The Nail Polish Collection That Has as Much Attitude as I Do

I love a color that is so good that it makes me want to stop what I'm doing and put it on right then and there.
Publish date:
February 24, 2015

I love nail polish, but the ugly truth is that after the Great Nail Art Renaissance of 2012, nail polish has gotten real boring.

I hate seeing the same companies release what is essentially the same color collection, year after year. They have the opportunity to create any color on the spectrum, and without fail, each year one of the big guys gives us a collection of a blue-red, an orange-red, a navy, a mint, and a beige. You can set your watch by it, and I would, if I was capable of keeping track of a watch.

And don't get me started on all of the recycled “trends.” Last week, I saw a headline that read “The Hottest Nail Trend of Spring 2015 Is . . .”

You know what it was? Pastels. Pastels for spring. Goodbye, cruel world.

I love a color that is so good that it makes me want to stop what I'm doing and put it on right then and there. Trouble is, that’s happening less and less. People ask me all the time, “So like, how many times a week do you paint your nails?” My answer is always “However many times I want to. Anything else?” Like, don’t patronize me. You’d never ask a girl that. Leave me and my nails alone, bruh.

I will tell you guys, my real friends, that I do my nails maybe once a week. I really only switch colors if the polish chips, and my polish never chips because I have exactly one talent in life and that’s giving myself a bulletproof manicure. I’m seriously not good at anything else. You should see me behind the wheel.

Can somebody help me down off my soap box? Thanks. What I’m saying is that every once in a while, a company comes along that is able to get me excited about nail color again. This time around, that company is Smith & Cult.

What sets Smith & Cult apart? Well, everything. In short, the collection is intelligent, luxurious, and irreverent. My favorite! The company was started by veteran beauty junkie Dineh Mohajer, who started Hard Candy Cosmetics and gave the world its first blue nail polish, famously made famous by Alicia Silverstone, and forever changed the game.

Let’s start with the bottles. The color is housed in a short, circular bottle, with a molded silver cap. They almost look like a small bottle of perfume or a tiny bourbon decanter. Smith & Cult is written across the front in gold or black cursive script.

They look like they belong sitting on a vanity or in a department store window. I've scattered them around my apartment because they look so good that I don't mind having them everywhere; the same way Cat decorates with perfume bottles. It makes me feel glamorous and sophisticated, which, of course, I am.

The formula is awesome. The colors are all near one-coaters, opaque in two. They’re chip resistant, and 5-free, so they aren’t formulated with any of that crap that’s going to seep into your skin and kill you or whatever.

Let’s get to the real reason I’m writing about Smith & Cult: the colors.

I’ve seen and worn every single nail polish ever made. It’s hard to get me excited about any one color, let alone an entire line of them. Smith & Cult has somehow managed to turn out 30 colors that we didn’t even realize we needed.

They’ve got a ton of eye-catching shades but they really stand out with their beiges, browns, olives, and purples. I realize that none of those colors even really sound like standouts, but just wait until you see them. Even their pinks are pretty amazing. I’m not saying you wouldn’t be able to find dupes of them, but these are not the pinks you see in every other collection. They have three reds which are probably just as gorgeous, but I hate red, so . . .

On Smith & Cult’s website, every color is accompanied by, not a description, but a quick sentence that helps bring the color to life. My favorite is the one for Fauntleroy, a candy pinkish-lavender. It reads, “He has a slight lisp, he covers his mouth when he giggles and he whispers everything that is slightly scandalous.” THAT IS CUTE, and also an exact description of me. It’s cool, and it adds to the color, sets a tone, gives it an attitude. As someone who responds to a great color, that’s an important addition.

I got the chance to ask Dineh some questions about her collection and really get some insight into how the Smith & Cult came to be. Check that, and some swatches of my favorite colors, out below.

Tynan: I love the little sentence that's included with every color on the website. They don't describe the color, but bring it to life. The one for "Fauntleroy" is my favorite. Where did that idea come from? How do you come up with them?

Dineh: The names of the shades and the little diary excerpts that accompany them stem from my own adventures, the bizarre cast of characters in my life (a.k.a friends and family) as well as the silly, sometimes risky situations I just always seem to get myself into/finagle myself out of.

Fauntleroy, an opaque muted lavender shade, was inspired by a genius makeup and nail artist I met at a gay karaoke bar in Koreatown. It was platonic wish I could marry him, but he isn’t interested in women-love at first sight. At only 5’5", he was slight, didn’t hide his delicate lisp, and was obsessed with the color purple. I wish he could father my children, at least donor wise.

T: Your collection surprises me because so many of the colors stand out from everything else available. How do you come up with your colors and decide on what to put out? What inspires your colors?

D: All of my defining moments have been guided by color. Imagine a meticulous file cabinet with folders, tabs, and labels color-coded to OCD, Martha Stewart approved, Container Store fantasy come to life perfection. Subtracting the element of order, that hue-based system is basically how my mind files away memories, emotions, and creative impulses. Ultimately, my life experiences as a beauty junkie permeate all the shades I create for Smith & Cult.

T: Who is the Smith & Cult customer?

D: Smith & Cult embodies the clashing duality that somehow harmoniously coexists in each one of us. People are never one-sided; as we all know, they are complex, layered creatures. The shades reflect both treasured and tragic beauty moments. I see people of all ages wearing this collection and being drawn to colors that reflect where they are or hope to be in their lives.

Check out the entire collection here. Take a minute to bop around their website, it's very like, visually stimulating.

Have you guys picked up Smith & Cult yet? What are you wearing on your nails RIGHT NOW? Show me in the comments! I love it when you do that.

Tynan has great nails on Twitter @TynanBuck.