Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Revlon Nail Enamel in Raven Red (This Vintage Nail Color from the '40's is Cosme-Haul's Fall 2014 Favorite)

By Randi Reed

Looking for vintage '40's makeup shades? Cosme-Haul reviews this classic wine nail color from 1945 that's right on trend for Fall 2014. Also, a bit about the history of nail enamel.

FTC Disclosure: I bought this product myself.

As someone interested in cosmetics history, it's fun to see a vintage shade become “trendy” again. “Raven Red”, Revlon’s classic Nail Enamel shade from 1945, fits right into Fall 2014’s wine color trend. As a lover of vintage films, it's also fun because dark, smoldering, film noir reds and wines are the only constant among the many colors of my nail color collection.

Revlon Nail Enamel in Raven Red, with "Maroon" crayon scribbles.
(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

We can thank Revlon’s Charles Revson for today’s deep colors. Before Revson, nail polish was available in a variety of shades—but they were sheer, not opaque, because they used dyes as the coloring agents. In 1932, Charles Revson, his brother Joseph, and chemist Charles Lachman pioneered the use of pigments in nail polish to make it opaque and called their product "Nail Enamel"--then developed the manufacturing process to make it happen.

Envisioning the dollar signs large orders could bring, Revlon Nail Enamel was marketed to salons, then upscale department stores. (Drugstore sales of Revlon didn’t happen until later, with Revson resisting the idea.*) Women went wild for Revlon Nail Enamel, and here were are today, discussing a still-available Revlon Nail Enamel shade from 1945, "Raven Red".

Being my favorite brand of nail polish at any price point due to its durability, I bought a bottle of  Revlon Nail Enamel in "Raven Red" online to see whether or not this shade lived up to my expectations.

Color: A well-balanced color somewhere between red and wine, Revlon “Raven Red” is a shade deepened by smoke rather than browned brick or purple. This balance makes me think “Raven Red” would work for a variety of skin tones. Consulting the trusty Crayola Crayon box, "Raven Red"'s exact match is “Maroon”.

“Raven Red” is perfectly named. Had Raymond Chandler created a shade of nail polish, he would have created the sultry, smokey, mysterious “Raven Red”. This color is pure Film Noir, baby, and don’t you forget it. It's a color that smolders. Hedy Lamarr would wear this. Or maybe Lauren Bacall at her film noir best: you half expect it to ask if you know how to whistle.

Revlon Raven Red. The rectangular swatch is one coat.
(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Here you can see Raven Red in Film Noir lighting.
(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Texture and Application:
Revlon Nail Enamel in “Raven Red” flowed off the brush smoothly, with an easy to manage, three-strokes-per-nail consistency. More opaque and a little thicker than Essie, Revlon Nail Enamel in “Raven Red” went on streak-free with coverage that left my nails smooth, with a high-gloss shine.

Two coats of “Raven Red” gave true-to-the bottle color and coverage. I didn’t need a third, but a third coat on a test nail made the color ever-so-slightly slightly darker.
Revlon Nail Enamel had a definite chemical odor on application, which went away as soon as the polish began to set.

Wear: I topped “Raven Red” with one coat of my favorite topper, Revlon Extra Life No Chip Top Coat. As expected, with a low-maintenance touchup to the tips, I got ten days’ wear. (I keep my nails short, which probably helps.) My record with another Revlon Nail Enamel shade stands at fifteen days, with more touch-ups and a couple of fresh coats of Extra Life No Chip Top Coat along the way.

The durability of Revlon Nail Enamel changes depending on your base coat:
I rarely use base coat, because my manicures last longer when I don’t (regardless of brands). I also like the time savings of eliminating a step. Staining isn’t an issue because I’m not into bare nail looks or sheer polishes.

When I tested Essie Ridge Filling Base Coat under Revlon “Raven Red” Nail Enamel, my manicure started to peel on day two. On the rare occasion I do use base coat, I have the best luck with Revlon Multi-Care Base and Top Coat as the base, and Extra Life No Chip Top Coat as the top coat.

Compared to OPI and Essie, I found Revlon Nail Enamel easier to remove than OPI, but not as quite as easy as Essie, which is a thinner polish.

Misc. Pros and Cons and Tips:
Drying time is longer with Revlon Nail Enamel than with some nail polishes, as Revlon Nail Enamel’s consistency is more substantial. The extra drying time is worth it to me for the extra wear and smoother finish, though. (Manicuring in front of a good movie helps.)

If staining’s an issue for you, use a base coat, because like most reds, Revlon’s dark reds stain when worn on a regular basis without a base coat.

Revlon Nail Enamel’s wide-base bottle isn’t easily tipped over, which is nice, and I find the   handle of the brush is easy to grasp and control when manicuring my right hand. The brush itself is smaller and not as wide as OPI’s, which is fine with me, as I tend to make a mess with wide brushes.

Would I buy it again? Yes! Revlon Nail Enamel continues to make my list of favorite cosmetics (drugstore or otherwise), and this one didn’t disappoint.

As for “Raven Red” itself? It may be from 1945, but it’s a fresh classic that’s definitely not boring. For that reason, Revlon “Raven Red” is my favorite nail color shade for Fall 2014.

Score: 9 out of 10.  

Revlon Nail Enamel in Raven Red.
(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

*Source: Fire and Ice (The Story of Revlon) by Andrew Tobias. Wikipedia’s version of Revlon’s beginnings differs slightly from Tobias’s book.

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©2014 Cosme-Haul and Randi Reed.All rights reserved.