Comparison: Illamasqua Bacterium vs. Chanel Quartz

Illamasqua Bacterium
Illamasqua Bacterium

Bacterium is the first Illamasqua polish I’ve ever used, so I was kind of excited to try it out.  When it was released this spring as part of the Toxic Nature Collection it seemed pretty unique, so I was especially curious to see how it compares to Chanel’s new Quartz.

I bought Bacterium while traveling (more on that later), but I’ve been reaching for so many bright oranges and pinks lately that I hadn’t broken it out.  Receiving Chanel’s Quartz was the extra oomph I needed, though.

Illamasqua is a British make-up brand without a direct retail presence in the U.S., although the polishes are sold at some Sephora stores and on the website.  First impressions on using this brand: the large black cube cap on the top of the Illamasqua bottles pops off to reveal a smaller black stick-type brush cap for easier application.  The Illamasqua brush is thin and longer than I’m used to, and is also kind of floppy, so I thought it was a bit difficult to control the polish with this brush.  The polish itself is noticeably smellier than the polishes I am used to using.  I also didn’t like the formula very much-at least for this color, it seemed really runny and felt like it was going to go everywhere.  It took three careful coats and it needed some extra dry time in between coats to avoid drag, but that might be due to the frosty finish of Bacterium.

Bacterium is a greenish-taupe base with heavy silvery-blue shimmer.  The shimmer is so heavy that it’s pretty much a frost, but the brushstrokes weren’t too bad once it dried.  It seemed thin on the first coat, but by the third coat it was opaque and was fine.  I do like the funny, kind of icky effect that it gives-you can see a distinct greenish tinge around the edges of this polish.  It’s a subtle but weird combination of color and finish.  When it came out this spring it seemed very unique to me, different than most taupey colors.

Illamasqua Bacterium
Illamasqua Bacterium

 

Illamasqua Bacterium
Illamasqua Bacterium

But then, Chanel released Quartz in its 2011 Fall collection.  Quartz is also a brownish taupe with heavy silver shimmer, and in the bottle looks reminiscent of Bacterium.  When they’re right next to each other you can see differences between them, but the colors are similar.  In the picture below, my index and middle fingers are painted in Bacterium, and my ring and pinky are painted in Quartz.  Bacterium has a lighter, more yellow-green tone and shimmer is finer, and more blue than the shimmer in Quartz.  On the nail Quartz gives a darker and more metallic feel, and doesn’t have the green creepiness of Bacterium.  I also needed three coats of Quartz, but I much prefer the Chanel formula and brush over Illamasqua, and felt that it was easier to work with.

 Illamasqua Bacterium, Chanel Quartz
Illamasqua Bacterium, Chanel Quartz

 

So, I’m glad I got to try Bacterium, but the Illamasqua brush and formula weren’t very appealing to me.  Unless there’s some amazing new colors, I probably won’t be reaching for this brand again soon.  Another factor in that decision is that Illamasqua’s polishes are very hard for me to find.  As I said, it’s a British brand, and asking for it in my local Kentucky Sephora was a pretty dispiriting event.

I became interested in the the Toxic Nature collection that Illamasqua released this spring–many of their other colors are very bright, but that collection was so murky that a couple of them caught my eye.  I especially wanted Bacterium, for the combination of its creepy name and weird-neutral color.  I checked my nearby Sephora store first, but my local store was not the answer.  When I visited I was questioned by one of those aggressive salespersons, but when I said I was looking for Illamasqua she just looked really confused.  I had to repeat myself three times before the woman just said dismissively that she had never heard of it.  Illamasqua is not in the store here, and probably never will be.  I learned my lesson and stalked the Sephora website instead, but months after the polishes were available on Illamasqua’s own website, they were still not available.

The shipping cost (from the UK) on the Illamasqua website is really the problem.  If I wanted to buy, say, twelve polishes, it wouldn’t be so bad on a per-polish basis.  But the shipping is too high to justify for two or three.  So, when I was in New York City in the early summer, I stopped in the Union Square Sephora, and just sitting there I found the two Illamasqua polishes I was in search of!  I bought what was seemingly the last Bacterium in the display.  And it was fun to try it out, but the whole Illamasqua experience was a little so-so for me, culminating in the so-so feel I got from Bacterium itself.

Note: it does seem now that the Toxic Nature polishes are finally all up on the Sephora website, so it would be a much easier exercise to just order them all at once that way.  I guess I might just have to deal with a slight lag from the release date if I’m not willing to pay trans-Atlantic shipping costs for these polishes.

 

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