NARS ‘Storm Bird’ Fall 2012 + fifty shades of grey … or, at least ten … (swatches, comparisons & review)


For fall 2012, NARS cosmetics has once again launched a collection full of an eclectic mix of colours, with a definitely modern autumnal vibe going on that ties everything together, as only François Nars can achieve. I’m always curious to what this creative artist will release as far as nail varnish is concerned, but ‘Storm Bird’ gave me pause; it wasn’t too long ago that the brand gave us another dark grey shade. Seems like grey is quite popular these days, which reminded me …

Ok – unless you’ve been in hibernation these past few months, you’ve surely heard of the frenzy caused by E.L. James’ trilogy of books, beginning with “fifty shades of grey” – a modern and titillatingly sexy story about a woman discovering the dark side to love. I was intrigued enough to buy the 1st book, but here’s where it goes sour for me; I was expecting some honest erotica (based on all the hype), and instead I feel that I got an updated Harlequin romance novel. Talk about a lunch-bag letdown … but the again, maybe it’s just me. After having read ‘The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy’ by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice writing under a pseudonym) several years ago – a trio of sensually gritty books, everything else pales in comparison. But don’t take my word for it …

I digress – on to the lacquer!


‘Storm Bird’ is in a word, STUNNING. I was tempted to pass it over, thinking it was not different enough from NARS’ ‘Galion’ (previously reviewed here) to warrant investing in, but after swatching it quickly at the counter, I knew that I had nothing like it. A perfectly flowing & amazing formula, with excellent opacity and colour saturation, the 100% self-levelling finish gave way to a final shine that was literally glass-like; insane, I tell you! The colour of this luxurious crème varnish falls somewhere between concrete and dove, with definite blueish undertones in its base that seem to add a milky veil in certain lights, while at other times it can appear more dense – rather like gathering storm clouds, and just as impressive. The following swatches are all with Seche Clear Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat. Coats of lacquer applied: 2

in sunlight

shaded light

with flash


As the title of this post suggests, I was convinced I had easily at least 50 grey shades to compare ‘Storm Bird’ to, but after rummaging through my collection, I was surprised to find only 10 that met the criteria, discarding anything metallic, or with obvious shimmer and/or glitter. The only exception was for YSL’s ‘Stormy Grey’, both for the name and for the fact that the shimmer seen in the bottle paradoxically stays muted once applied – PLUS, it was the first brand to kick-start the whole modern grey trend. For the following comparisons, I’ve chosen to show them on a nail wheel (alone first, with my nail swatches second), in order to see all the hues together against ‘Storm Bird’ – which is the center shade at the top. All swatches are with base + top coats once more, and 2 coats of lacquer, with the exception of OPI’s ‘Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees’ that needed a 3rd to achieve a deeper opacity.

*By clicking to enlarge the nail wheel photos, you’ll get a better appreciation of all the shade variances

To the left of the ‘Storm Bird’ swatch, from top to bottom:

  1. NARS ‘Galion’ (reviewed here)
  2. OPI ‘Nein, Nein,Nein … Ok Fine!’ (reviewed here)
  3. Essie ‘Power Clutch’ – (reviewed here)
  4. YSL ‘Stormy Grey’
  5. MAC ‘On the Prowl’ (Hello Kitty Collection)

To the right of ‘Storm Bird’, from top to bottom:

  1. Deborah Lippmann ‘Stormy Weather’ (reviewed here)
  2. Gosh ‘Miss Grey’ (reviewed here)
  3. China Glaze ‘Concrete Catwalk (reviewed here)
  4. OPI ‘Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees’ (the Spain Collection)
  5. Dior ‘Gris Montaigne’ (reviewed here)

As is shown, clearly nothing is even remotely close to ‘Storm Bird’; the YSL has a similar blueish base, while the other hues fall anywhere between being much darker, too light, some slightly sheerer, others too green based. Yes … this beauty is definitely unique!

nail wheel, in sunlight

nail wheel, shaded light

nail wheel, with flash

Storm Bird nail swatch & comparisons, in sunlight

Storm Bird nail swatch & comparisons, shaded light

Storm Bird nail swatch & comparisons, with flash


Final thoughts: For a colour that is as unassuming as “grey”, it’s surprising how many degrees of it there are out there and how each one offers something different, from bold & vampy, all the way to subtle and ethereal. ‘Storm Bird’ falls somewhere in the middle, bearing enough intensity to stand out on its own, but still softened somewhat by its blueish undertones, to make this a work-friendly shade – which can easily make the transition for after hours. The formula alone is worth investing in; it almost applies itself WITH the added bonus of it being completely non-staining. Available at all NARS counters right now, this is the grey shade you want to be wearing. Seriously.




*Disclaimer: Some products provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration

30 Responses to NARS ‘Storm Bird’ Fall 2012 + fifty shades of grey … or, at least ten … (swatches, comparisons & review)

  1. Emma says:

    Hi there, I’m a recent subscriber (in the uk) and I was just wondering about the wear time of the polishes you write about. I can just about keep mail polish on for a couple of hours before it chips. Other than the gel nail polishes. The only success is with the reckon colorstay. I did have some luck with Dior Trench, but a day at most. Any recommendations?

    Regards. Emma
    Ps read all 3 books quite bored and skipped most of the third.

    • Eugenia says:

      Hi Emma and welcome! My polishes all seem to wear like iron on me; must be my body chemistry or something, because lacquers very rarely chip on me. My daughter, on the other hand is not as lucky. One option I can suggest to you, is to make sure your nails are completely free of any oils prior to painting them – try giving them a quick swipe with a nail polish remover-soaked pad first. You may also want to try experimenting with various base/top coats to see which is the most compatible with your own body chemistry. Most brands have their own base & top coats (sold separately) which are designed to work synergistically with their lacquers, so that could be another thing for you to consider. Lastly, and this may sound odd, but perhaps you should avoid immersing your hands in too much water or using too many cleaning solutions and/or lotions on the day you paint them; give them a day to thoroughly harden, then see if that doesn’t help your mani last longer! Hope this helps!

  2. Latoya says:

    I have to say, I think this is too blue-toned for me, but I always love to just *look* at grey polishes, there’s just something so fabulous about them, isn’t there!? 🙂

  3. I’m perfectly content with my small collection of greys but this post was such a visual treat for the eyes! And I may be looking up the Sleeping Beauty series as 50 Shades holds zero appeal for me. I dabbled with some Anne Rice back when but never really got super into it.

    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks, Liz! I have everything that Anne Rice has written, even those works under one of her various pen names; the Sleeping Beauty series of books is so far removed from what most people may expect from this author; be warned that it is true erotica in its most undiluted form! And I love them! 🙂

  4. I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS POST, EUGENIA. I love all of the grays you have, and now I want Storm Bird. Rats. I think I might have to get it! I love grays.

    As for 50 Shades, I couldn’t get past page one. Just couldn’t do it. Hahahaha.

    • Eugenia says:

      Lol…thanks, Larie! And yes, you definitely NEED ‘Storm Bird’ *enabling shamelessly* — it’s a gorgeous grey and will look awesome on you.

      The book…..I felt like I was taken in after reading it; to make matters worse, the way it ends, you almost have to buy the next one (and I’m guessing the one after that — and now there’s a 4th one in the works …. bah!) so I bought the 2nd one, but I just can’t bring myself to read it anymore. I will so NOT be buying the 3rd.

  5. Maribeth says:

    Holy crap! (I know, so eloquent). I LOVE Storm Bird! Looking at your INSANE grey comparison reminds me of how few I actually own- something I need to remedy.

    As far as 50 Shades…yeah, I haven’t jumped on that bandwagon, and your review of it sealed the deal for me. I will, however, be looking into the Sleeping Beauty series now! (I just wiki’ed it and WHOA! How have I not heard of them before? Out earned “Interview With The Vampire”!?!).

    • Eugenia says:

      You know what I love about wearing grey, especially when it comes to nail polish? It’s just so “cool” without even trying, lol! Not as in-your-face as neon, black, or “look-at-me” reds (although don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for all of those as well), nor as whisper-subtle as a neutral, grey has an understated appeal; it can be work-friendly, uber-trendy and basically go with everything. A true workhorse, I tell you!

      As to ‘The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy’, just don’t leave the books lying around anywhere your boys might find them — apart from that, look forward to some MAJOR entertaining! 😉

  6. Jess says:

    Gah, you’ve done it to me again, Eugenia…created lemmings where there were no lemmings before! I have a weakness for grey polish and kind of shrugged when I saw that NARS had released ANOTHER grey, since I figured I must have something similar, but now that I’ve seen how unique it is, my resolve is weakening! It always amazes me when a company manages to release a fairly common colour like grey and still make it unique!

    • Eugenia says:

      Lol….that’s how I felt too; I never thought that NARS could make another grey AND make it so completely different from their first! Goes to show you exactly how many degrees of a particular colour there really are out there!

  7. olivia says:

    I haven’t read any of the Fifty Shades books because I like you read the Sleeping Beauty ones and didn’t think from the reviews on Amazon that it came anywhere close to A.N. Roquelaure’s flow of words and description. Glad to know the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy is still one of the best erotica around for our time.

    Okay, now your grey nail polish collection intrigues me! I don’t think I have many greys. Lots of black colors. I might have to buy me more greys because they look perfect for fall and winter and not to mention will bring out the sultry side of me while I read the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy again.

    • Eugenia says:

      Olivia, I love you, you know that?! You and I hatched from the same egg, I’m thinking – lol! If you enjoyed The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, then do yourself a favour and avoid the 50 shades books – so tame in comparison! Then again, maybe you should read the first one to judge for yourself – then get back to me with your thoughts!
      Even before grey shades became fashionable, I loved their “medieval” allure; I also love fog, and that’s grey! Time for you to look into them as well, my friend!

  8. I didn’t think I needed another gray but you have me wanting this now!

  9. Maddie Shen says:

    Wow, great pictures! You and Pammy (Polish Police) really post the most wonderful swatches and reviews! I have this color, but I haven’t tried it yet. It’s now on the top of my list to test out!

    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks, Maddie! It was Pam’s stunning swatches that convinced me that I needed ‘Storm Bird’ — she’s so ridiculously talented and I love her to bits! Wear it soon — you won’t regret it!

  10. Linda says:

    Do all Nars polishes have such a great formula? OPI “Suzi Skis” is the only grey I have, off topic I LOVED the Spain collection! I think that was what
    sucked me into the ‘nail world’!
    Also, thanks for the bonus ‘hand shot’! I think that helps to see what the shade will look like in real life.
    Great post, as usual!!

    • Eugenia says:

      You’re so welcome, Linda! For the record, my hand is still quite tanned in those shots, as I had prepared the post immediately upon my return from holiday – I think ‘Storm Bird’ looks even better now that my tan’s faded some! As to your earlier question, all the NARS lacquers that I own have an amazing formula; there are a few that fall in the jelly category and thus require more coats for full opacity, but overall, the brand makes a quality & stand-out product.

      PS: I totally loved the Spain collection too! 🙂

  11. beachgal says:

    That’s a lot of grays you have! I went to a Sephora with ChG Elephant Walk on my nails – held it up to a swatch of this Nars and they are so close..ChG EW has a slight shimmer that most don’t see in it. I almost passed up on EW because I was sure I had like you another just like it .

    • Eugenia says:

      I have even more grey shades than what I showed, but they didn’t make the final cut: too metallic, too shimmery, and/or too glittery. I love China Glaze’s Elephant Walk and it does have some initial resemblances to ‘Storm Bird’, but if you swatch them on the nail, you can see differences immediately. For some reason, ‘Storm Bird’ appears much darker in the bottle than what you get on the nail – weird!

  12. Amanda says:

    I have such a weakness for grey polishes so this whole post was just one Pavlovian drool-fest. Magnificent!

  13. Joanna says:

    I am in love with the NARS nail polish shade. I so want to get my hands on the Fifty Shades of Grey 🙂

  14. Mara says:

    This post was exactly what I needed… to run to Nars and get it! haha I wanted to buy it since I saw the first swatches, but I thought that maybe it was going to be very similar to my other greys. I was thinking about Gris montagne too, but I prefer the blue undertones of Nars.
    Thanks for the great post!!!

    • Eugenia says:

      You’re welcome, Mara – glad I could be of help! 🙂 It’s funny how different they all are – I didn’t really understand that until I brought ‘Storm Bird’ home!

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