Tag Archives: China Glaze First Mate vs Essie Mesmerize

China Glaze ‘Anchors Away Collection’ – part 3 (swatches & review)


My last instalment of China Glaze’s ‘Anchors Away Collection’ is the three shades I refer to as the ‘darks’; while not classically dark hues, I refer more to the tonal base when compared to the rest of the collection, previously reviewed here and here. The formula is once again excellent and consistent with that of the rest, and the final glossy finish on these three was superb. The blue shade, ‘First Mate’, is the only one I had some issue with in the sense that there could be some minor staining, as with all blue pigmented shades, but a cotton pad well saturated with nail polish remover will easily solve that. All swatches are with Sèche Natural base coat and 2 coats of lacquer, no top coat.





‘First Mate’ is a medium hued true blue shade. The colour is at once vibrant and dusty looking, but it will never appear as anything other than blue, even in the shade. Creamy and without a hint of shimmer, this is the first blue shade I’ve found that has neither green nor yellow in its base. The glossy finish is outstanding with this shade and the formula was completely self-leveling, leaving zero brush strokes behind.





The closest colour I have in my collection to ‘First Mate’ is Essie’s ‘Mesmerize’ but you can clearly tell that while both are medium toned blue shades, that’s where the similarity ends.  As you can see in the bottom photo taken in full sun, ‘Mesmerize’ is much brighter and somewhat lighter, and even the formula was thinner than that of ‘First Mate’. The glossy finish seems about the same and dry time was almost equal, however ‘First Mate’ is a shade that can easily move into the colder months as well, making it the more versatile of the two.





‘Starboard’ is the most vivid shade of the three I’m featuring here, being a bright grassy green creme.  In shaded light (top photo) it becomes a touch more muted, but take this beauty out into full sun and…WHAM! It takes on an almost Crayola tone. Even without a top coat, I love how glossy this one is and while richly pigmented, I had no issues in clean up with this colour whatsoever. Such a fun shade…..very Kermit the Frog!!




I initially thought that ‘Starboard’ was a duplicate for OPI’s ‘Don’t Mess With OPI’ (reviewed here), but once swatched, you can see how much more vibrant a green ‘Starboard’ is next to the OPI, which has a dustier look to it overall, even in full sun. The formula on the OPI was somewhat thicker as well and the other major difference was the brush, with China Glaze brushes being thinner and slightly more flexible, making them easier to reach you nail’s edge.





‘Below Deck’ is probably the trendiest shade out of the three and the most sophisticated looking. I love how it changes depending on the light, seeming either a hazy and dusky mauve (top photo), or more of a deeper beige/taupe (bottom photo). I have heard that this is supposed to be a resurrected shade for another China Glaze hue, ‘Channelesque’, however not having that polish nor having seen it, I cannot comment.  Most companies have recently put out a shade similar to this, but once again, the China Glaze formula is stellar and I find that is not only a highly flattering colour, but one you won’t get tired of wearing.





I found several close matches to ‘Below Deck’ in my stash, and the two that were the most fitting were the wildly popular Sephora by OPI’s ‘Metro Chic’ and Essie’s hot seller ‘Merino Cool’ from their Fall 2010 collection (reviewed here). In the swatch photo above, index & pinkie fingers are ‘Below Deck’, midde finger is ‘Metro Chic’ with ring finger sporting ‘Merino Cool’. You can see how ‘Below Deck’ falls somewhere between the two, but has definitely more of a mauve cast to it. ‘Merino Cool’ had the thinnest formula of the three and while they are all close, I still prefer the more purple base of ‘Below Deck’.


Final thoughts: While a green shade like ‘Starboard’ is not for the faint of heart, it is still a wonderfully bright shade without veering on the neon.  ‘First Mate’ lends an air of coolness, much like a swift nautical breeze, and can easily transition from a summer to a more cooler temped hue, and finally ‘Below Deck’ is a hot trendy shade which can cut it as a work-place friendly hue, or leading edge modern.  The only polish which I have not reviewed from this entire collection is ‘Sea Spray’, but that will be forthcoming quite soon.  I find the entire ‘Anchors Away Collection’ a total win, not only for the shades but for the quality formula as well, and I highly recommend you get your hands on at least one shade…or all of them!





*Disclaimer:  product samples provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration