 

Color: The Essie website describes "Bikini So Teeny" as “a sparkling cornflower blue.” Huh? “It’s a cream, not a sparkle,” I thought to myself, “and I’m wearing it right now.” Inspecting my nails closely and seeing nothing special, I held the bottle to the light.

If you look extremely closely at the bottle, you can see a small amount of near-microscopic foil-y particles in there. Who knew? You have to look really closely to see them, and they don’t translate onto the nail. I went to a sunny spot and shifted my nails around a bit, and nope, no sparkle. So, if you’re hoping for sparkle or glitter, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

I blew this photo up larger so you can see a few of the tiny silver particles on the right hand side of the bottle,
next to the Essie logo. (Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

As to the color of blue of “Bikini So Teeny”, it’s not as pure a blue as one might expect from looking at its picture online. Rather than the minty sky blue I’d originally hoped for when I bought it, it’s an ever so slightly stormy blue, with the tiniest bit of purple and cool grey.

The puddle of "Bikini So Teeny" is exactly the same color as a Periwinkle Crayon.
(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Digging out my trusty 96- color Crayola Crayon box, its near-identical twin is “Periwinkle”. That’s it! “Bikini So Teeny” is Periwinkle Blue.

(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Texture and application:  Essie “Bikini So Teeny” seemed to flow like cream at first, and for the first few seconds, I thought it would be a pleasure to apply.

Unfortunately, the combination of not-the-greatest-brush and quick drying time left streaks and it was difficult to get the same amount of coverage on all of my nails. “Bikini So Teeny”’s color and texture also made my not-so-perfect nail texture show through, so an opaque ridge-filling base coat is in order.

As a result, I needed three coats for coverage. I actually could have used four, but I had work to do.

Odor: Essie had the typical nail lacquer odor, but maybe dialed back a bit. It didn’t make me feel sick while applying it, at least.

Drying time: Despite the humid day, compared to other non-quick dry polishes in my collection, Essie’s "Bikini So Teeny" seemed to take about a third less time to dry. Unfortunately, that was negated by the need for extra coats for coverage.

Wear: Given its lackluster coverage and quick drying time, I could tell "Bikini So Teeny" wasn’t going to have a lot of “bounce”. Expecting chips, I topped it off with my favorite “wears like iron” topcoat, Revlon Extra-Life No Chip Top Coat for better durability.

It’s only been several hours, but in that time I typed the first draft of this post, dug around in a deep drawer, gathered and counted some loose pennies and dimes for my piggy bank (you  have one, too, right? Um, moving on!), washed my hands a few times, opened a soda, and peeled a shipping label off a box with no chips. I’ll edit in any further developments as they happen. I keep my nails short, so your mileage may vary.

Packaging: Essie’s squared-off bottles are cute and store conveniently. At .46 fluid ounces (13.5 ml), Essie provides slightly less product than the typical 0.5 fluid ounces (14.7 ml) of its similar-priced competitors. I find the last little bit in larger bottles sometimes tends to get goopy, so I’m OK with it. For the same price I’d like to have a better brush, though. The ends of the brush in my bottle of “Bikini So Teeny” were a bit uneven and scratchy, and the brush seemed a little less flexible than most.

Would I buy this product again? Probably, but with the knowledge that it needs a lot more finessing than my favorite nail polish, Revlon Nail Enamel, to get it to work for the same price.

Still, looking at this breezy cool color for the past few hours has made the temperature seem cooler, even during the hottest part of the afternoon.

Score 1-10: Essie “Bikini So Teeny”’s color is easily a 9, which accounts for the fact that in 2013 it became the best selling trend nail color of all time. Unfortunately, the lackluster coverage and performance of its brush bring this product down to a 6.5.

Update 7/10/14 -- Chip report: There's significant chipping--especially on the sides, mid-nail (although the tips are fine). Tomorrow they won't be touchup-able.

Also, I want to apologize for the poor quality of these photos I just added. For whatever reason, this Essie color did not want to be photographed! I photographed it at the same time of day  and in the same location with the same background I always do, but in the finished photos the bright white background absorbed the blue and came out looking like blue paper. That's a first! (It looked fine on screen as I was taking the pics.) The color of the nail polish and Crayon also looks darker and brighter than it is in real life.

If you look at the light blue nail color in this post, Essie Bikini So Teeny is actually closer to the blue in this photo (though I have not seen the Julep color in real life).

Follow me on Twitter @CosmeHaul .

Where to Research Ingredients in Cosmetics

©2014 Randi Reed and Cosme-Haul.