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Monday, February 21st, 2011

Comparison: Who Has The Best Crackle

Black Crackle Nail Polish Comparisons

With Crackle Polish on the rise this season, I'd figure it be a perfect time to put my collection to the ultimate test of who ranks supreme. Who has the best formula? Which brand cracks the best? Let's meet the competition.

The Contenders: Barry M Black Magic, China Glaze Black Mesh, OPI black Shatter and Cover Girl Boo Hou.

Take a jump for my results.

Barry M, China Glaze, Covergirl, OPI Black Crackle Comparisons 

Barry M Instant Effects -  Black Magic is a black crackle top coat that dries to a matte finish just like China Glaze and OPI. What I really love about this crackle polish is the unique effect. It delivers more of a scattered giraffe/cow pattern compared to a linear, vertical crackle.

China Glaze Crackle Glaze - The consistency is perfect - slightly thin and very easy to work with. Black Mesh is a great alternative to OPI's Black Shatter - both have similar results. 

OPI Products - After several uses of Black Shatter, I noticed the formula developed a thickness and somewhat goopy texture to it. I've heard you can use nail polish thinner to tone it down, but I haven't personally tried that.

Cover Girl Crackle - released back in the day (1999 to be precise), Cover Girl introduced six new shades, which is based on a patented polymer system that interacts with nail polish to create a two tone crackle effect.

Boo! Hou! takes a little bit more patience when applying. A rule of thumb with Cover Girl's Crackle - the base color must be wet (not dry). And if you don't see any cracking action, use a blow dryer to speed up the process. Immediately finish with a top coat to prevent flaking off. A huge pain to deal with, but leaves a nice defined crack that differs from the others.

My Opinion - Hands down Barry M Black Magic takes first place for best crackle effect. And following right behind, China Glaze Black Mesh for its next to perfect formula. 

Which one do you like best?

Barry M Black Magic
China Glaze Black Mesh
OPI Black Shatter
Cover Girl Boo! Hou!

(31) Comments

Laurie said on Feb 22nd, 2011 8:03 pm
Thanks for doing this! I'm a little bit iffy on the whole crackle craze, but now that I know there's one that's less vertical-looking, I may try it.

I've seen a few people paint it horizontally across the nail for a different look, too!

ShellyStewart said on Feb 22nd, 2011 9:31 pm
I think crackle is cute, but not sure if it's for me LOL

Steph said on Feb 23rd, 2011 2:14 am
Hi Shelly,
I know what you mean! It's a love/hate kind of relationship with most people, but you know it's calling your name :)

ShellyStewart said on Mar 1st, 2011 9:15 pm
Yes, Steph it is calling my name... Now to just get my hands on some :)

ShellyStewart said on Mar 4th, 2011 4:18 pm
Well, I did it LOL!!! I am at the Childrens Hospital with my son and I went to the gift shop and lo and behold they had 1 bottle of the black shatter. I got it, and 4 other colors!!!!!! I have it on right now over top of een Age Dream!!! :) And I am LOVING it!!!

Elaine said on Feb 22nd, 2011 11:57 pm
Love this! But I heard you can't use nail polish thinners on crackle polishes because it will mess up the formula and it won't crackle anymore.

Steph said on Feb 23rd, 2011 2:10 am
Hi Elaine,
That's crazy...I heard the total opposite! LOL! I'll have to double check with OPI just to make sure :)

Caitlin said on Jun 9th, 2011 8:41 pm
You can use nail polish thinner, but you can't use nail polish remover. Most people tend to think they're the same thing, so that might be why people are saying it doesn't work.

T said on Feb 24th, 2011 11:13 am
Can't really comment on the goopiness of OPI as mine is new and I've yet to hit that point, but I did want to chime in and say that you can absolutely get the same look as your Barry M sample with OPI.

The vertical-stringy look, I'm pretty convinced is just based on leftovers of how you brushed it on. And thinner coats dry quickly, so if your initial stroke is vertical, that's how you're cracking. Make sure there's a decent dollop on the brush to start with, get it on there, and give a couple random little swishes around once you've got your coverage, and vertical patterns are history.

If anything, I've been able to get results that look like a combo of your Barry M and CoverGirl - random patterns, but cracks not quite as wide as your Barry M - which I think I actually prefer!

So just FYI for other readers - OPI doesn't doom you to vertical cracks; it's all in the application.

Steph said on Feb 24th, 2011 12:35 pm
Hi T,
Thanks for the tips! The way you apply it definitely determines the outcome, agreed! But I've tried both thin and thick coverage, and although you can achieve more of a slightly broken up pattern with OPI, it just doesn't scatter as well as Barry M's Instant Effects.

JenJen said on Feb 24th, 2011 2:20 pm
In response to T,
Hmmm... I don't know about that..! All the pictures I seen of Black Shatter is mainly vertical

T said on Feb 24th, 2011 2:49 pm
Oh, and just wondering if anyone has tried/knew about crackle polish by a brand called Mia Secret? It appears to maybe be meant for fake nails? I came across it while looking for a blue-colored crackle. CoverGirl's may have been a pain, but the one plus was their bright/royal blue crackle that looked amazing over a white base :)

Steph said on Mar 1st, 2011 4:04 pm
Hi T,
In June, Sally Hansen is coming out with a line of 8 crackles including a royal blue one

T said on Mar 2nd, 2011 12:42 am
Awesome! Looking forward to those in June.

Not to harp on the crackles, but I just got the white China Glaze one. Have you had problems with it not staying white? Granted, I've only tried it once - over a bright medium purple - but the white turned lavender on top of the purple. Fine, I could deal with that, it is white over a fairly bright/dark color after all. But then I added clear top coat and that darkened the 'white' even more, to the point where on some nails the crackle is barely noticeable. It looks more like some sort of textured treatment for the purple rather than any sort of differently colored top layer, never mind white.

Just curious if that has been other people's experience as well, or if it's just maybe the color (or brand, even?) of the polish I chose for underneath.

Steph said on Mar 2nd, 2011 9:25 am
It sounds like the white and purple blended together? Did you make sure your base color (med. purple) was completely dry? I know that is a key step for the crackles to work properly.

However, if that don't work I would try a much lighter color like a lavender creme. Lightning Bolt is definitely the sheerest of the crackles, so it might not cover as well as the other colors. HTH!

tricia said on Feb 25th, 2011 8:45 pm
I don't think you can accurately judge and compare covergirl being its a really old nail polish (yes yours still work but formula does change with time especially being its not created to last a lifetime). I'm sure it would perform differently if it was new and fresh. I remember when they came out, and depending how you apply it it actually looks like cracks in the ground all over in every direction, and not so wide and far apart.

Cecilia said on Feb 27th, 2011 9:53 pm
Omg I Have Been Dying For Opi Shatter!!! Everywhere I go there out!!!

Pamster said on Apr 24th, 2011 9:49 am
I really appreciate you doing this! Wow! I got the Black Mesh from China Glaze and love it! I have seen the Barry M crackles on some youtube videos, and blogs, but never in this kind of a comparison, thanks Steph! :D

becks :)) said on Jun 27th, 2011 10:49 pm
I own sally hansen crakle polish, I dont know if its defective but it sucks. the brush comes stiff, its super mushy and dry, AND IT BARELY CRACKLES!!!! I got the red crackle so if you find whats wrong, just comment.

Steph said on Jun 28th, 2011 5:32 am
Hi becks,
Sally Hansen Crackle is definitely one of the most finicky brands out there! Here's a few tips that helped me, so hopefully it will help you too. Make sure your base coat is dry, you can also play around with a tacky base color and see it that helps. If you find your brush stiff, try to shake or preferably roll the bottle around really good. It allows some air to get in the brush and fluff it out a bit, which makes it easier to apply and spread out. I also found if you apply with thin coats in a two swipe motion it works best. The least amount of swipes the better.

CORYd. said on Jul 24th, 2011 8:49 pm

Ella CLIFFORD XX BABE said on Aug 16th, 2011 11:54 am
I LOVE Barry M's crackle. Its really good with a yellowey or orange base to get a leopard print!!!xx

kellie said on Sep 23rd, 2011 9:33 pm
I know it's not compared here but, KleanColor also makes crackle polish now. I tried it and it SUCKED! I was barely before it started to flake off my nail! I tried *every* type of base coat finish - creme, jelly, holo, glitter, shimmer, foil, etc., etc., etc. I even tried it over slightly wet polish, like KC customer service suggested when I called to complain. There was no way I was going to be able to save it by applying a top coat because, the crackle flakes would have just stuck to the brush and ruined my top coat.

Vicki said on Oct 1st, 2011 9:19 pm
I picked up a bottle of crackle polish from Charlotte Russe, a complete impulse buy, but I have to say, I was AMAZED by the quality. The only other crackle I've tried was Sally Hansen, and the crackle was terrible, the consistency was difficult to work with. Just blah. But the CR polish was perfect. Only thing is, it was silver, and I didn't see any other colors, so I don't know if they have black.

Amanda said on Jan 6th, 2012 11:17 pm
I too have fallen into the crackle craze. I bought some Sally Hanson pink crackle that actually works pretty well on most colors, however my husband bought some O.P.I silver crackle for me for Christmas (which is not cheap) and I haven't found a color that it looks good with yet! :/

Steph said on Jan 7th, 2012 12:54 pm
Hi Amanda,
Have you tried it over a Lavender or Lilac? The Silver Shatter isn't as versatile as the others, but I really like it with light purple and it would be perfect for Spring. It also looks good with a Blue foil like Color Club Cold Metal or Orly Sweet Peacock.

Amanda said on Jan 10th, 2012 2:34 pm
I have done a really light purple and the crackle was just kind of clumpy..I'll have to try to blue though, thanks for the suggestion!

Megan :) said on Jan 16th, 2012 3:48 pm
I like it over black. :)

Lillie*Darling said on Jan 18th, 2012 12:37 pm
I really love the Barry M one - it's awesome! I also tried a farily new one from Rimmel London: Crack Me Up in Black Graffiti, and it worked a charm. The crackle effect I love, and it doesn't do vertical lines, and it was much cheaper than the Barry M... a win-win for me!

Venus-MayBelle said on Feb 22nd, 2012 11:52 am
I also tried this one - it works a charm! I\'m currently wearing it over yellow nail varnish =^.^=

Amber said on May 5th, 2012 7:45 pm
Has anyone ever heard of the brand of crackle called KR but the K is backwards? It is great but I've never heard of it before. The way it crackles it looks like dried up clay. Plus it was only $1.50 a bottle and the bottle was 18ml (USA).

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Hi Steph,
Love your blog. You wrote: Always wrap the free edge or tip throughout each step. I didn't see this step in the video. Could you please explain how to do the wrap process and with what material. Thank you.

Megan said, on Sep 8th, 2012 1:12 am regarding Product Review: Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit
I am wondering if these gel polishes can be used with other gels. I have a different system with a different brand of base coat and top coat, can the different brands of gel mix?

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Steph said, on Jul 3rd, 2012 4:14 pm regarding Wet n Wild Flash Dry Nail Colors
Hi Prinzy,
It was a gorgeous color! I remember picking up a few bottles because I loved the color so much! lol! Actually, yes, I'm launching a store in the next couple of weeks. I have everything built, I'm just working on the Terms and Conditions right now, so it should be very, very soon.

I only have about 10 Studio M colors in the store currently, but I will be taking special pre-orders once it opens.

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Hi Sarah,
I'm not sure about retail stores, but you can still find them on

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