“There’s a whole indie polish world out there and not everyone knows about it,” says Hope Szymanski, a nail tech at Studio 890 Salon & Spa in Brookfield, Wis. A full-fledged indie polish fan herself, Szymanski has a growing collection of more than 300 bottles. “The consistency, finish, and wearability are much nicer than most mainstream polishes,” she says. “Since indie polishes are handmade in small batches, I believe there is more care and testing of the product. Plus the names are to die for.”
Inside the world of indie polishes — polishes produced by independent makers on a small scale — polish production has more to do with art and passion than with big-time commerce. The polishes — usually vegan and five-free — are compared on the basis of color and other qualities, like viscosity, depth of sparkle, and layerability.
Szymanski’s personal favorites are Vapid, Cupcake Polish, and Enchanted Polish. “I have at least five Enchanted polishes that are worth more than $200 each. Their value depends on their quality, color, when they were made, and their rarity,” she explains. “I personally love the super holographic colors in magenta, blue, teal, and purple. In the indie world, pinks, blues, and purples tend to go the fastest, depending on the brand and finish.”
Sold outside traditional channels, indie polish-makers rely largely on social media to build a following. “Each brand has a website, Twitter, and Instagram feed where they post updates. Brands also have bloggers who do reviews and swatches so as buyers we can truly see what the colors look like,” she says.
Understandably, Szymanski is reluctant to use the polish she treasures. “I think I have only used four colors from my entire collection. Mostly I swatch them on a nail ring that I keep on the bottle handle, or I take close-up photos to post on my Instagram feed.”