What’s the difference between Nicole by OPI, Sephora by OPI, and OPI nail polishes?

UPDATE: I realize my previous post was a bit inaccurate because I didn’t test the nail polishes base on similar finishes .  I first did this when I was bored out of my mind while doing literature review for a very lengthy research project (hence the sociology literature photocopy I tested the nail polishes on).  So please scroll down for the new findings.

Okay, I admit, I am a girly girl. I like to get my nails did and hair primped by a professional as often as my financial situation allows.   But like most other college students, I am always living on a budget. So instead of splurging 20-30 bucks for a manicure, I like to do it myself, and plus, I have pretty steady hands. Like most nail polish enthusiasts, I love OPI.  I find it to have the best color density, brush, color variations, etc.   So when there are 3 kinds of OPI nail polishes to choose from, I got curious just like the next girl standing at a beauty store contemplating between the different OPI brands.  So I a bought a few bottles of each, and here are my findings:

Criteria Nicole By OPI Sephora by OPI OPI Findings
Price $7.99 $9.50 $8.50 – $12.00 Many of the colors often go on sale, sometimes 1/2 off the original price for limited edition lines for all three lines at the stores. OPI & Nicole by OPI will go on sale for buy 1 get 1 50% off at places like ULTA.  Where as only discontinued colors will only go on sale at Sephora’s
Color Density Varies depending on finish, with one single layer, the color is represented but not very full. 2 coats will represent full coloring Light to medium, with one single layer, a very thin layer of color is represented. Often needs 3 coats for full color represntation Very opaque, with one single layer, the color is well represented. 2 coats will represent full coloring Although both Nicole and OPI have very opaque color density, Sephora’s greatly differentiates from the other two with its lighter formula. Higher density = more visiable mistakes, better color coverage, lighter density = more forgiving, less color coverage. However, OPI original has the most shine out of the three.
Usability With its “new” perfect stroke brush, the brush is more dense, but shorter in length, requires a steadier hand to control the short dense brush, but overall not a bad brush. A slimmer, lighter but longer brush is used for the lighter formula. Easier to use, more forgiving, can go into the cracks better A wide and long brush is used for the original brand, gives great coverage in one single stroke, brush is also softer than Nicole Which ever nail polish brush you’re use to using, that’s going to be the ultimate deciding factor. Depending if you have a steady hand or not, if you do, the original OPI has the best brush, while if you tend to screw up on your nails while coloring, Sephora’s brand is better because the smaller brush is more nimble. Nicole falls short.
Durability No chipping doing dishes without gloves for 1 day. By day 2, edges start to come off No chipping even after doing dishes for about 2 days, without gloves; Flaky edges by day 3 Depending on the color, chipping doesn’t start till day 3, with doing dishes the first 2 days The duration of how long these nail polishes seem to last is dependent on the amount you dip your hand into water and soap, scrapping stuff, etc. But overall, all three seem to last about as long with a +/- 2 day difference, with OPI original last slightly longer depending on the color you choose, Sephora second, and Nicole in a distance third.
Selection While Nicole OPI seem to cater more towards the drugstore makeup shopping crowd, & the color selection is often limited. At best, you’ll see 20-40 color varieties (where online, you’ll be able to nab almost 70). However, since it is being offered in most drugstores, it seems to be the most accessible brand. While this brand is only sold in Sephora stores, the color selection seem to fare a little better than Nicole. Offereing a range of ~60 different colors, their color selection also seem to be trendier. The motherload and the original of it all, OPI’s line, used by both beauty specialty stores as well as professional salons, offering up to 240+ colors at any given time and most specialty stores carries at least 50% of that. While Nicole seems to be most accesible to the general public, Sephora’s seem to have trendier color selections in their boutique beauty stores. OPI original however, excels in this category for having the most variety, most special editions in terms of color selection.

UPDATE: Here is me comparing the three polishes on SIMILAR FINISHES — I used opaque pinks to compare the three.  I had initially compared a shimmery orange/red Nicole by OPI against two opaque OPIs and Sephoras, needless to say, not a whole lot has changed, but at least you can see the finishes better in the photo as it speaks louder than words 🙂

FIRST COAT: This is a test between three similar finishes – giving a more accurate representation of the three different brands. It’s kind of hard to compare different finishes on the three brands (apples vs oranges), versus now that I have three opaque finishes here, giving a more accurate representation of the products (apple vs well, apple?) BTW, Nicole by OPI is really light on the first coat.

SECOND COAT: You can tell that the finish on the Sephora OPI is very different than the other two — it’s got this gel-like finish to it, which is kind of cool. OPI original has a very solid color density. Nicole by OPI on the other finger… well, you can judge for yourself. Just click on the photo to enlarge.

Overall: OPI original seems to be the best option, while Sephora by OPI comes in second, and Nicole by OPI comes in a distance third in my personal opinion on which of the OPI nail polish brand is the best of the three.  OPI original has the longest durability time as well as highest color density and shine, which is a big deciding factor for me.  Sephora OPI also lasts pretty long, but it doesn’t provide the shine and color density like OPI original does, but has this interesting finish that is very different from the original OPI.  Nicole is definitely my least favorite of them all.  If you are going to spend the money on Nicole, you might as well buy 2 bottles of Revlon Colorstay or any other brand – which can provide you similar if not better results .  


18 thoughts on “What’s the difference between Nicole by OPI, Sephora by OPI, and OPI nail polishes?

  1. this is cool, i was just wondering the same, which is why i googled the question and landed on this post 🙂
    its good to know, i have to say though, the sephora by opi, though very pricy, seems kind of cheap looking. id be more likely to buy the nicole or original opi

  2. Thanks for the post- I love a great scientific approach to back my opinions on important girl issues. Do you have a regular blog with comparisons Ike these?

    And I actually also find the gel finish interesting and worth investing in a few colors at least.

    • Hi Hero
      I’ll try to post more in the future — i’ll keep an eye out for future products to post comparisons on! i thought about doing the Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System vs Clarsonic, but because the price range is so far apart, it’ll be like comparing a hyundai vs a ferrari. I’ll need to look closer to products that are closer in price range.

  3. Love OPI!! Hands down best across the board! Tried Nicole by OPI still into pink…..no gloss its flat finish….not sure if this is how its suppose to be, looks very odd.

  4. This is amazing. This is the type of post I look for when looking for reviews but all I ever find is people just talking about pretty colors

  5. Hi..
    Sephora by OPI has been discontinued, but I’m still curious about comparing Nicole to Sephora. As my experience with Sephora, I felt disappointed with its thick and hard-to-blend consistency. What I hate most is how I had to wait super long time for it to dry. How do you find about applying Nicole? Is it thick and hard to blend? Do we have to wait long time for the nail to dry?

    • Hi Dean, I did not know they discontinued that! I didn’t really have a hard time with the blending of the Sephora one. However, Nicole’s dry time was ok for me, it was harder to blend in comparison to Seophora and Original OPI. My biggest qualm about Nicole was that the coat was a lot “softer” when it dried, like it felt like it could easily chip.

      • I wasn’t aware that sephora by OPI was discontinued either but it makes sencse now why I found them at big lots for under 2 dollars.

  6. Thank you!!! I finalky got the review i was looking for!!! Gutted that i just bought 3 nicole OPI nail polishes.at least i niw for next time. 🙂 thanks again, love the analysis and illustrative photos. 🙂

  7. Hi, I think it is not very fair to judge a brand based on one colour, even if the comparison is made between similar colours. Even within one brand, there are polishes with great formulas and polishes with terrible formulas. It is obvious that formula will also differ with colour and finish, but even same brand polishes with similar colour/finish can have very different formula.
    I think the best is to google the exact shades you want to buy instead of the brand in general!

  8. I LOVE Nicole OPI, great color on first coat, second coat is spectacular, dries FAST, Really fast and the shine is fantastic. When I find a great deal on a Nicole OPI, I buy at least three of my fave colors. I used to be an Essie girl, but there is no comparison, Nicole OPI blows Essie away, as the Essie color quickly becomes dull and flat within an hour or two, the polish in the bottle becomes thick and hard to use after one use, complete waste of good money. Nicole’s OPI rocks.

  9. I tried a bright orange Nicole shade several years ago and was very surprised by how thin and sheer it was. It was so bad I never wore it after the first attempt. I found a beautiful Nicole pink shade today at a discount store and thought I’d give it another chance. I have three coats of it on right now I can still see my nail through it completely. I generally buy OPI and Essie but have a few drugstore brands. I can honestly say Revlon and Cover Girl are superior to Nicole. Don’t waste your money.

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