After reading numerous positive reviews and receiving several emails inviting me to join Cult's Blackbox program, I finally caved and signed up for December's Blackbox. Cult is an independent cosmetics brand based out California, and is only available online. For those unfamiliar with the Blackbox program, Cult Cosmetics will ship you a curated kit which includes: 3 full sized polishes + a professional nail tool for $24.99 US per month ($19.99 for the kit + $5.00 for shipping.)
As Cult's polishes are $12.00 US a 15 ml bottle, you are essentially saving 45% off the regular price for the polishes, not including the cost of the included tools (in this case $4.99 US). As an extra incentive to sign up, Cult will give you your first Blackbox at 50% off (for a total of $15.00 US)!
Cult Stay Gold, Boneyards and El Matador polishes.
December's Blackbox includes: Stay Gold, Boneyards and El Matador polishes, and a set of 5 dual ended nail polish designing tools. Cult also throws in an extra bottle of polish if you forward their offer to friends on Facebook. They sent me Essie's First Timer, a pastel mint green creme. I have to admit I was a little surprised to see a brand other than Cult included!
Cult Stay Gold, Boneyards and El Matador, and Essie First Timer
Cult polishes are formulated to be "One & Done" - which means they are designed to be opaque and thick in one coat. As well, Cult polishes are "5 Free" - which means they are free of carcinogens, Toluene, Formaldehyde/resin, DBP, Camphor, and are not tested on animals.
Thumb: Stay Gold over Boneyards, Pointer: Stay Gold over El Matador,
Middle to pinky: all three shades. All shades applied in one coat only.
Stay Gold - a super fine gold glitter in a clear base. Surprisingly dense for a glitter, about 50% opacity in one coat.
Boneyards - a neutral dark grey creme, about 95% opaque in one coat.
El Matador - a classic neutral bright red creme, about 95% opaque in one coat.
Generally I think the formula of these polishes is excellent, they flow smoothly on the nail and dry fast in about 5 minutes. I also found the shades pigmentation very good to excellent - though on my very uneven, ridge filled nail beds they were a tiny bit sheer in some spots, though I could still get away with one coat. My feeling is that on smooth even nail beds they would be 100% opaque in one coat.
I did swatches with all three shades in various combinations and designs using the nail tools included in the kit. Though I am a nail polish aficionado, I am not really a "nail art" practitioner, so you will have to forgive me if the designs I did are not particularly original or well executed. In fact, upon opening the Blackbox I didn't even know what the tools were for! Cult sent a little DYI design card along with the Blackbox suggesting a leopard print inspired nail which I recreated on my pinky.
I found the design tools they included with the kit easy and fun to use. I will definitely try out more designs in the future using them!
Overall I think this is a great monthly program for any polish lover out there. Not only does Blackbox offer great value and great product for the price, I also appreciate the low cost of shipping ($5.00 US for both US and Canadian addresses). As well Cult has a well edited range of stylish shades from which they compose their Blackboxes, so although you don't get to pick your colours, you can be assured they are current.