Beauty Bargain: The Essie Copycats - MUA Nail Polishes

Oh Essie... How I've admired you from afar for a long time. I have a long list of shades I want to get my manicured talons on but for £7.99/ 12.99 euro a bottle, you don't exactly come cheap. Mint Candy Apple, Fiji and Tart Deco are just some of the shades included in my if only I had the money beauty wish list. So imagine how I felt when I discovered that the MUA fairy Godmother  repackaged their entire nail polish range and transformed the black lid, cheap looking bottles into a more aesthetically pleasing version, in the form of an Essie copycat. White lid? Check. Signature square bottles? Check. Logo etched onto bottle? Yup it's there but this time it spells out MUA instead of Essie. The resemblance of these to their much expensive counterparts is striking. They're so similar and provided you aren't holding these close in your hands, one can easily mistaken these for Essie polishes.  Now I don't know how the people over at the Essie HQ reacted to this blatant copying of their design. But I can imagine it was far from pretty.

 Swatches from left to right, starting from the thumb: Bright Pink, Natural Days, Lush Lilac, Pistachio Ice Cream and All Nude
The Shades
Bright Pink: a warm fuchsia pink (it's just a tad darker in real life compared to the swatches provided)
Natural Days: milky baby pink
Lush Lilac: pale lilac with a white undertone
Pistachio Ice Cream: pastel mint surf green
All Nude: true white

Seeing as these polishes retail for only £1 each, I initially had my concerns about the formula and the brush. When it comes to cheap nail polishes, I'm always worried that they'll apply 1) very streaky and 2) will require a gazillion of coats to achieve an opaque and even finish. Considering 3 out of the 5 shades I picked up belong to the pastel family, I worried about the streakiness during application. I was really expecting them to be a nightmare to work with and it didn't help that the short brush was unlike anything I've used before. But it turns out, I shouldn't have worried so much.

Granted for their cheap price tag, we shouldn't expect a top notch formula but for what it is, the application of each polish is relatively easy to carry out. The formula and the consistency is quite on the thin side and for the lighter shades (Natural Days, Lush Lilac and All Nude) I find them to be slightly watery and you can really see this if you choose to apply thin coats. And it is for that very reason why they can apply quite uneven and streaky at first. That said, the short brush proves to be beneficial as it helps with the ease of application. Because while it is on the short side, it's quite dense and always manages to deposit just the right amount of the polish. And due to the size of the brush handle, I actually find that I have a better control on just how much pressure to apply, to achieve a smooth finish.

I normally prefer to layer thin coats as opposed to thick coats because I find that it helps to prevent chipping down the line but because of the formulation of these polishes, layering on 2-3 thick coats is the only way to go. The first coat is far from being neat but apply a second coat and you'll achieve a smooth and opaque coverage. However, while 2 coats will suffice for some people because they've reached opacity by then, I'm a perfectionist and it's why I'll always choose to add on a third coat as I personally prefer the finish especially with the lighter shades. They look more polished and smoother compared to wearing just 2 coats. But if time is an issue, as previously mentioned, you can get away with 2 coats especially with the shade: Bright Pink as it's by far the most pigmented shade and the easiest to apply.

Speaking of time, the drying time for the 1st coat is usually within 5 mins with the 2nd and 3rd coat taking 10 to 15 mins to completely dry and set. Colour is true to the bottle, what you see is exactly what you get on your nails. They dry to a semi-glossy finish but not overly so which is why I'd highly recommend using a top coat to add some more shine, especially if you're the type of gal who likes her glossy talons. :) But that said, I'd like to point out that in the above swatches I wasn't wearing any top coat and I found the formula to be surprisingly long wearing. By the time I removed the swatches from the last photo above, it was Day 3 and I had yet to see any chips. Very impressive for a £1 nail polish non?

Final note? Clean, crisp pretty Essie replica packaging, 18 pretty shades to choose from here ,impressive longevity and a cheap price tag makes these polishes worthy owners of the beauty bargain title. They're even a better bargain if you happen to catch the 3 for 2 offer in Superdrug. (like I did. Thanks momma and aunt Beth for picking these up for me. Much love :) )


  1. Gorgeous shades!!

  2. Love the bright pink shade!x

  3. I need the Pistachio Ice Cream! Its gorgeous!:)

    PS. You can buy Essie Nail Polishes for 1.99 from Fragrance Direct:

    Navigate Her, Bikini So Teeny and Avenue Maintain are beautiful!

    I buy most of my Essie polishes from their website :)

  4. I love MUA for a bargain!

    New follower!

  5. As a massive Essie fan I am really curious to try and compare these! They sounds lovely! :)

    Andrea | RosyChicc

  6. Hiya! I have nominated you for the Liebster blog award as I think your blog is lovely and deserves more recognition :)
    Check out my post about the award here:

  7. Love natural days!
    I love these polishes, I have a couple myself :)
    alicekatex ♥

  8. Anonymous28/11/13

    such a lovely nail polishes ! xx

  9. I have never seen these before, but they really do look like essie polishes. That baby pink is right up my alley!

    Elise Goes Glam

  10. The light pink and mint colour remind me a lot of Fiji and Mint Candy Apple. The packaging is nearly identical to Essie polishes are you point out - but certainly not the price point! :)

  11. These sound amazing <3 Beautiful colours & as you say, dead ringers for Essie polish packaging!

    Sophie xo soinspo

  12. oh WOW! at first glance I thought these were Essie. what a dead ringer! they look pretty though.

  13. I love Bright Pink! x

  14. These polishes definitely scream 'spring!' I love them!


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