Filed In: Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Viper (swatches, comparison & review)


Viper  — the very name bears a certain seductively sinister sex appeal, and while I don’t indulge in many Estée Lauder products, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this was a shade I had to acquire. Easier said than done, however, as this shade was not only sold out at all US counters I went to this past summer, but upon arriving back home, all sales agents I asked here looked at me like I was speaking gibberish when I inquired. I was even assured by one pseudo-genius that this shade was a US exclusive ONLY and that I would NEVER find it here. Until I walked into Holt’s 2 minutes later … and picked it up. Whatever … the end result is that I did managed to get it, right?

Viper (label)


Viper (CAD $25.00 limited edition) – is sumptuous, luxurious, malevolent, decadent, and totally oozes a brooding sensuality. Yes, a bottle of nail polish can do all that – trust me on this. The first coat applied somewhat sheer(ish), showing a charcoal-esque pine green base, with the second coat bringing forth this beauty’s true colour: a blackened forest/viridian green hue filled with ultra-fine emerald shimmer, although it does tend to look more ebony indoors. The formula is in that jelly/crème hybrid format that I’m really coming to love – the flow of a crème but with the high gloss and elasticity of a jelly, as it applies in a completely self-levelling way and ends with a ridiculously glassy finish. The square-shaped heavy glass bottle might look a little chunky, but actually serves to line up amazingly well for storage purposes, although it’s visually so beautiful that you will definitely want this to be out & admired. Bonus: absolutely no staining upon removal. Coats applied: 3 (thin)

Viper (sunlight)

Viper (sunlight)

Viper (shaded light)

Viper (flash)


Even though I have a few deep green shades in my collection that I could have compared ‘Viper’ to, something about its application and deep green tone completely reminded me of another legendary shade: the unicorn-elusive and limited edition ‘Zulu’ from NARS, which I was very happy to have picked up when it was re-released in the fall of 2010. Here’s how ‘Zulu’ compared to ‘Viper’ (both fabulous names, by the way):

  • required 3 coats to reach the same opacity
  • a thinner and sheerer formula
  • first coat shows a much brighter green tone
  • no shimmer
  • slight translucency and more jelly-like qualities
  • exceptionally glossy (a glass like finish) – makes application of top coat almost redundant
  • non-staining as well

Overall, I’d say the two while bearing an almost identical base tone, are also quite different from each other due to ‘Viper’s’ shimmer, and worth owning both.

Viper vs Zulu (sunlight)

Viper vs Zulu (indirect light)

Viper vs Zulu (flash)


Final thoughts: When attempting to track down cosmetic products, perseverance pays off, as well as having some basic knowledge of the item you’re trying to find. Case in point, not always taking a sales agent’s word on something – very happy I didn’t. With the amount of nail varnish choices one faces today, it might be hard to make a case for one shade over another, so it comes down to personal preferences; I love how sophisticated yet totally “dark” and edgy ‘Viper’ is and its deep green tone helps it stand out from other trendy colours. That, and a formula that’s to die for. And the name … makes me feel so dangerous …

Estée Lauder – Pure Color Nail Laquer in ‘Metallic Sage’ from the Fall 2011 Collection (swatches & review)

I confess that for the most part, I have largely overlooked/bypassed many Estée Lauder collections, but something changed for me last fall; I chanced upon this ‘Metallic Sage’ nail lacquer and I literally stopped in my tracks.  Something about these brooding, dusty tones with that elusive hidden shimmer deep within, always seems to call to me – and this beauty, I heard loud & clear!  All swatches are with base and top coats.

In honour of the day, I’m showcasing my own streak of “green”!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my beauties! (source)


‘Metallic Sage’ is an interesting paradox; what looks like a deep shade in the bottle, actually applies somewhat semi-sheer, something I didn’t expect at all! An easy-flowing formula with just the right amount of viscosity and density, I applied three thin coats to achieve a perfectly opaque finish, although good coverage was also visible by the second coat. I found the slightly wide brush a touch awkward to use at first, but I liked the fact that this width meant no excessive fanning of the bristles – seems to be made for precise application. This deep olive, khaki-leaning shade  with that inner core of copper & bronze ultra-fine shimmer swirling secretly throughout may come across as somewhat drab when seen indoors, but really comes to life the instant light hits it. Something to note is that you need to work quickly, as this lacquer appears to dry on the fast side. Also, do NOT skip the top coat, because while the finish has a nice gleam, it is by no means high gloss.

in sunlight

in sunlight/secondary view




with flash

with flash/secondary view

Final thoughts
: For my first foray into Estée Lauder nail varnishes, I have to say that I am quite pleased; this is a unique shade in my collection – not an easy feat to accomplish when you have as many polishes as I presently have, let me tell you! I’m not that happy with the price point of this product, especially when you consider that it holds significantly less than many other high end brands, but seems to be just as costly. That being said, I now wonder why I haven’t noted this brand’s lacquers before this? This gorgeous greyed-out sage green hue is one that seems to hit just under the radar, and I love it when a colour does that – makes you look, then look again…and again…and again…


Estée Lauder – Topaz Chameleon Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée (swatches & review)


I admit that before seeing Estée Lauder’s ‘Topaz Chameleon Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée’ (what a mouthful!) from the spring 2012 collection, I had no idea that a product like this even existed, nor the fact that the previously released version, ‘Modern Mercury’, had immediately sold out – but not before achieving near-cult status. Personally, I absolutely could not pass up anything that had such a spectacular pattern embossed on its surface, not to mention my new-found weakness for highlighters.


I love the simple gold case, especially the large embossed “E”!


What makes ‘Topaz Chameleon’ unique is its innovative tri-brid formula, a combination creme-gel-powder that literally feels like it glides across your skin. The test swatch I did at the counter was scarily pigmented – enough so, that I initially passed this up. Giving it a second chance, I realized that not only can this formula be blended with incredible ease, but that its warm hue compliments a vast range of skin tones – it’s all in the application. You should be warned that a little goes a long way, and that you need a light hand in order that you don’t come off looking “gilded” (although it can also be worn wet, or as eyeshadow if you desire a deeper look). There are gorgeous coppery undertones in the base that seem to really give off that “faux glow” when dusted lightly along the cheeks, and while it is pigment-rich, it imparts more of a sheen than a frost at the finish. The lasting power was impressive as well, lingering easily up to 8 hours before I noticed any fading.


closeup detail

The following are all on foundation primed skin, and swatched: heavily in the middle, blended partially on the right, blended out on the left.


in sunlight




with flash


side angle, showing the raised embossed pattern


Final thoughts: I am so glad that I gave ‘Topaz Chameleon’ another shot at winning my heart, as it has turned out to be quite unique in my highlighter arsenal, being that perfect golden blend shade. The formula, as well, is like nothing I have come across, applying feather-light across the skin, never feeling cake-y or too heavy. Care needs to be taken to not overdo it, as this product is exceptionally pigmented, but as it can be blended out so smoothly, mistakes are easily avoided. I know that ‘Topaz Chameleon’ is a limited edition highlighter and while online it is showing as sold out, there may be some Estée Lauder counters that are carrying it still … my advice would be that if this beauty calls to you, do NOT wait too long in tracking it down!