"HTF That HTF" or, "How to Find That Hard-to-Find"

Starry Starry Night.

Who knew those three little words could thrill me so. I had to have it. We covered the Essie SSN Obsession here.

eBay was not up for discussion; I did not have the ~$300 to spare, nor would I shell out such an amount for such a thing. I have limits to my madness.

Therefore, I had three options: 1) Ask everyone I knew if they had SSN in their Stash and go from there. 2) Satisfy myself with a comparable dupe. 3) Dusty hunt and hope for the best.

1. Of course I posted on Facebook, but no dice. But what about fellow cube dwellers? I work in a big office with access to an impressive number of co-workers; some say as many as 400. I took a chance, sent out a public email, but was no closer to Starry Starry Night than I was before.

2. What is a dupe? Dupe, in the nail polish world, is short for duplicate; a polish that is a very, very close match for another. Maybe not its identical match, but certainly its fraternal twin. Perfect dupes are extremely rare. Usually a dupe is a naturally occurring thing. In some cases, it just so happens that a few polish companies latch on to the latest trend (for example, Spring 2012, big on creamy light greens) and you see some shades released at the same time that are close (too close?) to each other.

Sometimes you get a case like Starry Starry Night. There was a big hit back in 1998 / 1999 by, who else, Chanel, called “Ciel de Nuit.” French for “Night Sky.” It achieved cult status and Essie, very cleverly, duplicated it and thus… Essie Starry Starry Night was born.

Then you’ve got what are called “frankens,” short for Frankenstein; a homemade concoction made by a nail polish connoisseur. It doesn’t necessarily have to mimic another shade; there are nail bloggers who are known for their at-home polish creations. Then there are others who “franken” (why yes, it is a verb and a noun) HTF shades, such as Starry Starry Night.

3. Dusty hunting! This name will make a lot more sense in a minute.

Have you ever been to a nail salon that had a counter with a built-in display case, and the case seemed to contain the most ancient specimens of polish you’d ever seen? And you thought, no person in their right mind would ever buy such old, rancid-looking product? The little bottles were just sitting there, the formula separating into layers of color and chemicals, and dust seemed to have collected on top of the bottles, and around the handles of the brush?

Well well well. Now you see why they’re called dusties. These gems are literally coated in dust. (Usually “dusty” refers to the bottles themselves, although in some cases you could call an entire store or salon “a dusty.”) And like diamonds in the rough, hidden amongst stone and rubble, some of these bottles are, in fact, priceless jewels.

Dusty hunting felt like my best bet. I was planning on going home to Michigan for Christmas. In a place like Los Angeles, I imagined that there was probably a bigger population of dusty hunters, and so the crop o’ dusties was picked over long ago. But Michigan? That could be unplundered territory.

My angel of a mother had been hearing about Essie Starry Starry Night for a while now, and she had even started pulling over from time to time while she ran errands to check salons and beauty supply stores. She was into it.

She woke me up the day before my visit was over and said, “Today’s the day. We’re going dusty hunting whenever you’re ready.” Together, she and I hit up between 20 and 25 nail salons.

We did not find Starry Starry Night — but we did find one of its closest dupes: Naturistics Crystal Blue Pearl. It was not the most promising-looking salon, but my mom and I vowed no salon would be left unsearched, so I had to go in. I was turning to leave when I noticed a little four-sided carousel unit. I gave it a spin... and thar she was. I had seen her picture online so many times, it was surreal. I recognized her immediately. Be still my heart.

“Is this bottle for sale? ” I asked breathlessly.

The owner and the only nail technician to be seen whispered hurriedly together. Suspicious, the owner named his price. “Four dollars.”

I grinned, grabbed my bottle, slapped a fiver down on the counter and said, “Keep the change.” Wink.

Stay tuned for my review of Naturistics Crystal Blue Pearl later this week!

Until then, GLOSS