Chanel in #637 Malice Comparisons (15 polishes)

Why, hello. 

I'm still here! School has been kicking my ass, but it's finals next week, and then I will have some time to edit my photos (20 or so manicures all queued up to be posted!). Sorry sorry sorry for the absence.

You might want to buckle up; this is gonna be a wordy, picture-heavy post.

I wanted to get this up before the holidays because a lot of people have been clamoring for a dupe for Chanel in #637 Malice.  I'll get to the point: I haven't been able to find one. However, that isn't to say that one of these polishes won't catch your fancy. Just, if you want Malice, buy Malice. I know it's a splurge for some, but I always think the holidays are a time to give presents (even to yourself) that the recipient will use often and will get a ton of joy from. To me, Malice fits the bill for a polish lover. I have pictures of Malice on its own (and boy is it gorgeous), but this post is already huge enough, so you'll get to see those later.

This post was compiled over a couple months in as many different lighting situations as I could manage. In some pictures the polishes will look close to Malice and in others those same polishes won't. For all of these polishes at least 75% of the time they don't look dupe-y to Malice, but it depends on the lighting situation, and I will try to make that clear for the polishes that are closer. I whittled my comparison list down by comparing it with anything that could possibly come close in my collection. If I own it and it's not pictured here, it's not even comparable (way too black or way too bright; I also didn't include cremes).

I divided my comparisons into 4 groups.

First, the deep burgundies (Nubar in Vino, China Glaze in Short & Sassy, Orly in Smolder, and Misa in #291 Bourbon on the Rocks [near dupe for OPI in German-icure by OPI]). None of these are as blackened as Malice except for Bourbon on the Rocks, which is completely different tonally.

Next, the blackened rubies (Misa in Uptown Glamour [dupe for OPI in Every Month is Oktoberfest], Barielle in Lava Rock, BB Couture in Napa Valley Red, Revlon Street Wear in #15 Blood, Chanel in #18 Vamp, Confetti in #041 Masquerade Ball [dupe for Sephora by OPI in I'm With Brad], and Diamond Cosmetics in #342 Cherry Tobacco). All of these are more blackened than Malice.

Third, the closest matches (OPI in Royal Rajah Ruby and Deborah Lippmann in Bitches Brew). I took flash pictures for all of these groups, so some of the complexity of the colors is lost, and they seem closer to each other than they are in person. Not ideal, but I just didn't want to swatch so many colors on my nails.

Finally, from those colors, I applied the three closest matches (OPI in Royal Rajah Ruby, Confetti in #041 Masquerade Ball, and Deborah Lippmann in Bitches Brew) to my nails to compare with Malice; I also included Orly in Smolder because that is the polish I most frequently see touted as a dupe. I took photos of this final group in many different lights for comparison.

As a bonus, I don't own Deborah Lippmann in Through the Fire, but I was wearing Malice while shopping at a store that carried the line, so I snapped a photo for comparison.

I hope you find this helpful! Many many pictures after the jump.

Direct flash

The closest two polishes in my collection are OPI in Royal Rajah Ruby and Deborah Lippmann in Bitches Brew. Keep in mind that the flash photography obscures a lot of the nuance; I compared both of these to Malice on the nail and you will see that the majority of the time they are significantly more different than they appear in these photos. OPI in Royal Rajah Ruby is the closest to a dupe that I've found, but if you look at my on-nail comparisons you can see that they're actually pretty different. RRR has a blackened base like Malice, but the base seems a little less translucent, so it looks more black than Malice most of the time. RRR also has a more fleck-y shimmer, so it seems to sparkle rather than glow in a lot of lighting. The shimmer in RRR is warmer than in Malice. Deborah Lippmann in Bitches Brew has a very similar shimmer color, but it is not blackened (I wouldn't consider it vampy), is much lighter, not nearly as glowy, and a tiny bit cooler than Malice.

Direct flash

Here you see Malice compared with other deep red/burgundys. Again, keep in mind that the flash obscures some of the differences in these polishes. In terms of effect, I would consider Misa in #291 Bourbon on the Rocks (an almost dupe to OPI in German-icure by OPI) to be the most similar. They both have that same blackened jelly/creme hybrid base that allows the shimmer to come through so glowy. However, Bourbon on the Rocks is much warmer, with more brown in it. Orly in Smolder is the shade I most often see people claim as a dupe to Malice. I actually find it to be one of the least similar shades in my comparisons. Someone on Nail Board threw some shade at me when I said this, but I wouldn't consider Smolder to be a vampy because it's not really blackened at all. It's a dark burgundy, but doesn't have the blackened base that Malice does. As you can see, it's also pure glowiness. This isn't a shade that's as sophisticated as Malice, which appears to glow from within - it's a wham, bam, pow, in-your-face glow. Very pretty, but not the same effect. Smolder is so packed with shimmer that it does show brush strokes a bit, although it never looks frosty. Smolder is also lighter and a bit warmer than Malice. You will better be able to see this in my on-nail swatches later in this post! China Glaze in Short & Sassy is another just-bordering-on-vampy shade - not truly blackened. It's very similar to Smolder, but with a smoother particle shimmer and a slightly cooler base: much lighter than Malice. Nubar in Vino also isn't blackened, but I included it for context purposes, since it's also considered a glowy deep red, and you can see how little it actually glows in comparison to the other polishes here. Vino is a glass-fleck type shimmer and is lighter than Malice, with more purple and brown and much less glowiness.

Direct flash

Here, I compared Malice with more blackened berry/reds. All of these are more blackened than Malice, which you can get a better sense of in the second picture. Malice only ever appears black in the lowest of lights, whereas most of these other polishes can look black often. Misa in #293 Uptown Glamour (a dupe for OPI in Every Month is Oktoberfest) is darker, much more purple and has less of a lit-from-within glow and more of a uniform glow compared with Malice. Barielle in Lava Rock is more blackened, not very glowy, dries duller even with top coat, and leans  more brown red - like a much lesser take on Chanel in Feu de Russie. BB Couture in Napa Valley Red is a vampy berry-red glitter, much more blackened, and with little glow. Revlon Street Wear in #15 Blood is less glowy and darker, but in the same vein as Malice; it has the same blackened base, but with less glowy particles and browner-red shimmer. Chanel in #18 Vamp isn't very similar. It's a blackened purple-red with subtle silver/white shimmer. In most lights the shimmer isn't intense, and it doesn't give off a glow. Confetti in #041 Masquerade Ball (a dupe for $OPI in I'm With Brad) is more blackened, less glowy, and a tiny bit more brown-red - like a glowier SW in Blood. Diamond Cosmetics in #342 Cherry Tobacco is like a glowier Barielle in Lava Rock, much blacker than Malice.

Direct artificial light

Here's a quick low-res picture snapped on my old iPhone 3G. I apologize for the picture quality, but this shows Malice compared to Deborah Lippmann in Through the Fire. I've pretty much gone off DL in the last couple years as she has abandoned a couple of the things I used to admire about her line, the restrained number of releases and relatively small limited-edition output. As an aside, if you are interested in trying out some of her polishes, there is a code on for the rest of December: check out as a guest and use the code 126362 for $10 off (plus all single orders on HSN have free shipping right now). I know some ladies on NB were getting a great deal by placing multiple orders, but I couldn't get excited enough to place even one. Through the Fire isn't listed on HSN's site, but I didn't find it very exciting in person, so I wouldn't recommend seeking it out. You can see that it's much warmer and less blackened than Malice.

Now, onto the main four: Orly in Smolder, OPI in Royal Rajah Ruby, Confetti in #041 Masquerade Ball, and Deborah Lippmann in Bitches Brew. In all these pictures, imagine that Smolder doesn't look blackened at all at the edges - it usually appears to have some blackened-ness going on in my pictures because my thumb is at a different angle than my other fingers, so it hits the light differently. I just didn't feel it was even close enough to Malice to merit being on one of the regular swatch fingers. 

All of these polishes are beautiful - and one may even be close enough to fulfill your lemming, but I will just tell you that they all read as completely different when wearing them. Macro often gives a different impression than when you're actually wearing a polish, you know? These polishes convey different moods to me. I think of it in terms of what persona I want to be wearing today. Smolder is like Beyoncé - glamorous, puts on a helluva show, a real crowd-pleaser, maybe not the most sophisticated shade. Malice is like Marion Cotillard - sophisticated, undeniably gorgeous, a bit of that mysterious Parisian feel, a touch of moodiness but wearable in all situations. OPI in Royal Rajah Ruby is like Zoe Saldana - chic, vamp, fab, quietly flashy. Masquerade Ball is like Kalinda Sharma, a character on The Good Wife (I was going to say Kristen Stewart, but I thought that might be a little too divisive for this pretty polish) - a badass polish for when you feel like being DGAF fab. I will say that doing this comparison really dampened my enthusiasm for Bitches Brew, which is still a perfectly lovely polish in its own right. In comparison to the others, I would say Bitches Brew is like Jessica Biel who, full disclosure, is on my irrational hate list (I mean, girl, please have the respect not to let JT bogart your wedding photos by mugging like a douche on People; also, please don't make me laugh by talking about how you are such a serious actress when you are currently starring in Playing for Keeps - ahem, sorry) - trying to be edgy but too scared to actually go there, conventional, very pretty but, ultimately, not too deep.

In terms of formula, Malice and Bitches Brew are the best, flowing easily and smoothly in 2 thin coats; I would recommend 2 coats for depth, but Malice probably could be done in 1 thick coat. Royal Rajah Ruby needed 3 coats and had a slightly thinner formula. Masquerade Ball had a very sheer formula on the first coat, but it builds up well in 3 coats. I only did 2 thin coats of Smolder, but you can see in some of the lighting situations that I really should have done 3 coats as there was some patchiness near the base of my nail. Other than the slight brushstroke-iness and cuticle pull, the formula applies easily.

Indirect natural light

This picture was taken on an overcast day, so this is about as similar as these polishes will look, except in lower light indoors. You can see that Smolder and Bitches Brew aren't really blackened. Smolder is clearly the most purely shimmery of these polishes. Here you can also better see the differences between Malice and RRR, which is more blackened. Malice is blackened but never appears black except with maybe one light on while you're watching TV at night. Masquerade Ball is even more blackened than RRR.

Direct sunlight

It took four days of wearing my nails like this, but we finally got some Minnesota winter sun! I would say direct sunlight is where Smolder looks most similar to Malice, but it still has a different finish and isn't blackened. Sunlight really helps show that RRR isn't a dupe to Malice. It's much warmer, more blackened, and with more irregular shimmer particles. Masquerade Ball is clearly not even a contender in this lighting. Bitches Brew does look similar, but not as shimmery or glowy and cooler - more berry than red. (The second picture shows my hand on my steering wheel, but I can assure you this is when I had arrived at school and was parked, not driving.)

Direct flash

Direct flash shows the difference in base colors and level of blackened-ness. Bitches Brew is closest in base color, but with less glowy shimmer and no blackened base. Smolder looks blackened around the edges here, but it's not, it's just the angle of my thumb.

Indirect natural light

Indirect natural light is what I would consider the most accurate lighting as far as what these polishes look like most of the time. You can see that RRR ranges from looking fairly close to Malice, to looking fairly different. Masquerade Ball always looks much more black. In this light, you can better see the differences between Malice and Bitches Brew since the non-blackened-ness and lack of depth of Bitches Brew is more apparent. You can see Smolder is much lighter and not blackened, as well as more overtly glowy (even verging on brushstroke-y) rather than glowing from within.

Direct artificial light

This picture was taken in my building's stairwell, which I think is fluorescent lighting. I posted this picture on NB when people were asking about Smolder as a dupe and someone said that they all look the same, to which I just have to shake my head. I mean, I'm not even going to describe the differences here as I think they're pretty clear.

Direct sunlight

Here's one last picture of Smolder taken pretty head-on so you can see that it really. Isn't. Blackened.


Indirect artificial light; first picture with white balance

I've been wearing Smolder on my toes for the last month, so I snapped these two photos to show again that it is not a dupe to Malice. In the first picture, I'm just out of the shower and have lotion on my feet, so Smolder looks a bit duller, but you get the point: very different polishes.

I also saw one person on NB say Malice looked comparable to Revlon Dark Pleasures in Scarlet Letter. Obviously color varies based on lighting and camera, but from Body & Soul and FiveZero's swatches, I wouldn't consider Scarlet Letter similar. A couple people on NB also mentioned that the new Cover Girl Outlast line has a color that looks close to Malice, Forever Festive. Based on this swatch photo, I would say they aren't really close at all. Forever Festive doesn't look blackened and is warmer. It reminds me of Zoya in Isla. But clearly the big one I'm missing is Zoya in Blair, which I don't own. I found a great comparison of Blair and China Glaze in Short & Sassy that shows Short & Sassy to be darker and a bit cooler than Blair. Since I found Short & Sassy to be lighter than Malice and Blair is even lighter than Short & Sassy, my conclusion is that Blair is not a dupe to Malice. 

I've only found a few other comparison posts including Malice: The Beauty Look Book comparisons (in her first 2 comparison pictures, OPI in Glove You So Much looks similar to Malice, but it is actually very close to China Glaze in Short & Sassy, so it's not as blackened and has less depth), Kais Obsessions comparisons, and Ommorphia Beauty Bar comparison.

Thanks for getting to the end with me everyone. I'm off to burrow myself back under piles of paper for finals. I hope your holidays are wonderful. As always during the holidays, but especially in light of horrific recent events, let's hold each other closer and love each other better.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at
     the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
- Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself " 


  1. Very informative post. The Orly looks very fiery. I was wanting Malice...maybe for Christmas.

  2. Anonymous - I'm glad the post was useful! I hope you get Malice for Christmas!

  3. I am most impressed by the highly detailed post! Thank you for putting in so much effort.

  4. Anonymous - You're welcome! I hope you found it helpful!

  5. Thank you so much for this comparison! I decided to buy OPI Royal, for me it's absolutely the same shade, now it's impossible to get Malice at Sephora. BTW you have so beautiful shape of nails!

  6. Nikki - I'm so glad you found a polish that you like. Royal Rajah Ruby is a classic! Thank you for the compliment about my nails - it is my least favorite part of the polish process to file them since they grow so fast, so I'm glad it's at least worthwhile!

  7. Oh dear. Now I have no doubt that Smolder is the most gorgeous and elegant of all. Thank you for the comparison.

  8. Anonymous - Yay! Lucky for you your favorite is so readily available!


Post a Comment

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back