Essie Hot Pink Comparison : Lights, Bottle Service, Fiesta, Pansy, Mod Squad & Secret Story

Friday, August 14, 2015 3 comments

Hey there! Long time no see!  I've been quiet around here, I know. I have four kids and the two oldest are out of school for the summer, so I wanted to make sure I was present, spending time with them and doing fun summer activities with my kidlets. I also tend to not wear a lot of nail polish in the summer time since it is SO. DANG. HOT. OUT! The high temperatures bubble my polish so a lot of times I go without. But I took these photos of all the hot pink polishes in my collection back in June, so before Summer is over and no one cares about hot pink polish anymore because they are too busy wearing dark brooding colours, I thought I should take some time to get this post up!

I really love doing these comparison posts. I get to see all the subtle differences between polishes and how the formula's stack up against one another. I've found a few secret gems that I didn't know were hiding in my collection. So let's dive in!

Left to Right: Lights, Bottle Service, Fiesta, Pansy, Mod Squad & Secret Story

These were the 6 polishes I scrounged from my collection (and a couple from @msbrightside_beauty's collection) and I arranged them from brightest to darkest. Some of them look identical in the bottle, and are only oh so slightly different on the nail, but none are complete dupes. 


I had read about this hot pink polish that came out Summer 2012 in the Poppy-Razzi collection but had NEVER come across it in all my Essie hunting. But my friend Bailey (@msbrightside_beauty) saw it in a clearance bin at Shopper's Drug Mart and scooped it up for $2! I was so jealous since I had looked through that same clearance bin before she did and somehow totally missed it. It's the brightest pink out of all that I compared and I really loved it on my nails. It's a jelly formula and was opaque in 2 coats. Its easy to apply and I had no issues with the formula. Because it's jelly, you can still see a bit of visible nail line after 2 coats so if that bothers you, you may need 3 coats. I should also note that it stained my nails a bit when I removed it. 

Bottle Service

Bottle Service is the most "neon" out of the bunch. It dries down to a matte finish the way a typical neon does, but on its own, it isn't as bright as Lights. It is a jelly polish, and when applied over a white base it becomes VERY bright, brighter than Lights. It has a bit more red in the base though. It is also smooth and easy to apply and also has a bit of visible nail line after 2 coats. These photos show the polish on its own with no white base. 


This polish was really great. Fiesta has a smooth, opaque formula and is easy to apply. It's opaque in 2 coats and self-levels well. It has the most opaque formula out of the 6 polishes compared. The colour seems to have a touch of raspberry to it as well.



Pansy and Fiesta were two Essie pinks I had never heard of until it starting popping up this Spring on my Instagram feed. I don't really know where they came from or when they came out but both are beautiful! I can't find them in my drugstore Essie displays but found them online at Online I couldn't tell the difference between the two so I just ordered both. In person, you can see that Pansy has more pink in the formula and is a great mid-tone bright pink. This polish also has a smooth, creamy formula and self-levels well but I still had a few bald patches after 2 coats so I did 3. 

Mod Squad

So my bottle of polish is marked "Mod Squad" but I've also seen this posted online as "Mod Square" and it seems to be the same colour. I'm not sure what the reason is for the discrepancy in the name and can't seem to find any info about it online (if you know, please comment below) My guess is, when Essie was bought out by L'Oreal and started to have their salon line and drugstore line, that's when the name changed from one to the other. But who knows, thats only my guess. Anyways, this polish is the same mid-toned pink as Pansy above, but Pansy leans more warmer toned and Mod Squad is cooler in tone. It has the exact same formula as the other creme's mentioned. It's smooth, opaque and self-leveling with the same bald spotting as Pansy. 3 coats were needed to achieve the results below.

Secret Story

This colour was the most different out of the 6 and I definitely wouldn't classify it as a "hot pink". And yet, I couldn't quite figure out where else to compare this colour! It was too pink to be grouped in with the Plums, but felt too dark and plumy to be with these hot pinks. Ultimately I threw it in here just to see how it stacked up. Like Pansy and Fiesta, I discovered this polish because of my Instagram feed. It kept popping up on my fave Instagrammers like @essiebuff and whenever she wore it, it looked like a really bright pink. This is another polish that has an alternate name and sometimes goes by "Secret Stash". The formula of this polish was totally different than the others. It is a very thin jelly formula, but still nice to work with and easy to control. It is surprisingly opaque after 2 coats but there is still some visible nail line, so you may need 3 if that bothers you.

So which one is my favourite? That's a hard question! Based on formula, Fiesta was definitely the best. It was opaque in 2 coats and the easiest formula to work with (although all were pretty easy). If I'm choosing the best HOT PINK meaning it's the brightest, I would choose Lights. But if I'm choosing my overall favourite, because I like the colour and tone and everything...I'm going with Pansy.

Left to Right: Lights, Bottle Service, Fiesta, Pansy, Mod Squad & Secret Story

As for availability of these polishes, I think the only one readily available on store shelves is Mod Squad. Fiesta seems to be the only one available right now on and Secret Story is available at under the name Secret Stash. 

Have you seen the #essiebringback campaign on Instagram? Fans voted for Essie to bring back some of their fave discontinued shades and they took the top 12 polishes and put them to a vote on Facebook. There are two discontinued hot pink shades called Pink Parka and Punchy Pink. These are two polishes I have never seen anywhere so my vote was for Punchy Pink. I'm curious to see what Essie will bring back (although can I say how disappointed I am that Starry Starry Night is not on that list!). 

What is your favourite hot pink Essie polish?


  • Kindra said...

    Sure Ivonne!

    L'oreal acquired Essie around 2010. Up until then Essie was only available to purchase in salons, but once L'oreal came on the scene they made it more widely available. That's when Essie entered drugstores and Walmart and stuff. The formulas are exactly the same but they differentiate where the polish was bought (either Salon or Drugstore) by the bottles. A Salon bottle has an embossed 'e' on the top of the cap and both sides of the glass are embossed with the essie logo. The drugstore bottles have the sticker on the top of the cap with the name of the polish as well as only one embossed essie logo in the glass and a sticker with the name essie on the other side. I wasn't into polish at the time, so this is all stuff I've read. I also read that they came out with some specific "drugstore exclusive" released polishes at the time, but I couldn't track down which exact ones they were. I think I've read "Sexy Divide" was maybe one of them? I don't know, because now you can get it in the Salon version. So the discrepancy between name colours like "Mod Squad" and "Mod Square" I think came about in that change (but that's just a guess :)

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