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Clinique “A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins” Review & Swatches

The first non-drugstore beauty brand I ever spent my hard earned money on was Clinique and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. During my teen years, my Caboodle was chock full of jade marble shadow & blush cases (New Clover was my jam!) and my bathroom drawer had dozens of mini Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotions from GWP sets. And when Black Honey Almost Lipstick launched, you wouldn’t catch me dead without a tube. But when it came to nails, Clinique had nothing for me.


Clinique A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins

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Yes, they’ve had polish in the past but it always felt like an afterthought, until now. Introducing Clinique A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins. Quite a mouthful, no? Six years in the making, this line is formulated to minimize skin sensitivity. And as we’ve come to expect from Clinique, it is Dermatologist tested and Ophthalmologist tested. In addition to a core lineup of twelve basic shades, they have launched nine LE polishes for Summer 2013. Let’s take a look!

Formula & Application: Clinique A Different Nail Enamel is 5-Free (Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP, Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor). An ingredient list wasn’t included with my sample bottles but Lipglossiping has images of the UK packaging. Based on that information, I’m not 100% on what makes this formula different from other 5-Free nail polishes. Formaldehyde Resin is a known allergen and Camphor can be an irritant but I don’t know what ingredients other brands include that can cause sensitivity outside of these two.

The bottles are round and similar in height to Essie bottles. The chrome metal caps are smooth and not the most comfortable to hold but they don’t impede application. The brush is flat, short and narrow with flexible bristles that spread easily on the nail with no dragging.

Of the nine LE polishes, there are six jellies, two cremes and one foil chrome. The jellies all have that familiar squishy texture yet they are quite pigmented. In most cases two coats are sufficient though I used three coats with a couple (Splish Splash & Grape Ice). The cremes & the foil applied a bit streaky so I needed three coats with each though considering that one is a notoriously difficult shade, yellow, I don’t consider it all that bad.

The line also includes an all-in-one Base & Top Coat that is formulated for sensitive skins. I do not have ingredient information on the Base & Top Coat but obviously, if allergies or skin sensitivity is an issue for you with other polishes, you will want to use this in conjunction with the polish. It dries relatively fast for a non-quick dry, though it isn’t overly glossy. It starts to dull after a day or so, so be prepared to reapply every couple days.

Clinique 70° and Sunny is a bright yellow creme. It falls somewhere between lemon and French’s mustard. Typical of most yellows it is a bit streaky but with three coats I eliminated any patchiness.

Clinique 70° and Sunny nail polish swatch

Clinique 70° and Sunny

Clinique Grape Ice is a magenta jelly. I guess you could call it grape if you think of Barney as purple but I’m firmly designating it part of the pink family. Like most jellies, it has a super glossy finish but it does take a bit longer to dry so be wary of dents.

Clinique Grape Ice nail polish swatch

Clinique Grape Ice

Clinique Hula Skirt is a grass green creme. It’s different than most of the greens I’ve seen this season in that it has a yellow, not minty or blue, tone.

Clinique Hula Skirt nail polish swatch

Clinique Hula Skirt

Clinique Juiced Up is a sun-kissed nectarine jelly. I’d say if coral was a coin, Juiced Up sits firmly on the orange side.

Clinique Juiced Up nail polish swatch

Clinique Juiced Up

Clinique Pinkini is a bright Barbie pink jelly. It’s the nail equivalent of MAC Pink Nouveaux Lipglass.

Clinique Pinkini nail polish swatch

Clinique Pinkini

Clinique Splish Splash is a bold blue jelly. Not quite as in-your-face as, say, Nails Inc Baker Street, this charged up Caribbean blue will make you long for a pool day.

Clinique Splish Splash nail polish swatch

Clinique Splish Splash

Clinique Strappy Sandals is a silver metallic foil along the lines of Orly Shine or Zoya Trixie. I found it to be a bit patchy in application which is why I needed three coats.

Clinique Strappy Sandals nail polish swatch

Clinique Strappy Sandals

Clinique Summer in the City is a hot, rosy pink with some coral-ish undertones. It’s beauty doesn’t quite translate on film so I highly recommend checking this one out in person. It’s actually a color I would love to find in a lip product so I’ll be on the hunt for that this summer.

Clinique Summer in the City nail polish swatch

Clinique Summer in the City

Bottom Line: According to Clinique, we touch our eyes on average 200 times a day. So if you have been experiencing any irritation, look at your nail polish as a possible culprit. I personally don’t have that issue but for those with sensitivities, the line is worth checking out. Also, it’s nice to see that they are offering a fun range of colors, outside the basics, so people with allergies/sensitivities have options. Given that the quality & colors aren’t mind blowing and the price point is high for the bottle size, if you don’t have allergies/sensitivities I can’t say I recommend running out to buy this if your current nail products are working.

Clinique A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins is available now at Clinique counters nationwide and on, and The Summer 2013 shades (Hot Date not pictured) are available for a limited time. Clinique nail polish retails for $16/ea for a .3oz bottle.

Have you experienced eye irritation due to your nail polish? Will you give this polish a try? Any colors you are craving? Are you happy Clinique has delved into the world on nail polish again? If you have allergies/sensitivities to nail polish ingredients outside of Form. Resin and Camphor, let us know which ones to look out for.

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by Clinique. For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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There Are 18 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Fantastic post, and thank you so much for explaining in detail the brush, cap and bottle.
    Also glad to see some extra shades that I haven’t found in other reviews!

    I love the idea of polishes with less chemicals, but maybe Clinique need to be more explicit in exactly how different these really are.

  2. Raina says:

    That blue is awesome! I like the silver as well, but since I have Zoya Trixie I am all set ;)

  3. Margo says:

    I really love these and your swatches are beautiful!

  4. Julie says:

    I love the look of Summer in the City and Splish Splash. They’re all really nice though!

    Thanks for the review ?

  5. Sara says:

    Definitely never had any issues with nail polish and I have rather sensitive skin. Too bad they don’t explain themselves better! $16 is a rip off for these colors, though I do like them. There’s just too many good brands for half the price.

  6. Jackie S. says:

    You said “Caboodle”, LOL…I still have mine… somewhere under my bed, LOL! :)

  7. Clinique A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins Swatches | All Lacquered Up

  8. Olivia says:

    These are very pretty! Love the orangey shade and Grape Ice…so barney!

  9. Idhuna says:

    What a beautiful swatches! I love the look of Hula Skirt!

  10. Lexi says:

    Really love the Clinique Splish Splash. Really gets me in the mood for summertime and it looks cool!

  11. Maureen says:

    Hula Skirt reminds me of Clinique green. :) Oh, and the background of your blog! Can’t say I’ll be running out to get these as I don’t think I have any skin sensitivities. Lovely review though!

  12. Tracey says:

    I have been unable to wear nail varnish for years and years as for some strange reason it would make my lips swell up, I looked like I’d had a collagen treatment. So as soon as I heard of Cliniques new nail varnish I bought some straight away and have to say I am extremely pleased and no swollen lips. Will be off soon to purchase a second bottle the Hula skirt I think.

    • Michelle Mismas says:

      I’m so glad it worked for you. That’s great to hear :)

      • Kris says:

        They are discontinuing the nail line. Any others u have had luck with. My eyes swell with others this is the only one I could wear.

  13. Rani Rehsi says:

    How can I purchase these nail polishes online ?