The bottle of Remove+ that came with the mini system was actually 1 oz, but I'd used that up by the time I took this group shot.
This 2 oz bottle was a sample sent with a large polish order. :)
For those who aren't familiar, the Color Lock consists of four parts: Remove+ nail polish remover and nail prep, Anchor base coat, Armor top coat, and Fast Drops quick-dry drops. I decided to test out the system with one of Zoya's older colors that I recently acquired and have been dying to try, Zuza.
This post is going to be pretty wordy, so bear with me!
Oh my gosh. I love this stuff. I love it so much that I spent $25 on an 8 oz bottle of it, when I usually spend about $6 on a 16 oz bottle of pure acetone. So what's so great about this that it's worth the almost absurd price increase? Well, the biggest thing is that it doesn't dry the crap out of my cuticles. Since acetone evaporates so quickly, it dries out cuticle skin to the point that my nice, princess cuticles look like I just spent a week digging in rocky soil with my bare hands (minus the dirt). A few drops of oil rehydrates them just fine and the extra step was never a big deal until I tried Remove+. Somehow, whatever it is in the remover that hydrates my nails and cuticles doesn't prevent it from removing polish quickly and easily. Also, it smells like lavender, which is much better than the chemical smell of pure acetone.
This is called Remove+ because it is also used to clean and prep your nails before a new manicure. My normal process is acetone to remove old polish, oil for my cuticles, wash my hands, lotion for my hands, and then rubbing alcohol or acetone to clean off my nails. With Remove+ I can pretty much skip straight from removing my old polish to lotion for my hands (especially since it's winter, ergo dry skin season) to Remove+ on my nails again. Pretty neat.
It's kind of hard to judge a new base coat AND a new top coat at the same time. It's hard to tell whether a polish chip comes from a base coat that didn't bond well enough or from a top coat that didn't seal well enough, you know? But I can definitely say that it applies very smoothly. My usual base coat, ORLY Bonder, feels almost sticky while I'm applying it, even when the bottle is brand new. This one is very smooth and thin enough to dry quickly but not so thin that it floods the cuticles.
I wrote the bulk of this post after removing the original test manicure. In the days that passed when I didn't bother to edit in the photos, I spent a day on the town with just two coats of Anchor on my nails. It held up fine, didn't end up feeling grimy, and didn't chip or peel or scratch. So I'd say that this is a great base coat!
Zuza is a beautiful mermaid's-tail aqua with a turquoise-gold shimmer. Absolutely stunning.
Application is very smooth, as usual with Zoya. It did feel a tiny bit on the thick side, but not so thick that it was hard to work with or avoided drying. (It's worth noting that my polish collection lives right under a very drafty window, and it's winter - so the cold could be thickening all of my polishes a little.) And it's very close to a one-coat wonder; I used two to be safe and to cover up spots that I'd missed on the first coat, but a more steady hand just might be able to get away with only one coat.
Since this is such a long post, I won't say as much as I normally would about this color and move on...
I'll give the same disclaimer here as I did in my matte top coats post: my life is very, very easy on my hands. I don't have kids, I don't have a job or go to school, and I don't tinker around with any kind of mechanics. The tasks that are hardest on my hands in my life right now are showering and cooking.
So, with that in mind, this top coat is on point. I had on two coats of Armor for at least a week. I didn't add any extra coats as the days wore on. And I had minimal - and I mean minimal - edge shrinkage on day seven. (Of course, I wrapped my tips with the color and with the top coat when I originally painted my nails.) No visible cracks. No chips. No dents once it finished drying. (More details on that in the next section.) Zoya, I tip my hat to you on this one. Good freakin' job.
For the record, I showered every day for seven days and cooked three times in the week that I tested this top coat. Boom.
Fast Dry Drops
Application of the drops was fairly simple. I angled my fingers downward and dripped one drop of the liquid onto my nail at the cuticle. It's thin enough that one drop was enough to spread over my whole nail.
As for the success of the product... I'm not impressed. I waited about five minutes after application and poked at my nail with an orangewood stick, and the polish was still very susceptible to puncture marks. But what's neat is that the poke marks sort of shrunk out, like a memory foam pillow after you press on it. I've never had that happen with a puncture mark in my polish before!
Anyway, one would think that after more than ten minutes, fast-dry drops would make polish dry as a bone, but it just didn't work for me. Even hours after finishing this manicure, I was still able to poke a few dents into the polish - only these dents didn't shrink away. Looks like I'll be keeping this step out of my regular manicure process.
(Side note: I'm totally bummed that I didn't avoid using the drops on a few nails per hand. The best way to test the top coat's dry time would be to use it on its own, right? Oh well. I'll be sure to use the top coat again some time and throw in a note about its dry time.)
So, all in all, I highly recommend Zoya's Color Lock System! Each item of the system is available for individual purchase, or you can buy the whole set. It looks like the mini set is no longer available, and the full-sized set comes with two additional steps: a ridge-filling base coat and renewing drops meant to revive old, gloopy polishes. Perhaps some day I will be able to review those for you as well! ;)
PS - be sure to enter my giveaway, which ends tonight (Friday 2/20) at midnight!