Since I am not quite sure where to start on this review, perhaps it makes the most sense to start with the ending, and work my way backwards.

I was completely and utterly disappointed with the water-based nail polish made by HoneyBee Gardens.  I tested my recently purchased "french manicure" kit for the first time this weekend  (two complete manicures) and it was a total bust. The only good thing I can say about the polish was that it didn't have the traditional nail polish smell while being applied, but that is really a poor reason to buy a nail polish. Rather than throw the virtually unused set of four nail polish bottles away, I offered the kit to two of my girlfriends at work today, and after one glance at my crummy looking manicure, both looked at me as if I was a crazy lady, and declined without another word.

If you read my recent glowing post on a fantastic nail product made by Orly,  or the Barielle products Marta recommends, you should be wondering why I would even want to try something new. It was because the Orly review (as do all reviews) contained the list of product ingredients and I realized while keying in the ingredient lists that it was rather long and somewhat off-putting. It made me think how nice it might be if I could locate an effective but more environmentally friendly and less chemically-saturated TYPE of nail polish.   Almost every one knows to avoid polishes containing formaldehyde, but there is another group of polishes available which also avoid Toulene, dipbutyl Phthalates and nictrocellulose resins, especially now that WATER-based lines of polishes exist. Overly simplified, the solvent-based additives which most contain are what make "standard"  polishes long wearing, shiny, and quick to dry. By contrast, the chemical lite (or water-based) nail polish products which are available generally use a "reversible solvent evaporation" process, and thus are able to avoid almost every chemical typically found in the solvent-based products.

Who wouldn't prefer a non-stinky, chemical-free product which is clearly better for the environment?  But the knock on the solvent-free polishes has historically been three-fold.... they can take a very long time to dry and fully cure between coats (up to 8 hours), they are a bit more difficult to remove once hardened, and historically they didn't hold up as well. But new production processes, patents, and even a slight change in ingredients has been encouraging, so I thought 2009 might be a good time to test a few of the new "chemical lite" contenders.

On Friday night I applied the HoneyBee Gardens "french manicure-style" polish to clean dry nails, (following the directions exactly), and topped it with two coats of the top coat contained in the kit.  I intentionally applied my new polish on Friday night to give my manicure ample time to "cure" overnight while I slept.  On Saturday morning I marveled at how lovely my nails looked as I read the morning paper before beginning my normal day of horse training, housework, exercise, swimming, yard work, and all-round fun.  By Saturday night I had four chipped nails, and after a quick shower the polish was cracking, flaking and peeling from 8 of 10 nails.   In my quest to give the polish a fair shot, and to be sure that my nails had indeed been "fully dry and completely clean" (per the instructions) when I applied the first round of polish, I removed all remaining polish (which surprising was not easy to do) and did the whole process over again, following the instructions exactly.

The results today? Deja vu!  My nails looked great while I read the paper, but after two short hours of very light horse training this morning and a shower before leaving home for my "real" job, my nails look terrible. I can't wait to get home tonight and remove the remaining rag tag traces of polish and apply my old and dearly loved nail polish stand-by, Orly Rubberized Base coat followed by Revlons ColorStay Duo.

This review  and my hope for a great chemical lite nail polish isn't entirely over, however..... I am awaiting shipment of three other "chemical lite" water-based polish products, and will be updating TIA readers with a round-up of those results later in April. At least one product line really does look promising.  If you are currently using a solvent-free nail product that you would recommend for someone who does more than read the morning paper, do please drop me a note so that I can include your suggestion in the round-up!

HoneyBee Gardens Nail Polish Ingredients:

water, water-miscible acrylic, polyurethane formers and thickeners, non-ionic soaps. May contain: ultramarine blue, carmine, mica, iron oxides, and/or titanium dioxide