For years, I used to think that these WakeMake polishes (the brand calls them ‘nail gun’, which I thought was a fun, though slightly pointless pun) were the bee’s knees.
But first, let’s talk about my standards and thoughts on polish in general. Growing up, all I could afford were the cheapie polishes from the bargain bin because I got hardly any pocket money. So, I would drench my nails in cheapo polish, usually dark purple or plum, without top or base coat, of course, let them dry and hope for the best. As a result, the polish I had would chip within hours of applying it and my nails left streaks of dark red on my assignments.
In my late teens and early twenties, I had hardly any disposable income (it all went towards rent and food and tuition), and then my then-boyfriend, now-husband ran a coffee shop in Australia following that, so I could not wear any polish then for health and safety reasons. In my mid-twenties, I sort of forgot about nail polish, until my girlfriends came to visit me following my overseas move to Korea.
This was when I was 27 and for some reason, that was the first time in my life that I started enjoying at-home manicures. I used WakeMake nail gun polishes for two and a half years, then moved on to a different polish brand which I will review in a future post.
What it is – nail polish (varnish)
Price: KRW 3,500 (colour polishes), KRW 4,500 (glitter polishes)
Availability: Olive Young Korea
Opinion: Pretty nice
How I used them
When I started wearing polishes again, I was determined to wear them like an adult would. After several days of intense Googling, I decided that I would have to have a base coat (any would do so long as it was clear), two layers of colour, and then one or two swipes of clear top coat (or tacos, as Cristine of Internet sensation Nailogical likes to call them).
Colour Options and Pigmentation
Generally speaking, Koreans like to play it safe and go with tried and trusted schemes when it comes to colour options and coordinating colour palettes.
The way my Korean husband explained is this: People like to feel safe.
It should not come as a surprise, then, that the WakeMake nail gun polishes are very wearable and safe to wear. They had a four colour range of neon polishes which stayed for a few days, then went on sale and following that, vanished off the shelves after a few weeks.
All other polishes that are currently available in store are reds, pinks, and neutrals. Sure, there are a couple of metallic polishes too, but even they come in safe hues of beige, pink, greige, and dark jewel tones. Nothing too garish, too childish or too loud. No one likes to waste money on too-trendy items, rather opting for timelessness instead, it seems.
It should also be said that the pigmentation of the polishes is rich and beautiful. You can wear just one coat (I would still recommend you use a base coat and a top coat, though).
Packaging and application
As far as packaging goes, you cannot fault WakeMake here really. It’s a no-nonsense glass bottle, and the brush is nice and thick. Very classic, very classy stuff. Perhaps the brush might not be great for details, but it makes for an easy application in only a few brushstrokes.
For anything other than that, you would probably look at using nail art tools or toothpicks anyways.
With that name (‘nail gun’) you might have expected a slightly more industrial bottle design, though. What you do get instead is the aforementioned classic, square, see-through glass bottle design pictured above.
Longevity and chipping
Other than colour options and pigmentation, what I really do care about in a nail polish is how long it lasts, and this is where the polishes failed me.
Without fail, these babies were coming off in flakes and chipping by the third or fourth day.
Granted, at the time of purchase, I was teaching using a smart board, where my nails did click on a hard TV screen quite often, but then they would also chip similarly quickly when I was not teaching.
I will also come right out and tell you that I wash my dishes by hand, without gloves, for fear of dropping and shattering them in the process. What I am trying to say is, I do not treat my nails like princesses. Then again, I am a real woman with a full-time job. I can’t afford to sit in the shade all day sipping cocktails. That’s not how life works.
And I do believe that nail polish should withstand daily chores to a certain degree.
When you spend a good three-quarters of an hour incapacitated because you’re trying to let the layers dry in between each application, and following that you still cannot use your hands like you usually would for fear of smudging them – meaning that realistically speaking, you have to do this before bed, and then lay awake for a decent period of time to allow them to dry well enough so they don’t rub off on your sheets – well, what that means is:
You have committed lots of time and effort to your at home manicure, and then seeing this all go down the drain after three days is seriously frustrating.
And of course, you might argue that a chipped manicure is perfectly acceptable. After all, chipped nails were a trend last year, apparently.
Personally, however, chipped nails appal me. As soon as one nail chips, I have to take them all off. Chipping is just such a hassle to me! I cannot stand it.
WakeMake nail gun polishes and I had a good run while it lasted. At their price point, I still think that they are the best polishes in Korea and if chipping is not an issue or if you treat your hands more carefully, I highly recommend that you check them out! I don’t hate them and would repurchase if they stayed on longer.