Best Bang for Your Buck Series: Nail Polish

Welcome to the ‘Best Bang for Your Buck‘ series!  Each week for the next few months, I’m going to tackle certain types of beauty products, and list the offerings from popular department store brands and their sizes vs. costs.  At a glance, you’ll be able to see which items are most cost effective in that category, and get a better idea if your money is being well spent, or if you’re being, well – a little ripped off!  Also, if you’re hedging on picking up a certain product because of the cost, this will give you an idea of the true value of the product and if it’s worth your hard earned cash.

Many of the sizes and dollar values of products are taken from online websites; please let me know if anything is listed incorrectly and I’ll be sure to fix it!  Also, for products which we don’t have here in Atlantic Canada, or for items that are more difficult to find overall, I’ll note in green where they’re located for your reference – though I tried to mostly include products relatively accessible as a whole. 

Week Nine: Nail Polish

Yay!  Everyone loves nail polish, right?!  It’s the greatest cheap beauty thrill ever 🙂  I’ve actually had this list created for AGES, it was one of the first I did just to keep track of all the polish brands I wanted to try, and I added the extra info just because…well, you guys know I’m anal LOL.  There were a few other brands I wanted to include but I couldn’t readily find the info about the sizing/price since they aren’t sold around here and are tricky to find.  For the most part these are fairly well-known brands, and most of which I’ve tried, but there still a handful I’d like to check out!

Best Value
China Glaze ($13/oz)

Worst Value
Estee Lauder ($83.33/oz)

Most Product
Orly (0.60oz)

Least Product
Estee Lauder (0.30oz)

Best Picks (0.50oz+ and less than $16/oz)
China Glaze
Color Club

Worthy Splurges (0.40oz+ and $15-$20)
Deborah Lippmann
butter London
Rescue Beauty Lounge

I just realized that the price I quoted for the MAC polish is TOTALLY outdated…I remembered Christine from Temptalia mentioning that they keep raising their prices all the time, and HOLY MOLEY did they ever!!  The new cost of their polish is $19 – less than two years ago I picked up a polish for $15.50.  WTF!?!  So, the new cost per oz is now $55.89/oz – which places it at fourth worst economically.  Gawd damn.  I can assure you that unless the formula improves exponentially and they come out with some stand out shades, I won’t be purchasing a MAC polish anytime soon.  Shoot.

Also note that Estee Lauder’s nail polish isn’t the *smallest* on the market – Le Metier de Beaute carries a polish that’s 0.14oz for about $10 ($71/oz), and Glitter Gal polishes are 0.3oz for $14 ($47/oz).

Though I’m not terribly upset if a polish is smaller than normal, because goodness knows I’m probably never going to finish a polish (and there are very few that I love so much that I want it to last forever), I still get frustrated when I realize just how much they’re charging for such an itty bitty product.  It’s particularly worse when, as in the case of MAC’s polishes, the formula isn’t up to snuff either, so you’re essentially throwing away your money.  I’m really disappointed in the size of the Lauder polishes, because it turns me off from ever buying one – unless the shade rocks my world.  Additionally, it irritates and confuses me to no end that the Sephora by OPI polishes (and Nicole by OPI polishes as well) are actually priced higher than regular OPI shades.  Does that make sense to you?  Maybe I’m missing the point here – it just seems to me that Sephora Brand, which overall typically runs cheaper than most other lines in the store, should be like the more affordable brand of polish.  And as Nicole is found in drugstores, I would assume the same about that line as well.  However…I am incorrect in my assumption.  So.

I’m winding down on the ‘best bang’ posts…I may have only a few more posts left to do, I hope you enjoyed them!  If you have any particular type of beauty product you’d like me to research, let me know!!  I’d certainly like to accommodate 🙂

Are you willing to shell out more money or sacrifice size for a great formula/shade?  What polish brand is your favorite and why?  Are there any brands you’ve yet to try?

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  1. #1 by judit1661 on May 11, 2012 - 9:43 pm

    Wow, your prices are a lot different than mine. Mostly higher, some were lower. I would like to see a chart like this with some drug store brands, like Revlon, Sally hanson, wet and wild, L’Oreal, and there is a new polish called Venique. Do you have any plans to do those brands? I love this chart you do, must be the accountant in me!
    Thanks — Judi

    • #2 by Latoya on May 12, 2012 - 3:59 pm

      You’re very welcome Judi!! Normally I would just be doing higher-end brands, but I actually already have the info on drugstore brands too because in some ways, nail polish is nail polish to me. I’ll try and fix it up a bit and post that one for you too!

      Our prices here are definitely different than the States, and polish in particular can vary just between stores! I know for example that Zoya here in-store (salons only) is about $11 while online at Nail Polish Canada its $8.75 as quoted here. I went with the lower prices I’ve come across for all of the brands noted to be fair and consistent as possible.

  2. #3 by aliciab on May 12, 2012 - 6:34 am

    I love and hate that you did this. I love that I no longer have to think about the best deal, but I hate that you’ve pointed out how much money I’ve been spending on nail polish hahaha. Please don’t show this to my boyfriend!
    It always drove me crazy that the Nicole and Sephora by OPI were more expensive! I don’t even like their bottles as much as the regular OPI. Im glad someone else feels the same way.

    • #4 by Latoya on May 13, 2012 - 6:36 am

      Oh man, the whole OPI thing is ridiculous! Definitely with you there Alicia.

      Sorry for making it more apparent how much your nail polish addiction costs LMAO! Its kinda scary right??

  3. #5 by Larie on May 12, 2012 - 12:26 pm

    For nail polish, I never pay attention to bottle size, simply because I never finish a bottle and I’m more interested in unique, interesting colors than in getting the most quantity. If I painted my nails the same color every time, then maybe, but then, I probably wouldn’t need to curb my beauty spending at that point. Oh, to be a rational person.

    • #6 by Latoya on May 13, 2012 - 6:38 am

      Haha too true Larie. I agree I’ll never finish a bottle, so I’m not terribly concerned with size vs price, though exceptionally small bottles with jacked prices does irritate me somewhat. Also, like I said, it’s shameful that MAC has smaller bottles, a bad formula, AND a higher price – count me out!

  4. #7 by Eugenia on May 12, 2012 - 6:38 pm

    These lists of yours have become totally addictive, do you realize that? 🙂 Seriously though, I applaud all the effort you put into the research and it really makes me look at all the polishes I have in a whole new light; also helps me realize where I want and/or should be splurging too! And I’m with you about the price points of both the Nicole by OPI and Sephora by OPI — what’s up with that? WHY are they more expensive? And to be totally honest, I don’t even like the Nicole by OPI bottle shape…looks like a shoe to me!

    • #8 by Latoya on May 15, 2012 - 10:57 am

      Haha you’re right Eugenia, I never thought of it but I DOES look like a shoe!! And its harder to store nicely, which is annoying.

      I’m so happy you got some benefit out of this list! Its merely a reference – by no means will I never buy an Estee Lauder polish for example, if I love the shade, but I’d rather concentrate my collection on more deserving brands with consistently good formulas, colors, and reasonable prices. And by nature I do these list so its fun to share 😀

  5. #9 by Liz (@Reductionista) on May 12, 2012 - 11:00 pm

    I hate Nicole by OPI. The quality are crap and so is the price. I’m fine with the Sally Hansens by comparison!

    You left out the outrageous ones like Tom Ford so that we can boo and hiss at them! And did you hear Louboutin is coming out with nail polish and lipsticks too? Bet they’ll be in the $30+ range.

    MAC can also suck it. Thanks for pointing out that price hike!

    • #10 by Latoya on May 15, 2012 - 11:02 am

      I was shocked it went up that much Liz!! There’s no way in hell I’m gonna waste $19 on a crappy MAC polish when I could be spending $17 on an awesome butter London shade. As for the crazy Tom Ford ones, it didn’t even occur to me! I haven’t heard much good about them at all – I’m sorry, I’ll pay the big bucks for kick-ass shade + formula, but if they’re lacking in either of these departments, I’ll pass thankyouverymuch. I just heard about the Louboutin range too – hilarious. Guess we’ll see/hear all about it soon enough!

      And DOWN with Nicole! No matter if I like the shades, I refuse to bother with ’em. All around crap.

    • #11 by Maggie (@MaggiesMakeup) on May 16, 2012 - 6:56 pm

      Or the pure insanity that is Serge Lutens nail polish at 65$. SIXTY-FIVE DOLLARS. *hypervenilates from indignation*

      • #12 by Latoya on May 18, 2012 - 4:00 pm

        WTF?????? I haven’t even heard that there was a Serge line, holy crap – $65!!!??? If the Louboutin polish is that pricey, I will definitely PASS. No way I’d ever pay that for a polish. Good lord.

  6. #13 by BeautyReflections (@BeautyReflectTS) on May 16, 2012 - 1:56 am

    Sometimes I wonder why companies like MAC and Estee Lauder even bother to make polish. Why? I’ve never tried Nicole By OPI and it looks like I haven’t been missing out!

    • #14 by Latoya on May 16, 2012 - 10:29 am

      You really haven’t Tracy! I don’t find the colors all that enticing, and the one shade I do have, though its lovely, is a total PITA to apply!!!

  7. #15 by Maggie (@MaggiesMakeup) on May 16, 2012 - 6:52 pm

    Your lists are awesome. 😛

    I get the feeling that the reason $OPI is more expensive is because it’s co-branded, and both OPI and Sephora need to make heir cut on it. We got a double discount on the Sephora line as employees, but the regular discount on the co-branded stuff, so I assume their profit margins are a lot smaller on those. Most brands will discount their stock by about 40-50% when selling to a retailer.

    • #16 by Latoya on May 18, 2012 - 9:12 am

      Ohhhh! Interesting!! I would have never known that, thanks for the inside info Maggie! Hmmm…still not sure if I’d buy anymore Nicole polishes anyway b/c of the crappy formula, but maybe I’ll try a $OPI and give it a chance 🙂

      I’m happy you like the lists!!!

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