Ueba Esou Water-Based Gofun Nail Polish: Uguisu Midori 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル: 鶯緑
|November 23, 2011||Posted by peach_ under Japanese Cosmetics|
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.