Leather nail polish was a trend before it even hit stores. In late November 2012, it girl Alexa Chung posted a picture of her leather manicure to Twitter with the accompanying tweet "Aaaaannnnnndddd thanks @nailsinc for my leather nails! #kinky." A long waiting list was formed overnight. By the time Nails Inc launched the product in mid-December, there were over 1,000 people on the list to get their manicured hands on leather polish.
Nails Inc is the cult beauty brand behind several special effect nail products, including magnetic and holographic nail polishes. At the moment they are the only brand that carries leather polish, as part of its Bling It On: Rebel kit. The set includes leather polish, orange wood sticks, nail glue, 4 different types of rhinestones and 4 crystal skull appliques.
Edgy embellishments were all over New York Fashion Week earlier this month and nothing says rock star like leather, studs, and skulls. The idea of nails this cool seemed to good to be true. I didn't expect the final effect to be all that "leathery" - especially after 3D nail polish turned out to just be an exaggerated way of saying "super, super glittery". Expecting to get a simple black matte finish, I was amazed when my nails totally resembled actual leather. They looked more leathery than the nails on the box, and I thought those would be 'shopped to ultimate leatheriness!
This was not my only pleasant surprise about leather nail polish. Black nail polish tends to be easy to mess up, but the brush and polish consistency with this product made it relatively easy to paint inside the lines for a low-mess application. Because the polish was so thick, there also wasn't the streaky inconsistency of imperfectly even coats. The color painted on glossy black and within seconds began to dry into the textured pattern. You're meant to wait at least two minutes between coats but in my excitement I must have waited no more than 20 seconds. This didn't seem to make so much of a difference, as I can't imagine how the final effect could have been any more leatherlike. (How many more made up words can I make up around "leather"?)
Of all Nails Inc's special effect polishes, leather nail polish was by far my favorite. Worn sans-rhinestones, leather polish has a minimalist, understated rock chic vibe. Sticking on the studs and skulls just elevates your manicure to badass level. I didn't pile on the appliques as much as the lady on the box did, using not 4 but 1 skull (on my thumb) and not 4-5 but 2 studs on each other nail. I think over-rhinestoning take this manicure to a place that is more "bling bling" than "rock and roll". Granted the product name references "bling", but I think what enchants nail fanatics about this particular manicure is the promise of invoking a look that's more Debbie Harry than Lil' Kim. But maybe that's just my guitar-playing fingers feeling all cool in their lil' leather jackets.