Nail Polish Noob, Part II

Today’s polish is Essie’s Steeling the Scene (thanks, Louise!), which is touted as being a kinda-sorta dupe for Chanel’s Kaleidoscope without laying out twenty bucks (or in my case, any money at all).   My verdict — squeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Steeling the Scene presented a couple of interesting issues I’m going to use as the jumping off point for this post, hoping that those of you with more np experience can give me some advice.  It’s fun being a total newbie at something, and what’s the point of having the blog if I can’t ask you all some questions?

1) Steeling the Scene, on my nails, is a fabulous faintly green-tinted silver — as opposed to in the bottle, where it looks like a not especially interesting straight silver.  Seriously, if I were looking just at my nails, I would not match them with the correct bottle of polish.  Leaving aside the issue of whether it’s a reasonable dupe of Kaleidoscope, this keeps cropping up — the bottle color is different than the nail color.  Fine, but is this always the case?  Are there tips and tricks to cope?  Are some brands/types/colors of nail polish more likely to be true to their bottle color, which is what I’m looking at when I’m considering it?  By the way, kind readers have already turned me on to sites like Scrangie, which has many colors (and comparisons of similar shades) featured and I stumbled across the community nail polish gallery (nailgal?), which I like because it shows a variety of photos of the same color taken by different people, so I can build a mental consensus about the polish’s potential “true” color.  I also like the formats at and  Your thoughts?  Is the crap-shoot aspect just a basic part of the fun?

2) Dang, these lighter shimmer colors (is that the right nomenclature?  cream, shimmer, glitter/sparkle?) really show the brush marks.  I had that problem with Steeling the Scene, and I noticed it on the polish board pictures.  I really hate those streaks.  The way I overcame it was to do a thicker coat, which minimizes the brush marks, but I think that’s a no-no, although they ended up looking fine.  Any advice?  Also (this sounds weird) putting a top coat of clear polish on the Steeling the Scene affected the finish in a way I didn’t like.  It slightly magnified the brush strokes and it gave the polish a glossier “plasticized-look” finish that looked great on my dark silver-gray and navy polishes, but on this looked cheap.  Is this a light-shimmer-polish vs. dark polish issue?  Should I leave off the top coat?  Learn to live with it?

3) Last question.  Okay, totally my fault for having on (I think) seven coats of polish by the time I took it off last night for a clean-slate start.  I had a base coat, two coats of gunmetal, a top coat (that’s four) plus a coat of navy and a couple coats of glitter mid-week when the gunmetal chipped and I didn’t have time for a polish change.  But holy cow, it took me half an hour to get the polish off!!  Seriously, 30 minutes of hard work.  I knew people said glitter is hard to remove, I assume it has to do with its non-porousness, so big chunky glitter would be even worse.  It came off eventually and the nails looked good and unstained (yay, basecoat!) and I conditioned them last night and this morning with jojoba oil, aka The Oil Of All Miracles.  But short of a teeny chisel, any other tips for expediting removal?  It’s the glitter that’s the issue, right?  Should I just settle in with a shrug and a larger glass of wine?

images illustrating The Color Conundrum:  maybe it’s just my browser, but the top image from flikr is closest to what I perceive as the true color of Steeling the Scene.  The other two images are from and you can see the issue perfectly illustrated here — in the middle photo, Kaleidoscope and Steeling look remarkably similar, but they both look “blingier” than reality, IMHO.  And note that in the bottom photo from, the color looks different yet again.

  • Shryh says:

    Unfortunately, metallics like Kaleidoscope and Steeling the Scene tend to go on a little streaky. An opaque ridge-filling base coat may improve things a little. 🙂 Putting on thicker coats to minimize the streaks is perfectly okay – as long as you’re happy with the result, it’s all that counts!

    As for the colour conundrum, I’m afraid that there’s little you can do about it as even nail polish bloggers find it hard to capture some colours on camera accurately. Also, nail polish will look different against different skintones. I find that looking at different pictures of the same polish helps, and if you hang out on MUA’s nail board for a bit, you may find someone whose colouring is similar to yours, so her NOTD photos may be something to look out for. 🙂

    • March says:

      Hey, this is so much fun!!! Is my newbie enthusiasm working your last nerve yet?!? Wow, skin tone makes a huge difference, doesn’t it? It’s been so interesting playing with Louise’s hand-me-downs. We are probably the same whiteness, more or less, but she’s much yellower, if that makes any sense. So some of the warmer colors that look amazing on her look like hell on me.

      My first np heresy 😉 I’ve decided I like Steel-ing the Scene better than the Chanel. 😮

      • Louise says:

        Yellower /:)? Sallower :-w ? Jaundiced >:p ?

        Well, allrighty then, “warmer” 😉

        • March the Apologetic says:

          Louise – honey, warmer!!! I’m sorry — I don’t think of “yellow” as being pejorative, from where I sit on the “too-pink” bench. Those of us with leetle pink guinea pig eyes, for instance, can only dream of yellow… “sallow” always seems worse, for no good reason. Will stick to “warm” — I just find that confusing because some people use “warm” to mean pink rather than blue…

          • Marsha Smith says:

            March, your previous post got me back to my love for nail polish! I have also been snooping around those sites since I read your post and have found something wonderful. Seche Vite is a fast drying top coat that you put on top of your two or three coats of nail polish and it makes them dry a hundred times quicker. It makes your polish last longer too. I have looked longingly at the blues and greens in the stores and said to myself that a middle-aged woman doesn’t need to wear those colors. (I’ll be 52 on October 22). I made that excuse to myself cause I didn’t want to deal with waiting for the polish to dry. Now that the Polish Addict turned me on to Seche Vite I don’t have any excuse anymore! And by the way, I got Kaleidoscope and it isn’t that great.

          • March says:

            Hah! It ISN’T that great, is it? Tune in tomorrow … Steel-ing the Scene is BETTER. I’m going to see if Saks will take it back, what I really want is Haute Chocolat, although they were sold out yesterday.

            And I keep forgetting to get the Seche Vite! Louise gives me good advice and then I forget it. :”>

            I have the same age issue you do. I talked about this at length with another blogger, and she feels (correctly, I have decided) that nails are one place you can rock some color and not look absurd. Her 70-something mom does it. Why can’t we? I’m steering clear of anything cutesy like nail art, but who says we can’t wear blue or green or gold or black? I think Steeling the Scene looks incredibly chic, actually — the Saks SA complimented me on it.

  • sylvia says:

    omg, i was in love with the second picture comparing the two. but since thats not so true to form, who can recommend a polish that is like chrome? anyone?

    • March says:

      Sylvia, obviously I know nothing. But Kaleidoscope, Steeling and OPI Queen of Everything all have a (faint) greenish-goldish cast. If I recall correctly, there was another OPI on the rack that looked quite silvery. Also, and I am sure there are other sites, but and the community nail gallery link up there have sorted them by color, so you can click on “silver” or “metallics” and see a ton of choices.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, I think the wonderful ladies above answered all of your questions, and I really don’t have more to contribute. Just one note: Sometimes it’s helpful to ask the SA to paint the polish on a piece of scotch tape so you can see the true color before you decide whether or not you want to buy it.

    I think Kaleidoscope is beautiful, but something about that price point keeps me from buying Chanel polishes. Like I don’t spend enough on their perfumes (or a certain pair of shoes, yuck, yuck!). Steeling the Scene did the job for me.

    Oh, and those photos are weird, aren’t they? The top one is fairly true to the color, but the bottom two are not!

    Keep painting!


    • March says:

      Now that I’m poking around on those sites, I can see that while they can help me narrow down the color, it’s still just a guesstimate. And I am frustrated (newbie!) about how some of my favorite colors all turn black-ish indoors. I think my “sweet spot” is the ones that are just light enough to maintain some color indoors. And I did the scotch tape thing today — fun!

  • Caviglia says:

    For glitter polish, a lot of the folks on the NP boards on MUA recommend using an acetone NP remover (not non-acetone remover) and bits of craft felt like you can buy at Wal-Mart or Jo-Ann’s, etc. The felt isn’t supposed to shred like a cotton ball.

    And as for predicting color through the glass, I haven’t found a consistent way to tell what the on-the-nail color would be. I found some plastic nail tips at Sally’s Beauty Supply on clearance ($.99 for 50), and I’ve painted them up. Then I just hold them over my bare nail to gauge what the color would be after applying. It also helps to have a NP store with a liberal return policy. 🙂 My local Trade Secret is good about taking returns.

    What is it about enticing liquids in cute bottles that drives one to madness? 🙂

    • March says:

      Thanks for the tip about the felt, I think (because of the kids) I may even have some laying around here. The non-acetone polish I gave up on eons ago because it simply didn’t seem to work very well, even for two coats of regular old varnish. And that was part of the frustration, I was trying to remove the excess color with cotton pads soaked in remover and they shredded! Louise TOLD me to get a better brand.

      Well, at least I’m not doing anything “wrong” with the color guessing, it is apparently part of the thrill. Those little bottles lined up are cute!

  • Louise says:

    Oh, my! That polish looks so much better on you…I’m glad it found a good home, ’cause it was just way off on me. You make it very classy 😉

    Only one tip for removal of the many layers of np-saturate all nails, wait a bit, scrub, then start the process over. You might want to upgrade to a brand name remover pad, and/or also keep a bottle of remover nearby for additional fluid. But-the scrub down is all part of the Fun of Glitter <:-p

    • March says:

      Thanks. Shame on me for putting so much glitter on at the same time. I’ll either resist the urge or settle into a chair for the removal process. It’s that chunky glitter that was really gumming the works up. :”> They looked good though! And yeah, that color is amazing on my skin, thanks so very much!

      • sylvia says:

        i really think the more glitter the better. it just doesnt look as good applied with a light hand… but of course smaller glitter comes off easier too.

        • March says:

          Um, yeah. We’ve already determined I’m not a less-is-more person, so thanks for the encouragement with the glitter. Plus with layers of glitter there’s so much depth to the polish… I’ll just have to put the time in for a polish change.

  • Musette says:


    I have just one question:

    How did you manage to lift your fingers?

    On a serious note, I agree with Rosarita. Just get the Kaleidescope. I’ve done what you’re doing (not with polish but with other reasonably inexpensive things) and I always end up with the original object of my desire…plus all the detritus of my attempts at replication. $20 is steep but it’s not horrible…..and you have lusted after this for quite awhile now. Get it! >-) says its okay!


    • March says:

      I know, I know! And it looked amusing, too. There was that dent at the bottom near the nail bed, like when you see someone’s fake nails growing out and they haven’t had a fill-in. :”> Classy, huh?

      No, you’re right about the Kaleidoscope. As I said to Rosarita, the real issue for me (you and I batted this around a little in an email) was that I was/am so infatuated with the color contrast with darker polish against my pale skin I wasn’t sure I would like it, and 2) I went through a sort of frosted-beige patch awhile back, my half-hearted attempt at edgy — you know, an alternative to Ballet Slippers and dusty rose — and it was awful. Clearly the color has to be a little weird to work. :p Why does this not surprise me?

  • lunarose says:

    here’s a trick for seeing what a polish will look like on, and they let you do it in a number of beauty product and department stores. get a piece of scotch tape and apply some nail polish on the piece of tape, let it dry, then lay the tape over your nail. (fold the tape over on itself onto the sticky side if you want to keep it to look at later, for example in different light or when your nails are bare.) this also works well for testing out different color combos with existing nail polishes at home before you apply to your nails.

    for brush strokes, i’ve found that getting the right base coat helps – one that’s smooth and fills the ridges. good luck and have fun! i used to do all type of crazy stuff (great tiger stripes on the toes were a big hit) but now i have evil fungii trouble and can’t tolerate the medicine. thank goddess for the ‘fumes!

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks for the great tape tip! That sounds like a super idea. :)>- Emoticons acting up tonight, let’s see if Peace Sign Dude works.

      Gah, the fungus! I got it on my big toe doing hot yoga and it has taken me almost two years of diligent treatment to get rid of it. That stuff is remarkably persistent.

  • rosarita says:

    My oh my, seven coats? With glitter polish between other coats? 😮 Yeah, that’s some serious work to get off. Try Cutex polish removing pads, the thick red ones. I’ve gotten by far the best results with the ones that have acetone in them. Hold the pad firmly on top of the nail and rock it back and forth for half a minute or more before you wipe off the nail; that loosens the polish somewhat. One pad really does all ten nails, even with hard to remove polish.
    Brushstrokes are a common complaint w/metallic polishes, even among pros. I do think a wide brush is helpful, like the OPI one; you might want to try different topcoats till you find one that works for you, too (I like Seche Vite.)

    And fwiw, I think you should just get yourself a bottle of Kaleidoscope. I have slowly come to realize that searching and spending money on potential dupes that aren’t quite right when you really love a color is counterproductive. Just my two cents – remember that in perfume world, twenty bucks is free! 😉

    • March says:

      I bought acetone pads but I think the house brand, CVS? Along with regular polish, since the girls take it. Huh, everyone’s laughing about my seven coats. :”> Hey, go big or go home, that’s my motto!

      Louise recommended Seche Vite too (I have some random topcoat, I can’t even remember the brand… Sally Hansen?)

      I think I will get the Kaleidoscope. FWIW I totally hear you about the “no substitute” concept, which is oddly near and dear to my heart. We regularly get requests from someone who loves some long ago impossible to find fragrance, and wants something to replace it. Most of the stuff you can scrounge on eBay, but my more contemplative response is always: look, find something else to love. It will *never* be the same as your old fragrance, and even vintage bottles tend to smell … well, old. With all the choices, why not find a new love?

      So the Kaleidoscope hesitation on my part was, I was not at ALL sure I would like the lighter-toned color on my pale hands, since much of what I thought I loved was the contrast. Steeling the Scene allowed me to decide ahead of time that it did in fact look nice and not dull or a bad match for my skin. :)>-