Since I was able to justify buying all eight of the Sally Hansen Magnetics, it will probably come as no surprise to any of you reading this that I did the same with the Orly Magnetic FX. Yes, they're $15 a bottle at Ulta, but there are only three of them, and I had coupons (plus Ulta has changed the rewards program in my area to the points version so I'm not limited to an ever-worsening list of items to use my rewards on, so I'm not as annoyed as I was when I had to use that last certificate on shampoo and body scrubbing beads I've yet to try). Besides, Orly is one of my favorite brands, so I really wanted to try these myself. Still, $15 a piece; the sales associate that rang up my first one (it was the first one out of the display, too) thought she'd double scanned it the total came up so high before my coupon. That price sets a high bar; let's see if the polishes get over it.
The lineup, left to right: Paint on Electron, Force Field, Opposites Attract. The tags on these are color coordinated and show the magnet designs—each color has a different magnet shape. The magnet itself is on a clear plastic ring (open in back) that fits around the bottle's handle. In the store, there's shrink wrap holding the magnet to the bottle so they can't be mixed and matched.
The backs of the tags have instructions and a smaller depiction of the magnet shape.
The magnets themselves are small and didn't cover my whole nail. They're configured differently than other brands I've played with, too. I've gotten used to magnets that either have a lip to rest at the base of my nail (China Glaze, Sally Hansen and similar, Magnetix) or just have the magnet mounted on a flat surface (Nabi and another brand I'll share next week). The Orly magnets have a sort of reverse lip—it's a little shelf to slide under the nail tip. If you try to use it as a lip and rest it at the base of your nail, the magnet is too high and the design doesn't get formed right in the wet polish. I found this awkward to work with and frustratingly easy to bump my painted tip into when trying to position it. It was also hard to take a photo of in use, thus the blurriness of the picture below.
Here's a better look at the magnet alone:
I started with the charcoal grey one, Paint on Electron. I used two coats, working one nail at a time as per usual magnetic protocol. The shape on this magnet is a single curvy snake. As you can see, I had trouble centering the magnet over my nail, probably because to make sure I didn't bump the magnet into the polish, I held my nail so I could see the side view (see blurry photo above). If there were more than one curve in the magnet, the out-of-skewness wouldn't be so noticeable.
The smallness of the magnet means the curves don't reach the base on my nails, leaving a lighter area where the magnet didn't reach. The areas the magnet did cover are pretty, with silver flecked shimmer in a very dark grey background contrasting with lighter silver shimmer areas.
I did a quick comparison to some other charcoal magnetics in my stash, using two coats of each. Left to right below—Orly Paint on Electron, China Glaze Attraction, Icing unnamed, Color Club Steel of the Night:
I wish I'd pulled Sally Hansen Silver Elements for this comparison; I was thinking the Color Club was a dupe, which it may well be, but for Graphite Gravity not Silver Elements. At any rate, I do see some more affordable alternatives to the Orly if you don't need the snake magnet.
Force Field was next in my swatching rotation. This plummy wine shimmer has a repeat design on its magnet of curved stripes, similar to the Sally Hansen/Color Club/Finger Paints ones but with the lines more closely spaced. I did somewhat better with magnet placement on this one but there's still lots of room for improvement. I used two coats of this one as well.
The fun part of this one is the pops of bright pink shimmer that show up when the magnet is applied.
In dimmer light, Force Field gets very dramatic.
I wasn't sure what to compare this to; the first three plummy magnetics I came across when searching were China Glaze Drawn to You, Sally Hansen Red-y Response, and Nabi Dark Purple. In the bottles, these looked like reasonable choices for finding something close.
On the nail, not so close. Left to right: Orly Force Field, China Glaze Drawn to You, Sally Hansen Red-y Response, Nabi Dark Purple. At least you can see how the Orly magnet design compares to the Sally Hansen one. I used only one thick coat of the non-Orly ones, but it's clear a second coat would not have made these closer in appearance to Force Field.
Finally I came to Opposites Attract, the deep blue shimmer. As an experiment, I used one coat on all my fingers except my pinky, where I used two. It makes a difference; the one coat nails are bumpier, like some bits were getting pulled closer to the magnet because there wasn't a base layer of polish to hold them back. A top coat would have probably smoothed that over, though. This magnet has a sort of X shape, except the X is made by two curves that don't quite meet in the middle. It's not a shape I've seen before.
This has some shimmery bits that pop up under the influence of the magnet; they're not as dramatic as the ones in Force Field.
I had no more luck finding dupes for this than I did for the last one. That did not stop me from doing a comparison, though. Left to right below—Orly Opposites Attract, Nabi Navy Blue, Finger Paints Electro Magnet, Pretty Woman Magnetix unnamed.
If I could only have one of these, it'd be Force Field. Opposites Attract is in a close second place.