As a child, I was into nail polish a fair amount, but never obsessed. I don’t recall my sister ever being too into it, but I do remember my mother regularly filing and painting her nails, even if it was with clear or nude polish most of the time. And in my early teen years, I definitely went through a phase of wearing nail polish, although it was more of the glittery or black variety.
When I moved to Germany and went through the task of dividing things into the “bring,” “keep,” “give away,” or “throw away” piles, the dozens of nail polish bottles I had mostly went to the latter two piles. This is namely because I hadn’t worn it in years, and whenever I attempted to, I did a horrible job of applying. In fact, I only kept three of my newer bottles. But in the first year here I didn’t even wear nail polish.
It’s only since this summer that I have kindled a love for nail polish, and actually enjoy wearing it. It began with seeing friends wearing this intense shade of blue that I fell in love with, and Mayette over at Looks Cute, Though is a bit of a nail polish genius, so I felt inspired to delve back in. Along the way, I noticed a few things. First, I got better at putting it on. Second, I didn’t bite my nails when polish was on them. This could be akin to a chicken-egg scenario though, because it seems that not biting my nails made them longer, which made the polish easier to apply. Who knows?
Anyway, I began with the rapid acquisition of P2, which, at the cost of €1,55 per bottle, and with so many colours, became a compulsory buy every time I stopped off at my favourite drugstore, DM. Certainly the coat doesn’t last super long (at least without a top coat), but the colours are vibrant and the polish is big-3 free.
But it wasn’t until a recent excursion, when I decided to purchase a bottle of Maybelline New York’s Express Finish that I started thinking about the ethical component. That’s because I discovered in reading about it post-purchase that Maybelline does animal testing. As someone who has always worn foundation and sometimes eyeliner, the ethical implications of the beauty products I wear never occurred to me. But as a vegan, I feel that using only cruelty-free and vegan products is something I should be doing, and I should be more active now in finding out what’s vegan and what’s not.
Sadly, my research uncovered that many excellent brands, like OPI and Sally Hansen, regularly do animal testing. This isn’t to say the nail polishes themselves do, but their parent companies (both are owned by Coty) definitely do, which is also a no-no for me. I don’t feel like my abstinence from using their products will actually cause much change, but it is my own self-imposed moral obligation to not give my money to companies that I know are testing on animals or using them in their products.
The good news is that I uncovered some companies that are vegan and cruelty-free. First and foremost, P2 is, which means I can keep (and keep adding to) my Last Forever and Color Victim collections. These colours are super fun for coordinating with outfits or playing around, and for a manicure that lasts a solid couple of days.
Yet I have also found that most of the time, the softer palette of nude colours is what appeals to me most… this includes the golds, bronzes, silvers, pinks, etc. And for those, since I will want to wear them longer, I have turned to other brands. This wasn’t super easy and required not only a lot of searching but also activating my German language web searching skills. Eventually though, I found some nail polishes that contain no animal products, don’t test on animals, and can be purchased in Germany! A lot of this is thanks to the lists provided on Lacquerized and PETA. So here are a run-down of the top five that I found, although I also love the Zoya colours–unfortunately they just aren’t available in Europe yet.
1) e.l.f. Cosmetics
ELF is not available in retail stores in Germany, but for a slight amount more than normal, bottles can be purchased online. Today I went ahead and ordered two colours to begin with: coral and blush.
2) Orly Beauty
Orly is another brand that can’t be purchased in stores, but can be ordered online. I haven’t taken the plunge but I like the idea behind their various sets. In particular, the Cool Romance is my favourite combination. I don’t know if I will get one or two shades or go for the plunge and buy the mini set.
3) butter LONDON
I have heard nothing but good about this company and was devastated upon discovering they don’t ship to Germany. But then I decided to do a fancy little URL changing, and instead of .com, typed in .de. What do you know? There IS a German division! They are super expensive (the current conversion totals to almost $22 per bottle) but from what I have heard, it is worth it. Right now I can order online but it turns out they are also carried by Douglas, so I might hit up a location to see them in person before deciding. Also nice are the themed sets, which are essentially a buy 2, get 1 free kind of deal. Of these, I like the Casual Chic and Butter Bride.
4) Scotch Naturals
Now these are just beautiful. I love the shades here, and I love the concept and design even more. Very minimalistic and clean. There is even a line for children called Hopscotch. But of course they aren’t available in Germany, save for three different cities, none of which are close. There is, of course, online ordering from those shops (Epochic, AllForEves), but the cost is inflated, there is a shipping charge, and the selection is limited. I have emailed the company to see what my options are, but if all else fails, maybe ordering from the latter is my best option. If I were purchasing, I would definitely opt for the cocktail trio of Klondike Kooler, Celtic Mix, and Stone Fence.
5) Priti NYC
Here is a brand I don’t know too much about, in that I don’t know anyone who uses the polishes, but again, they fit the bill and ship in Germany. They’re also fairly expensive but have tons of colours. And while I haven’t immediately fallen in love with any of them, I do like some of their seasonal sets. In fact, even the London Olympics one is kind of cool, if you’re into metallics (which I sometimes am). Overall, I don’t feel compelled to make Priti NYC my first choice, but if a new tantalizing set or colour comes out, well, just maybe I will be tempted.