Classic Red Nails

Awhile back I mentioned I was looking for a retro creme red nail polish, and you all had a bunch of suggestions.  Here are some winners, with the caveat/explanation that I started with what was easiest to find locally rather than purchasing online.

Cheery cherries – the sort of bright, retro red you can imagine on a set of 1940s dishtowels.  These reds are great on me and would be fun in the summer on my toes.  Winners:  Sephora/OPI And A Cherry on Top, Sally Hansen Cherry Red (a fab red for, like, $2.39?!), OPI Red.

 Classic deep vixen redRevlon Raven Red got rave reviews from several of you.  I admit, I don´t think it´s my best red.  It’s slightly brown on me, and would look better on someone with a little darker or warmer skin tone than mine.  Having said that, it is indeed a gorgeous color, and I´ve gotten compliments when wearing it.   Another gorgeous deep vixen that isn´t as dark: Sephora/OPI Personal Shopper. Yowza.

Revlon was having a BOGO when I bought Raven and the colors were pretty picked over, so I wound up with Revlon Red.  It´s funny – on its own, Revlon Red is a great color.  It´s a bright, slightly warm generic red that´s like the red crayon in the box of Crayolas.  The problem is, if you´ve spent much time playing in reds, you can come up with colors that are so much better, even though on some level it´s practically splitting hairs.  Revlon Red is a perfectly fine emergency red purchase, but it doesn´t have the shine or the depth of a great red.  Ultimately I decided to Franken it into a deeper red with the addition of some black.  (Frankening hint gleaned from my art background – you can darken a color much, much faster than you can lighten it.  I add black two drops at a time and shake shake shake.)  I wound up with a color I like much better.

Blue red – y´all were right, OPI´s I´ve Got the Blues for Red is an excellent color.  It looks a little cool on warmer skin tones but on me it is a true, neutral classic red that is neither bright nor vixen-y dark.  It´s gorgeous.  I also had difficulty finding it, one site having labeled it as discontinued, so if you´re in love with that color you might want to scrounge up a backup.  Sephora/OPI Le Beau was an interesting, lighter blue red.

And my own personal winner is … OPI Malaga Wine!  I tried on so many colors, and while the differences can be subtle, the final effect can be huge.  I wound up with Malaga Wine sort of by, um, accident on an order of spring pastel creme nail polishes (yeah, stay tuned for that) because you mentioned it and I´d noticed it on several color wheels on Nailgal and thought it looked pretty.

Malaga Wine isn´t what you´d expect from the name – it isn´t purple, or maroon-brown.  On me (fair skinned/cool toned) it is precisely the color I had in my mind´s eye for my classic retro red.  It´s deep rather than bright, a true red rather than blue or orange, and stays red even in dim indoor lighting, rather than going vampy.  My only minor complaint is that it took three thin coats to achieve the opacity I wanted, rather than the two I usually get from OPI, but I might have a bum bottle.  At any rate, the color is stunning – as dark a red as you can get and still be red.  It gives me movie star hands.

I´ll drop an additional bit in here – one of you mentioned a MAC Lippie named Classic Dame.  And I was beside myself – how did I not own something with such a fabulous name?!?  Well, because it´s been discontinued, that´s why.  It was part of their Mattene collection, so it´s in a thin tube and it´s a matte finish, with a color somewhere between Brave Red and Russian Red.   I got busy and found one online (eBay, but there are other etailers). It.Is.Killa.   Do I need another red?  Um, at this point, probably no.  Do I regret my purchase?  Not even a little.

So.  Tune in Monday for more about dames.

cherry image:

  • violetnoir says:

    Okay, I admit that I am not a big red person when it comes to nails and lips, even though arguably red is the best color for my skin tone.

    That said, MAC Shirelle is the go-to retro red, especially for summer. I think I mentioned it to you in an earlier post, March. The All Lacquered Up blog posted gorgeous photos of it last June or July. You have to check it out!

    Sorry about the Raven Red being too brown, babe. It may compliment my skin tone better.

    Hugs, rsj

    • March says:

      Raven is a lovely color, and I am pleased to own it! It’s just not quite as striking on me as some others. I need to go look at Shirelle, I’ll be at the MAC store in a couple of days. 😉

  • Gretchen says:

    Is that the “dame perfumes” post coming up? I’m excited, even though I’ve realized that the scents that do best on me are better described as “silk charmeuse” scents– not that I’m complaining about that. Of course, a second post on dame make-up would be fun too.

  • E says:

    My favorite retro red creme nail polish is Carolyn New York Christmas in New York. The formula is great, the brush is great, and the color is to-die-for. It’s my perfect red.

    Lippmann has some nice reds, too (My Old Flame and Lady is a Tramp are both very nice red cremes), but nothing touches Christmas in NY for a perfect retro 50s red creme, in my opinion.

    • March says:

      Now that sounds like one I should try. There are a couple Carolyns I’ve been meaning to order.

      • Louise says:

        If you’re ordering Carolyns, try their almond cuticle oil-fabulous

      • E says:

        I love CNY polishes. They also make great sheers, if you’re into that at all.

        My other favorite from her line is Hell’s Kitchen, but if you don’t like red-brown vamps you’ll probably want to give that one a pass.

  • Cathleen says:

    I wonder how long Magala Wine has been available? I recently bought a Zoya color called Moxie that’s very similar. It’s lovely, and is what I think is considered a jelly, in that it takes 3 coats to be opaque. I will probably put it in my “HOW much longer to Spring??” pile, along with all the gorgeous lavenders I’ve been collecting.

    • March says:

      I love jellies …. wait, WHAT gorgeous lavenders? I just got Secret Periwinkle, Agent Lavender, and Misa Jasmine! As you can see, I continue my obsession with the cremes… I think I’ll do a random Sunday post in the next week or two and ask folks for their fave spring/summer colors.

      • Cathleen says:

        My favorite is Zoya Deidra, which is probably considered a sheer. Zoya also put out Zara, which has more color. I picked up Orly Bon Bon and China Glaza Agent Lavender, too. I don’t care if I do look like an Easter egg, I can’t wait to wear them!

        • March says:

          C’mon, isn’t Agent Lavender THE MOST GORGEOUS THING?!?! I have an issue with finding juuuust that right balance of color, not too pale. It’s stunning (Periwinkle is nice too.) And I bought a couple of color clubs that were pretty, pale blues. To me you don’t look like an Easter egg if you keep that as your color and the rest of our outfit neutral… I am also seriously lemming CG For Audrey right this sec. I see another order in my future … :”>

  • Kelly says:

    Malaga Wine for sure! Thats the only color I wear on my feet. The. Only. Winter, summer, makes no difference. No other color looks right one me.

    • March says:

      Well, being a nail polish noob, I am looking forward to the arrival of warm weather, because I have a TON of polishes I want to try on my feet! 🙂 Starting with that creme coral-y Sephora/OPI one. That color is stunning. In fact, I should buy it now while it’s cold, would not be at all surprised if it becomes difficult to get in a couple months.

      • E says:

        Oh! If you like coral-y colors, and you like Zoyas, you should really try Zoya Elodie for summer. It’s gorgeous, and so cheerful :).

  • Frenchie says:

    Mmmmm, have to try Malaga Wine. Have been considering it for a while now but never decided to buy it. Sounds intriguing. My HG of classic red nail polishes is YSL no.2 called ‘Rouge Desir’. It is a classy, retro red with depth. Absolutely fabulous. I hope it is not discontinued.

    • March says:

      It’s probably not d/c’d. I admit I’ve not paid as close attention to the high-end dept store polishes like Dior. My two ventures with Chanel have been disappointments, to be honest. For what they cost, their wearability should be better. And on the hands, Haute Chocolate was just boring.

  • Louise says:

    Oooh, more nail talk!

    “Classic Reds” are tough for me, and I tend to veer towards vampy reds. But once in a while…I wore Got the Blues to an inaugural ball, and while it goes a bit cool on my yellowish skin, it was cheerful, and just right for the occasion.

    A couple of other favs-Zoya Gwenneth, a slightly pink, cherry red, and O’Hare and Nails Look Great, and deeper, but still fairly true red.

    Malaga is just lovely 😡

    • March says:

      I saw O’Hare! I liked some other colors from that collection.

      See, you are a perfect example. I think those brownish-red semi-vampies just look way better on you than they do on me. I bet Raven looks amazing on you.

      Red are so deceiving in the bottle. Malaga looks a bit pink in the bottle, but not on my hands.

  • sweetlife says:

    Yay! Malaga Wine!

    • March says:

      Aren’t you the one who mentioned it? 😕 Great color.

      • sweetlife says:


        • March says:

          Well thanks! It probably wouldn’t have caught my eye if you hadn’t. Didn’t you also name Seduce Me, or was that someone else? I need to try that one.

          • sweetlife says:

            Yup! 😡 I think Seduce Me is a China Glaze — a pinky red in the bottle, that reads as red on the nails. I also told you about the glowing jelly red, Bordeaux Essie, but you don’t like Essie…

          • March says:

            Oh, tune back in two months, I’ll probably love Essie. So far I have it permanently/incorrectly associated with those super-pale colors that don’t wear well and do me no favors. But I’ve seen some gorgeous new shades.