Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Essie Gel-Setter 3D Pop Tints

The ski lifts here opened this past Friday, so I've been busy schussing down the slopes using muscles that haven't seen this kind of action since last winter. I'm taking today off to let my body recover a bit, so it seemed a great time to write up a post about the Essie Gel-Setter 3D Pop Tints I swatched. Except then my internet access at home went down, so that's how I find myself putting the final touches on this post at the public library with their wifi.

The 3D Pop Tints are colored no-light gel topcoats, designed to add "vibrancy and dimension" to the base color they're used over. There are three shades, called 01, 02, and 03—I didn't see any other shade designation on the boxes and none on the bottles, either.

01 is a pink tint. The back of its box says it's best over "pinks, neutrals, and corals", so I tried it over Essie Birthday Suit, a pale peachy neutral creme. I found the effect of this Pop Tint to be very, very subtle. Top to bottom below: Birthday Suit alone at 3 coats, plus one coat of 01 Pop Tint, plus two coats of 01, plus three coats of 01 (at which point it started to get goopy and drag, as the gel-like effect builds up fast). I can see using this over colors that I thought would be more flattering if they were just ever so slightly more warm-toned.

Since my experience with layering 01 over Birthday Suit showed that doing more than one coat of the Pop Tint led to increased goopy-ness without much of an additional color payoff, I switched gears and decided to swatch all three Pop Tints at one time over various base colors. 02 is a blue tint recommended for use over "cool greys, greens, blues, and reds". 03 is a purple tint for "blues, purples, and greiges". Of course I didn't let those instructions limit me.

To get the clearest look at the tints without interaction, I put on a white creme, Funky Fingers Gesso. Top to bottom below: Gesso alone, topped with 01, with 02, with 03. The pink was the most subtle, followed by the purple, then the blue.

I know what I said about using more than one coat of the Pop Tints, but I just had to add a second coat to see the effect over the white. It made the least difference for the pink, which was still very pale. The purple benefitted the most, though it was a challenge to keep the color even; this formula doesn't seem to self-level as well as I'd like, so one has to be careful to not load up the brush too much.

The next base I tried was Essie Hubby for Dessert, a pale pink creme. Left to right: Hubby for Dessert alone, topped with 01, with 02, with 03. The pink topper changed it imperceptibly. The blue topper made it quite a pretty periwinkle, and the purple topper turned it to the palest lilac.

Essie Salt Water Happy, a pastel cornflower blue creme, was my next choice for experimentation. Top to bottom below: Salt Water Happy alone, topped with 01, with 02, with 03. The pink and purple toppers had just about the same effect, turning the purple-leaning blue base into a blue-leaning purple. The blue topper made a very nice blue out of it.

Finally, I tried a darker base, the classic red creme Essie Happy Wife Happy Life. Left to right: Happy Wife Happy Life alone, topped with 01, with 02, with 03. The effect of all the toppers was subtle, just tweaking the red a little warmer (pink topper and purple topper) or a little cooler (blue topper).

These Pop Tints are interesting to work with, but it's hard to tell going in what the effect will be on any given base. I think I prefer the greater color payoff of the watercolor polishes that so many brands had out last year, but these will make nice topcoats, I'll just have to test first to make sure I like the effect on whatever I'm topping.


  1. I haven't heard about this essie collection before! It's an interesting idea... But I think the pink and purple need to be more pigmented... The change isn't that noticeable


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