This Valentine’s Day give your friend, sister, mother (or yourself) the gift of beauty – and Instagram-worthy nails while you are at it – with Smith & Cult. This high-gloss nail lacquer line was recently launched by Dineh Mohajer – 90’s beauty star and founder of the cult-classic brand Hard Candy. Remember that line with its little rubber rings and that famous baby blue shade? It was so of-the-moment, trendy, playful, and accessible, even with its insane high-profile celeb following.
Several years later Mohajer is starting the next trend in nails with Smith & Cult. The rainbow colored collection delivers flawlessly smooth coverage and brilliant shine. The bottle itself is like a piece of art, and is most definitely bathroom counter display worthy. It’s priced at $18, which is the same price as JinSoon and Deborah Lippmann, and actually less than YSL, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and even NARS. So it’s as affordable as it is chic.
After trying the line myself a few weeks ago at Valley, I immediately realized just how good it really was. I chose Lover’s Creep, the most perfect opaque Bordeaux, but I also spotted some really good pinks and grays, which would be quite perfect for Valentine’s Day. Pictured are some of my favorite colors: Plastic Beach, Pillow Pie, Tenderoni and Stockholm Syndrome. I spoke with Dineh, Smith & Cult’s Co-Founder and Creative Director, to give you more inside scoop on this absolutely stellar nail line.
Annie: How does Smith & Cult differ from Hard Candy?
Dineh: As a disgruntled biochemistry pre-med student drowning in biology books, I started working on Hard Candy as a distraction, a way to go to my happy place. Retail therapy and fashion magazines served as perfect coping mechanisms and means of procrastination. I was randomly hunting for pastel baby blue nail lacquer because, as embarrassing it is to admit, I wanted to color coordinate my toes with a pair of Marc Jacobs sandals. (It was the 90’s, is that a good enough excuse?) It didn’t exist. I stumbled upon a bottle of a shocking blue shade at a tiny nail salon and putting two and two together, mixed it with white yielding an opaque baby blue nail lacquer. People constantly stopped me asking where to buy it. Cut to shipping a million bottles to a million retailers later, biochem ceased to be the source of my constant stress. The success of my pastel nail shades compelled me to create innovative and revolutionary cosmetic products, shade names, ad campaigns, packaging, etc…including the first eye pencil to contain glitter (my favorite one yet).
Although Smith & Cult is also about creating the uniquely defiant, it differs from Hard Candy in that its inception was motivated by my desire to express and share a creative vision based on my experiences and addiction to beauty. We all share an emotional connection to beauty throughout our lives, from triumph to tears, bliss to heartbreak, elegance to absurdity, and everything in between. Smith & Cult, evident in its elegant, yet dented packaging, chemically responsible formulas, diverse shade range, yin-yang brand philosophy, unedited shade names, and bold branding is reflective of this omnipresent juxtaposition.
Annie: Where does the name Smith & Cult come from?
Dineh: In the brainstorming session I had with me, myself, and I it became clear to me that the name of this brand had to embody the complexity and duality that we each carry. Smith represents the refined end of the spectrum, whereas Cult represents the dirtier, subversive side. This clashing polarity is woven throughout every fiber of the brand.
Annie: What is it about Smith & Cult that makes it so relevant for today’s beauty standards?
Dineh: The beauty industry has evolved so rapidly since Hard Candy. While creating the formulas for Smith & Cult (in a beauty driven mad scientist mode) it was of the utmost importance for me to move in a direction that was beneficial for both our bodies as well as the environment. Our formula is 5-Free (lacking the evil-ish chemicals Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Dibutyl Phalate, Toluene, and Camphor), yet it delivers vibrant pigment, high shine, and a flawless finish. This facet of the brand reflects our growing awareness that beauty and social responsibility must be aligned.
Annie: What sort of nail trends do you see emerging in the coming seasons?
Dineh: I’m loving the negative space nail trend (check out my tutorial here!). As an amateur art collector, I’m excited that this technique is finding a home in the world of nail art. In the same manner that blank space in a piece of art contributes to the overall composition, the negative space nail trend allows a portion of the bare, unpolished nail to peek through, creating the same kind of unique balance.
There are countless ways to experiment with this look. I love a geometrically shaped window where no lacquer has been applied. It’s a bit of a process because it requires taping off that area of the nail. I also love leaving the half-moon shape at the base of the nail unpolished, while the rest of the nail is painted in one of my favorite shades Dirty Baby (fine silver glitter suspended in an obsidian base).