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Sula Paint and Peel Polish Swatches and Review

By on July 10, 2009
in Big 3 Free, Lilac, Sula Beauty
A number of you have inquired about Sula Beauty’s Paint & Peel Nail Polish. I must admit I was hesitant because the idea of peeling anything off my nail beds seemed unhealthy but in the name of research I was willing to give it a go.

If you haven’t seen this brand at your local ULTA yet, Sula is a water-based nail polish that you can remove by peeling. Being water based, it is safe for pregnant women and ideal for those fanatics who are looking for non-toxic nail color. Check out my swatches and full review after the jump!

I had the opportunity to test Sula’s Modern Mauve nail color and Metallic Base/Top coat. Both are water based and non-toxic so it is recommended that if you do not use Sula’s base/top coat, you wear the polish on naked nails.

I wore Modern Mauve for a week to give it a thorough trial run and when my friend Jewels spotted it on me, she of course asked about the brand. I told her it was a peel off polish and her response was, “like that old school Bonne Bell peel off polish?” Let’s just call this is the grown up version of that.

Application: To say the polish applies streaky is an understatement. Without the chemicals that make traditional polish flow, you have to be very careful to keep the finish from being lumpy. Even after three coats, Modern Mauve was a bit uneven regardless of using their base coat. The bottle instructs you to avoid hot water for 3 hours after applying.

Tip: Wait time between coats is essential to avoid severe streaking. The polish dries with a rubberized finish and is completely dry and touchable in minutes.

Modern Mauve looks like a pale lilac in the bottle but on the nail it dries darker and more vivid. It’s very eye catching. For me, it’s dark enough to avoid my light purple “alien hand” syndrome.
The Metallic Base/Top Coat applies milky but dries perfectly clear and doesn’t alter the polish hue in the slightest. It’s not so much a metallic as a micro-glitter top coat. The particles are very small pieces of silver glitter that dry smooth. There’s no gritty texture here.

I did a 5 day wear test with Metallic Base/Top on my index and ring fingers and just the polish on the middle and pinkie fingers. As you can see, my middle finger suffered the worst wear. The rubberized finish is mostly to blame. Similar to how Minx start to lift after a couple days, this polish’s slightly tacky surface snags on things and will start lifting. Otherwise the wear was impressive. I expected it to look much worse after five days.
Removal: According to Sula, you can safely peel the polish off your nails. It takes a bit of picking to get the polish started but tears off in decent sized chunks. I’m sure my fidgety fanatics out there will revel in the removal process.

My experience: I had WAY too many people tell me how easy it was to remove Sula and how it wasn’t AT ALL damaging to their nails. Though after testing Sula myself I wonder if those people wore the polish for any length of time or were just swatching it for fun. Because when I went to remove the polish after 5 days, I saw actual pieces of my nail bed rip off and I was left with severely dehydrated tissue. Halfway through removal I used acetone remover and saw no damage to my remaining nails.
Modern Mauve was one of Sula’s original Paint & Peel shades but now they have 13 additional Trend Collection polishes to choose from.

Final Verdict: Sula is a unique product. It’s not the first paint & peel polish on the market but it’s more accessible than other brands I’ve heard of. It’s great for fanatics who want fun nails but need a non-toxic polish. It’s an ideal diversion for people that tend to pick at their cuticles as long as they don’t leave it on too long. In terms of extended wear, I just HIGHLY recommend removing with a polish remover. I don’t want to see any of you taking off layers of your nail.

Sula Paint and Peel Nail Polish retails for $9/ea and is available online at and and in stores at ULTA.

Have any of you tried these polishes yet? What has your experience been? Have you tried other peel off polishes?

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There Are 27 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Anon says:

    I would agree with everything you said, and also add the caveat that the bottle colour and on-the-nail colour are entirely different, and in fact you can watch the colour visibly, drastically, change as your nails dry. (I used the Moss colour, which comes out to be a super dark yellowy-green… VERY streaky/uneven application.)

  2. Fressine says:

    I'm very surprised by these peel off nail polishes.
    I was never sure that they would actually work on removal so I never dared to try yet but after your review, I think I will pass ;-)

  3. jane says:

    thanks SO much for reviewing this! i just saw them last week at anthro and they had a beautiful mossy green color that i almost got but when i saw that it was peel off i was like um… no. now i'm even less interested in getting them. oh well, $9 saved right?

  4. Claudia says:

    I purchased two of the Sula polishes: Dove and Moss. Both colors once dry on the nails looked NOTHING like bottle color *until* a top coat was added. How strange.

    Extremely streaky application. And I did what you did: peeled off from one of the fingers and as soon as I saw that it was ripping my actual nails as well I went with the acetone remover. This happened after 1 day wear as well as after 5 days wear.

    Needeless to say I will not be buying this again.

    • Erin says:

      I had this experience with “Watermelon” too… without the top coat, it is a rather pretty dark coral (almost red) but with the topcoat it’s back to more of a pinkish color. Weird.

  5. jennifer says:

    a peel-off polish that requires a polish remover.. what in the world is the point?

  6. Phyrra says:

    Thank you for the review!
    I was wondering if it would be worthwhile to try these or not.
    After your review, I figure it's only worth it if there is a shade I MUST HAVE. So far, I've not seen one.

  7. Kate says:

    Woo, I was excited to see this post because I've been so curious about Sula for ages! I really appreciate your lengthy review since now I know what I'm in for if I decide to go for a bottle. I feel a bit wary about the streakiness that can happen, but you seemed to apply it perfectly anyway.

  8. Polish Earthgirl says:

    I've always been wary of Sula polishes, if they peel off, how do they last at all? Because they don't really peel off! Thanks for the awesome review, answered all my other questions!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I peel off regular polish. This is why my nails are in such awful condition, isn't it?

  10. seventh_moon says:

    i tried these. they were HORRIBLE. didnt dry after 10 minutes! still totally sticky, very streaky and the color dried almost black. nothing close to thebottle color. i bought the moss green one and the gray. both promptly went back. the gal at ulta said many people were returning them. they were foul little polishes.

  11. KimmyDarling says:

    I bought two shades, but was so displeased that I had to return them.

    First of all, the shade change is just RIDICULOUS. For example, I bought Ruby, and it turned bright tomato red on my nails. Not cool.

    I was also shocked at how quickly the tips started lifting. Not six hours after having painted them, the color was already pulling up at the end of my nails. Granted, I didn't use the top coat, but I expect to be able to go without it if I'm spending $9 per shade.

  12. CandyPaint says:

    WOW, I was just looking at these polishes at Ulta about an hour ago I like some of the colors but I am too much of a recessionista to spend $9 bucks on one polish, and I don't like to have only one a particular brand. I need at least 2; if I spend $18 on nail polish I need to be going home with at least 4 polishes.

    From the looks of these reviews its not even worth the $ even if I get them on sale.

  13. violet says:

    Funny to see this review as I just picked up Crush and the metallic topcoat today.

    Decided to try a pedicure without the topcoat. I agree that the color dries a little different. In the bottle, Crush is a bluer purple – not hugely different but it dried a little redder with two coats. I did like how easy it was to peel off mistakes and how quickly it dried.

    Right now it looks pretty good, but I'm interested to see how it wears and if I need remover!

  14. Vampy Varnish says:

    I reviewed Moss, Dove, Slate, Azure and Royal and they were awful! They were so ridiculously streaky and thick, it took 3 applications just to get a decent pic to show. Even then they looked pretty bad. They were a really weird texture also.

    Your application looks far better than mine was!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I tried these too (with top coat!) -several times. All ended badly. I think the longest mine lasted was two hours and that was being careful not to touch anything. They are ridiculous expecially for the price. I will stick with the real stuff.

    Also I agree with everyone about the shade change – its crazy how diff. they turn out to be! Except for the light blue color, it was pretty close to the bottle color. Yet blush is almost clear and ruby is bright red!


  16. Kate says:

    Just what I need–a polish that supports my nail polish picking habit. I'll definitely pass.

  17. violet says:

    Here's an update: To review, I did a pedicure with two coats of Crush and no base/top coat.

    Put it on Friday – by Sunday it still looked perfect. (But it's my toes, remember, I don't use them to type and so on!) Decided to peel the stuff off and it took ages. I got impatient and used remover. So then really, what's the point?

    I noticed that on their website they compare this polish to mascara – a very temporary nail "color" rather than "polish" -I'm not sure when one would want that, but there you go.

  18. rednikki says:

    Hooray! I'm so glad to find this post.

    I won this nail polish in a contest, so I don't have to go through the "I can't believe I spend $9 on this" thing.

    I tried Blush. In the bottle, it looks like a soft baby pink. On my nails, it looks like I ran a hot pink marker over my fingernails and then put clear nail polish over it.

    I wouldn't mind it looking different in the bottle if they just gave me a swatch showing how it would look on!

    Your info on peeling is good, too. I've been reading other reviews that look like Pay-per-Post reviews where people talk about how "awesome" and "on trend" the colors are, and what a "breeze" they are to peel off. I think the reviewers were writing the reviews as if they used them, but never really tried them.

    Thank you!

  19. elizabeth says:

    to be honest im a nail biter, so this was good for me. i could pick the color off when i wanted to bite. i bought dove and after i broke my habit ii started using it as a base for my other nail polishes. my opi polishes are very durable so i just pop them on top and voila! durable polish that peels off…and i have had any trouble peeling it off.

  20. Nye says:

    I found the more opaque and darker colors didn’t streak as bad, or at least not as noticeable as the lighter colors.

    Like many others, I didn’t like peeling up part of my thumb nail when I first tried these. But I ran the rest of my nails under hot water for a few minutes, and they peeled up MUCH easier, without taking any of my nail with them.

  21. Heather says:

    I love Sula’s Paint & Peel Collection. The main reason why I love them is the lack of harsh chemicals used. I hated the way regular nail polishes left my nails and having to use remover that smells awful. Another reason why I love Sula’s polishes is the ease of applying and taking off the color. I don’t understand why so many people have had back luck with her polishes. I found it very easy and fun. I apply each color twice. I let the first coat dry about 3-5 minutes before I do the second coat. After the second coat I let dry 5 minutes and apply an OPI clear top coat on top of the color to not only enrich the color and shine but to make the color stay on my nails longer. Depending on how hard you are on your nails, this nail polish can stay on for two weeks at the most without looking horrible. I find that I like most of her colors she comes out with. My favorite so far is the Royal. It looks great for those who wear denim alot. I just ordered the Wine and I’m so excited to see how it looks on my nails. Anthropologie has a nice selection of her polishes online. One major tip, do not shower right after applying. The polish will just peel right off. I paint my nails at night, an hour or more before sleeping and they look perfect the next day after my shower. If you’re having problems with her polishes, try to apply the way I do and see if it works for you :)

  22. Brown Suga says:

    This has just really blown my mind! I had no idea that they made paint and peel polish and I’m really impressed with the fact it doesn’t start to peel the same day you apply it. The colors are great! I hope to be able to try it first hand sometime soon. When I do I’ll be sure to come back and share my experience.

  23. Linda says:

    My daughter put two bottles of Sula Paint and Peal polish in my stocking for Christmas–Royal and Watermelon. My husband hates the smell of conventional nail polish, and I tend to peel off any polish after it gets a little chip, so she thought I would benefit from the Sula formulation. I just applied the Royal, and I didn’t experience any of the smearing described in other posts, and the color is true to the bottle. I can’t speak yet to its long-term performance (I’m lucky if polish lasts for a full day anyway), but I love the color, and my husband did not detect any smell.

  24. Sandy Brown says:

    I bought a red polish at Ulta on sale for $4.99 to give it a try. Surprisingly, I wore it for 5 days and it stayed on without peeling. I peeled it off without much problems, although I did use a polish remover for a little bit of it. I think it is a fantastic product. I plan on taking it on a cruise with me so I dont have to bring remover.

  25. Kellie says:

    I love this nail polish. I think alot of the negative comments are from ones that did not give it a fair chance. When you want to peel it off do it in the shower. Mine usually comes off when I wash my hair anyway. It’s not the same as regular nail polish, sure. But that’s the trade off for not taking in the chemicals and carcinogens. I get severely I’ll from other nail polish this is the first kind I’ve been able to wear in almost 20 years. I recommend not to just dismiss it.

  26. Brittany says:

    The reason why a layer of your nail peeled off with the polish is because they only recommend using their topcoat if you want a permanent solution instead if it peeling off.
    Can you try the Sula polish without topcoat and review if it happened again or not without the topcoat?