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LAQA & Co. Nail Polish Pens — Click And Easy?

LAQA-&-Co-BMX-Bandit-nail-polish-pen

LAQA-&-Co-I-want-a-pony-nail-polish-pen

On paper, LAQA & Co.‘s Nail Polish Pens have all the attributes needed to break through to beauty cult favorite status.

First, there’s the convenience factor — a marker-like nail polish dispenser with a clickable push button on one end and a brush tip applicator on the other for on-the-go color changes. Then, there are the perky nail polish colors: from an ink jet-ready black (“Those Meddling Kids”) to a creamy grape candy purple (“Blurple”)’ a grayish taupe brown (“Fancypants”); a perky mid-tone pink (“Pimpin'”); a glossy, magenta-tinged red (“BMX Bandit”); a ’50s-esque, teal-infused light blue (“Squid Ink”); a grayish beige shade (“WTF”); and “I Want A Pony,” a pale, vintage yellow (think of a retro apron, sunny wallpaper, or even a rotary phone).

Even the polish names are whimsical and tongue-in-cheek — particularly “Blurple,” since it perfectly addresses the blueberry undertones of the purple look while adding a comical, tongue-in-cheek element, and “I Want A Pony,” an adorable moniker given that the polish shade perfectly captures the color of the Fluttershy My Little Pony character.

The icing on the cake: the unique illustrations adorning each nail polish pen’s box. To further amplify its products’ allure, LAQA & Co. packages them in collectible boxes featuring works of art by illustrators, graphic designers, collage artists, photographers, painters, and street artists based in cities ranging from London to South Korea, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn. The box for the “My Little Pony” nail polish pen, for example, features a depiction of a salt shaker-shaped female figurine in a flavescent yellow ensemble with the words “It’s What Inside That Counts” emblazoned along its white interior in a needlepoint-like font. The figurine is juxtaposed against a vintage-flavored, greenish light blue with a yellow flower print, adding to the design’s retro feel. Masterminded by London-based Irish artist Hazel Nicholls, this unique design showcases Nicholls’ love of inspirational catch phrases and her affinity for cross stitching and home-y crafts. The “BMX Bandit” box, meanwhile, features an abstract print redacted from a larger snowflake design constructed using fuchsia, white, black, and magenta purple lines and boasting unexpected triangle shapes, overlapping zig-zagging lines, and a star cut-out at the snowflake’s interior. Designed by London-based street artist Foe, the packaging speaks to his bold aesthetic and fits imperfectly with the splashy nature of the corresponding nail color.

Are you lusting after one of these beauts? Well, hold on before you go dipping into that wallet. See, as the adage that Hazel Nicholls herself invoked, “It’s what’s inside that counts” — and, in this case, the nail polish pens are, unfortunately, much better on paper than they are in real life. For one,when you break in a nail polish pen, you’ll find yourself clicking the button at the base (which dispenses the color to the brush tip) so many times that you’ll fear carpal tunnel might be on the horizon. Which would be no problem if it were worth the wait — but, sadly, even once there’s enough color on the brush tip, you’ll find the consistency can be overly thick, leading to a gooey, overly viscous mess. I tried applying the I Want A Pony color over five times and each attempt proved as frustrating as the last. Not a single nail had a smooth layer of color; instead, it was a clump fest on each nail plate.

The next problem is gauging the amount of polish needed at the brush tip — too little and it will lead for a gunky application; too much and the color will drip everywhere. Longevity is also a concern: after using a LAQA nail polish pen, the brush tip becomes crunchy and inflexible as any polish residue sticks together, stiffening the bristles (and this is likely to occur even when the brush tip is properly covered with the snap-on cap).

Since the idea is so solid, the color palette so urban and chic, and the packaging art so desirable, I’m keeping my fingers crosses that, with some light tweaking, the LAQA & Co. Nail Polish Pens will reach must-have status on my list, meeting their full potential and transcending the expectations established in their on-paper descriptions.

LAQA & Co. Nail Polish Pen, $14.95. Available at LAQAandCo.com

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