Essie Ballet Slippers vs. Mademoiselle: What’s the Difference?

The Essie brand has hundreds of nail polish shades in its collection, some of which look incredibly similar. Their sheer pink neutrals, for instance, are quite challenging to tell apart whether you look at them through the bottle or applied on the nails.

The nude pink nail polishes that gave me the hardest time were Essie ballet slippers and Mademoiselle. So, I bought them both, tried them out, and finally found out how they differ. 

Let’s start with Essie Ballet Slippers.

Essie Ballet Slippers

Essie Ballet slippers is one of the brand’s original nail polish shades and has been a fan favorite for at least three decades. It is a classic pale pink nail polish with a subtle sheer finish that looks good on every skin tone.

I love wearing this shade with solid-colored clothes because it makes the whole outfit more formal and put together. However, I’ve also played around with some patterned fits, and the results have always been superb!

Essie Ballet Slippers #096 vs. #162

Essie colors always have a cute name and a number to identify them. However, ballet slippers come in #096 and #162. This labeling was confusing, so I tried both to see if there was a contrast between them.

There was no difference in the color or shimmer of the nail polish. However, I noticed that #096 is a little harder to find online and in local drugstores. So, considering that Essie regularly tweaks its product formulas, #096 could be an older version of ballet slippers. 

Note:  The bottle cap on #162 has a lowercase “e” on top, while that of #096 is plain. You can use this little distinction to tell the two products apart if you lose a label.

Why is Essie’s Ballet Slippers So Popular?

The popularity of Essie’s ballet slippers is mainly attributed to its pale pink color and Queen Elizabeth II. You read that right.

According to the Essie website, the queen’s hairdresser sent a letter to Essie Weingarten herself requesting ballet slippers. Essie publicists have referred to the letter in several interviews. Moreover, their site quotes a part of the letter that says, “Ballet slippers was the only nail polish shade her majesty can wear.”

That single anecdote has maintained the outstanding reputation of ballet slippers 30 years down the line. Even today, this nail varnish is described as “The Queen’s favorite nail polish.’

Essie Mademoiselle

Essie Mademoiselle is a sheer pink nail polish like ballet slippers, but it is a bit pinker. In addition, it is more see-through, looking more like the sheer, glossy version of Essie ballet slippers.

A manicure with Essie mademoiselle adds a slight shimmer to the nails, making it look like you’ve applied clear polish. The subtle pink makes this shade a fave for anyone looking for a true sheer nude.

Essie mademoiselle is a beauty when worn by itself, and it also makes an excellent base color for french manicures. Even though I love to wear this shade alone, I also love layering it with other bold Essie nail polishes to create a more customized mani.

Essie Mademoiselle #112 vs. #384

Like Essie Ballet slippers, Mademoiselle comes in two shades, numbers #112 and #384. At first glance, they appear similar; however, a closer look will show slight color differences.

Mademoiselle #112 is pink and similar in color to Essie ballet slippers. On the other hand, #384 is also pink but has a slight beige undertone that makes it warmer. Nevertheless, the beige tones are not overwhelming; and the shade maintains its pink allure.

What is the Difference Between Essie Ballet Slippers and Mademoiselle?

Essie ballet slippers and Mademoiselle may be similar in color, but they have several variations that cannot be ignored. So, I will discuss their differences and similarities feature by feature to help you understand what makes each unique.

1. Color

Essie ballet slippers and Mademoiselle are beautiful nude pink nail polishes designed with a sheer finish. However, ballet slippers is a slightly paler pink that appears almost white in three coats. 

The paleness of ballet slippers makes it appear more “obvious”; therefore, you cannot easily pass it off as a see-through manicure.

On the other hand, Mademoiselle gives a more natural vibe by deepening the natural pink tint of your nail bed without drawing too much attention.

2. Number of Coats Needed

You need about 2-3 coats of nail polish to achieve the actual color of Essie ballet slippers and Mademoiselle. However, you can apply fewer or more coats to build the color to the desired intensity.

Both colors look almost transparent with one coat. So, if you stop there, your mani will look like you just applied a top coat over bare nails. However, looking closely, you will notice that Essie ballet slippers is slightly more visible than Mademoiselle.

At two coats, the color of ballet slippers intensifies, acquiring a milky undertone to the nude pink. On the other hand, Mademoiselle develops a slightly warm tone with a second coat but retains its nude pink color.

I usually leave my manicures at two coats when I apply Essie ballet slippers to maintain sheerness. Even though Essie designed it to be sheer, I noticed that a three-coat application of ballet slippers looks too opaque on my fingers.

Nevertheless, you can put on up to three layers of polish to achieve that creamy pink hue if you like manicures with more coverage.

Unlike Essie ballet slippers, Mademoiselle remains entirely sheer even at three coats. The only difference is that the nude pink hue intensifies, and the manicure obtains a slightly more visible shimmer. Nevertheless, it compliments all skin tones and won’t draw attention from the rest of your outfit.

3. Streakiness

The biggest problem that comes with sheer neutral polishes is streakiness. If your technique is slightly off, you’ll have a smudgy and messy manicure.

Essie ballet slippers may have everything good going for it, but it streaks more than Mademoiselle. I love the nude pink but always struggle to perfect each coat without leaving brush marks.

When I first used ballet slippers, I put on almost four coats while trying to correct the streakiness. When I finally got it perfect, the nail polish was too thick and remained sticky for hours.

In 24 hours, it was chipped and had already started to peel off. It took me some time, but I finally learned how to apply this nail polish with the help of some friends.

On the other hand, Mademoiselle is such a dream to apply. It goes on smoothly and self-levels as it dries. Even if your techniques are lacking, you can still pull off a beautiful manicure with this shade.

Why is Essie Nail Polish So Streaky?

If you have an Essie nail polish that always turns out streaky, it is probably a sheer or pastel shade. Such light colors often highlight brush marks and little imperfections on the nails as you apply the polish.

As a result, they are more challenging to apply and require special nail coatings to make them perfect.

Nail polish shade aside, other things contribute to the streakiness of sheer Essie nail polishes. They include:

Applying fresh coats too quickly

One general rule about applying nail polish is to apply a coat and wait for it to dry before putting on the next one. A dry coat is easier to paint over and has no risk of getting smudged.

If you put fresh nail polish over a semi-dry coat, the brush will lift some color off the nail. As a result, there will be brush marks on the coat, or the manicure will wrinkle straight up. 

The brush position during application.

The trick to evenly applying a layer of nail polish is keeping the brush at a 45┬░angle. If you hold it too straight or press it down too flat, the bristles will leave visible marks.

Uneven Distribution of pigment in the nail polish

Whenever a nail polish bottle sits unused for a while, the formula separates, and the pigment settles at the bottom. As a result, the consistency becomes uneven, and when you apply it, the manicure turns out streaky.

When pigment starts to settle, the best thing to do is hold the nail polish bottle upside down and roll it between your palms. Rolling the bottle is like a gentler way of stirring the polish.

If rolling doesn’t help, shake the bottle until you hear the tiny metal mixing ball rattling inside. Afterward, allow the nail polish to settle for at least one hour before applying it.

Allowing the polish to settle lets it release the bubbles formed as you shook it.

Nail Ridges

The biggest cause of streaky nail polish is the little ridges along the nails. Sheer and light-colored nail polishes highlight the little bumps which appear as streaks in the manicure.

The only way to fill the ridges is to start all your manicures with a smoothing base coat before applying the polish.

Using Incompatible Products

Using nail coatings from different brands for one manicure is normal, especially if their formulas are compatible. This trick usually works, but only for a limited time – such manicures don’t last. ‘

I’ve had disappointing experiences using Essie polishes over a non-Essie base coat. Sometimes the base is so sleek that the Essie polish slides over it instead of adhering. Other times I got the right base coat, but the topcoat lifted my color, leaving marks on the manicure.

Always pair Essie colors with Essie base coats and top coats to be safe.

How to Apply Essie Nail Polish Without Streaks

Start with one coat of Essie’s Smooth-e base coat to prepare the nails. I recommend starting with Smooth-e because it was designed to fill in bumps and other uneven surfaces on the nails. However, you can also use any other Essie base coat; the results will be great.

Next, apply the first coat of your selected Essie polish in three swipes starting at the center near the cuticle and filling in the sides.

At this point, the nail polish will look a little streaky. However, do not go back in with the brush trying to smoothen it, or you’ll make it even messier.

Let the first coat dry for about 2 minutes, and then apply a thin second layer to level out the streaks from the first coat. If you like the color, stop at two coats or build up opacity with a third layer.

Finish with any Essie topcoat to seal the color and give your manicure a shiny professional finish.

Conclusion: Which One Looks Better?

Essie Ballet slippers and Mademoiselle are classic nude pink nail polishes that are perfect dupes of each other. They are both sheer, have pink undertones, and pair well with all outfits in all seasons.

However, Essie ballet slippers have a paler pink color than Essie Mademoiselle’s. Moreover, it looks more opaque than sheer at three coats. 

Essie Mademoiselle is the best choice if you want a true sheer pink. It is beautifully sheer at one coat and remains completely see-through even if you add a second and third layer.

Whichever shade you choose, ensure that you apply it starting with a smoothing base coat and seal it with an Essie top coat for lasting results.

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