l-r: Essie Shine of the Times over Rimmel Aye, Aye, Sailor, Nails Inc. Porchester Square, Revlon Cloud, Sally Hansen Jaded
Essie Shine of the Times over bare nail
Having (over)familiarised myself with Shine of the Times from my intense Googling, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Thankfully, when I applied this on my nails the first time, it was exactly as I'd anticipated, sky high bar and all. I think what makes Shine of the Times truly unique is how concentrated the flakie effect is, and the way that the polish spreads over the nail in a packed, scaly/mottled pattern.
There are probably similar iridescent glitter polishes like Revlon Heavenly (said to be a dupe of Deborah Lippmann Stairway to Heaven) and China Glaze Snow Globe, but the appearance on the nail isn't the same. Heavenly consists of square/hexagonal glitter and Snow Globe smaller, rounded dots of glitter, but I'm inclined to categorise Shine of the Times as an entirely different beast altogether. With the Revlon and China Glaze, I can still spot the individual glitter pieces, and they produce a kind of scattered or pebbled look. They're both somewhat gloopy formulas that apply relatively thickly (and potentially unevenly) as well. The Essie, on the other hand, is more like a thin but remarkable overlay on the nail that applies incredibly smoothly. There isn't any added texture if you apply it as a top coat, it's completely flat on the surface of the nail and just adds this colour-flashing, shimmering effect. Come to think of it, the closest match I have is Australis Crystal Colour Top Coat in Speck-tacular, albeit at literally 1/10th the density, more distinct, sparse shreds, and more of the blue/purple end of the spectrum.
I loved experimenting with different base colours to see what combination I liked the best. While a dark creme like the blackish navy Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Polish in Aye, Aye, Sailor had the highest contrast, there was a bit too much orange/green in there for my liking. I preferred it over lighter, more pastel shades, where the effect was toned down and more delicate. Over the bare nail and paler colours, it flashes more peach, pink and gold, compared with more copper and lime over dark colours. There does appear to be more noticeable blue and purple in Revlon Heavenly and China Glaze Snow Globe, but Shine of the Times certainly isn't lacking because of it. My surprising favourite base to pair it with was Nails Inc. Porchester Square, which I thought might be a nonevent as it's such a tame neutral. Somehow, it serves as the perfect canvas to showcase Shine of the Times in all its glory.