One of the reasons it took me so long to ponder my Top 20 list is that I spent Christmas week with Mr. Karen at our condo on Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho. Between all the skiing and celebrating (and condo maintenance chores) I had little time to muse on nail stuff (I was doing a wear test of another color of Sally Hansen Insta Gel strips, though—look for that report next week some time). It is seriously distracting to be surrounded by scenes like these:
Now I am back home in Michigan, where sure there's plenty to do but I don't have to try and cram it all into a week's holiday, so I finally have my Top 20 for 2012. When I started to think about doing this list, I looked back at my Top 20 posts for the last two years and saw lots of polishes I still like enough to put on the list again, which would leave not much room for new polishes. So I decided that everything that's been on the list before is going onto a sort of Hall of Fame page, and this year's list will be the Top 20 chosen from polishes that have been on my nails in 2012, regardless of when they were released. In narrowing this down, I thought about which ones would survive if I ever did a big destash, which ones I've worn more than once over the years (or think I'll wear again if they're newer colors), which ones stand out from the crowd, and which ones make me wave my tips around just to see the pretty colors.
Let's start with the cremes, the quiest workhorses in any polish wardrobe. I've got two in my Top 20 this year: Revlon ColorStay Midnight and OPI Don't Touch My Tutu.
Midnight made the list because it's a sophisticated deep color that doesn't look black even in lower light and it wears on me so well that I don't worry about chips or tipwear that can be such a problem with dark colors.
Don't Touch My Tutu is here because it's a sheer that's not streaky; it looks clean and fresh on its own and is great for jelly sandwiches (shown below as the "bread" with OPI Rainbow Connection).
Moving on to shimmers, let's begin with one polish I didn't have to ponder for one second whether it belonged on the list: Essie Bikini So Teeny. If you've been reading my blog this year, you know I fell in love with this cornflower blue subtle shimmer. It's great on its own; it's great as a base for sheer shimmers and glitters (shown below under Lilacquer Encantado and then Essie Stroke of Brilliance).
Orly Preamp made my Top 20 because I only bought it so I'd have a complete set of the Electronica collection but then I tried it and was surprised by how much I liked it. I thought I was over pinks, but this is not just any old pink.
The blue and gold Zoya Fei Fei is another that snuck up on me; I thought its purple sibling would be my favorite from the collection, but Fei Fei just charmed me. (Shown here with Zoya Natty as an accent nail).
Lilacquer Zorg Industries earned its spot by being about six colors in one bottle, depending on the light and the angle. (In the shots below, I've layered it over Sally Hansen Choco-Latte.)
I am as surprised as anyone that Nicole by OPI For Gold Times Sake is on this list; I though Estee Lauder Explosif was lock for Top 20, but then this polish came along and plussed that dirty gold micro flakie shimmer look.
Holos are a special kind of shimmer, so let's go there next. I was really tempted to put several on this list, because there are finally a bunch of great ones around again after a long drought. I ended up with just one, my absolute favorite from the recent crop: Layla Misty Blush. It's pretty in regular room light and incredibly gorgeous in the sun.
I've only got one flakie on my list this year, Sally Hansen Glass Slipper, which some people don't even consider a flakie because the particles are one color and don't shift. That's one of the things I like about it—because the flakies are quiet, it's a great layering polish to add just a little something to other colors without getting too flashy when you want a quiet mani. In these photos, it's over Sally Hansen Dune and Sea.
It will come as no shock that the biggest category in my Top 20 is glitter. L'Oreal Silver Sparkle was the first one I picked; it's the glitter equivalent of Bikini So Teeny, a summer love that's lasted into seasons beyond. It can be worn on its own; it can be layered. Either way, I love looking at it. (Below: by itself, over black, over Models Own Beth's Blue.)
Piggy Polish Lightmare made the list even though the brand frustrates me with their relabels and lack of information on new collections. It's a Halloween polish I could see wearing at other times of the year. (Here's it's worn over black, which does make it more Halloween-y.)
The rest of the glitters in my Top 20 are all from indie brands. There's so much good stuff coming out these days from small brands that it's impossible to see it all, but I do what I can!
Happy Hands Springs is a refreshing beauty.
CrowsToes Bunny Slope is delicate and gorgeous, just like snow (that's Bikini So Teeny on the accent nail).
Fanchromatic Between Two Worlds is an unusual and intriguing mix of colors in a mysterious dusty purple base.
Oopsie Daisies Cultist Chic is squishy and lovely when worn alone and also works well layered over my favorite purples (OPI Funky Dunkey in the second pic below).
Lilacquer Bohr-ing is a color-shifting shimmer and glitter party for your nails (here over Orly Shockwave).
Special effects polishes finish out my Top 20. Pure Ice Vinyl Remix is here because it made me excited about crack again when I thought I was done with it.
OPI Black Spotted made the list because I still have nothing else like it, and with a stash as big as mine, that's significant.
2012 brought us many magnetic polishes, and Sinful Polar Opposites is my pick of the lot. It was reasonably priced and the magnet was super strong.
Finally, Sally Hansen Salon Insta Gel Strips round out my Top 20; these got me to try gel for the first time and they lived up to the promises they made about wear. I chose to wear them again for my recent trip because I was so happy with how they worked out the first time.
So there you have it, my Top 20 for 2012. I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring! If you did your own Top 20 list, link it in the comments (I know I don't usually like links there but this is a special occasion).
Some of the polishes shown in this entry were provided free for review purposes (you can see which ones by following the links to the individual entries). The content of this entry was not dictated by the provider.