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Chanel Riva from the Côte D’Azur Collection – Swatch, Review & Comparison

By on November 19, 2010
in Blue, Chanel, Winter 2010
Ever since its debut on the Chanel Cruise 2010-11 collection runway, the beauty interwebs have been buzzing about Chanel Riva.  Even before we knew its name this baby blue nail polish has left us guessing.

Would this be another sellout hit like its pale polish predecessors, Jade and Nouvelle Vague?  Will it include that stunning Chanel subtle shimmer?  More importantly, will it have that “it” factor that makes certain Chanel polishes highly coveted and quickly copied (ie Khakis, Paradoxal, Jade)?

Read on to find out!

Formula & Application: Chanel nail polish is 4-Free (including Formaldehyde Resin).  The bottle is square with a removable outer cap that reveals an inner round ribbed cap for use in application.  The brush is round and similar in length to OPI’s with an average firmness that allows you to easily fan out the bristles and cover the nail bed.

While I am normally a fan of Chanel’s formula in terms of application, I was severely let down with Riva.  I get that with lighter colors achieving two coat coverage is near impossible if you want the polish to flow and level itself but Riva is very sheer.  It has a squishy jelly-ish texture which I normally love but it doesn’t build up to opaque fast enough.

Anyone who can get an opaque three coat application without bubbles is my hero.  I originally applied four medium coats and obviously didn’t wait enough between applications because it was bubble city sweetheart.  I always photograph my swatches dry so I had to start the process all over again, this time waiting a few minutes between layers.  What a bother!

The color itself is light and airy, a wintry sky blue with a touch of murkiness.  It’s not a traditional baby blue yet it doesn’t have that magical Chanel touch to make it unique and knock-off worthy.  In the bottle Riva foreshadows that beloved Chanel shimmer but on the nail it’s virtually undetectable.  The only time it rears its head is in direct light.

Close-up of Riva’s shimmer in direct light

In my hunt to find you a dupe or at least a good comparison I pulled Chanel Nouvelle Vague, Rescue Beauty Lounge Bikini Bottom, Sephora by OPI Havana Dreams, China Glaze Moody Blue and OPI What’s With The Cattitude?

I swatched Nouvelle Vague just to see how different they are and what a world of difference. NV is so rich, opaque and creamy.  Because of the jelly texture I thought RBL Bikini Bottom might be a good match.  SOPI Havana Dreams looked twin-like in the bottle, as did China Glaze Moody Blue.  I could see right away that Cattitude would be too dark in comparison but since a few readers asked about it, I pulled it anyway.

I ended up using RBL Bikini Bottom and SOPI Havana Dreams for my comparison.  While neither is a match, I feel like Riva is a blend of the two.  Havana Dreams is more vivid and Bikini Bottom has a twinge of dirty green but combined they would probably be a good match for Riva.  FYI Michèle from Lacquerized did a great comparison with China Glaze Moody Blue.

Bottom Line: As much as I have loved the majority of Chanel’s polishes this year I can’t get behind Riva.  The formula issues combined with how ordinary the color is plus the jacked up price tag means it gets a “pass” from me.

Chanel Riva, part of the Côte d’Azur collection, is available now on and at Chanel Boutiques and Chanel Makeup Studios.  The polish retails for $27/ea for a .4oz bottle.

What do you think of Riva?  Does it look extraordinary enough to pick up a bottle?  Those of you who already bought Riva, did it meet your expectations?  Have you found a dead-on dupe for it?

Disclosure: A product sample was provided by Chanel.  For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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  1. Mandy says:

    No, whilst I love the Chanel colours the formula, application and wear are truly dreadful, when you add in their extortionate prices it gets a definite thumbs down from me!

  2. I feel like it’s definitely not worth almost $30 for a baby blue with barely detectable shimmer. I’ll skip this round and save my money for Black Pearl, or another spring ’11 polish. Those seem more exciting.
    - Liz

  3. Nancy says:

    I got mine in the post today and I LOVE it! I have it on with one of my ring fingers in Simmer and Shimmer glitter from OPI. I really love it. So pretty.

  4. Megan says:

    oddly this post made me really want Havana Dreams

  5. Lauren says:

    I had such high hopes for this polish. Your post on it is awesome – thank you so much. If it looked like the close up, I would buy it. That’s what I was hoping for – that subtle shimmer that shows through in the bootle. Boo! :( Well, at least I saved $27. I think I will get Sephora by OPI Havana Dreams or China Glaze Moody Blue though. Do you have a preference between those two?

  6. paiiige says:

    yep, once i saw how sheer Riva was on Sophy’s blog.. it was a no-go for me. sheer = ick.

  7. Sandy says:

    I love Chanel colors and have been a big fan for years, but like you I cannot get behind this one! You do great reviews and I always appreciate your honesty. Personally, I think IMHO that Black Pearl is going to be the next Jade! There is nothing like that green on a true Black Pearl – to me, it’s totally mesmerizing!

  8. Zayra says:

    I have Sephora Havana Nights and I still ordered Riva today…I can get always behind a baby blue…don’t know why but I do not mind its sheerness…I would love it either way..

  9. Kitty says:

    Pass…..dupes galore (or close dupes at least).

  10. Danielle says:

    Wow! Havana Dreams is an almost perfect match! Im going to order that one too. Thanks for all the comparisons. Your site is a such a wonderful source and I have been saving tons of money. Thanks again!!

  11. nikki says:

    i love, love, this color idea. but the idea of four coats and little shimmer puts me off. thanks for saving me $30! :)

  12. tricia c says:

    How does this compares to creative nail design aqua jet?

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Aqua Jet is pretty shimmery and more like a sheer wash of color. It’s not a jelly, it’s a better for layering.

  13. KayDiKat says:

    Sorry Riva… Pass! I wonder why Chanel didn’t make the shimmer take this polish to the next level – just a little more woulda had me sold. Oh well… Bring on Black Pearl! :)

  14. Monica says:

    ahh looks pretty, but i already have havana dreams and looks so similar.
    i’ll pass.

  15. Jackie S. says:

    Riva is an “over priced dupe”, I;m very disappointed!


  16. spacegeek says:

    OOOh you are making me want Bikini Bottom even more than I did before the 50% sale (when it was sold out)!

    • KayDiKat says:


    • Kirsten says:

      Me too! I swear missing out on Bikini Bottom feels like its going to haunt me forever! Starfish Patrick and Square Pants just look so lonely on my shelf without their fellow collection mate beside them!

  17. Kalee says:

    thats why i will stick with my $5.00 Hard Candy “Sky”. lol. (even though i think $5 is too much for the little bottle). but anyways..

  18. Catch Me In Your Net says:

    I appreciate your honesty so much!!! I have Havana Dreams so I’ll definitely be skipping Riva.

  19. Nicole says:

    thanks for sharing all those dupes! I already have Havana Dreams, and now I don’t need to waste 30$ on RIva!

  20. Bunny says:

    I love Riva, but then it’s virtually identical to one of my favorite polishes: Eyeko Pastel Polish. Texture of Eyeko is a little heavier than the Chanel, but you could always add a drop of polish thinner.

  21. s says:

    i just picked up riva today and got a polish change at the nail salon… for most, she managed to get a fairly opaque result with 2 coats and i only had to ask for an additional thin coat for some of the others. even then, no bubbles. but im not sure if thats only because i had them painted, instead of painting them on my own…

    on my hand the colour appears to be more of a milky, pale blue, which makes it a more unique colour for me. i was surprised to see it seems so different from everyone’s pictures online….. it was definitely what i expected and i really like it

  22. JoAnn says:

    I’m so happy you posted this. I totally trust your recommendations,and I’ve been waiting to see what you say about this polish. I’ve been lemming like almost every other polish lover- and now you’ve thankfully saved me $27!

    I wonder how this compares to that baby blue that Nina Ultra Pro put out last year…

  23. Katherine says:

    Very pretty color, but I’m not a huge Chanel fan. I mixed Avon Vintage Blue, Essie Waltz and some clear and got a similar result.

  24. Beauty Budget Bombshell says:

    I am just not feeling it. Thanks for the advice on the coverage. I have no plans on taking time to put 4 coats on. Along w/ the base AND top coat, no way. I’ll settle for one of the more opaque dupes. Maybe next Chanel colour …

  25. zb says:

    I actually really like the color. I was fortunate to find it at a boutique early on, and while I totally agree about the application (3 thin coats for me which is definitely doable but not ideal) I really like the color and depth. Based on memory I would have thought Bikini Bottom was closer but obviously not. Thanks for the great review and comparisons.

  26. Laureen says:

    Hm, I would love to see how this compares to other light blues. I only have a few Chanels and have been really impressed with the formula and the colors I own are fairly unique so like you said, the fact that Riva is such a common color that requires 3-4 coats and costs so much is a total turn-off. The formula on Color Club’s Take Me To Your Chateau is great, a one-coater! I wonder how it compares in color, though.

  27. Hmmm….. I’m torn!

  28. Lisa M. says:

    I love Riva. I only need two to three coats. I couldn’t imagine 4 coats! Havana Dreams is ok, but the consistency on mine was really thing.

    Riva’s consistency is on the thicker side which is annoying, but I still love it. I have already gotten tons of compliments.

  29. Mary says:

    How does Riva compare with OPI “Breathe Life”?

  30. Sorry you’re disappointed with it; I was thrilled when I saw the promos, but I’ve heard about the bubbling and opacity issues from you and other bloggers, so to me it’s definitely not worth it.

  31. Cara says:

    I really like the look of this color, even the more creme finish, oddly. I think it’s unusual for a winter color, too, and would like to wear it now and then transition the shade into spring. But I’ve also just been in a blue phase lately, so this (or the cheaper SOPI dupe, rather) is just my next blue candy.

  32. MollyParrot says:

    Two coats were good for me. It has a milky texture that I love, and a grayish tint. A 3rd coat brings out more aqua, but not needed to be opaque. The shimmer isn’t pronounced but it adds depth.

    The first coat was streaky and horrible, but it evened out beautifully with the second. I got bubbles on one hand when I tried to force the first coat to look better, but not a problem when I just applied the coats normally.

    I would not rely just on this review when deciding. Lots of us in other forums have been very happy with Riva and 2-3 coats.

  33. I think I would rather get SOPI havana nights and layer Savvy’s Glass slipper over it for that great shimmer sparkle :-) much cheaper and I think the sparkle would show more… which is what caught my eye seeing the promos for Riva

  34. Debbie says:

    I have it and while I wasn’t blown away, I do like it. I applied 3 coats and had no bubbles. 2 coats would be pretty too, but I don’t think I can apply it evenly.

  35. Jen says:

    You don’t make it sound appealing and I have read other poor reviews of it. I’m glad some bloggers are honest enough not to go ga-ga just because Chanel has a big name. Thank you.

  36. kaylan says:

    I am so glad you did a comparison! I was all ready to go out and get the Chanel one. i went on a hunt for havana dreams like 2 weeks ago and it was gone at 2 different Sephoras. finally i found it at the third one, last bottle! there so similar i’ll pass on the Chanel one.

  37. Katie says:

    Sooo happy someone finally agrees with me that Riva just isn’t that great. I absolutely love the Chanel Cote D’Azur collection, but the nail polish seemed so over-hyped.

    I ended up picking up two lipsticks instead and skipping the polish. It’s also $27 which I think is ridiculous. I have more interesting colors from other brands like Lippmann, RBL, OPI, Essie, & Zoya that are cheaper and more wow worthy.

  38. Alllison says:

    I could use a shirt in that color.

  39. Jasmine says:

    I love that shade ! The bikini bottom seems to be a blue/green but the Havana dreams looks very similar to the Riva !

  40. Christine says:

    I have never been impressed with the formulation of Chanel nail polish and it chips galore on me. I won’t spend money on something that doesn’t work! Thanks for the other color comparisons. I do think the soft blue-ish color is a nice transition from winter to spring.

  41. Bunny says:

    I knew I had another Sopi that was close to Riva, and I found it: Lagoon-a-Beach. It’s also on the sheer side, but it’s the same color blinged out with sparkle.
    Btw, I layered Azur over Riva and it’s amazing. Anyone who has Azur has to get Riva because they just work together so perfectly.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for the idea – I bought Azur on ebay and tried this and it really added sparkle to it. I also tried using Chanel’s Crystal Blue, but it was too pale and didn’t look good.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks for the tip about Azur!! I have it and was thinking it would go really well with Riva but I wasn’t too sure, so I haven’t bought Riva yet. But next time I get something from Chanel, I’ll be sure to pick up Riva as well.

  42. Kellie says:

    Yeah .. $27? No thanks.

  43. NailPolishFan says:

    I love the color, but it’s a bit out of my price range. Do you think another possible dupe could be Nina Ultra Nail Pro “In A Tiff”? It’s a blue color with a little bit of shimmer in it and it’s at Sally’s for like $3-4.

  44. LesleyKat says:

    pretty color! I just cannot justify the price. That RBL one is so gorge!

  45. chiffonrobot says:

    Are you going to swatch RBG Sea? Pretty please?

  46. Victoria Paige says:

    Try Orly in Gum Drop as a possible dupe. That might be similar, but it doesn’t have that gorgeous shimmer.

  47. taxi says:

    Got Riva & I love it! Read your review & was sorry I’d already ordered it, but I think it’s beautiful with 3 ooats. No bubbles. Enough shimmer for me & way better than 5-coater Bikini Bottom.

  48. Anne says:

    I was on the waiting list for Riva, and when I got the call I rushed down to buy it. I just tried it on now and I sure am disappointed for all the reasons you list! I thought my application technique was just bad. What a waste of money that was. Can Riva be used over the top of anything? Probably not, I’m guessing!

  49. Sarah says:

    I LOVE Riva, I think it suits my pasty Brit skin tone far more than NV (of course I still bought NV). I’ve always gone for three very thin coats of most Chanel colours and yes, this looked much better with a fourth but as they were thin coats I could apply each as soon as I’d finished the first and then topping off with seche vite I was touch dry and good to go in half an hour. Can’t wait for black pearl!

  50. I had such high hopes for this polish. Your post on it is awesome

  51. Nail-a-holic Ireland says:

    Just discovered your amazing site while searching for Chanel Riva which is due in ireland late January. I veer on the love/hate relationship with Chanel. Love some, hate others, had “Jade” hated the texture (and price and thought it was vastly over rated and over hyped) but loved “Nouvelle Vague”. Reading these comments makes me know now that I wasn’t going nuts over consistency and texture. As someone said sheer=ick and I agree. Thanks you have saved me a fortune.

  52. A says:

    This is a brilliant review. I wish I’d read it before I bought Riva. But with 3 coats, I think the polish looks beautiful. It’s just a bit more high-maintenance than other Chanel colors!

  53. Cait says:

    I wish I could find RBL in the UK! I LOVE that colour. Wake up call to all sellers…!
    Nubar Baby Blue might be a dupe for Riva (without the slight sparkle)?

  54. theshyintern says:

    I’ve got a hunch that Essie sweet talker has a dupey pigmentation compared to Riva, but with that unique shimmer everyone was hoping for. If you can do a side by side comparison, please let me know! I’d love to see it

  55. sarah says:

    I think that the new Revlon Cloudy might be a dupe. I don’t have Chanel Riva, but Revlon Cloudy does have the wintry sky look.

  56. greta says:

    My best dupe is Barry M 317 Blue Moon, which also includes light pearly blue shimmer.

  57. PolishGrrl says:

    Thank you! Your comparisons are very helpful to me. Trying to decide among baby blues, so your post helps me immensely.