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American Apparel Nail Lacquer Swatches & Review

american apparel nail lacquer nail polish bottles Say what you will about American Apparel clothes or ad campaigns but where nail polish is involved they hit a home run.  Last winter the brand introduced their collection of Nail Lacquers and they certainly didn’t play it safe.  Any brand that kicks off with multiple blues and greens automatically scores points in my book.

As I reported, there was a recall due to a bottle issue but to AA’s credit they rectified the situation in a timely manner.  Prior to that I was sent a few polishes by the brand for review but I was only into one of the colors.

I’ve been meaning to hop over to my local American Apparel store to pick up the more “me” shades but I really hate the parking sitch in that area so I couldn’t drag myself over there just for polish until recently.  I know that makes me a bad polish fanatic and believe me, I’m totally kicking myself for waiting so long.  See why after the jump!

I picked up all the colors in this review except Dynasty at my local American Apparel store and when the sales clerk saw my choices she said, “You picked all the best ones.” Obviously she has great taste!

Dynasty is a mid-tone mauve creme. I know a lot of people think of mauve as an old lady color, I used to be one of them but, for some odd reason they’ve grown on me.  While I don’t like how red based purples look on me, I love how mauves compliment my skin tone.  Riddle me that!  This was a three coater for me.  It went on a bit watery leaving a few patches which is why the third coat was necessary.

american apparel dynasty swatch nail polish

Hunter is the perfect name for this deep green dream that applies flawlessly in two coats.  It totally captures that aristocrats hunting in the woods vibe.  I love that it’s dark without reaching “almost black” territory.  It’s actually a very close dupe for Orly Enchanted Forest.  It would take a very savvy Fanatic to tell them apart.

american apparel hunter swatch nail lacquer

Mount Royal is not at all what I think of when I hear the word royal.  This blue is darker, slightly grayed with a hint of purple undertone.  As excited as I was about Hunter, I ended up falling harder for Mount Royal.  It dries much darker than the bottle color suggests and I totally dig that. Plus while I have some lighter grayed blues, I don’t have any quite like this.  Mount Royal is another two coat wonder.

american apparel mount royal swatch nail polish

Mouse is a pretty blah taupe-ish neutral.  It seems to be toeing the line between a true taupe and beige.  It’s not warm enough to be a cafe au lait and on me it just falls flat.  There’s a reason “mousy” is associated with lackluster brown hair and blasé blah people so AA was really setting itself up for a fail in naming this color.  The fact that I needed three coats doesn’t support its case.


I really wanted Office to be a winner.  With the popularity of mint green and so many of them being LE, I was excited to see this as a perm shade in the AA line.  The problem… application.  It’s a total streak-fest.  What you see below is three coats and even though it doesn’t show, there is major cuticle pull and patchiness.  I would have needed a fourth coat to make this one look perfect and I wasn’t giving in.

american apparel office swatch nail polish

Peacock is gorgeous teal cream that applies like a dream in two medium thick coats.  The hue falls somewhere between two of my fave teals, Illamasqua Muse and Rescue Beauty Lounge Teal.  Muse looks muted and slightly grayed next to Peacock.  I really hoped they were dupes as so many people love the look of Muse but hate its price tag.  Though I think that Peacock will satiate your craving for half the price.  I know turquoise is the hot color of the season but I’m rocking Peacock this weekend when our friends come to town.  It’s the hotness!

american apparel peacock swatch nail polish

Way back when I initially received Dynasty I did a wear test that ended up lasting six days instead of my regular five because I really like the color.  I wore Dynasty with Nubar Foundation Base Coat and Olan Labs Quick & Slick and I ended up with quite a bit of tip wear and one noticeable chip on my index finger.  The picture below was taken under artificial light so the color is not accurate.

american apparel nail polish wear test

Application and Formula: For the majority of the colors in this line, the magic number is three. Three coats that is. The formula itself is a joy to work with, thin and smooth, though a bit on the sheer side until you get into the darker shades which are perfectly pigmented. The polishes are 3-Free and do not include Formaldehyde Resin.

Due to the tall bottles the brush handles are pretty long so you have make sure you wipe them well as you pull out the brush or else you’ll end up with globs of polish falling on your nails. The brush itself is long, thin and very pliable. At first I was put off by the lack of resistance from the bristles but then I realized that it made it easy to create a smooth, sweeping line along my cuticles. The downside is that it doesn’t spread out well so a three stroke application is out of the question for me.

Bottom Line: If you know what’s good for you, you’ll snag bottles of Peacock and Mount Royal.  If you never got Orly Enchanted Forest, add Hunter to your shopping list.  Office is a total pigmentation fail and gets a “pass” from me.  If you’re into “old lady mauves” like me, you’ll dig Dynasty and unless you get a case of the blahs, leave Mouse on the display.

American Apparel Nail Lacquer is available at American Apparel stores nationwide and online at  Polishes retail for $6/ea or you can purchase 3-packs for $15.

Have you tried AA polish yet? What are your favorite colors? Are you happy with the formula and brush?

Disclosure: Dynasty was furnished to me by American Apparel for editorial consideration. The rest were purchased by me. For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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There Are 40 Brilliant Comments

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  1. JustMe says:

    Really pretty colours, i will try them out one day too

  2. Emily says:

    I’m so glad that you finally reviewed these polishes.

    I really can’t wait to see what colors they do in the future. I’d love to see some shimmers.

    I really do like these polishes.. honestly one of my favorite colors is Factory Grey. I just adore it.

    I also have Peacock and Hunter. Was considering getting Mouse, but I think I will pass on it now.

  3. DLFM says:

    Peacock and Mount Royal are nice but still not enough to tempt me to give AA any of my money.

  4. lm says:

    They all look great on your hand.
    I’m wondering if ‘Mouse’ might be the taupe/grey for those of us who get ‘corpse hands’ or ‘death claws’ trying to wear shades like Grunge or You Don’t Know Jacques.

  5. Lauren says:

    Must have peacock!

  6. Jackie S. says:

    Mount Royal is the show stopper in my opinion, so unique!

  7. Mel says:

    So what does that say about me if I like the Mouse color? I don’t think “blah” when looking at it.

    I really want a polish shade in that color! Seriously, I would wear it for daily use.

    • Rachael says:

      I agree that Mouse is an attractive color. Usually great neutrals have a bit of a shimmer, which I’m not always drawn to.

      This is a good solid creme color that would work in many situations. I think I’ll pick it up myself.

  8. Jo says:

    Wow,I love Dynasty and mount Royal! : )

  9. Kara says:

    Oooo, me likey! I love Peacock the most, but Dynasty and Mount Royal are pretty too! I’ll have to see them in the store to decide, but the price seems good, at least, and I like the bottles too. How would you say Zoya Pinta compares to AA Hunter? And China Glaze Re-fresh Mint to Office?

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Pinta is much darker and more blackened than Hunter. I’ll have to check on the other one for you.

  10. Mich says:

    I love your swatches so much! I have a bunch of AA’s myself, and in a way I’m so glad you found Office to be streaky as hell too, because I thought I was the only one haha!
    Mount Royal and Hunter are definitely my favorites :-)

  11. Shatteredshards says:

    To be honest, they’re still failing to get my interest; what is with so many of their colors looking downright dull?

    And am I the only one to notice that the swatches on their website are some degree of Photoshopped?

  12. Crystal says:

    These look great! I haven’t tried them but I NEED Peacock! :-)

  13. tara says:

    the minute i even smell money coming my way i’m going to run down to AA and get hunter and peacock. i know i’m trying to act like i’ll only get two but once i get there i’m going to get mount royal as well. god those are breath taking!

  14. Tara says:

    I picked up 3 of these in the US in Feb – Mount Royal, Mouse and Peacock. I love all 3 on my pale, cool-toned skin. In fact, Mouse is the perfect greige for me (better than Orly CC, Prince Charming, SH Commander in Chic etc)
    The formula is amazing too, on me it lasts longer than any other brand bar RBL.

    I heard a rumour they were coming out with more new shades this year – anyone know if this is true?

  15. Gemmie says:

    ? Hunter! I’m so happy they sell these on the UK website too! I might buy the three pack of Hunter, Peacock and Passport Blue. Has anyone tried Passport Blue?

  16. riss says:

    I would love to see a comparison of AA peacock to Illamasqua muse and RBL teal.

  17. Anon says:

    Mount Royal is probably referring to the Mount Royal district in Montreal than any actual royalty.

  18. amy says:

    I have Peacock, Office and Mouse and love them all. I agree that Office is the streakiest of them all.

  19. Carolyn says:

    I have AA Hunter, Mouse, and Office and love them all! Hunter does truly go on like a dream, and you barely need two coats. Mouse and Office definitely need three, but are beautiful once on. I got tons of compliments on all three of these! I always compare Mouse to chocolate milk (this cleared up describing it’s color to others)!

  20. Ashley says:

    i tried office and i found it great. it goes on a bit streaky but seems to settle in a couple minutes to nice and flat, faster with a top coat. all of the AA i have tried are like that: Rose Bowl, Manila, and Mouse. my only thing is it is an almost exact dupe when dry to OPIs Get In Lime. and i kinda liked mouse, its the only one in that grey-taupe style that works on my warm, light skin tone

  21. Arrianne says:

    You crazy! I like Mouse.

  22. Peacock is my favorite! We don’t have an AA around here; I’ll have to pick some of these up when I visit the King of Prussia Mall. Thanks for the review.

  23. Gina says:

    I love the ‘kind of dull’ look of the whole collection, it is really unique in the world of polish. And as someone who wears TONS of AA clothes, they are very complimentary to what AA offers. But I agree that the formulas and applications are inconsistent. Some are great, some are a pain. I love Factory Grey, its a dream… and also just realized I bought Mt Royal and never tried it; it looks so good on you I have to apply it right now! BTW, Does anyone know about Passport Blue? Is it any good?

  24. Silja says:

    I have to say I think Peacock is much closer to Color Club’s Gossip Column (from the Rebel Debutante collection) than the two polishes you listed. Although I haven’t seen any of them in person. What do you think?

    And I agree with most fanatics here, Mount Royal looks smashing! :P

  25. Maria J says:

    In love with Peacock

  26. Dominique says:

    Thank you for posting these. LOVE PEACOCK! I think it’s exactly the kind of teal that I was looking for. I wanted to get RBL’s TEAL but the swatches seemed darker than what I was hoping for. I just bought my 3 pack with Peacock, Factory Grey & Dynasty. Can’t wait to wear them!!

  27. amanda says:

    while the colors are nice, the three i got all wore HORRIBLY! i picked up passport blue, mouse, and poppy. mouse is essentially a dupe for essie chinchilly, and poppy looks like any OPI or essie orange red they put out every spring/summer. passport blue is fairly unique when in the bottle, but at two coats is another “almost black” and starts to bore me. i can normally get up to five chip-free days in with a quality polish like OPI or china glaze, but these all chipped in well under 24 hours. i found the brush to be extremely hard to handle, too long and stiff. my cuticle line is normally very neat, i found that nearly impossible with this brush. for 99 cents i’ll deal with that on a wet n wild polish, not for $5-6 though! yes, nice colors, but i highly doubt i’ll get any more. too bad!

  28. fube7 says:

    Trust me,if u liked office,u HAVE to buy:

    -Butter (yellow-pastel)
    -L esprit (lavander-pastel)
    -Manila (orange-quite pastel)

    And THE ONE,THE GREEN as I call it
    :Malibu greeen! Simply beautiful green,really solid..just an amazing colour.

    xox from Italy

  29. Sandi says:

    Withholding my business is the only way I can express my disgust with the abhorrent business practices of places like Hel-Mart and Girls are just Things Apparel. It’s not like they’re the only game in town when there are literally 100′s of other polishes I would love to have. Wouldn’t matter how ‘hot’ they were.

  30. Natalie says:

    I just purchased the Peacock, Passport Blue, and Hunter. I have only tried the Peacock so far and it has been a total chip-fest. I have been using OPI Top Coat but does anyone have any suggestions on a good top coat to prevent chipping. I don’t have this problem with any of the OPI, China Glaze, or Orly polishes I own but I wanted to throw it out there. Thanks!!!

  31. Amy says:

    I just purchased office, mouse and palm springs. say what you like about mouse, but i love it. its an unusual shade for nails, so maybe thats why i like it. i’m currently wearing office and 2 coats was more than sufficient for perfectly even covering. since putting it on i’ve been shopping, cleaned my bathroom, made a loaf of bread, a batch of cupcakes and cooked dinner and its still perfect! can’t wait to show it off at work.

  32. Monique says:

    I own three AA nail polishes. I have palm springs, factory grey, and mouse. I find that with a cheap two dollar base from ulta you only really need two coats for all three polishes also, I don’t know if it’s some sort of bottle variance but I find mouse to be a beautiful taupe-y grey. I adore all three polishes. I’ve put essie’s matte about you on top of mouse for a manicure I did for my mom and she got a wear of about 9 days on it, and the only reason she didn’t get it longer is because she took it off.

  33. Megan says:

    Look up your definition of teal… Peacock is definitely not teal…

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Teal is blue-green and the American Apparel nail polish Peacock is most certainly a blue-green. I don’t know why you felt the need to be so snarky in your comment or why you commented on such an old post just to school me but I stand by my use of the word teal in this instance.

  34. Kerry says:

    Bought Mount Royal last night. It’s a gorgeous, chic blue. Had already gotten compliments on it by 8 a.m.

  35. Alex says:

    I plan on buying Mouse, and MacArthur Park (not pictured) this week. i also found out that you can also get 3 for $15 in store, instead of them being in sets like online! yahoo! I adore the unique shades AA has…they are going to be perfect for my Nail Polish & Wine party!

    Any suggested colors i should try?!

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Mount Royal is gorgeous as is Hunter, Peacock, Butter, California Trooper, Office and Factory Grey.

  36. Genevieve says:

    Perhaps they’ve changed the formulas a bit on the American Apparel polishes since your review, but out of all the polishes I have (MANY) these polishes are THE BEST I’ve come across. The formula is exquisite. I think even better than Chanel! It has the perfect consistency and literally only takes one coat to reach opacity. one coat. For cremes, thats basically unheard of! And I usually throw an extra coat on even if my manicure doesn’t really need it, just because I love the bold, non-sheer look. However, these polishes cover so well with one coat….it’s pretty remarkable. They dry fast as well…they’re basically my ideal polish. It’s depressing because I have SO many polishes that I’ve collected, but I only gravitate towards the AA ones because they’re so beautiful, the colors are so unique and the application is a dream. HIGHLY RECOmmended!!! American apparel-who knew?!