Home » Japanese Cosmetics » Ueba Esou Water-Based Gofun Nail Polish: Uguisu Midori 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル: 鶯緑

Ueba Esou Water-Based Gofun Nail Polish: Uguisu Midori 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル: 鶯緑

Ueba Esou Gofun Water-Based Nail Polish Uguisu Midori Bottle 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル 鶯緑

I’d planned on immediately reporting my first experience with water-based nail polishes after the previous introductory post, but I found out there is a learning curve involved in applying these non-toxic lacquers. I’ve heard of some that claim to apply and wear much like regular (solvent-based) polishes, but these Gofun (seashell powder) ones by Ueba Esou do not (nor do they claim to.)

Uguisu Japanese Bush Warbler
Uguisu (Japanese Bush Warbler). Photo credit

I tested out the color Uguisu Midori (Japanese Bush Warbler-green) for two applications over the past two days to get a feel for how they should be applied, how they wear, and how long they last. It’s a beautiful green that’s a touch more muted compared to a pastel green. Dear reader Pook described it as Green Tea Ice Cream-green, and I agree! I would liken its application process to an artisan painting Japanese lacquerware, in which a bowl undergoes layers upon layers of lacquer to achieve the deep, glossy, typically red or black finish. Their differences lie in longevity and durability, however.

Ueba Esou Gofun Nail Polish Uguisu Midori Brush 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル 鶯緑

Application: I applied the provided base coat first as directed, which looks white but goes on clear and dries within half a minute. I then proceeded with color. For regular polishes, I generally like to apply 1 thin coat and a 2nd thicker coat that’s about the amount on the brush in the above photo. For these gofun polishes, that’s too much and the nails will show raised bumps and streaks. To avoid them as much as possible, I made sure to wipe off excess polish until the brush looked almost free of color. Note to self: When instructions tell you to apply thin coats, listen. :P

The polish looks and behaves like acrylic paint. It’s completely matte, and you can see it dry from wet to matte in less than a minute. I barely needed to wait between coats. The first couple of coats looked extremely streaky, but it was fully opaque by the 3rd coat. I enjoyed the process since it truly was odor-free. I only detect a hint of powdery scent when I put the bottle to my nose and take a good whiff.

Ueba Esou Gofun Water-Based Nail Polish Uguisu Midori Swatch No Top Coat 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル 鶯緑
Uguisu Midori without top coat

Top coat is a must for this polish. I used the same application technique for the included top coat, using extremely thin coats. I layered 2 coats, which dry fast like the base coat and color, and I was able to apply to all fingers within minutes. Even with these barely-there coats, the top coat evened out the bumps and made the color glossy like a regular manicure.

Wear: But after the breezy application is where this polish becomes high maintenance. The instructions advise that you refrain from activities that involve handling water for the next 6 hours, like washing dishes or taking a shower. I was able to wash my hands after a couple of hours without any changes to the polish, so as long as you don’t submerge your hand in water for a long period of time, it lasts.

The real test was at the end of the day in the bath. Day 1: A lot more than 6 hours had passed and it lasted without chipping. However, as soon as I dunked my hands in the bath, the edges started  to change to a lighter green and peel up, so I just peeled them right off. They came off very easily at that point in whole pieces, like stickers!

Day 2: Unsatisfied, I reapplied the polish the next morning and decided to take a short shower that evening instead of soaking in the bath. To my surprise, it lasted through washing my hair, etc. although some edges seemed to have peeled up once again. I decided to leave them be, and the funny thing is, they solidified and stuck firmly to the nails again once I got out of the shower. This told me you can make the manicure last if you’re careful with your nails when they’re most vulnerable wet.

Ueba Esou Gofun Nail Polish Uguisu Midori Swatch 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル 鶯緑
Uguisu Midori with provided top coat

Overall, there’s a market for these polishes, but they’re not for me. I don’t want to be worrying about possible chips (or more like peels) in the bath and shower. As advertised, they’re certainly good for kids, pregnant women, and those allergic to regular polishes, but not if you want your manicure to last for more than a couple of days at most.

I know they’re not advertised as being long-wearing, but I hope the company improves their wear since I fell in love with the long company history and the care that goes into creating these hand-made pigments using methods that have been handed down from generation to generation for the past 260 years.

Each 10ml polish retails for 1,200yen (USD $15~16). Mine came in a set with a base and top coat (the white bottles) plus 3 colors, which are 5,000yen (USD ~$65) for the set. More information can be found on their Japanese site, and they also have an English site, though their online shop is entirely in Japanese. I’ve heard they can be contacted in English to negotiate international shipping.

27 Responses to Ueba Esou Water-Based Gofun Nail Polish: Uguisu Midori 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル: 鶯緑

  1. The matcha green is such a fabulous color! I agree with you, though, it seems too high maintenance. I appreciate the move towards non-toxic beauty, but for me, if it doesn’t work as well, I won’t stick with using it. I want to find a green tea ice cream shade of polish now!

    • I’m with you, Alexa! I hate to say it, but I’m not ready to sacrifice quality, either. I hope better and better formulations of non-toxic nail polishes come out that would eventually rival regular polishes. In the mean time, I’ll stick to using solvent-based ones that are at least big 3-free.

  2. This is soo pretty *w*sighhhh I really wanna get some odor-free nail polish!!I really hate the smell of nail polishes and removers!

    • Ah yeah, the removers are awful, too! I read while researching these gofun water-based ones that their main point isn’t to replace solvent-based polishes, but more to avoid having to use acetone removers that are likely more damaging to nails and skin than the polishes themselves. Let me know if you find one you like!

      • ooo I didnt know that! Thank you for telling me:)I bought a DL remover be4 but havent tried it and refunded it….I think its sooo expensive T^T….Okkk now I think I will get a ZOYA to try…really…this time i will get it.

  3. so interesting! Sad that they don’t last though.

    Now for some green tea ice cream :)

  4. Thanks for shareing Peach!
    I like the color and that it is non smelling!
    I just might take a look around if such polishes exist here, too…

    • I’d love to know if such polishes exist in Europe, too! You guys seem to get so many good brands of polishes there that the rest of the world doesn’t get.

      • just wanted to let you know… we don’t got that many water based polishes around here! I was quiet suprised, when I only found one water based polish from England!
        All the polishes available here are Asian Brands. But I found one American Brand (Scotch Naturals)I might give a try one day.

        • Interesting! I didn’t even know Asia had many water-based polishes. I’ve heard from girls here and read elsewhere mixed reviews on Scotch Naturals, but I’d love to give it a try! Let me know if you do.

  5. Really beautiful color. Very unusual. Selena (Julep) gets close, but not quite. Still reminds me of Green Tea Ice Cream! (I prefer Red Bean … now that would be a really nice shade of vernis … sans the beans!) Checked their site; they have an orange that looks like sherbert and is GORGEOUS. I like that dark blue they have, too, a nice cobalt blue, but I wonder how well the dark colors will do as far as opaqueness goes.

  6. It’s wonderful that they make water soluble nail polish! The expectation is then same as face makeup, which doesn’t last through shower or bath. I’m impressed that each layer dry within a minute!

    • That’s a good way of thinking about it! One of the suggestions I’ve read is for a quick manicure before going out. The drying speed really is impressive. I usually look for other things to do while waiting for each coat to dry, but with this, I didn’t have to!

  7. I have to say, the green looks really lovely on you :-) It’s a shame that it doesn’t last though. I wasn’t into nail polish until a month ago and came across your beautiful blog when I researching a nail polish. I love your nails and hands!

  8. I live in UK and have just received two of these polishes plus the base/top coat from my daughter-in-law when she visited Japan and I am totally in love with them. I applied the polish on Sunday and it is now Thursday and it hasn’t moved, which is something of a revelation to me as ordinary polish chips after one or two days. I put it on in the evening so my hands didn’t come into contact with water. Does anyone know how I could get any sent to me from Japan, i.e. mail order

  9. Pretty! I like the green color. It really does look like green tea ice cream. There are some brands of long-lasting water based nail polish. Acquarella lasts for about five days on my fingernails. Scotch Naturals is another non-peel-off brand, but it does not last as long on my nails.

What say you?