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Fall 2011 Nail Polish Trend – Real F*cking Grey Is Back!

By on October 5, 2011
in Fall 2011, Gray, Trends with 87 Comments

I don’t know about you but I am so sick of “greige” and “griolet” and every other bastardization of grey nail polish. To the point that it’s extremely refreshing to see the real deal re-emerge as a hot nail polish trend for Fall 2011. It’s not exactly like grey has been on hiatus for the past few years but it was feeling pretty tired post-2008 and I’m ecstatic to see it coming back.

During NYFW Teen Vogue’s Eva Chen tweeted from backstage at Rag & Bone about the Revlon Stormy Canvas nail color Manicurist Jin Soon Choi used. Jin was quoted as saying, “I love this color because it’s a true grey. I’m sick of greige,” and upon reading that all I could say was, “Yes! Real f*cking grey is back!” Sorry, I’m just not the type to use “effing” in my everyday vernacular. The boyfriend, who I constantly embarrass with my ill-timed, foul-mouthed outbursts, would concur.

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Black and grey are pretty much staple colors in most fall wardrobes but it wasn’t until 2007/8 that grey really became a staple in nail world. Before brands like Rescue Beauty Lounge and China Glaze started producing hot greys, we were left to franken our own. I still remember, with longing, the dove grey CND previewed at the Fall ’08 shows that was slated to go into production before they overhauled their polish line. Now, we have so many grey nail polish options it would make Rachel Zoe proud.


Grey is the new Grey (Fall 2011 Release) – all polishes are shown using two coats

From left to right - Pop Beauty Foggy (laying down), Zoya Tao, Deborah Lippmann Stormy Weather, Nails Inc Paddington, Finger Paints Stunning Stiletto (laying across), Essie Power Clutch, Sally Hansen Dorien Gray, China Glaze Concrete Catwalk

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China Glaze Concrete Catwalk ($3, Head2ToeBeautyTransDesign. $6, Sally Beauty) is a blue-based wet cement creme. It’s the moody, blackened older sister of fan fave China Glaze Recycle.

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Deborah Lippmann Stormy Weather ($16, DeborahLippmann.comBarneysNeiman MarcusNordstrom) is a deep granite creme that was created with Narciso Rodriguez for his Fall 2011 collection. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to that other “Stormy” grey we all know so well (see below). It’s much darker and moodier and blue-based as opposed to green.

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Essie Power Clutch ($8, Essie.com for locations and online shopping) I feel completely colorblind when it comes to this color. It’s described by Essie as “green” and yet I’ve been wearing it for over a week and do not see it as green, no matter the lighting. Yes, it has a green base but I would never file this away in my green Helmer drawer.

essie-power-clutch-nail-polish-swatch-fall-2011-gray-nail-trend

Finger Paints Stunning Stilettos ($4.99, SallyBeauty.com) really would make a “stunning” shoe color. I’d probably scuff the heck out of them in a week this blue-based mid-tone grey would pair perfectly with any ensemble.

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Nails Inc Paddington ($9.50, Sephora.com) is knocking on the door of “almost black” territory so this green-based grey is great for all the vampy nail polish lovers out there.

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Pop Beauty Foggy ($10, PopBeautyCosmetics.com, ULTA) isn’t really a fall collection release but it’s relatively new enough for me to include. It has a neutral, rubbery base color that’s been glammed up with silvery shimmer and micro-glitter. I dig that they didn’t pack in so much sparkle that it messed with the integrity of the color. It’s still a grey at its core.

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Sally Hansen Dorien Grey ($7.99 at drugstores and mass retailers nationwide) is the palest of the new greys and has that fresh and clean feeling that I love about dove hues. It’s work safe for even the most conservative offices but still on trend.

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Zoya Tao ($8, Zoya.com) is unique in that it’s a medium grey with shimmer that doesn’t venture into the more traditional gunmetal territory. It’s softer and more feminine while maintaining that urban edge normally associated with grey. Think uptown meets downtown.

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The OG’s – The “Original Greys” in my stash

Not all of these shades are still available but if you have them in your nail wardrobe, now is the time to rock ‘em.

Click the names to view swatches: Illamasqua DWS, RGB Steel (laying across), Orly Mirror Mirror, ULTA Concrete Evidence (bottom), Zoya Dove (top), Rescue Beauty Lounge Stormy (laying down), China Glaze Pelican Gray.

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CND Asphalt, American Apparel Factory Grey (laying down), Barry M Grey, Essence Movie Star, China Glaze Recycle, Barielle U-Concrete-Me (laying across), OCC Dangerous, Models Own Moody Grey.

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Best colors to pair with Grey – Teal, eggplant, sapphire, plum

Thoughts on the Real Grey nail color trend? Are you happy to see it make a comeback? Or did you never stop wearing it? Are you over “greige” as much as I am? Which new colors do you plan to pick up? What are your favorite grey nail polishes?

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by reps for China Glaze, Deborah Lippmann, Essie, Finger Paints, Nails Inc, Sally Hansen and Zoya. I purchased Pop Beauty Foggy. For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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  1. I ♥ Gray | Anthropologiesque | October 12, 2011
  1. LOVE this trend, and I love seeing your swatches together of these gorgeous greys :)

  2. Jamie says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m “over” greige any more than I would declare grey to be “back”. I don’t think grey ever left and there is room in my stash and on my tips for both! I’m wearing Essie Power Clutch right now, and this spring I was wearing CG Pelican Gray and Zoya Dove, before that I wore CND Asphalt and CG Recycle whenever the mood struck.

    PS – I totally agree about Power Clutch. It’s definitely a greenish-grey, not a greyish-green, and now that it’s out of my untried pile, it’s going to live in my grey drawer.

  3. Jamie says:

    PPS – Because I forgot to mention it in my earlier post – I love these types of posts, especially when there are a ton of similar colors released across different collections. The one you did with the army greens was fab, too! Obviously swatches of full collections are great, but I love that you put the colors into context across current releases from different brands, as well as past releases that so many of us have in our stashes.

  4. mrs rexy says:

    F* ya, I’m loving grey!

  5. Caryn says:

    Finally! I never thought I’d be so happy to see Grey again O_O

  6. Lisa says:

    Awesome! I’m wearing Zoya Dove today and I’m absolutely loving it.

  7. gnoma says:

    I always love your lego polish constructions! *___*

  8. Samantha M says:

    I am obsessed with gray polish! In fact, I’m newly obsessed with polish in general, and I naturally gravitated to the grays. I actually DO like the greige and griolet colors. The Essies I picked up for Fall are: Power Clutch, Smokin’ Hot, Chinchilly and Great Expectations, and I can’t decide which to wear first!

  9. Jammies says:

    I love greys, and I love your multi-grey post. I never did like greige polishes, so I don’t own any, but I still want Mirror, Mirror. Someday!

  10. janice says:

    I feel the same way about Power Clutch! And it keeps changing color on me, too, to the point where I get confused about what color I have on.

  11. Kinsey says:

    I LOVE grey. It’s my jam. Fall or not, I wear it all the time. I also love that you don’t say “eff”. Because I really hate that.

  12. Chlo says:

    Illamasqua Raindrops is my number one fave grey of all time!

  13. Adria says:

    Don’t forget the entire Nubar Citadel collection! It’s ALL GRAY. Greiges and grurples don’t look right with my skin–I am loving that true gray is making a comeback! ^_^

  14. Lauren says:

    You’re back – yay! I hope everything is OK. I have to say, I’m not over greige. I love it. Not that this has anything to do with nails, but we painted our entire downstairs greige a few months ago and I’m lovin’ it. The inspiration totally came from polish though, so I guess it is relevant. :)

    My favorite grey is RBL concrete jungle. I prefer the blue-based greys. That Zoya Tao is really pretty. I’m glad you posted before the BOGO sale ended, bc I wasn’t planning on ordering and now I will!

  15. Katy M says:

    I’m all over these true greys right now too. Thanks for this summary of the new ones!

  16. jill says:

    I am in “like” with greige but I know I love grey! Now if only the taupe/nude/natural toned makeup craze would end, when I read that nude lips were in for fall I wanted to cry!

  17. Ann says:

    I just put on a true grey polish (the Pure Ice one, name escapes me right now) for the first time in probably a year two weeks ago, and it was such a nice change of pace! I still like greige though

  18. Katy says:

    I like the purply greys more than plain grey. Pure grey and “greige” is just too… too for me.

    I also love these posts!

  19. collier says:

    YES. Grey is one of my most-worn shades. MUST mention the fantastic Nubar greys — Palisade, Barricade and Citadel from their “Fortress” collection are some of my faves. Also! The new Misa “Grey Matters” and “Spaced Out” are brilliant as well.

  20. maryelle says:

    i love this post! i’m wearing deborah lippmann’s waking up in vegas. i’m a bit surprised it’s not featured in this post.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      I don’t consider Waking Up In Vegas to be a true grey. It’s got too much brown, taking it towards putty for me to designate it a grey. It’s gorgeous though.

  21. Bean says:

    Barf. I’d rather wear a color.

    But I do have a super shiny silver I’m in love with…

  22. Katya says:

    Hooray for gray! I adore it and wear it quite a lot even if it’s not a current trend. Now I’ll be sure to flash my grays to the world!
    My fave two shades are Essence 62 Must-Have (rich, dark and shimmer unlike the Movie star you put in your list) and Inglot No 86 (light gray, shimmer again, though I wouldn’t call it silver). In fact, my Inglot polish is the only one that I actually used a whole bottle of and am in halfway through another one.
    From the ones you’ve picked- I totally dig Sally Hansen, have to try it out.
    Rock on, gray!

  23. Helena says:

    I don’t like gray. I know, I know, I’m evil. But there are two colors that are boring and I can’t stand, and it’s brown and gray.
    …Except for Dorien [sic?] Grey. That looks LOVELY.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      You’re not evil. You’re just not a gray fan. Nothing wrong with that. I was curious about the spelling of Dorien as well. I went with the label spelling even though I thought it should have an “a” as well.

  24. Dolly B. says:

    I love the new grey’s – foggy and tao are my favorites! I also love your swatches – thanks for all your hard work!

  25. MerRhosyn says:

    I have a bottle of OPI’s Moon Over Mumbai that looks similar to the Sally Hansen Dorien Grey. Any thoughts on how they compare? The MOM is much lighter than most of the greys you’ve featured.

  26. Scienter says:

    I love real grey, but I still like greige, too. My favorite greys right now are Zoya Dove and China Glaze Pelican Grey. But I still love OPI’s You Don’t Know Jacques. :P

  27. Barb says:

    I like the shimmery greys!

  28. joya says:

    What about Chanels Granite?? Its AMAZING!!

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      I think of that as more of a metallic than a grey but it is gorgeous. My fave of the fall Chanel shades.

  29. Ronnie says:

    I HAVE to have the Dorien Grey…primarily because it’s called Dorien Grey :D. And it’s the lightest grey I’d own, which would make a nice change. I love grey polish, it’s so chic!

  30. Melissa says:

    I am so obsessed with my Nails Inc The Thames polish. I don’t know why but I feel so sophisticated when I wear it. I’ve had it as a pedicure color for weeks but finally swapped it out but that’s only because I want to put it as a manicure now. I love it.

  31. Latoya says:

    I still enjoy the way that ‘griege,’ and even more so, ‘giolet’ looks on my hands – but I can understand your feelings on being ‘over it!’ I picked up Essie’s Power Clutch recently however, and we are having a serious love affair. The slightly green leaning (vs blue which doesn’t work for me) is awesome and the straight-up gray has definitely won my heart.

  32. Catherine says:

    I love Misa Office Polish-tics!! Have you tried that one?

  33. Alyona says:

    Dio mio! It’s absolutely f–ng fantastic! Stunning! Fabulous!!! Thank you for this review, love it
    you are goddess, really!

  34. kaydi says:

    Woo hoo! I’ve been waiting for another one of these trend posts ;) I picked up Power Clutch and I was contemplating Stormy Weather, but they look close enough for me to save some cash. Of the oldies, I have Stormy and Factory Grey. It’s raining in San Francisco already and grey nails seem quite appropriate :) keep doing posts like this, please? Thanks!

  35. Fingers says:

    I have that Nails Inc Paddington and love it!

  36. Catharine says:

    I was just wondering if Sally Hansen Dorien Grey and Sally Hansen Eel Skin are dupes? I was just wondering if I need Dorien Grey if I have Eel Skin?

  37. Robin says:

    I was totally saying yesterday that greys in my collection are sorely lacking! I am really liking the Finger Paints Stunning Stilettos also the Sally Hansen Dorien Grey. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

  38. Iris says:

    I never stopped wearing my ulta concrete evidence- it goes with everything! i alternate it with that weird grey-pink from Sinful Colors, with butter london’s Wallis, with Fortissimo, and it all looks wonderful. It’s a grey-t basic color.

  39. Nicky says:

    I only have one- models own grey day :)

  40. I’m still into greiges, but I do love me a good gray, too. :)

    Haha, the title of this post made me laugh. :P I appreciate you showing swatches of the various grays. It’s nice to see how they compare.

  41. Beth says:

    See, now I need to go out and get Power Clutch. I’ve been trying to tell myself I don’t really need it. Thanks for the enabling. :)

  42. Cat says:

    Like the military green post, I love this grey post!! It’s great to be able to see a lot of similar polishes all in one places, and see comparisons between all of them. From your photos I really love Essie Power Clutch and Finger Paints Stunning Stilettos– I am just really annoyed that Sally Beauty a)don’t have the Fall Fashionista collection available online and b)only seems to have half of it! Boo… I haven’t been able to find Stunning Stilettos anywhere!

  43. Sarah says:

    I do love grey.

  44. Alyssa says:

    When I saw revlon stormy canvas in target it looked taupe to me! Am I missing something ? Lol! Anyways, yay for grey!

  45. Andrea says:

    Grey’s my favourite colour, so I love grey polish and can’t get enough of it. Great post.

  46. Mel says:

    Hooray, gray!!!!

    PS: I totally have patent heels in that “stunning” color. Found them at Gabriel Brothers on the SUPER SALE rack. :)

  47. Alicia says:

    I’ve been wearing a lot of jewel tones as we transition into fall and a great grey cream is the perfect polish to balance them out!

    I’ve been wearing Industrial by mark. which is a mini lacquer sold as a duet with a dusty plum shade called Steel Plum, both for only $7. I love the duo! It’s been my go-to this fall. And I LOVE the formula, I wore Industrial (grey shade) for 12 days no problem!

  48. Collar says:

    I like the grey colors. What about Essie’s Over The Top? I like it and it looks good on my nails. I also like Chanel’s Granite and while I agree that it is a metallic, it also looks grey.

  49. flipflopgal says:

    Great post! I have Essence Movie Star (based on your recommendation) & Confetti Lonesome Dove (a light gray). Haven’t yet worn either, but am planning to wear both soon! Just been waiting for it to “feel” like fall (tough in SoCal sometimes!)

    PS I assume you have a real life that keeps you busy, but selfishly, have missed you!

  50. TLM says:

    This may be my favorite article on ALU EVER. It’s partly the headline, and partly because I thought I was singing such a lonely tune with my eternal love of grey, particularly NON-METALLIC GREY. Oh, joy!

    That’s not to say I don’t love my grey-greens or grey-violets or grey-beiges. But a pure grey is outstanding. I think I’ve gotten more compliments on CG’s Recycle than anything else.

  51. Medusa says:

    I love all of the colors you presented (except maybe for the Pop Beauty Foggy) – thank you for sharing!

  52. Nicole says:

    I’m going to have to see if I can find that Sally Hansen “Dorien Grey” ..it looks gorg, and I haven’t seen it anywhere yet!

  53. I have not worn a grey polish–yet. I have Zoya’s matte Loredana on order, and will be ordering Tao in the future (though on my spoon it looked a bit more blue-y than grey).

    But I LOVE grey as a color–my favorite sweatshirt/hoodie/turtleneck are all grey. SOFT lovely grey.

    I think the word “greige” is just….weird.

  54. Jackie S. says:

    God, I love greys, so happy this color is back!!!!

  55. Chris says:

    I like standard grey shades on other people, but I think it would fall flat on my very golden skin tone. However, Concrete Catwalk looks dark enough for me to pull off.

  56. China Glaze Pelican Gray manicure WILL be done this weekend. Already thinking about how i’ll jazz it up with nail art…

  57. HeidiB says:

    Would be nice to see comparisons of the colours. I’m specially interested to see how Toa would Compare to Zoya Freja (I know they are not dupes but would like to see how they differ). Concrete Catwalk looks like a must buy to me!

    • Vanessa says:

      I’m wearing Freja right now, but it would be interesting to compare them side by side. I would describe Freja as several shades darker with some dark blue-black thrown in. I’m really loving it. I wanted a shiny, not-quite-black, and this is great.

  58. Mopsy says:

    I love grey, Essie Power Clutch arrived about a fortnight ago and it has never been off my nails.

    A fantastic grey with touches of green in certain light and it gets a lot of compliments.

  59. Maddie says:

    My favorite new grey this fall is Sephora by OPI’s Frankly I Don’t Give A-Dam, because it’s such a TRUE grey! No green, purple, blue, anything. Just grey. Love it!

  60. AmyS says:

    I didn’t know this color was out! I have Suzi Skies in the Pyrineese (sp) that is a dark charcoal grey that I absolutely love!

  61. Kris says:

    I still am a fan of the greige colors. Essie power clutch is one of my new favorites! It is so flattering and gorgeous!

  62. jo says:

    Love the pop beauty foggy color, I need to get that!

  63. Cassidy says:

    Actually, I believe the Revlon nail polish is called Smoky Canvas, not Stormy Canvas. I just today had bought Revlon nail polish in Smoky Canvas and I absolutely LOVE it. I just put it on only a few moments ago and I think it is a beautiful grey against my skin tone. :) VERY opaque with just one coat so it’s definitely one of my favorites now!

  64. Ali says:

    I’ve been looking for a good grey nail polish for a few months now! Definitely going to look for the China Glaze or Essie :)

  65. Catherine says:

    I’m wearing Joe Fresh’s “Fog” right now and loving it. For $4(CAN), it’s well worth trying!

  66. OW My Godness!!! Here, in Brazil we

  67. Bibi says:

    : )
    I’ve been really enjoying gray nail polishes shades for a few years. The lighter shades didn’t pair well with my skin tone (Silver Screen by Revlon), however it does pair really well with cocktail rings. So the lighter shade stays! : ) Isn’t just incredible what a simple accessory can change the mood like this? *snaps fingers*

    So far I still love the

  68. Caitlyn says:

    I’ve always been in love with grey as a nailcolor and though I don’t much care about what is “in” and “out” when it comes to my beloved polish colors *g*, I still do like it when “my” colors become trendy *gg*
    My favorites are the bunch of Nubar’s Fortress Collection, along with Zoya Dove and China Glaze Concrete Walk. They’re just so versatile and suit almost all of my clothes ;)

  69. ReaderRita says:

    I LOVE gray. I never stopped wearing it. True classics never go out of style. It is a staple for me.
    I’m still lamenting the loss of “Concrete Jungle” (my favorite light gray) from RBL’s lineup. :(

  70. Andrea says:

    CND Asphalt is stunning, and it now comes in Shellac too! Love it!

  71. allison says:

    thank god because I hold true to this grey I have from CND.

  72. Kristen says:

    I’m so over the greige. I just bought what I thought would be a light army green with slight grey undertones. On my nail it’s grey with green undertone… ugh.

  73. BlueCat says:

    Gray is not my color…

  74. RHZ says:

    OPI Skull and Glossbones?

  75. Michele says:

    I can’t find Dorien Gray anywhere! It looked like there was a space for one at my local CVS but it was no where to be found!

  76. Cotton Candy says:

    I love these grey shades >_

  77. Jessica says:

    I’m quite a fan of “Frankly, I Don’t Give A-Dam” by Sephora O.P.I.. It’s a really pretty grey on the the lighter side, but still very opaque.

  78. Andrea says:

    I just bought “cocktail bling” by Essie today and I love it!

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