August 30 2014

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Beauty Throwdown: Battle Speckled Nail Polish


Despite our own misgivings, and the fact that the runways have recently embraced a return to the minimalist manicure with an all-nude, all-the-time protocol, newfangled polishes continue to take the market by storm. From caviar appliqués and magnetic finishes to leatherlike lacquers, design-heavy strips, and DIY gel topcoats, there is an unending stream of options for your next next-level manicure. The latest launches one-up the shatter polishes of old and introduce a new concept in pro tips: speckled polishes. The idea here is really just embedding black glitter, instead of rainbow or like-colored flecks, in seasonally appropriate pastels. But the dichotomous nature of the combination feels like a fresh way to wear texture—stumbled upon by not one but two different brands. Both Deborah Lippmann and Illamasqua creative director Alex Box are seeing spots for Spring. Here, we put their new polishes to the test: let the throwdown begin.

The Hometown Hero: Deborah Lippmann has been inventing the wheel with glitter polishes since she debuted Marquee Moon—a silver lacquer mixed with then-unheard-of pieces of chunky hexagonal chrome sparkles—at Rodarte’s Fall 2009 show. Her new Staccato collection, which debuts next month at, is similarly smart, albeit somewhat subdued, as it relies on uniform pieces of small circular black glitter and a pretty palette of three soft pastels, including the standout Rockin’ Robin, a creamy mint green.

The Indie Import: While Illamasqua may not be able to lay claim to the same glitter glory, the British brand’s polish pedigree is impressive. Its debut collection of neons and brights helped attract an international audience—and eventually Sephora, which brought the line stateside in 2009. Its new limited-edition Speckled Varnishes, which launch next month on, offer slightly more scandalous shades of traditional pastels, including Mottle, a lime-tinged mint—which is to be expected from a brand that’s known for its shock values. To this end, the glitter in this five-piece collection is also varied and includes larger hexagonal sparkles as well as microscopic pieces.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re looking to make a statement with a more subtle, delicate edge, choose Deborah Lippmann for its more refined color palette. But if you’re looking for an unapologetic nod to funky finger-painting, Illamasqua is—and will likely always be—your best bet.

Beauty Insider