Worth the Hype? – Barry M Nail Paints

Barry M Nail Paints - Worth the Hype?

Every Saturday this April I am posting a new entry in a series I’m calling ‘Worth the Hype?’, where I’ll be reviewing products that get raved about in the beauty blogging world, and evaluating whether or not they’re worth the hype surrounding them. This week’s post is all about Barry M’s Nail Paints.

In a world dominated by the big beauty brands, it can be hard to find a decent vegan and cruelty free nail polish for less than a tenner. Good ol’ Barry M (whoever he is) must have spotted this gap in the market and decided to create bunny-friendly nail varnish which costs less than £4 per bottle. Barry M Nail Paints receive good reviews left, right and centre, especially within the British and Irish beauty blogging communities, but are they worth the hype?

Read on to find out more…

Note: I would like to apologise for this post being a week late. I’ve been so busy recently, I totally ran out of time to take pictures! To make up for it I bought 3 more Nail Paints this week (yay for Superdrug’s 3 for 2 offer!) and there are some bonus swatches at the end. Also, this is a very pic heavy post so be warned!

Barry M is a British cruelty-free and 100% vegetarian brand, available from Superdrug, Boots and the Barry M website (international shipping is available on their website, but Nail Paints can only be shipped within the EU).

Barry M is known for including lots of colour and fun in its collections, and nowhere is this more evident than in the totally vegan Nail Paints. From super glossy to pure glitter, metallics to crackle, Barry M has over 100 colours and finishes to choose from so you’re bound to find a shade you like.

There’s no doubt that the colour selection of Barry M’s Nail Paints can’t be beat on the British high street, but what about the quality? Here’s some swatches and summaries of the various shades and formulas so you can judge for yourself.

Barry M Gelly Nail Effects

Barry M Gelly Nail Paints

Barry M Gelly Nail Paints

From left to right: Mango, Guava, Key Lime.

I absolutely love these bright tropical colours! Mango and Key Lime are the perfect Tic Tac shades, and both apply wonderfully. I managed to achieve full opacity after two coats. Guava needed three coats, but it applied smoothly apart from that one tiny bump, oops!

The Gelly Nail Effects are my favourite Barry M Nail Paints, the colour selection is beautiful and they are just so shiny. They are priced at £3.99 each and they’re definitely worth the extra pound compared to the standard collection. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about them at all, I honestly think these three colours would suit everyone and the Gelly formula is perfect. HOLY GRAIL NAIL VARNISH, Y’ALL.

Right, moving on…

Barry M Effects Nail Paints

Barry M Effects Nail Paint

Barry M Effects Nail Paint

From left to right: Instant Nail Effects Crackle in Black Magic, Glitter Nail Paint in Blue Glitter (possibly discontinued?) and Red Glitter (now named Ruby Slipper).

Do you remember when crackle nail paint was the in thing? As I was swatching these nail paints my boyfriend pointed to the crackle and said, “Ooh, I like that one the best, it’s so unusual.” and I immediately replied with “God, that’s sooooo 2011, no-one wears crackle nail varnish any more!”

I’m thinking of saying a massive “SCREW IT!” to nail polish trends and start wearing the crackle again anyway because I forgot how great the Barry M one is. Totally matte after application and lovely and shiny when paired with a top coat, Barry M’s Crackle Nail Paint rocks. You get lovely big and defined crackles which look particularly striking over a bright colour. I’m actually tempted to paint my nails with Mango or Key Lime and Black Magic Crackle right now.

As for the other two swatches, I’m sad to say that I can’t find the blue one on the website anywhere. It is the most stunning royal blue glitter, and it sparkles gloriously when covered with a top coat. The Glitter Nail Paints were the first ever Barry M Nail Paints I bought and the red is showing that, it seems to have gone a little goopy over the years. Now it’s called Ruby Slipper and I’m very tempted to replace my old bottle because I used to wear this colour all the time, I loved it! An absolute killer combo when paired with matching lipstick.

As for coverage, the blue one took three coats to reach full opacity, and the red ended up being two extremely thick coats because of its goopiness. Don’t let my ancient bottle put you off though, it looks lovely when it isn’t lumpy. You do need a top coat with all three of these nail paints as they have a tendency to chip and look a bit dull without it. They also separate more easily than other shades in the range so they need a bloody good shake before you use them.

Barry M Instant Nail Effects Foil

Barry M Instant Nail Effects Foil

Barry M Instant Nail Effects Foil

From left to right: Gold Foil, Silver Foil, Lilac Foil (Limited Edition).

Apologies, the swatches did not photograph particularly well, the full beauty of these is only really visible in direct sunlight and Manchester wasn’t receiving a great deal of that when these pictures were being taken (typical cloudy Manchester!). They create a lovely brushed metal effect, although it is very difficult to get a uniform smooth application with them, you can probably see where I struggled with the silver shade.

My personal favourite of the three is the Lilac Foil, which was a limited edition freebie. I’m sure you could find one if you perused eBay for long enough. The formula is pretty good despite the streakiness; they only took two coats each to reach opacity.

Barry M Nail Paints

Barry M Blues

Barry M Blues

From left to right: Aquarium Nail Effects in Pacific, Barry M Nail Paints in Seaside (Limited Edition), Pure Turquoise and Mint Green.

I thought these were all from the standard £2.99 range but one of the £3.99 Aquarium Collection shades snuck in, d’oh! Pacific is a stunner once you layer it enough (three coats were required for me) and has a shiny metallic finish that I wish the Foil Effects would emulate!

Seaside was a limited edition freebie but quite honestly, it’s not the best. It still ended up looking pretty sheer after three coats, and it is a dud for me, which is incredibly rare when it comes to Barry M Nail Paints. Then again, it was free so maybe I’m moaning a bit too much.

Although they look quite similar in the photo, I’m glad I own both Pure Turquoise (renamed to Turquoise) and Mint Green. They’re perfect for spring and they actually look great together as a subtle French tip combination. If I were to pick a favourite out of the two it would have to be Mint Green, it’s one of those magical shades that would suit everyone.

Although I prefer the Gelly formula and its higher shine finish, the standard formula is not bad at all. Pure Turquoise and Mint Green required two coats each for an opaque finish.

Barry M Nail Paints

Barry M Darks

Barry M Darks

From left to right: Black, Grey and Dusky Mauve (possibly discontinued?)

Three more from the standard collection here. Everyone needs a black nail varnish, and although I’d rather have one in the Gelly formula I can’t moan too much about the standard black shade. It is a little thick, though this could be due to its age. I got an opaque finish after two coats.

I love grey nail varnish, it always looks so chic! This grey is perfect for my skin tone and I adore it. It applies well and requires two coats for a shiny opaque finish. I probably wear this one most often out of all my Barry M Nail Paints (as you can probably see from all the scuffs on the lid!) and I can confidently say that this baby does. not. chip. It has no problem sticking around on your nails for over a week, my top coat usually fails me and goes dull before the varnish has a chance to chip or fade. It is worth so much more than its £2.99 price tag, I would be just as satisfied if I had paid £10 or more.

Dusky Mauve isn’t an unusual colour, it’s just downright weird and that’s the exact reason I bought it. Grey with a hint of brown and purple sparkles? It’s weird, but it works. It applies pretty sheer and requires 3-4 coats for an opaque finish but it’s completely worth it. I took the swatch photo with the flash on so you can see the purple duochrome, direct sunlight gives the best result.

Barry M Speedy Nail Paint and Barry M Gelly Nail Effects

Barry M Gelly & Speedy

Barry M Gelly & Speedy

From left to right: Speedy Nail Paint in Pit Stop and Gelly Nail Effects in Plum and Pomegranate.

Bonus swatches! I treated myself to these on Monday as part of Superdrug’s 3 for 2 promotion, which is totally still running!

I’ll talk about the Gelly Paints first since you already know my stance on them… #holygrail. Plum is a deep, dark, sexy almost-black purple shade, it’s gorgeous. I had a swatch on my thumb for a couple of days and I was delighted to discover that when I removed it, there was no staining on my nail despite the lack of base coat. Pomegranate is a curious shade, dancing along the boundaries of red, orange and pink. Not at all like the colour of an actual pomegranate, but there you go. I’ve had it on my toes since Monday and it still looks perfect, nice and bright with no chips. Both Plum and Pomegranate only require two coats to reach maximum opacity.

As mentioned above, I adore grey nail varnish so of course the first Speedy Nail Paint I buy is Pit Stop, a pale grey shade that reminds me of Mancunian clouds. Barry M seem to be going on about the new brush shape and how much easier it makes application, but I’m not a fan. It’s flatter and broader than the normal brush (which I’ve never had a problem with), meaning that it’s harder to be precise at the edges of your nails. I wouldn’t say the drying time is much quicker than the standard and Gelly shades, but there is a noticeable difference. The swatch above shows 3 coats of Pit Stop but it still looks a little streaky down the sides, which personally I think is a result of the brush rather than the formula of the varnish.


So, are they worth the hype?

Absolutely yes, and so much more.

For less than £5, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong. There really is something for everyone in their range of 100+ shades and effects, and they are almost all of excellent quality. I personally see no difference between Barry M Nail Paints and the offerings of high end brands such as O.P.I. and Nails Inc.

The Gelly Nail Effects are miracles in a bottle and should be advertised as such. My next investment will be the Gelly Nail Effects in Chai, which looks almost exactly the same colour as Grey from the standard collection. However, if you’re not into super high shine then they also offer Matte Nail Paints which too are going onto my wishlist.

There are downsides, such as the new flat brush in the Speedy Nail Paints and the streakiness of the Foil Effects, but the quality of their other products is so high I think we can forgive them a few hiccups.

I will absolutely continue throwing my money at Barry M in exchange for top quality nail varnishes which could easily sell for double their price.


Make sure to follow Poppy alla Norma on Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss next Saturday’s third installment of my Worth the Hype? series.

Until then,

Poppy