Why I’m Completely Obsessed With Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer
“My addiction to beauty is something that I will never recover from.”
A collective sigh is heard by makeup junkies ’round the world when Smith & Cult co-founder and Creative Director Dineh Mohajer says her beauty addiction is here to stay.
After all, Mohajer’s obsession is what inspired first her ’90s smash fave makeup brand Hard Candy. I still remember the sheer pleasure of purchasing Hard Candy’s dreamy, unique nail polish shades (plus, each bottle came with a wearable ring, somehow adding to the bliss factor).
In fact, Hard Candy was inspired by Mohajer’s search for a just-right shade of baby blue polish back when she was a college student in the mid-’90s. “I was randomly hunting for pastel baby blue nail lacquer because, as embarrassing it is to admit, I wanted to color-coordinate my toes with a pair of Marc Jacobs sandals,” she recalls. Unable to find the shade she wanted, Mohajer mixed a “shocking blue” nail polish with a bottle of white. The result? An opaque, magical hue that she called Sky Blue (“People constantly stopped me asking where to buy it.”), out of which was borne the cult beauty brand Hard Candy (“including the first eye pencil to contain glitter,” says Mohajer. “My favorite one yet.”)
That was then. Smith & Cult — the brand co-founded by Mohajer and Jeanne Chavez — is now.
Smith & Cult offers a range of products, including lip color, eyeliner, and mascara, but going along the continuum of Hard Candy’s origins and Smith & Cult’s innovation, I’m currently obsessed with the Smith & Cult nail lacquer. For anyone who’s ever wanted unique colors that somehow mirror the complexity of beauty itself while striking the balance between bittersweet retro and thoroughly modern, Smith & Cult is a dream come true. Bonus: not only are the lacquers 8-free (clear of icky ingredients such as formaldehyde) but they last… and last, and last.
“We all share an emotional connection to beauty and it’s dualities throughout our lives, from triumph to tears, bliss to heartbreak, elegance to absurdity, and everything in between,” says Mohajer, musing about the origins of the brand. “Smith & Cult is evident in its elegant yet dented packaging, chemically responsible formulas, diverse shade range, yin yang brand philosophy, unedited shade names, bold branding and of course, the diary itself is reflective of this omnipresent juxtaposition.”
The diary Mohajer refers to are the “entries” that accompany the product descriptions, like this one for The Message ($18) a metallic red lacquer, which reads ‘Meet in 3 hours at the spot. Wear the red dress.’ Never replied, until today. Thought maybe it was a sign (meant to be?), so I wrote ‘remind me again of the spot?’. Immediate response ‘new phone, who’s this?’. I don’t have a red dress anyway, thankfully..”
In some cases, the Smith & Cult shades harken back to the ethereal origins of Hard Candy, like the new Ceremony of Secrets (pictured above). My personal faves are Stockholm Syndrome (an opaque gray) and the bestselling 1972 (a shimmering rose-gold), all $18 each. Here’s the deal: start with the base coat (Basis of Everything, $18) and then paint on your desired color. Finish up with a top coat (Above it All, $18). And then sit back and watch your nail color last. I feel like I’m the ultimate test subject for seeing how long a lacquer can go without chipping. On any given day, you’ll find me doing all sorts of polish-busting activities such as washing the dishes, gardening, cleaning, or prying Lego pieces apart (just to name a few things). And I’m here to tell you that Smith & Cult polish stays on like a dream — a dream you won’t wake up from for over a week! (And just imagine how long it might last if you’re not digging in the dirt or picking at Legos!) Now both my rough-and tumble-side and my yearning for long-lasting color can coexist, thanks to Smith & Cult.
Mohajer puts it best: “People are never just one thing, as we all know, they are layered and complex. Smith represents the graceful side this spectrum, whereas Cult represents the more subversive and rebellious side,” she explains. “The images and stories in the diary allow me to share my experiences and hopefully create a more intimate connection with fellow beauty junkies.” Consider me connected.
Comment: Are you a Smith & Cult nail lacquer fan?