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essie Starry Starry Night Retro Revival Swatch and Comparison

By on December 23, 2015
in Blue, Essie
essie Starry Starry Night Retro Revival swatch and comparison

essie Starry Starry Night Retro Revival swatch and comparison

Based on the “sold out” signs I’m seeing on, and, the Retro Revival version of essie Starry Starry Night has caused quite a craze. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to score a pre-sale bottle, don’t fret. The collection isn’t on shelves yet, so there’s still a chance to snag one. Who knows, maybe it will pop up at In the meantime, for those of you who want to see how the new version compares to the original, I’ve got you covered!

***Sound the alarm!*** Starry Starry Night is now available on

Formula & Application

essie nail polish is 3-Free (Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP). The square bottles are embossed with the essie logo and the smooth plastic caps include an embossed ‘e’ on top. Bottles at mass retailers have stickers rather than embossing on the bottle. The brushes are thin, round and shorter than most. The bristles are very flexible, allowing you to easily fan out the brush to cover your nail width.

The RR version of SSN follows suit with the fall Leggy Legend collection in that the formula is a bit thicker than what we’ve come to expect from essie. Even though it is a jelly-ish base, it doesn’t have a watery feel. For that reason, it applies a bit streaky and lumpy, but with careful application you can get a smooth, opaque finish in three coats. And even though it’s a glitter it doesn’t eat top coat, which is a bonus. No spackle layer necessary.

Essie Starry Starry Night (Retro Revival) Swatch

essie Starry Starry Night from Retro Revival is a navy jelly filled with silver hexagonal glitter. The particles are a bit sparse so the overall effect is speckled. Because of the way the jelly formula layers, the glitters look blue when covered to add depth to the polish.

essie Starry Starry Night (Retro Revival)

essie Starry Starry Night (Retro Revival)

Essie Starry Starry Night (Retro Revival) Comparison

As a quick refresher, here is the Original essie Starry Starry Night with diamond dust.

essie Starry Starry Night (original)

essie Starry Starry Night (original)

And here it is next to the Retro Revival version. As you can see, the OG version is a bit darker with denser glitter.

essie Starry Starry Night comparison

essie Starry Starry Night comparison

essie Starry Starry Night comparison

essie Starry Starry Night comparison

I thought showing a one coat swatch would highlight the differences. The size and amount of glitter are apparent, but you can see the differences in base color and formulation as well. The new version goes on streaky due to its thicker formula.

essie Starry Starry Night comparison - One Coat

essie Starry Starry Night comparison – One Coat

Finally, here are the two SSN versions with Zoya Dream, since a few of you asked about that one as well. In addition to the holographic glitter in Dream, it’s also quite a bit lighter than the other two.

essie Starry Starry Night comparison

essie Starry Starry Night comparison

Bottom Line: I’m not sure why essie wasn’t able to recreate Starry Starry Night exactly, especially when you consider the fact that OPI has been using diamond dust in its Designer Series formula. Maybe it doesn’t mesh with the essie 3-Free formula the way it did with the old formula. I guess we’ll never know. The new SSN is pretty, but nothing holds a candle to the original, which I just realized is actually called Starry Starry Nights on my bottle. How I never noticed the plural before, no clue.

Essie Retro Revival officially launches in stores in January 2016. The pre-sale of SSN on, and has already sold out, but I would check back to see if more come in stock. Otherwise, it’s time to stalk your local essie supplier!

*** Update: As of 12/24 SSN is available at ***.

Will you seek out a bottle of the Retro Revival essie Starry Starry Night? Did you already order a bottle? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the new version. 

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by reps for essie. Affiliate links appear in this post. When you purchase through an affiliate link, you help support this site. For more info view my Disclosure Policy
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There Are 63 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Marina says:

    Such a disappointment! They shouldn’t have called this one a revival, it’s so different. And with all the hype! I guess it’s a sure way to make a quick profit, but also to lose nail lovers’ respect.

  2. Lisa N. says:

    Very helpful to see them compared!

  3. kelliegonzo says:

    This is my face: -_-
    Ugh, I seriously don’t understand this. Why Essie, WHY?! Thanks for the comparison Michelle :P

  4. Raabh says:

    Thank you for the lovely swacthes!
    It’s sad that the new version of SSN isn’t exactly like the original, but I’m glad it’s still a very pretty shade.

  5. marjorie says:

    Thanks for the comparison! I’m bummed — not a fan of the hexagonal glitter, which feel too teenybopper to me. But I don’t have Zoya dream, and I love the way the Zoya polishes apply (I’m not, shall we say, the most skilled painter of nails) so I added that one to my wishlist. Thanks again for being the primo nail color and application news resource!

  6. Marisa says:

    This is really gorgeous!!!

  7. Lily says:

    I had Chanel Ciel du Nuit back then, and loved it, despite Chanel’s less-than-awesome formula. I didn’t even know there was an Essie version until I started reading polish blogs a year ago. Anyway, navy flatters almost anyone, so I think it will do fine, but the original formula diamond was much better. I probably won’t get it because I dislike most Essie formulas, especially if they are streaky. I got five kids and no time for that nonsense! Thanks for taking the time to show us the difference.

    • Bonnie says:

      I totally agree! I never seem to have good luck with Essie; the formula is so inconsistent with some colors thin and others thick. Everyone else seems to love it and I just don’t get it.

  8. Carolyn DiSandro says:

    I ordered several bottles and was so excited, but seeing these comparison posts spring up, I can’t help but be disappointed in how far off it is from the original. I actually do like the look of the new one, but was definitely hoping it would be 99% the same as the old one. I have to ask the same question as you – how did they not get this closer? And as for your plural name, someplace I once read that Essie had released this polish twice, once with the singular name and once with the plural. From discussion I’m seeing over the new one, it sounds like maybe one was ’85 and one was ’97?

    • Hi Carolyn! Interesting, I had not heard about the two different names before. I feel like it’s hard to really document this color since it was pre-Internet, so I’m as confused as you are.

  9. myishia simmons says:

    I’m really disappointed in the new version of SSN. It’s actually quite different from the original a close second is cbl twinkle twinkle little star. I think I’ll just be getting that one.

  10. kel says:

    i am so coveting this polish!!! wish i could find it. it sold out on essie’s site immediately.

    • Hey Kel! It’s available right now on

      • kel says:

        awesome michelle. just ordered it! stoked!

        • Carolyn DiSandro says:

          (For some reason it won’t let me reply directly to your last comment about chipping, so I’m replying here instead.) I completely agree with you on the lack of staying power, because I had the same problem. I wore the new SSN for New Year’s and by 1/2 I already had big chips. I don’t expect a ton of wear-time in Dec/Jan/Feb, because my nails get bad in the winter and don’t hold polish well, but this was extreme. What was really strange was that the chips were all over. Usually with my winter-weak nails, it’s the tips that get destroyed, but with SSN I lost a big chunk from the SIDE of my thumbnail first, and then I also got chips on the sides of other nails as well as toward the cuticle, which is unusual for me. And I could tell it wasn’t caused by my nails peeling, because there was no damage to the nail underneath, the polish just sort of popped off. Very disappointing. I only own one other Essie color, so I’m not sure if it’s the brand or just SSN, but I wasn’t happy. : (

      • ReaderRita says:

        As of 4:21 pm central USA time, the Ulta website says that it’s (temporarily) out of stock.

        And thank you for the swatches and beautiful photos, because I think I just decided that the Revival just doesn’t look enough like the original, so I think I’m going to save my money.
        I, too don’t think they should have named this SSN, because I don’t think it really looks like the original. At least not to my bonkers, hyper-picky-original-Starry Starry Night(s)-enthusiast-eye.

        • Hi Rita! It’s back on and

          I agree, it’s odd to call both of them SSN when they are clearly different.

          • Joanne says:

            Is the new one pretty though? I got it on yesterday.

          • kel h. says:

            so i put this on friday night and by sunday i had tons of chips and i wasn’t even doing anything. i re-did it sunday night and applied chip skip. a little helpful but really disappointed still as i had to go over my chips again today (wed). also it is very goopy. i love the color though but wish it had better staying power. its a common problem for me with essie.

  11. jenna says:

    i wish essie was able to recreate the original polish! The new version is nice the original is gorgeous and has so much more depth to it

  12. Cathy says:

    I’m so disappointed at the huge difference, I don’t think it should even be called a recreation. It’s a completely new (beautiful) polish and should have a new name. It’s a shame that Essie would prey on our nostalgia for this polish and let us down.

  13. Cathy says:

    Thank you for taking the time to do this wonderful comparison of SSN Retro vs Original! I’ve been very curious to see them side-by-side (I missed out on the original way back….) and especially for the sheer 1-coat swatch-stick comparison….it really DOES give us the best idea of then THEN vs NOW looks.
    I prefer the slightly more refined look of the original version; but, having said that, I DID purchase the Retro version, and I’m about to apply it.
    I love the retro looks of this collection, reminds me of days-gone-by – back when Cutex was the nail polish of choice (almost the ONLY one, LOL!).
    I also bought Bikini with a Martini, because it reminded me so much of my very first nail polish purchase – Cutex, Oh So Pink….
    GREAT job on the post, and thank you again!

  14. Amanda says:

    OK, please don’t shoot me! But I think after seeing your comparisons that I may not pick up SSN unless it happens to magically fall into my lap. I really like that original version, but since I have Zoya Dream, even though it’s lighter, I think I will just call it good. I can always try layering a thin black layer under Dream to see if that would darken it a wee…. maybe. lol Thanks Michelle!! Merry Christmas to you!!

    • I would never shoot you! ;) I don’t blame you. I had such high hopes for the new version, but they really missed the mark in duping it. I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the process.

  15. Color me disappointed. There is also a new OPI from the Starlight collection called Give Me Space that looks great. Not like the OG, and similar wowtastic dupes in Zoya and OPI means I will wait until this goes on sale if I get it at all.

  16. Stephanie says:

    I’m going to laugh myself silly if I see this in the clearance bin at my local DS, where I recently found Haute Tub, Shall We Chalet, Apres Chic, Virgin Snow and a few others. I still don’t get the uber hype over SSN but now I see the huge difference between the RR and OG versions. I know I have dupes of the RR version, blues being my weakness, so probably won’t go out of my way but if I happen to see it, sure :)

  17. Lola says:

    Thank you so much for the swatches!! I don’t own the original SSN so getting a bottle of this is a plus for me! I love the blue jelly, silver glitter combo! Like you said, it may be that essie couldn’t recreate the original formula because of the 3 free factor or perhaps something else -__- Anyhoo, might you know how compares to OPI DS Lapis? My bottle of Lapis had tons of silver glitter clinging to the sides so perhaps not a good comparison.

  18. Cindi says:

    I like the look of the original better. I think I will pass on the new one. The older one was before my polish obsession started, but I do have that Zoya Dream and I will be quite happy with it instead now that I can see how close they are. Not identical, but close enough to make me happy. Thanks for doing the swatch and review with comparisons! Merry Christmas to you!

  19. NailPolishFan says:

    Could you compare Essie SSN to China Glaze Dorothy Who? They seem like they could be dupes for one another.

  20. Jessica says:

    Sold out on ULTA. Thanks for the comparison swatches!

  21. Becky says:

    I tried buying it on Ulta’s site and it’s already sold out. They said on FB it won’t be restocked, so apparently it is (extremely) limited edition. I seriously don’t understand why it’s so limited. They had to have known the response would be like this. I am so disgusted with Essie right now because I really wanted to add it to my collection without spending $$$ to buy it on eBay.

  22. broantza says:

    I am so glad to see that I wasn’t the only one thinking this new SSN is quite thick! I applied it over Essie Fill the Gap, and because I wasn’t quick enough, I nearly messed up one nail. It dries SO fast!! I am wearing it right now, I did two thicker coats, and it levelled out quite ok, but I had a really hard time working around the cuticles (at first I thought it was the brush, but looking back, I think it was the goopy formula). Anyway, Michelle, when you removed it, did you end up with sparkles everywhere? That’s one thing I seriously hate!

    • The new one came off cleaner than the old, but it has less sparkle, so that’s probably why. Though I don’t have too much issue with that, in general, because I let the remover-soaked pad sit on the nail for 30 seconds to a minute and then pull the color off in one fell swoop. It’s the rubbing back and forth that causes most of the glitter to get all over the skin.

  23. Katrina says:

    I know I will be in the minority on this one, but I kind of like the photos of the new version better than the original SSN. The fine sparkle looks a bit dated to me.

  24. ashley says:

    wow! thanks for posting this! i don’t own this polish yet.. i probly won’t get it bc i have zoya dream, and this is gonna make me sound terrible.. but i just don’t get all the hype. it’s a beautiful polish, but i have several that look just like it, or better. idk. it’s about the novelty, i guess. i’m sure when the original was released it was a big deal, but these days it’s just another blue jelly with silver glitters in there. i was gonna get it just bc i’m a polish hoarder and Essie was my first love.. but, meh.. i can live without.

  25. Jane says:

    I love the new SSN. I don’t have the original but I have CBL Twinkle Twinkle Little Star which is supposed to be almost identical. I much prefer this, much to my surprise! They do look quite different and it’s all a matter of preference, I definitely recommend trying both. For anyone in NYC, as of a couple of days ago, I have seen the new SSN available (along with the rest of the collection) in independent pharmacies (at least the couple I have been to in midtown, which are Irmat in midtown east and Gideon’s in midtown west). I have also seen them in a salon (but not sure if they were for sale or just for use in the salon). I also saw a mini pack (also at Irmat).

  26. NailPolishFan says:

    I love the color blue and this nail polish is absolutely beautiful. How does this color compare to China Glaze’s Dorothy Who? I have the China Glaze polish so if they are similar there’s no point in getting a dupe, but it is a beautiful nail polish none the less. Thanks.

  27. Oh no :( I thought it was going to be exactly the same. I don’t get why they would do that?! Can your essie reps give you any insights whatsoever? I guess we have to be happy with what we got and that’s it. Thanks SO much with the comparison swatches and I know you will treasure your OG SSN! Lucky :)

  28. Oh no =( The OG is so much prettier =( Why revive it if it’s not exactly the same…

  29. Ashley T. says:

    It is quite disappointing that the retro revival shade isn’t the same as the original. It’s still pretty, though, thanks for the comparisons!

  30. Stephanie says:

    I’ve read it has something to do with the 3 free formula, back in the day the chemicals made nail polish dry more quickly and it was easier to handle. I’ve read more than once that die hard nail polish fans wish they could have their chemicals back. I’m surprised the difference is so noticeable though.

  31. sleepybird says:

    Too bad. I really like the look of the original. That super fine sparkle and the deeper navy blue looks much more sophisticated. The revival just looks like any number of indie glitter polishes. Yawn.

  32. Peggy says:

    Thank you so much for putting up the swatch comparisons. I’ve been wanting SSN, but refuse to pay $100+ a bottle on eBay. I was excited to hear about the RR, but was a little disappointed when I saw that the RR SSN looks quite different from the original formula. I’ll most likely still get a bottle when it becomes available in the stores, but I’m not as excited over it. However, I have Colors By Llarowe’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and from the comparisons out there, it seems to come very close to the original SSN.

  33. Leigha says:

    Before I start I want to say this is just my opinion, experiences etc…

    I am disappointed and pretty ticked. I was holding out hope but I got my box today, pulled out my OG SSN and I didn’t even need to swatch before I could see the catastrophe. The bottles are so stuffed with wrong size glitter and their excuses just anger me becuase it’s (to me) a lie.

    I already knew it wouldn’t be an exact, but this is ridiculous.
    During my search for a bottle of the originals I called Essie and asked them if they would possibly be re-releasing it in the future. What can I say, I was desperate…
    I was told “NO”. When Essie was sold and changed hands the “recipe” for SSN did not come with it. The woman who took my call didn’t even know it had two different releases and even two different names. Starry Starry Night and the other, Starry Starry Nights.
    She said that when bringing up the information all they have is a name.

    So I knew it would be a new creation but this is not right to do to people. Especially since they already have the product to make the original, they still sell it! It’s not Diamonds it’s Silver Bullions.

    When searching dusties I hit the salon of a man who had ran this salon for a few decades. Essie used to be the majority of his supply. He was pretty experienced and when I bought BoB I could see he was right. Then my first OH bottle arrived and it’s quit obvious he was correct.

    Fortunately I ended up with all of my hard work 3 bottles of OG SSN. The newbie is upsetting since I know so many out there are going to spend their money buying it up and then wondering what all the hype was about. It’s that far off in my opinion

    I want every person in the world who wants a bottle of the real SSN to have one and this was the chance for them to get it. I know the Lemming of SSN, it’s tough to beat and for good reason. That tiny bottle is pretty gorgeous on the nails. However, it is just a bottle of paint. A tiny bottle of paint.

    So, if you don’t have OG, buy Silver Bullions, find yourself your favorite Jelly and transfer little bits at a time.

    I hope that help and I am so sorry they let Essie lovers down. They let me down too as I thought I was going to get to finally wear it anytime I wanted instead once in a blue moon to treat myself and heaven forbid I don’t get it right and it chips!

  34. Jessica L. says:

    Not impressed. I’ll just layer Zoya Dream over black to get close to SSN OG.

  35. Leslie says:

    So sad to see that Essie took the easy road and let us down on this polish. I can certainly see the attraction of the original, especially considering how staggeringly different and original it would have been when released.
    For another possible dupe, take a look at Cirque’s Tibetan Nights. I think it’s a much nicer polish than what Essie is trying to pass off as SSN right now, higher price aside.

  36. stina says:

    Disappointed. Why wouldn’t they get it closer to the original?

  37. Caroline says:

    This is so disappointing… And not very good for Essie. Does it feel like they are just cheating on us? I really wanted to buy a couple of the retro revival polishes but with the new starry starry night being what it is, I really don’t want to buy any anymore. It just feels wrong…
    Anyway… I have purchased the OPI give me space and I was stunned by the depth and the beauty of the polish. Would it be close to a dupe to starry starry night? From the swatches I look at online, they seem really close…. But I don’t have the original ssn so I can’t say for sure…
    Thank you so much for posting the comparison between original and new ssn. This is a real eye opener… :-/

  38. Susan says:

    FYI: starry starry night just came back in stock on Amazon! I was finally able to place my order!!! Yay!!!!

  39. Natalie says:

    I like your comparison swatches.I’m not sure if I have Zoya Dream,but I never owned the OG version of SSN.I thought that the revival version was alot of hype when I first heard of it,but then earlier this week,I was picking up some of the OPI Hello Kitty polishes,and I saw the revival display and snatched up Starry.Starry Night because I was afraid I might regret it later.I also purchased Bikini with a Martini.

  40. Rachel says:

    I wasn’t even alive when the original SSN came out…so I was hoping to squash a lemming with the new one. I am a bit disappointed that the RR version is different, I certainly would have paid a few more dollars to have it more like the original. Oh well, I guess it’s still a pretty color at the end of the day.

  41. Laura says:

    I’ll pass on this. There are too many cruelty free versions available. I am, however, eyeing that Zoya dupe. :-)

  42. Lacquerfiend says:

    Thanks so much for the comparison swatches! You know, I hate to say it, but I think after seeing these swatches, I’m sort of glad SSN sold out before I impulsively preordered it. The size/density of the glitters is what really gets me. I do love my Zoya Dream, though, so I’m not as devastated as I might have been otherwise – thanks for that comparison as well!

  43. Geneva Coats says:

    You know what, I like the new version better. It looks more like stars in the night sky to me. I can relate to wishing for older nail polish formulas. Today’s nail polishes are like having plastic on your fingers. Back in the day, real nail polishes dried HARD and glassy and were wonderful. I couldn’t care less about chemicals in nail polish, they posed absolutely no risk to anyone’s health unless possibly you were dumb enough to sniff them at close range. I am 62 years old and had three kids and we all managed to survive nail products with whatever chemicals they contained.