I Tried It: Breathable Nail Polish

October 4, 2016

I Tried It: Breathable Nail Polish

I had always assumed that I’d inherited dry, brittle nails that are prone to peeling. While my nails may never be the strongest on the block, a recent hiatus from nail polish (of a little more than a month) showed me that my genes weren’t entirely to blame for my delicate nails. Rather, my nail polish habit had been playing a large role in my nail woes. Now, I’m not talking about using gel polish or even acrylics–my nail routine consists of acetone-free polish remover and 5-free nail polishes. I’m careful about not “sawing” back and forth when shaping my nails, and I moisturize my cuticles like a good girl.

But even these conscientious habits don’t keep my nails completely safe from damage. Most nail polishes, including my 5-free favorites, create a chemical seal over the nail. This allows the polish to adhere to the nail for days on end. Consequently, the nails cannot absorb oil or atmospheric moisture the way they would if they were completely bare. Can you imagine if you only conditioned your hair once a week for months in a row? Unless you have magic in your hair, it would probably look pretty dry and be vulnerable to breakage. Well, that’s kind of what happens to our nails when we constantly smother them in polish (guilty!).

Always on the lookout for beauty innovations, I jumped at the chance to try breathable nail polish.  Cruelty-free brand ORLY recently released Breathable Color and Treatment Nail Polish, a new formula intended to allow nails to absorb moisture and not dry out. The polish was designed using contact lens technology–how cool is that? This “nail superfood” contains provitamin B5 and argan oil to nourish nails. With built-in base and top coat, ORLY’s breathable treatment supposedly cuts manicure time in half. I decided to put those claims to the test.

I Tried It: Breathable Nail Polish

Nail polish application: Applying the nail polish went fairly well. The polish’s consistency is a *bit* thicker than I prefer, but it was still pretty easy to apply and stay in the lines. I did find it to be a bit streaky, however, so I had to be careful to get my coats on evenly. Skipping base and topcoat really did make the process faster!

Drying time: I was impressed with how quickly this nail polish dried. I didn’t experience any nicks or smudges shortly after applying it. Yay!

Initial result: I was underwhelmed by the nails’ final appearance. Mainly, I was jonesing for a classic, shiny top coat to smooth out the visible brush strokes and make my nails glossy. The final product wasn’t necessarily un-shiny, it just lacked the gel-like finish so many top coats emulate these days. (I’m totally spoiled!) You could say the dried polish had a “satin” finish, somewhere between matte and glossy. Applying a top coat would have, of course, spoiled the whole “breathable” business, though.

During coffee, my friends remarked on how good they looked and mentioned that they hadn’t noticed any streakiness/lack of gloss until I brought it up. (These are the kinds of important questions you ask your buddies when you’re a beauty editor.)

Wear: The nails wore fairly well—better than I expected for nail polish sans base and topcoat. I didn’t find that this polish is more prone to chipping than regular polish, which is a feather in the brand’s cap, especially considering that this is a new formula. I did break down and apply a third coat of polish after one day to minimize the streakiness/brush strokes, which seemed to help.

I did break down and apply a third coat of polish after one day to minimize the streakiness/brush strokes, which seemed to help.

Removal: The breathable nail polish was easy to remove, as I expected. After just one mani with this polish, I can’t say that my nails were noticeably healthier, but they also weren’t bone dry—the way they are after a round with certain regular polishes. I imagine I would have to exclusively wear this product for weeks before noticing that my nails were not longer as brittle.

Final takeaway: I love that ORLY has created a product to address the dryness and damaged caused by conventional polish (and really any polish that’s not the kiddie peel-off kind!). I could get used to it, but I’m also hoping they further develop the formula to make it shiny. I mean…contact lenses look pretty shiny, right?! 😉

Are you going to try ORLY Breathable Color and Treatment?

Related: 10 Best 5-Free Nail Polish Brands

Going Bare with Healthy, Polish-Free Nails

DIY Glitter Nails

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Photo: ORLY, PicJumbo

Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.


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