Product Review: Butter LONDON Nail Polish

Confession: I didn't start wearing nail polish until 2008. It's weird to think that this is a fairly recent development because these days I feel weird when I don't have it on. For special occasions, I also like to colour-coordinate my manis and pedis with my dress. Before I left for Saltspring Island last week, I gave myself a DIY manicure using butter LONDON nail polish in 'Big Smoke', a beautiful shimmery deep blue shade that would go well with the navy coral-trimmed dress I planned to wear. I'd picked up the polish at local boutique Ishara several months ago. It lasted well in a pedi, but I knew the real test for butter LONDON would be how well it stayed on my fingernails.

The pros: butter LONDON has become a huge hit among Vancouver fashionistas looking for their next great nail polish purchase and it's easy to see why. Its "3 free" formula contains no formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP--"colour, not carcinogens" as the bottle says. The line also scores major brownie points for its range of wearable colours (classic beiges and taupes, bright fun jelly shades, and darker hues that are oh-so-perfect for fall) and adorable Anglophile motifs. According to the company website, my shade is called 'Big Smoke' because it's an affectionate nickname for sometimes-smoggy London. Other names alluding to British slang and pop culture are equally charming.

The formula is thinner than that of OPI, Essie, or American Apparel polishes and the brush is smaller than OPI's pro-wide brush, resulting in a smoother, more precise application. Faster drying times mean fewer bubbles and scratches and less likelihood of scratching or denting your nails as the polish sets. My nails looked professionally done at the end!

The cons: As evidenced by the photo above (snapped five days after the DIY mani), it's not exactly chip-proof. To be fair, I usually have better luck maintaining a chip-free pedi than a mani, but I was still disappointed with how 'Big Smoke' chipped at a rate comparable to OPI, Essie, and AA polishes. It's an especially big letdown when you consider that at $15-20 a bottle, butter LONDON polishes cost much more than their counterparts.

My verdict: If you really love a butter LONDON shade that you can't seem to find anywhere else, go for it, but there are affordable 3 free alternatives out there.

Has anyone else tried butter LONDON polish? What are your fave shades? What did you think of the formula?


  1. I adore the look of nail polish but, to be honest, I just can't seem to put forth the effort to maintain I just end up wearing my nails bare :) I will say, though, this color is lovely on you!

  2. I cannot help but chip my manis. Maybe it's all that typing away I do all day. Who knows. But this colour would be b-b-b-bad to the bone as a pedi.


  3. agree with everything in your review, i love butter london because of the pretty colours and packaging, but at the higher price point it's not really worth it! LOVE the colour you picked too :)

    x Niki
    A Haute Mess

  4. No i have not tried this product, but the color you are wearing is really vampy and cool.

  5. cute colour!

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    &fresh retro shots


  6. I've never tried Butter London - I don't think they stock it anywhere around me - but I confess, I always have wanted to simply because of the packaging. Tacky? Totally. But I love a great and sophisticated bottle to spruce up my vanity (;


  7. Haven't tried this brand yet.
    I like the packaging, at first glance it looks like a cigarette lighter.

  8. Fab review, darling ~ thanks!


  9. I wanted to try this about six months ago because of the 3 free- but then choked on the price a little. Thanks so much for doing such a thorough review, Lisa. What other 3 Free polishes would you recommend?
    Hope you are having a great week!

  10. I have tried butter LONDON polishes and I have to agree with you, it's not really worth the money but it's the formula you are paying for. All 3-free polishes are expensive.

    I have Pink Ribbon and Yummy Mummy. I love Yummy Mummy and I am glad I purchased it. It's a really cool, neutral color.

  11. Lar, the American Apparel polishes are also 3 free and more affordable at 3 for $18. :-)

  12. I have to agree with the cons.. it chips faster than other nail polish in the price range. But I suppose the 3-free and the great color selection make up for it. Just have to be more careful with my nails... so no dishes or housework? done!

    Closet Full of Nothing

  13. i thought butter london stayed on much better than OPI - i managed to play a weekend of softball with no chips!

  14. I just wanted to add my two cents.

    I got my nails done at the Butter London salon at the Seatac Airport last year. The girl who did it was very nice, but the quality (especially for the price) was pretty messy/unprofessional. Then, to make matters worse, it started chipping after about three days despite no major stress on my hands. But the thing that really turned me off of their polish was that, once all of it chipped off: My nails were all yellow!! I know this is not an uncommon thing, but I've never experienced it myself, and I've used TONS of different nail polishes/brands throughout my life. What I thought was ironic, was the fact that formaldehyde may cause this reaction (as I've read), yet Butter London supposedly doesn't contain that. I'm not doubting them, I just thought it was funny that it still did it anyhow. (and I'm sure it's not just that one color, because I painted my toes in a different color, and they ended up yellow later, as well)

    So all in all, their colors are gorgeous, but it chips REALLY easily, and there's a chance it'll yellow your nails! :/ (which I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that perhaps it just doesn't react well with my own body's chemistry... but who knows how many other people might have the same reaction!

  15. I love Butter London! I do agree that it chips a bit more easily, but with a good base coat and top coat (my fav is Seche Vite), it lasts quite long. Yummy Mummy is my favourite colour so far, along with Victoriana!

  16. I'm so glad to see that I'm not crazy about the chipping factor of Butter London. And not all 3-Free polishes behave like this. No Miss (found in Whole Foods) are pretty up on trendy colors and does not chip nearly as quickly. I have to say, my love affair with Butter (no matter how cute the bottle) is over :(

  17. I tried the Butter London polish in both Big Smoke and All Hail The Queen. I found that it chipped within 24 hours. Once it chipped, it peeled off my nails like a cheap press-on fingernail, all in one piece! I have been told that I have oily nail beds. I have used two different types of base coat (OPI Matte Nail Envy and Butter London Horse Sense) and still had the same problem. I love the colour but not worth the price.

  18. I love butter LONDON shades! Currently wearing West End Wonderland. It's a nice shimmery gold with specks of copper-tone orange. Only thing with sparkles is the hassle of taking it off... >< I agree with the chip-rate of bL polishes... was quite a let down for me since my hands are always on a keyboard... Big Smoke looks lovely on your hands though. I think it really helps if you put a clear polish on it everyday. It lasts just a little bit longer...

  19. A shop near me sells B. London and I liked the colors so I bought a light, creamy pink and adored it - stayed pretty and without chips for a week. Then, I bought a lovely deep red/purple with a sparkle effect. Came right off despite bottom and top coats. Took it back and bought a deep cranberry without pearlescence. Came right off - peeled and chipped. Never again - and we know OPI will dupe the colors fast enough!

  20. I will never buy a Butter Nail chip off of 4 of my nails the next day after I polished them...I spent $14 on this nail polish from Ultra and I was better of using my OPIs instead..never again

  21. Have to agree with this review. The colours are very nice and the packaging is seductive but it does not last! I also found that my nails really reacted badly to this polish -- peeling, weak nails until they grew out. Disappointing!

    Back to Chanel...


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