Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reader Request: CND Colours and Effects swatches

Apparently, CND is trying for a renaissance. First, it shortens its official name to CND... much like how Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation is now only HSBC, except HSBC's name became incongruous because they ventured outside of those two cities and presumably, CND still does creative things with nail design. (So maybe the HSBC comparison was not appropriate.) After cutting its syllabage (not a word) in half, it decided to completely cut its old line of polishes and develop a whole new line that has nothing to do with the old line.

Methinks someone hired a consultant of some sort who told them CND would tank if it didn't pick up steam. But then, I'm really cynical -- maybe the company decided to remake itself because they had reconceptualized their conceptual premises, experienced spiritual awakenings and did a lot of soul-searching retreats in the mountains with monks and squirrels.

Still, regardless of who got the idea to change everything or what the impetus was to implement such drastic change in an old established company, you gotta admit... it takes balls.

The idea is simple: a collection of cremes, a collection of sheers, mix and match to your heart's content. Nevermind that a lot of nail polish owners already have their own collection of cremes and sheers -- and that a good percentage of these owners already have discovered the miracle of layering -- it's still an elegant idea. Despite being on no-buy, I had to scoop a couple of Colours and Effects up, just to see if their execution was as slick as their plan.

CND redid all their bottles; the design is very sleek. I love their shape and weight, even if they do hold about three-fifths as much polish as they used to (but cost more, big surprise). And I swear, in some meeting, someone must've held a bottle up and said, "Hey, when people hold these comfortably in their hands in order to take photos to blog about these, part of the logo will always be visible!" They're perfect bloggers' polishes: the bottle is curved one side (perfect for nestling in your palm), square on the other... with either the word Effects or Colours written in big clear font on the square side (perfect for easy identification). The first picture is NOT a good example but in my defense, it was the first photo I took and I was trying to figure out which grip was ideal.

CND Blueberry Crush
A blue-toned pastel lavender. A chalky color but not at all chalky in application. Oh. So. Smooth! (And I will sing praises of the new brush after the swatches.) Two coats.

CND Blueberry Crush, left to right: Scarlet Shimmer, Lavender Pearl, Jade Sparkles and no Effects
SEE, THIS is what I mean when I say perfect blogger polish: fits comfortably in my hand, lines up my fingers in a neat row and the brand is identifiable by the easily read text. GENIUS! Whomever they hired to design these was worth the money. (Also, I just can't get over how human-hand-friendly these little suckers are.) Anyway, back to the polish: can't see much of a difference in the Scarlet and Lavender; it's there but not too significant. Jade definitely sparkles! When I saw Scarlet and Lavender, I totally regretted getting both. When I did this swatch, I definitely regretted it. (It got better though...)

CND Bicycle Yellow
My elation at the super smooth application of the chalky-looking pastel above died with this one. I think I use yellow as my litmus test for if a brand knows what it's doing: it's such a finicky color that if you've got yellow right, that probably means you've spent time developing your polishes. It's not the worst yellow but definitely not the best: three coats and there's still a bald spot that's driving me crazy. Great color though.

CND Bicycle Yellow, left to right: Scarlet Shimmer, Lavender Pearl, Jade Sparkles and no Effects

Here the differences between Scarlet and Lavender are a tiny bit more noticeable. Unfortunately, whereas I think the appearance of Blueberry Crush was enhanced by the Effects, I don't think Yellow Bicycle got the same boost from these particular Effects. Although the Jade one made the yellow nice and sparkly (and I like sparkly). Buuuut... the Effects were truly best shown against a dark Colour base...

CND Asphalt
Dark grey. What a great color! And it marked the return to the fabulously smooth application I had with the first polish.

CND Asphalt, left to right: Scarlet Shimmer, Lavender Pearl, Jade Sparkles and no Effects

It was only when I used dark base that I realized what differentiated a Scarlet Shimmer and Lavender Pearl (besides the color difference which is very obvious here): the Pearl has a minor purple/green duochrome effect and the Shimmer only reflected red. Pretty cool! (No different from a lot of sheer topcoats but still...)

Click on the handy dandy chart to see a bigger version:

Let me first say what I love about these polishes (besides the design of the bottle):
  1. The brush: good gravy, I LOVE this thing. It's flat like an OPI Pro-Wide but more flexible and not as wide (which is fabulous for my small nail beds... the Pro-Wide does miserable things to my "gap"). Gives you really great control of the polish and allows you to make really clean strokes. The rubberized grip is also a nice touch.
  2. THE BRUSH. I'm going to write CND and ask them for as many of these extra brushes as they can spare!
  3. The bru... (kidding!) The good application of the non-yellow polishes: because Colours are meant to be layered, they are opaque in two thin coats and they dry fairly quickly. In addition, the Effects are not at all thick or sticky. In other words, when you apply an Effect, there's not much of a reason to worry that your Colour's color will be dragged along for the ride from cuticle to free edge (to the brush, to the bottle... and then to all subsequent manis using that bottle). The polishes do what they were designed to do. Maybe I shouldn't be so impressed but I am.
  4. The sparkle in the Jade Sparkle: it's aptly named and it's a great medium between glitter and shimmer.
All that being said... layering polishes is not exactly a revelation and the Effects I chose are kind of a snooze. I'm positive I have sheer polishes that do the same as the Shimmer and Pearl. Why would I buy new ones? (Actually, I'm sure I have dupes for the Colours too.) Everything that I have is enough to recreate really similar looks to what I can create with the CND line. So I personally do not "need" these. A person with a less extensive collection, however, would probably do very well to buy a bunch of these because they can mix and match and the very nature of the polishes encourages experimentation (something most polishes do not do). A salon just starting out could conceivably buy the entire line and not need anything else. It's a great "system" for that.

Also, this system isn't as conducive to the... dimensionality characteristic that I PERSONALLY love in so many polishes. For instance, the jelly polishes with glitter or flakies that get built up with each layer and glow from within (Nfu.oh does this wonderfully). The CND shimmer, pearl, sparkle just lies flat on the nail. Pretty but no depth. I did try some Effects layering and though I still didn't get the dimensional look, I got some interesting results nonetheless:

CND Asphalt with layered Effects

From left to right:
Index: Jade on top of Lavender
Middle: Jade on top of Scarlet
Ring: Lavender on top of Jade
Pinky: Scarlet on top of Jade

Doesn't seem to make a difference which one is on top or on bottom but you can definitely still see the effects of the Scarlet and Lavender with the Jade sparkling through!

Closeup on Asphalt with Effects (L->R, Scarlet Shimmer and Lavender Pearl)

By the way, these are available at Head2ToeBeauty at considerably less than in salons ($4.50 for a Colour, $5.50 for an Effect).

P.S. When several of you guys suggested CND, did you mean the new line or old line? I assumed new but it occurs to me that maybe people wanted to see the Oldies but Never-Drying Goodies.

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Erika said...

I'm excited to try out the brush now; I have small nail beds as well, and I really struggle not to make a huge mess with OPI Pro-Wides.

I was initially really excited to hear about CND's revamp because of all the cremes. I was imagining a whole line of unique cremes, but now that I see the 50 shades being offered, most of which are pink or red, I'm a bit disappointed. And after checking out their site, it doesn't look like they're planning to add colors seasonally, so I guess this is it? And the effects are pretty, but you're right-- we already know how to layer, and none of these are really all that special.

I'm pissed that they discontinued their Dry & Shine, too. Boo, CND.

loungie said...

I had a handful of the colors in the cart but then removed them again just because I have all the creams. ordered some sparkles though. can't wait to get them!

Anonymous said...

So now to get any finish other than creme, you're buying two bottles of product? Looks like your hypothetical consultant earned her fees. (Also looks like I'm not gonna buy, though. Ten bucks at discount for what amounts to one polish?)

BTW, I love the bit about Oldies but Never-Drying Goodies. I think it's important that bloggers--especially bloggers who aren't being paid for their blogs and are paying their own money for the product--talk about the bad as well as the good, and I think that kind of objectivity is sorely lacking in the polish blog world.

Lauren said...

Thanks for posting regarding the new CNDs! I've been curious about them. I agree with your analysis, by and large. I'm a huge fan of layering, and have been doing for quite some time now. But like you said, I can't see myself "needing" any of the effects as I already have so many great sheer colors to layer with. I'll be excited to try anything novel or unique that they have. :)

Also - I tagged you on my blog! Keep up the great work.

xfoxglove said...

i get where CND is coming from, but i just don't think having shimmer on top of a creme is the same as wearing a shimmer.

i like layering for what it is, but the dimension you get from a specific polish with shimmer or glitter in it is different, in my opinion.

Lucy said...

Not much of an effect on light polish. I really like it on the dark shade. The only thing different is the effects shades. I might as well just buy that and use it on what I already have. Love the dark grey and the effects.

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