Cover Girl hopped on the gel bandwagon, specifically the no-special-light-needed gel bandwagon, with their XL Nail Gel line that hit stores several months back. Unlike the L'Oreal, Revlon, and Sally Hansen offerings in this category, Cover Girl is not pushing a special topcoat to go with their gels, which I appreciate, as I suspect I already own enough topcoat to paint my car and don't need more. There are nine shades in this line. Top row: Ample Apple, Overblown Orange, Haughty Lemon, Whole Lotta Guava. Bottom row: Rotund Raspberry, Plumped-Up Plum, Plump It Pear, Buxom Blue, Bodacious Berry.
I started my swatching with Haughty Lemon, because yellows can be tricky so I was curious to see how this new formula would do with that color. A subtle shimmer is visible in the bottle.
The shimmer disappears on the nail in all but the brightest, most direct lighting situations, but I forgive that because otherwise this is very well behaved. I used only two coats. It did not streak nor was it too thick, and it dried pretty shiny without topcoat.
One of my goals is to get better at nail art, so I grabbed one of the cheapie brushes I got at Five Below recently and added freehand stripes to Haughty Lemon using Plump It Pear (green), Buxom Blue (sky blue), and Plumped-Up Plum (soft purple). I slicked topcoat over the stripes, hoping the extra shine would distract from my wobbly lines.
Plump It Pear and Plumped-Up Plum are cremes; Buxom Blue has some shimmer to it.
I hadn't seen any shimmer from Buxom Blue in the stripes, so I thought I'd swatch it on its own to see if that would bring the shimmer out more. Nope, it did not, but as with the yellow, the formula was so nice I didn't so much mind the hidden shimmer. I used two coats of Buxom Blue but it was very nearly a one coater for me.
I adorned Buxom Blue with layered dots using Haughty Lemon, Plump It Pear, and Bodacious Berry. And here we see evidence of one of my challenges when it comes to nail art—patience. I didn't wait quite long enough to add topcoat to my dots and got some smearing.
For my next XL Gel look, I combined the cremes Overblown Orange, Whole Lotta Guava (medium pink), and Ample Apple (orange-leaning red), doing freehand diagonal stripes on my index finger with all three. I used three coats of these, but that was more force of habit, as they would have been fine at two coats. I used topcoat on the stripes but not the plain nails.
I did another striped accent look with Plumped-Up Plum, Plump It Pear, and Bodacious Berry (deep purple), doing gently curved freehand stripes on my index finger. I used two coats of Plumped-Up Plum and Plump It Pear, one coat of Bodacious Berry. Stripes have topcoat; other nails do not (and yes, I failed to push my patience button again before the topcoat).
I figured at least one of the cremes should get its own full hand swatch, and Rotund Raspberry, a deep red, got that honor. I used two coats; it was opaque in one, but I did two because I just can't quite get my head around the idea of a one-coater.
Overall, I quite liked these. I'm sure the colors can be duped, but the formula is quite nice and the coverage is great.