Learning a Lesson: Oscar de la Renta Larimar

Some of you may remember my wedding post from a couple of months back – I mentioned a nail polish shown in a runway photo from Oscar de la Renta’s Spring 2013 Bridal Collection that sparked my interest in having blue nails at my wedding. For reference, here’s the photo I was talking about:


(Photo Credit: Society Bride)

At the time, I didn’t realize that this was a real color – I figured it was some frankened combo made by some genius nail tech especially for this runway shoot. A few months after my wedding a friend from the nail community alerted me to Larimar, a color being sold on Oscar de la Renta’s website for $22. My eyes popped out of my head – there it was… the color I was looking for… that truly beautiful ethereal, seemingly surreal blue from the runway show!! I died a little and after my resurrection I forked over the 22 bucks to snag myself a bottle.

Oscar de la Renta Larimar

Oscar de la Renta Larimar is the truest light blue creme I have ever seen. My photo is a little inaccurate, it’s a smidge lighter in real life. All the light blues in my collection, for example China Glaze Moody Blue and Rescue Beauty Lounge Bikini Bottom, seem to lean green in comparison. I really love the color but the polish was a bit of a disappointment. First, while the runway photos were color accurate, that seemingly translucent, backlit quality exhibited in the photos (that, frankly, made this polish look so special) did not translate to my mani. I don’t know whether that should be attributed to the number of coats I used - I failed to write it down in my notes but I believe it was around 4. Second, this is a PITA to apply. Somewhat thick but thin at the same time – I ended up using the slather and sculpt method (slathering it on willy-nilly, then very carefully cleaning up afterwards). The bottle and brush shape did not help the PITA-ness at all. The bottle is longer than an average nail polish bottle, as a result the brush was very long. If you do your nails often and you’re used to a standard bottle size, you’re probably also used to judging the amount of polish you need in relation to how the polish flows down the brush shaft. For me, judging the polish stream on the brush is an unconscious, automatic action – with this longer brush, more polish than normal flows or drips downward on the brush causing unexpected pooling. That took some getting used to, for sure.

This polish presented an interesting conundrum for me. As a polish blogger, I’m often explaining to people that photos won’t always be accurate. There’s so much that goes into how a color in a photo looks – just to name a few factors, the lighting, the skintone of the model, the camera, and the computer monitor being used to see the photo will all effect how the polish color appears. When I first started blogging again, I went to a photography store to buy a new lighting system because I had long ago chucked my old DIY light box. I tried to explain to the owner of the store what this site is about - he was a career products photographer so he was definitely the right person to talk to about nail polish photo color accuracy. He pretty much told me flat-out, ”you will never get the color in the photo to look exactly how you see it in real life.” I really do make a conscious effort to ensure that my photos are as accurate as possible. I don’t use editing software for color correcting, because, well, I’m bad at it – I only make it worse. So, when accuracy is not possible, I try to make sure that I tell you about it. I know a lot of people get really frustrated when they see a photo of a color on a site, order it thinking that they are getting the color that they saw, only to find the color in real life looks nothing like it looks on the site. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt that way until I got this color. Since I started collecting, I’ve always looked at swatches online before making a purchase. In doing so, I’ve always expected there to be some level of inaccuracy associated with the photos. I was never disappointed when a color ended up being different then a swatch I’d seen… until this color. I guess it’s because there aren’t many colors I come across that seem really unique. This color, in the runway photos, seemed really special – I was expecting a crelly with an inner luminescence, only to get a standard crème. Now been that I’ve in the shoes of a frustrated swatch viewer, I totally understand why peeps complain about that.

With all that said – is this color worth it? Hefty price tag, color inaccuracies, application issues and all? The surprising answer is yes. It’s not what I expected and that was disappointing but I couldn’t find anything in my stash quite like it. And it’s seriously pretty. Totally would have worn this to my wedding if I had owned it at the time (even over my Mother’s objections).

What are your thoughts on color inaccuracies? Is it a pet-peeve or do you leave room for error?


15 Responses to “Learning a Lesson: Oscar de la Renta Larimar”

  1. Ashesela Says:

    Oh what a stunning colour!!! I leave room for error when it comes to photos and colours, as it is near impossible to get the exact same colour as you see in real life (especially with purples!!).

  2. LizzardVanReptile Says:

    So…what’s a reasonable near dupe with a better formula? Ever since your blog post with this pic, I’ve been going bonkers trying to find a reasonable facsimile! Great post!

  3. Gwen Says:

    Very interesting post! I really love the look of the first photo as well, so I understand why you’d be disappointed. It has a lovely translucency to it without being annoyingly sheer. I am not convinced the polish they are selling is the same formula…
    To answer your question, this has happened to me plenty of times! Especially when I was new to the polish world. I like buying online mostly since prices are usually lower. The main problems I had were shades being darker than they appeared in swatches and also the shimmer not being as apparent when I received the bottle. I now know better and search for multiple swatches and I’ve also become familiar with specific bloggers’ photography styles. Some always use flash photography, making the colors appear lighter and the shimmer more apparent so I keep that in mind. Sometimes the crappy, low resolution, poor lighting swatches are the most helpful cause that’s when the polish looks the ugliest imo so if I still like it in that light, it’s definitely a winner, LOL!

  4. Ariadne Says:

    Thanks so much for this post– I was curious to see this color reviewed, since your wedding post. I very much appreciate your efforts towards color accuracy in photography. I can honestly say I have never been disappointed on that front, by your blog or any of the others which I read regularly. That being said, I am loath to purchase polishes online, sight-unseen. I always try to see what I’m going to buy. Still this is no guarantee. You never really know until it’s on the nail, I say.

    With all the PITA issues, maybe this is just a bad bottle? For that designer price, I would seriously consider exchanging it.

  5. Jess Says:

    This is so, so pretty. Too bad about the formula, but I do love this colour! It’s a good thing they don’t ship to Canada or I’d be really tempted to buy it, poor formula and all.:)

  6. July Says:

    Hi. What a shame a polish named after a beautiful stone that only is found in my country does not live up to what is expected. I have some jewels made of silver and larimar, and the natural hues of the stone varies form milky blue to turquoise, i much prefer the cooler hues of it, but is inevitable that Larimar also has green tones to it.

  7. Gotham Polish Says:

    Great review! Sorry to hear this polish was a bit of a disappointment, but honestly I didn’t have high expectations, it just seemed like they put their name on a bottle of polish… but anyway what about Zoya Blu or Essie Something Borrowed for alternatives? I don’t have the Essie, but I have Zoya Blu and think the formula is the best of any light blue polish I own!

  8. Steph Says:

    Ashesela – Omg purples and blurples – it just can’t be done! It’s never even close! lol.

    LVP – I have to agree with a few tweeps that Zoya Blu would be a good substitute. It’s similarly not green toned but it’s MUCH, MUCH lighter. Other than that, I’m not really sure – I really have not encountered anything similar. Gotham Polish, below, mentioned Essie Something Borrowed and Blue but I don’t have that one to compare. I added it to my lem list. I’ll post a comp when I get it.

    Gwen – Yea, I have to agree with you. They can’t possibly be the same formula. But, boy, would I looove to get my hands a true baby blue jelly. *googly eyes* LOL And you are definitely not the first person to say that you prefer “low-budget” haha swatches. I definitely see the appeal for accuracy purposes.

    Ariadne – : )Thank you so much for the compliments. It honestly didn’t occur to me to exchange it. When I picked up this bottle, I picked one up for two other nailies too. I need to check with them and see what they thought about it. Maybe it is just my bottle.

    Jess – LOL!!!!! Right?!? No shipping to Canada – it’s bittersweet, I’m sure. ; )

    July – You know, larimar is my favorite stone, there’s something so alluring and mysterious about milky blues. And I think it’s safe to say that baby blue is my favorite color (I drive a baby blue car and live in a baby blue house… and yes, I get made fun of for that all the time.)

    GP – I have Blu, it’s much lighter – after you mentioned the Essie I googled it… instant lem. lol. It looks like it might be close! I’ll get it and keep you guys posted. (And thank you!)

  9. Mara Says:

    I love light blues!! Too bad the formula in this ones was so difficult, and I totally understand your disappointment… I order a lot online and now I know which bloggers have a skintone like mine so polishes will look similar…

  10. Ariadne Says:

    I’ve had this happen to me, but with a lipstick. Pretty color, terrible taste. The financial risk had been just $1, so I have it a second shot. The new one was perfect, no taste, even a lovely fragrance.

    As for a “dupe” to this color I’d suggest Barry M “Blue Moon” (from the UK). I’d say it’s a bit lighter, but not as much as Blu, and it has a lovely hidden shimmer.

  11. Monica Says:

    Steph, Have you seen Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Breezy Blue? I think this may be similar to what you had hoped Larimar would be. It’s a milky sheerish baby blue.

  12. LUCIANA Says:



  13. Ariadne Says:

    I stumbled upon this picture & thought of you:

  14. JILL Says:

    Hard Candy’s “Sky” color available online at Walmart and Walmart stores is almost an exact dupe. Has a slight sheen. $4.00 a bottle. Made famous in 1995 when Alicia Silverstone wore it promoting her movie ‘Clueless’ on the David Letterman show. I used to own the original version and always received compliments.

  15. Angela Says:

    I too love this colour – but you’ve made me wary! I’ll just on the “what about….?” bandwagon & ask “What about Zoya Kristen?”

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