While I’m normally a law-abiding citizen, sometimes I realize that certain rules are meant to be broken. Such is the case when it comes to base coats!
I’ve tried nearly every mainstream base coat under the sun, beyond the dark side of the mood, and around the corner.
You name it, since 2008, if it’s a popular base coat, I gave it a run for its money.
I can’t remember the exact date when OPI Nail Envy waltzed into my life with its cummerbund, but I know that it should’ve been sooner!
If you’ve followed Swatch And Learn for a while, you know that for pretty much every single nail-polish review, my base coat of choice is, well, not a base coat! It’s OPI Nail Envy, which is classified as a nail strengthener.
My natural nails are very strong like Hercules. (Thank my mom and dad for that because I don’t do anything special, and I’m always using my nails to pick at labels and other things that will make a nailphile cringe. I’m extremely rough on my nails, and I’m constantly typing on the keyboard at my full-time job. Then, I come home and work on my blog – haha, more keyboard typing!)
So…it’s understandable that I used to steer clear of nail strengtheners. But, so many readers kept raving about OPI Nail Envy, and, like any nailphile, my curiosity got the better of me. I had to see if it was worth the hype or not.
Well, I’m so glad that I was curious like a cat because my search for a Holy Grail base coat came to an end the day I tried OPI Nail Envy (the original formula)!
I use it as a base coat, so this review is only judging it that way. (I can’t judge how well it strengthens nails, as my nails aren’t weak, thin, or peeling. Plus when I used this, I didn’t notice any difference in terms of nail strength.)
For those with nails that need to get buff, you’ll be happy to know that this is a maximum-strength formula with hydrolyzed protein and calcium. This combination helps nails grow harder, longer, and stronger, while resisting peeling, cracking, and splitting, according to the official OPI website.
Read this review to learn why I’m no longer looking for a great base coat. I’ve found it!
OPI Nail Envy Pictures
Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Propyl Acetate, Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Triphenyl Phosphate, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, n-Butyl Alcohol, Formaldehyde, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Camphor, Diacetone Alcohol, Ethyl Tosylamide, Benzophenone-1, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Dimethicone, Calcium Pantothenate, CI 60725 (Violet 2), CI 77891 (Titanum Dioxide).
Claims: TRUSTED (Holy Grail Status!)
- Helps nails grow harder & stronger (Not sure – I have strong nails already)
- Makes nails grow faster (Strangely enough, I have noticed this. My nails already grow quickly, but when I use this, they seem to get longer faster)
- Resisting peeling, cracking & splitting (My nails rarely break or peel, but with this, it’s like extra insurance!)
- Name: OPI Nail Envy
- Amount: 15 mL (0.5 oz)
- Retail Price: Around $16-18 CAD (depending where you buy it) – I purchased this bottle of OPI Nail Envy.
- Where to Buy: NailPolishCanada, Trade Secrets & anywhere you can find OPI
OPI Nail Envy Review
One of the reasons why I adore OPI Nail Envy is that you have a choice to wear it solo or under a nail polish.
When worn by itself, it imparts a healthy-looking shine that I really enjoy. (*Gasp* Haha, I know that you probably think I wear nail polish 24/7, right? I wear lacquer nearly all the time, but there are the rare times when I want to see my natural nails again. I think it’s important that, although you love nail polish, you still know how to appreciate your naked nails!)
I find the finish to be very smooth. (You may not know it, but I have some ridges on my nails that I don’t buff away.) Polish tends to smooth over them and leave a nice finish, but some lacquers are less forgiving. When this is the case, I find that OPI Nail Envy does an amazing job at concealing the ridges by creating a smoother surface to work on.
This is one of my main concerns when it comes to a good base coat because the last thing I want is to have to wait a long time for it to dry before I can apply a colourful nail polish. (Speed is the key, especially when time is such a premium these days!)
OPI Nail Envy dries pretty fast, so I never had any issues waiting for it to dry or accidentally denting my nails.
Is it just me, or does that header make you think of carpets? I swear that I’m not going to try to sell you a specially-treated rug! 😉
Although OPI Nail Envy never seems to make any claims about protecting your nails from stain-prone polishes, I’ve found that, on my nails, it really is wonderful for keeping my nails free from Cheetos-orange stains. (When I’m wary, I will apply two coats of this to be extra sure!)
As I’ve said before, my nails aren’t the peeling type. However, with other base coats, I’ve noticed that they can strip my nails and make them feel dry. Then, when I go to remove a polish, my nails look parched!
When I use OPI Nail Envy, I’ve found that I don’t get that problem. My nails seem to be hydrated more than if I used a typical base coat.
As far as I know, OPI Nail Envy is here to stay. It’s not a limited edition, and I can’t see OPI ever discontinuing their top-selling nail strengthener. So you should have zero problems getting your hands on it, unless you live in a country that doesn’t have easy access to OPI in general.
Yes, the retail price is around $16-18 CAD, which is a little pricy for a ‘base coat’, but in my book, it’s completely worth every penny! Think about it – you’ll be using it under most of your manicures and/or pedicures.
OPI is known for their ProWide Brush, and OPI Nail Envy also features that same wide brush that covers more nail than the skinny version in other polishes. (Personally, I can use any brush, thick or thin. But I realize that for some nailphiles, the brush design can be a deal breaker if it’s too skinny.)
I accidentally threw away the cardboard box it came in before photographing this. (Sigh – bad blogger. *Hands head in shame*) Actually, I’ve used this bottle several times before photographing it. (This isn’t my first bottle of it. I think this might be my fourth bottle.)
The cardboard box it comes in is unnecessary for the consumer, but I understand why OPI sticks with it. The cardboard box is sealed, which prevents customers from trying to open the bottle and exposing the formula to air, which can dry it out and make the polish perform differently than designed.
While I prefer minimal packaging (and therefore less waste), I’m on the fence because I also like how the box prevents nosy nailphiles from opening up the bottle. I enjoy being the first person to use my polish, thank you very much!
There is a whole range of OPI Nail Envy nail strengtheners on the market. This is the original one that comes in a white-and-green box, but there are others to specifically address nail issues like peeling, dry, or brittle nails.
Also, I remember a reader once told me that after using OPI Nail Envy (the original formulation) for a long time, her nails stopped improving and then started peeling again. Apparently you’re supposed to switch to the OPI Nail Envy Maintenance version once your nails reach their optimal condition with the original formula.
I have no idea whether or not that’ll work for most people because I’ve been using OPI Nail Envy (original) for a long time and haven’t encountered any problems. (I recently bought a bottle of OPI Nail Envy Maintenance, so when I’m done the original version, I’ll switch to the Maintenance one and report later on if I notice any difference.)
Note that the original formula contains Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin. If you’re trying to avoid those, this isn’t the one for you. However, there is an OPI Nail Envy version that’s Formaldehyde-free. (I haven’t tried that, and I think it’s one that’s geared toward ‘sensitive nails’.)
Final Verdict: 10/10
As if you couldn’t already tell, I’m in love with OPI Nail Envy (the original formula)! It works wonderfully for me as a base coat, and it’s easy for me to find when I run out.
If you’ve tried every base coat under the sun, maybe it’s time for you to try this nail strengthener for a change. You may be as surprised as I was! 🙂
What’s the latest base coat that you’ve tried? What base coat are you wearing now? What’s the most important function that you expect a base coat to do?