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Ode To the Classics: 90s Nail Polish

Published February 3, 2012
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As we know, nail polish is a cosmetic category rife with innovation right now—as seen in mass, where nail lacquer sales climbed 20% to $363.4 million for the year ended May 15, 2011 in supermarkets, drugstores and mass-market retailers excluding Walmart, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. But back in simpler times, before UV-cured gel manicures, printed decals and Shatter finishes, there were certain nail polishes that garnered a following for being both timeless and modern at the same time.

Two stand out from the pack, and both hit in the mid-1990s: Chanel’s Vamp, a deep burgundy, and Hard Candy’s Sky, a light blue.  Both commanded a cult following at the time of their debut, and both look just as fresh when applied to nails years later.

I was reminded of Vamp when I tried Essie’s Carry On from its Fall 2011 collection. This dark hue looked so clean and polished—pun intended—on my hands and offered a contrast from the sheer and metallic colors I often wear because they are said to show chips less. Instant glamour!

A similar experience was from Essie’s Summer 2011 Bridal collection. Borrowed & Blue had that dreamy, creamy color pioneered by Hard Candy with its launch. I remember mixing White Out and Wet & Wild metallic royal blue to make a DIY replication in college before springing for an actual bottle of the good stuff. And yes, I still have my signature Hard Candy plastic ring that was the bonus with purchase!

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