Zoya rates this as a 3 out of 5 on their sheer to opaque intensity scale. I only used two coats and had no visible nail line, which I thought was great for paler color like this.
Warning: the photos coming up may frighten small children and sensitive souls.
I went neutral with this manicure so as not to attract too much attention to nails, which really took a beating when I was on my Christmas trip. Not only was there the usual problem on a ski trip of wet gloves, but I helped Mr. Karen with projects around the condo and also did way more dishes than I usually do (at home that's his job; I have got to remember to buy new rubber gloves for our next condo stay—I used the ones that were there to do some staining in the summer and now they're no good for kitchen use). By the last day of the trip, I was missing chunks of the Sally Hansen strips on the tips of several nails, not because the strips chipped or failed but because the nails underneath had peeled and flaked away. I have no good excuse for what happened next: instead of taking the strips off the proper way, with nail polish remover (which I keep at the condo, so it wasn't a matter of not having access), I peeled and scraped them off using my nails as tools to do so. If there were such a thing as a nail blogger license, mine would have been suspended for that. The one minor saving grace in the situation was that I had that layer of Orly Nail Defense under the strips, which meant the adhesive on them stuck to that and not directly to my nails, so I didn't do too much additional damage with the scraping.
Here's what my nails looked like when I got home—so not pretty:
My right hand had the added feature of a scrape left when I dug out a huge splinter on my index finger (there's a smaller splinter still under the skin next to it at this point). I couldn't bear to show my thumbnail on this hand; it got the brunt of the tool duty so really looked like crap.
Looking at that mess, I decided it was time to try my new weapon against Mr. Peelies, Quimica Alemana Esmalte Endurecedor de Uñas, which my friend turtlechick was kind enough to pick up for me and send the last time we did a swap.
This is serious stuff; not only does it have formaldehyde resin, it has straight up formaldehyde. You definitely don't want to drink this one (or slop it on your skin).
It's too soon to tell if the Quimica stuff it going to work for me, but if the smell is any indication, I think it will—it reminds me of the old school extra chemically stuff I used back in the day, when my nails grew scary long. (I should see if I have any photos of them—this was long before digital cameras but I think I might have a film shot or two I could scan.) I do already know that it appears to play nicely with my other nail products. I used one coat of the Quimica followed by Instant Artificials, then the two coats of Melodie and Sally Hansen Insta Dri topcoat and got barely a chip in seven days. The polish on my right thumbnail did suffer some damage, as I just do not seem to be able to stop using it as a scraper for price tags and such. Perhaps I should bandage it for a few weeks so I'll be forced to break the habit.
Reminder to folks with a continental U.S. mailing address: my Zoya Giveaway of Anja and Jem thanks to Verve 360 Nail Salons closes at noon Eastern U.S. time on Friday (January 13th).