Essie Master Plan swatches, review, photos | Grey nails for grey days

Essie Master Plan review swatches

The product: Essie Nail Polish in 779 Master Plan 

You guys, I am so bad with Essie polishes. This is my — fourth? fifth? and I keep going back to the brand, because they have the most divine colour range, and everyone speaks so highly of them, and I just–

Good lord, I cannot apply them to save my life.

Essie Master Plan swatches review - grey creme polish

Essie Master Plan swatches — two (thick) coats, no topcoat

The formula and application: Maybe I’m just lacking in skill, but I can never make an Essie polish go flat on my nails. Their smelly but 3-free formula is always too thick, too lumpy, and ends up sort of mottled and streaked.

The only two brands I’ve ever had this problem with are Essie and Clinique, both of which are loved by so many others whose opinions I trust, and I just don’t get it. I think it may actually be a brush problem, not a formula one (I much prefer thin, wide brushes), but either way — I’d prefer almost any ‘ol brand, even a drugstore brand, for a flawless, even nail.

(Sorry, Essie lovers. Want to share your tips & tricks with me?)

Essie Master Plan swatches review

The colour: Described by the brand as a mischievous soft greythere isn’t really anything, uh, mischievous about Master Plan. That said, it is certainly a soft grey (darker and less of a yellow-beige than stock photos would have you believe), and it’s rather understated. It features a cream finish, and there’s something a little bit utilitarian about it — it’s more cement-grey than putty grey, and has just the right balance of blue and green.

Master Plan reminds me of those art erasers that all of the art students had back in high school — the mouldable ones. It grabbed me far less than I had expected it to, but for those who can really pull off greys, this is a wonderfully basic one. It’s hard to create a shade that’s just-so, but Essie do it beautifully with Master Planit’s grey; no more, no less. 

Essie review Master Plan

Essie Master Plan swatched on awkward, dry, stubby fingers

The verdict?

Master Plan was a dud for me, as you can (maybe?) see in these swatches, but I think it could be really great if you know how to work an Essie polish. It’s as basic a grey as you can get — not too warm, not too cool, and not marred by any shimmer.

For those who pull off industrial-chic really well, this one is definitely worth a look. And do me a favour, if that’s you, my dear Essie fan, please hit me up in the comments thread with your tips & tricks for getting their polishes to apply smoothly!

Availability: The Essie range is available at drugstores, beauty supply stores, and online. In Canada, I know for sure that you can find them at Shopper’s Drug Mart, though I believe the selection is often seasonal.

This bottle was submitted for review by Beauty Stop Online, who have been incredibly understanding about how long it’s taken me to get this post up. Master Plan is available on their site here for $5.99.

Essie grey nail polish swatches - Master Plan

Essie Master Plan swatched with low light + flash

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  • Reply lyn

    I've been looking for a good grey polish and have to say, this looks really nice on you. I sometimes have issues with Essie polishes too as they can be a bit thick. But they do even out with the 2nd coat.
    My recent post Totally Poisoned by Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Venom

    January 23, 2014 at 6:28 AM
  • Reply Karen

    I'm not sure what you're on about, your application of this polish looks flawless! I love greys but I always have difficulty picking a shade that suits my skin tone. It's a shame that you find Essie polishes don't seem to be easy to apply- and wow they are cheap where you are! Each polish is sold for $20 each here in Australia which is absurd!
    My recent post Review: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow

    January 23, 2014 at 6:59 AM
  • Reply llewsoba

    I like the color, but I've only had one essie polish (also a grey) and I can't remember if it was thick and hard to apply. : /
    My recent post Lush Cosmetics: Bubble Gum Lip Scrub Review

    January 23, 2014 at 7:27 AM
  • Reply Cherie Tian

    Out of curiosity, when you apply, are you using the tip of the brush or does it lie flat tip to top?

    January 23, 2014 at 8:37 AM
  • Reply Chloe Ng

    I think it looks great just the way you applied the nail polish. o_o
    Anyway, this shade is gorgeous! I think I might pick this one up. :)
    My recent post INTRODUCING & HAUL: Feggy Min

    January 23, 2014 at 12:57 PM
  • Reply Christina

    I have trouble with the white based Essie pastels, they can be a little hit or miss. The first coat is usually patchy, but the second (or third) evens it out. I have a love hate with "Fiji". The more you can avoid going over the same spot twice, the better. I don't have any trouble with their darker colors. Funny you mention Clinique though, they always come out lumpy for me and it drives me crazy!
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    January 23, 2014 at 8:31 PM
  • Reply Lily @ChloeAsh

    I have a brush problem too. I wish all of them had Dior's wide flat tapered brush. That would make life easier! I see nothing wrong with your application though. And I love the colour!

    My recent post Sunday Stash Shopping #19: Something Green

    January 23, 2014 at 10:18 PM
  • Reply Amy

    Your nails are perfect!
    I've tonight just stumbled across your blog and I'm so glad that I have. It is late here now but I will have a good browse tomorrow :)
    Amy x | A Little Boat Sailing

    January 24, 2014 at 6:30 PM
  • Reply Kiss & Make-up

    Ooooh such a classy elegant color, I love it.
    My recent post My current make-up & beauty wish list

    January 25, 2014 at 6:02 AM
  • Reply Helena

    I only have a couple of Essies (Pink-A-Boo and Playa del Platinum, to be precise), which I can't recall having any issues with, but if I were you I'd add a few drops of thinner to them!

    January 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM
  • Reply glambunctious

    You are not crazy – I have Essie issues ("essues"?), too! I feel like they almost always need 3 coats to look even, but then they start getting gloopsville during coat #2? The only one I've had no problems with is Geranium, a gloriously bold and gorgeous red that actually covered in 1 COAT. It was love. Like, Bananarama "Venus" dancing in denim jackets and spandex shorts 80's LOVE.
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    January 26, 2014 at 6:14 PM
  • Reply Kate & Zena

    Essie can be an oddball with formula. I think you have to be careful with application. I tend to have the opposite problem; mine will be a bit thin and streaky on the first coat and even out perfectly on the second. You might want to try warming up your bottle by rubbing it between your palms before applying.

    January 27, 2014 at 5:06 PM
  • Reply Angela

    I actually really like this colour–I have a soft spot for simple, elegant shades in creme formula.

    Honestly, I love the colours in Essie's range, but I find the brand generally difficult to apply and not beginner-friendly, *especially* if it's a milky sort of shade like this one. My only advice is to try applying with very light pressure in terms of the brush coming in contact with the nail, and finishing nail coverage in the fewest number of strokes possible (about 3). I hope that helps but if not, just know you're not the only one that finds Essie a bit tricky!
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    January 31, 2014 at 7:49 PM
  • Reply Amber

    maybe try adding a drop of nail polish remover and shaking it up might help to thin it a tiny bit.

    July 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM
  • Reply Jordi

    I used to really dislike Essie polishes because i always had problems with them being thin and streaky, no matter how many coats i applied. As soon as i started using Essie base coats (as well as Essie gel top coat), the problem was completely solved. Now i'm a total Essie fan. Thanks for the great post :)

    January 5, 2017 at 8:00 PM
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