Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rite Aid Pretty Woman Magnetix Nail Polish Review and Swatches

Magnetic polish is super cool. That is, or at least should be, a universally-accepted truth. Sadly, it is also rather expensive. Happily, more budget-friendly brands have been coming out with magnetic options: ICING, a tween accessories store present in some malls (not mine, boo), China Glaze, and Color Club have all released or have upcoming magnetic collections. And, lo and behold, a random Rite Aid brand version has recently appeared! Nouveau Cheap posted about it, and I ventured over to my nearest Rite Aid to check it out a couple days later. The line, called Pretty Woman Magnetix (because apparently every brand ever thinks that's a clever play on words? I don't even know), has, like, 10 different colors, and I was frankly swamped with the choices, especially because none of them have names. I ended up purchasing just one, since, while $8 is less than magnetic polish from many other brands, it is still 20% of my monthly nail budget. And, y'know, I sometimes try to not go over that too much (I usually fail, epically). I then bought another to try, but have since returned the first, and may well return the second, for reasons I will outline below! Try to contain your excitement.
The bottle is really weirdly shaped. Obviously.
Quick explanation of what magnetic polishes are and how they're used: they're nail polishes that have iron powder in them, which makes weird (read: awesome) patterns after having close contact with a magnet designed for the purpose. The most common magnet patterns are diagonal lines and ripples, though there are also stars (which I want, please!), chevrons, and horizontal lines (and probably others).  You often have to purchase the magnets separately from the polish, but these Pretty Woman polishes come with two included, a diagonal one and a squiggly one. Generally, the process is to apply a thin coat of the magnetic polish to nails, let dry, then apply a thick coat and immediately place above/below the magnet, getting the nail as close to the magnet as possible without touching it. Hold for anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds, depending on the strength of the magnet, et voila! Magical magnet patterns. You have to go one nail at a time once you get to the second coat, or else the polish will dry before you can get it to form a design.
2 coats Rosie; 1) isn't the shimmer awesome?!?!, 2) the magnet didn't want to work on my index, sadface
The first one I got, herewith dubbed Rosie, is a berry-magenta with duochrome purple, blue, copper and gold shimmer. You can't really see the shimmer in the bottle, but once you use the magnet, whammo! Awesome glittery goodness. Besides becoming more shimmery, magnetizing the polish splits the polish into light pink and dark maroon sections, with pretty gradations between. Combined with the shimmer, it's really gorgeous.

2 coats Stormy Sea; here, the magnet 
got grouchy on my pinky
The second, which I declare to be Stormy Sea, is a greyed-out dark murky purple. It doesn't have the glitter that Rosie does, which makes for much easier removal (more on that in a bit), but it's also less complex on the nail. Magnetizing it makes it develop into a dark, nearly charcoal, purple, and a light grey lavender. Surprisingly muted, really.

So, why would I ever want to return these? Okay, part of it is just a me thing. I have a tremor that sometimes makes carefully holding a pose challenging, and I ended up touching my nail to the magnet more than a few times. The times when I held my nail far enough away that there wouldn't be a risk of that, the magnet wasn't strong enough and the pattern didn't show up. Yeah, catch-22. If you don't suffer from shaky hands, that probably won't be a problem for you! Another me-thing: my nails are currently pretty short, because I'm trying to grow them out healthy with some strengthening treatments (still a work in progress, and I'm starting to fear they may never be strong and cooperative, probably due to my multitude of illnesses), and the magnetic pattern just plain isn't as cool on stubby nails. Bah humbug!

Some of my irritation with this product is not my fault, though. Well, okay, probably not.
1) It comes with two magnets, but only the diagonal stripes one works consistently; the wavy one just does not want to make a strong pattern.
2 coats Rosie with the diagonal magnet held over it for 30 seconds; see how nice and bold it looks?

2 coats Rosie with the wavy magnet; see how utterly crap it looks? that one measly wave was the best I ever got
Now, I will readily admit that I am a bit OCD, and having my nails not be symmetrical is apparently one of my triggers. Diagonal stripes? Are not symmetrical. Goddamnit. On the one hand, the fact that the wavy magnet doesn't work is their fault. On the other, the fact that I don't like the way the diagonal looks is my own problem. I think if I were to use another brand's magnets (like these by You Mix, particularly the star and chevron ones), I would like the results better.

2) This may be a thing with magnetic polishes in general, but both polishes were thick, goopy, and dried extremely quickly. So quickly that, after striping 3 times to cover my nail, if I tried to go back over what I'd already painted (to even it out, or whatever), it would cling to the new polish and make it clumpy, bumpy, and horrible. I found I either had to get it right on the first try (not a problem for some people, but again: tremor), or use a really thick coat so that it couldn't dry before I could re-spread it. I know absolutely nothing about polish formulation, so this might be a completely moronic thing to say, but good God you'd think they'd be able to make it not so fast-dry that you can't fix something 7 seconds after you apply it! There were several times that I had to remove the polish from a finger after it got clumpy and gunky.

Between chunky drag, the designs I nicked by touching my nail to the magnet, and the nails that, for some reason or another, failed to have a design show up, it was a friggin' miracle when I managed 60% success. Bear in mind that each nail takes 30 seconds with the magnet, on top of all the time needed for painting them, and it becomes clearer how frustrating it was to have to start over on a nail, much less on many nails.

Whew, that ended up a little ranty. I hope it made sense, though, and that you can see what issues will and won't apply to you. Most people don't have to worry about their hands jittering away from them, which is the source of many of my problems. And those that don't mind asymmetrical designs may really like the magnet that works (and, perhaps the wavy magnets in mine were just duds? though it happened twice, so I'm doubtful). For $8, a huge range of colors, and Rite Aid's generous return policy (keep your receipt and returns are absurdly easy), the Pretty Woman Magnetix polishes are a nice way to try out the magnetic trend.

$8 for 0.34 oz, available from Rite Aid

Color: 10 (they are, objectively [yes I know what I'm saying], awesome, especially Rosie)
Formula: 6.5
Brush & Bottle: 3.5 (why the hell is the bottle so weirdly shaped? It doesn't fit into any kind of neat storage system)
Pigmentation & Finish: 4 (needs top coat to be really shiny; you can see in the Stormy Sea pics above, it's semi-matte, and that's because I decided I didn't want to wear it before I got around to applying top coat)
Price/Value: 2.5 (pricier than most drugstore polishes, with less product)
Grade: C

Let me reiterate: I do not think these polishes are bad; they just didn't work for me. The large range of colors, relative affordability (especially since each bottle comes with its own magnets), and awesome novelty makes me wish I could give them a higher grade, but it simply wasn't love. I don't think I've given up on magnetic polishes entirely; I'm hoping to try out the China Glaze ones once they arrive at my Sally, and I'll be sure to update you about how that turns out!

Have you tried any magnetic polishes? What was your experience? What do you think of the Pretty Woman ones?

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