OPI Nail Envy Review & Pictures

OPI Nail Envy ReviewWhile I’m normally a law-abiding citizen, sometimes I realize that certain rules are meant to be broken. Such is the case when it comes to base coats!

I’ve tried nearly every mainstream base coat under the sun, beyond the dark side of the mood, and around the corner.

You name it, since 2008, if it’s a popular base coat, I gave it a run for its money.

I can’t remember the exact date when OPI Nail Envy waltzed into my life with its cummerbund, but I know that it should’ve been sooner!

If you’ve followed Swatch And Learn for a while, you know that for pretty much every single nail-polish review, my base coat of choice is, well, not a base coat! It’s OPI Nail Envy, which is classified as a nail strengthener.

My natural nails are very strong like Hercules. (Thank my mom and dad for that because I don’t do anything special, and I’m always using my nails to pick at labels and other things that will make a nailphile cringe. I’m extremely rough on my nails, and I’m constantly typing on the keyboard at my full-time job. Then, I come home and work on my blog – haha, more keyboard typing!)

So…it’s understandable that I used to steer clear of nail strengtheners. But, so many readers kept raving about OPI Nail Envy, and, like any nailphile, my curiosity got the better of me. I had to see if it was worth the hype or not.

Well, I’m so glad that I was curious like a cat because my search for a Holy Grail base coat came to an end the day I tried OPI Nail Envy (the original formula)!

I use it as a base coat, so this review is only judging it that way. (I can’t judge how well it strengthens nails, as my nails aren’t weak, thin, or peeling. Plus when I used this, I didn’t notice any difference in terms of nail strength.)

For those with nails that need to get buff, you’ll be happy to know that this is a maximum-strength formula with hydrolyzed protein and calcium. This combination helps nails grow harder, longer, and stronger, while resisting peeling, cracking, and splitting, according to the official OPI website.

Read this review to learn why I’m no longer looking for a great base coat. I’ve found it!

OPI Nail Envy Pictures

OPI Nail Envy Review

OPI Nail Envy Review & Pictures

In case you’re wondering what green nail polish I’m wearing in this photo, it’s Pretty Serious The Dragon’s Curse, which is a one-coater from the Naileontology Collection! (P.S. If you missed buying it, don’t worry – I read that Pretty Serious will be restocking this colour in mid-April 2015!)

OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener Review


Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Propyl Acetate, Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Triphenyl Phosphate, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, n-Butyl Alcohol, Formaldehyde, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Camphor, Diacetone Alcohol, Ethyl Tosylamide, Benzophenone-1, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Dimethicone, Calcium Pantothenate, CI 60725 (Violet 2), CI 77891 (Titanum Dioxide).

Claims: TRUSTED (Holy Grail Status!)

  • Helps nails grow harder & stronger (Not sure – I have strong nails already)
  • Makes nails grow faster (Strangely enough, I have noticed this. My nails already grow quickly, but when I use this, they seem to get longer faster)
  • Resisting peeling, cracking & splitting (My nails rarely break or peel, but with this, it’s like extra insurance!)

Key Notes

  • Name: OPI Nail Envy
  • Amount: 15 mL (0.5 oz)
  • Retail Price: Around $16-18 CAD (depending where you buy it) – I purchased this bottle of OPI Nail Envy.
  • Where to Buy: NailPolishCanada, Trade Secrets & anywhere you can find OPI

OPI Nail Envy Review


One of the reasons why I adore OPI Nail Envy is that you have a choice to wear it solo or under a nail polish.

When worn by itself, it imparts a healthy-looking shine that I really enjoy. (*Gasp* Haha, I know that you probably think I wear nail polish 24/7, right? I wear lacquer nearly all the time, but there are the rare times when I want to see my natural nails again. I think it’s important that, although you love nail polish, you still know how to appreciate your naked nails!)

I find the finish to be very smooth. (You may not know it, but I have some ridges on my nails that I don’t buff away.) Polish tends to smooth over them and leave a nice finish, but some lacquers are less forgiving. When this is the case, I find that OPI Nail Envy does an amazing job at concealing the ridges by creating a smoother surface to work on.

Dry Time

This is one of my main concerns when it comes to a good base coat because the last thing I want is to have to wait a long time for it to dry before I can apply a colourful nail polish. (Speed is the key, especially when time is such a premium these days!)

OPI Nail Envy dries pretty fast, so I never had any issues waiting for it to dry or accidentally denting my nails.

Stain Protection

Is it just me, or does that header make you think of carpets? I swear that I’m not going to try to sell you a specially-treated rug! 😉

Although OPI Nail Envy never seems to make any claims about protecting your nails from stain-prone polishes, I’ve found that, on my nails, it really is wonderful for keeping my nails free from Cheetos-orange stains. (When I’m wary, I will apply two coats of this to be extra sure!)


As I’ve said before, my nails aren’t the peeling type. However, with other base coats, I’ve noticed that they can strip my nails and make them feel dry. Then, when I go to remove a polish, my nails look parched!

When I use OPI Nail Envy, I’ve found that I don’t get that problem. My nails seem to be hydrated more than if I used a typical base coat.


As far as I know, OPI Nail Envy is here to stay. It’s not a limited edition, and I can’t see OPI ever discontinuing their top-selling nail strengthener. So you should have zero problems getting your hands on it, unless you live in a country that doesn’t have easy access to OPI in general.


Yes, the retail price is around $16-18 CAD, which is a little pricy for a ‘base coat’, but in my book, it’s completely worth every penny! Think about it – you’ll be using it under most of your manicures and/or pedicures.


OPI is known for their ProWide Brush, and OPI Nail Envy also features that same wide brush that covers more nail than the skinny version in other polishes. (Personally, I can use any brush, thick or thin. But I realize that for some nailphiles, the brush design can be a deal breaker if it’s too skinny.)


I accidentally threw away the cardboard box it came in before photographing this. (Sigh – bad blogger. *Hands head in shame*) Actually, I’ve used this bottle several times before photographing it. (This isn’t my first bottle of it. I think this might be my fourth bottle.)

The cardboard box it comes in is unnecessary for the consumer, but I understand why OPI sticks with it. The cardboard box is sealed, which prevents customers from trying to open the bottle and exposing the formula to air, which can dry it out and make the polish perform differently than designed.

While I prefer minimal packaging (and therefore less waste), I’m on the fence because I also like how the box prevents nosy nailphiles from opening up the bottle. I enjoy being the first person to use my polish, thank you very much!


There is a whole range of OPI Nail Envy nail strengtheners on the market. This is the original one that comes in a white-and-green box, but there are others to specifically address nail issues like peeling, dry, or brittle nails.

Also, I remember a reader once told me that after using OPI Nail Envy (the original formulation) for a long time, her nails stopped improving and then started peeling again. Apparently you’re supposed to switch to the OPI Nail Envy Maintenance version once your nails reach their optimal condition with the original formula.

I have no idea whether or not that’ll work for most people because I’ve been using OPI Nail Envy  (original) for a long time and haven’t encountered any problems. (I recently bought a bottle of OPI Nail Envy Maintenance, so when I’m done the original version, I’ll switch to the Maintenance one and report later on if I notice any difference.)


Note that the original formula contains Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin. If you’re trying to avoid those, this isn’t the one for you. However, there is an OPI Nail Envy version that’s Formaldehyde-free. (I haven’t tried that, and I think it’s one that’s geared toward ‘sensitive nails’.)


  • Dries fast
  • Leaves nails with a healthy shine
  • Can be worn solo or under a nail polish
  • Helps to prevent stains
  • Doesn’t leave nails feeling or looking too dry after you remove nail polish


  • Some people have reported that you must switch to OPI Nail Envy Maintenance after a while, or your nails will begin to peel. (I haven’t noticed this.)
  • Contains Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde Resin

Final Verdict: 10/10

As if you couldn’t already tell, I’m in love with OPI Nail Envy (the original formula)! It works wonderfully for me as a base coat, and it’s easy for me to find when I run out.

If you’ve tried every base coat under the sun, maybe it’s time for you to try this nail strengthener for a change. You may be as surprised as I was! 🙂

What’s the latest base coat that you’ve tried? What base coat are you wearing now? What’s the most important function that you expect a base coat to do?


16 thoughts on “OPI Nail Envy Review & Pictures

  1. beth combs

    It’s my fave too! Like you, i’ve tried so many base coats, but i keep coming back to nail envy. It’s awesome!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Beth!

      Cool that you also enjoy this! I was slow to get on the OPI Nail Envy train. So many nailphiles rave about it, but I’m glad that I finally tried it and used it as a base coat. 🙂

  2. Liz

    Excellent review!

    My go-to basecoat is Pretty Serious Cosmetics’ All Your Base. It’s a ridge-filler that leaves my furrowed nails with a much smoother surface for polish — completely smooth if I use two coats. It takes a wee bit longer to dry than some of the other basecoats I’ve used, but it’s worth that extra time for the smoothing effects and the way it creates a template for my polish. I find that if I apply All Your Base with care, the polish goes on over the track it creates much more easily with less swipage and other user errors. Love this stuff and gone through many bottles. I wish Pretty Serious would package it in refill sizes! I used to be a diehard fan of Butter London’s Nail Foundation but I like All Your Base even better and it’s less expensive per ml.
    Liz recently posted: Different Dimension Lyra

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Liz!

      Glad that you appreciated this review! It was one that I thought of doing for quite some time. Sometimes I feel like reviews on base coats aren’t as popular as reviews on colours. It was so important that I put this in the spotlight because it worked so well as a base coat for me. Had to share the love!

      Pretty Serious Cosmetics is an indie brand that I absolutely love. The polishes are amazing, but so is the founder! 🙂

      I’m in contact with Karen, the creator of Pretty Serious Cosmetics, so I’m going to e-mail her right now and ask her about if she’d consider selling refill sizes. Who knows? Maybe she’ll consider offering that if there’s enough interest!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Sasha!

      No, I’ve never tried Duri Rejuvacote, but I think I have a bottle of it lying around somewhere.

      The only Duri that I’ve tried are their colourful nail polishes. I’ve reviewed maybe two or so Duri lacquers on here. (Don’t have too many in my collection.)

  3. Melissa

    I’ve seen a lots of reviews for the Nail Envy, but I’ve never tried it myself. I’m thinking it might be time to give it a go. Thanks for the review. 🙂

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Melissa!

      There are so many different type of Nail Envy, so you’re sure to find one that suits your nails specifically. 🙂

  4. jenny

    Thnx 4 the review, i almost wanted to buy it but then i saw the ingredients, good you posted it. It contains formaldehyde resin and formaldehyde, its so good because its has chemicals in it. Everybody is ralking about seche vite thats the topcoat to have but also contains Toluene which is been banned since EU forced cosmetics companues in 2004. Havent you peopled heard of 3free nailpolish? Be careful and goodluck xoxo

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Jenny!

      There are several different type of OPI Nail Envy. The green one, which is shown in this review is the original one. However, there’s one that does NOT contain Formaldehyde. I think it’s the one for sensitive nails. It’d be worth checking out.

      Yup – I love Seche Vite, and I still use nail polish with Toluene. It’s a personal decision.

  5. Tanya

    I always waffle over this product. It seems to work wonders and receives rave reviews, but the inclusion of formaldehyde scares me off. Then again I have no idea what’s so bad about formaldehyde in polish anyway. :-/

    1. jenny

      Hi tanya,
      google the names, dbp, toluene, camphor, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, ethylacetate, and so on and so on..just look at your beautyproduct and start to read them. Formaldehyde is a gas and no way possible to be added in nailpolish but if you mix it up you can use it. The resin is whats left of the gas after they cleaned the bottles with it.
      Check wikipedia cuz i cant explain it al to you. But youll be surprised maybe shocked. Im forced to buy natural products because of my allergies, i use nailpolish since i was in highschool so i know there was a time when they had all kinds of stuff in beautyproducts, still are. Google aslo for cruelty free products, not tested on animals. Also no added plastic.
      I did my nails and almost fainted, big headache and just went to bed cuz iwas so sick of the smell of the polish. Now i use Zoya, hopscotch (kids), china glaze (black labels) , pacifica, essie, revlon, ncla, black dahlia, polish alcoholic. Theres a lot.
      Read this and the comments


      Good luck

    2. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Tanya!

      There’s a version of OPI Nail Envy for sensitive nails that doesn’t contain Formaldehyde. If you don’t want to try this original formulation, that one may be up your alley instead. 🙂

  6. BreeBree

    The start to finish fprmelihyde free formla works just as well. I tried it! And yes my natural nails grow slow but with OPI Nail Envy they grow super fast.


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