OPI DS Charcoal (Designer Series 2015)

Ever since the first Designer Series I’ve tried, I have always looked forward to their yearly release. This year, OPI has come out with another two polishes, Imperial and Charcoal. I didn’t get the pink named Imperial but I did get the second. DS Charcoal is a smokey gray duochrome with a green blue flash. What makes this different and new? DS Charcoal dries with a satin matte finish. When you pair a duochrome with a satin matte finish, you’re in for a treat. How does this compare to the other shifty grays out there? Keep reading to see my thoughts on this polish.



This had a good formula. Not watery at all. The quality was definitely not as fantastic as the Color Club Oil Slick polishes. The first coat was lovely, good with 2 coats. This smokey charcoal shows colors of purple, greenish blue and with some green shimmer sprinkled in.

You can wear DS Charcoal on its own or for boosted coverage, you can apply this over a black base. I found that when used over black, the greens and blues pop more.

DS Charcoal- 2 coats, no top coat

w/top coat

DS Charcoal- 1 coat over OPI Black Onyx

A while ago, I posted up a review of a collection of trichrome polishes from Color Club that had some crazy magical shift that made it very difficult to capture on camera. After that review, a faithful reader whom I’d love to call a friend, commented that I should try to place my nails in a cup of water to see if it would help. I tried it with this polish and take a look what happened.


Well, it seems that the light that was bouncing off of the polish bended due to the water and gave a totally different look to the polish. It intensified the undertones of this polish and the light red and gold shimmer that was hidden in the blue, teal and purple. Cool! You can’t really spot it otherwise unless you’re looking for it. Now that you know, take a look at the pics below and see if you spot it.

Here are some more pictures of DS Charcoal worn alone and with top coat in different lighting.





The polish I’ll be comparing this to is OPI Peace & Love & OPI. There are many polishes that are appear similar to this, for example, Essie For the Twill of It or Zoya Ki. What these all have in common that sets them apart from DS Charcoal is that they all dry with a shiny finish.

In the bottle, Peace & Love & OPI looks more metallic. I matted it down so we could get a more accurate comparison because these both obviously have different natural finishes. The only difference is that DS Charcoal is slightly more shimmery with a stronger teal sheen. The difference is so slight that they look almost identical. DS Charcoal applies more smooth and it’s much less brushstrokey compared to Peach & Love & OPI.

I&R: DS Charcoal, M&P: Peace & Love & OPI

(L-R) DS Charcoal, Peace & Love & OPI

So these two are very similar. Too similar to have both. If you already own a gray duochrome that looks very much like DS Charcoal, there is really no need to go out and grab this. Unless you’re a collector of the Designer Series polishes from OPI, it’s safe to skip on this.

However, the slight difference between the two is a deal breaker for me and probably for any nail polish addict. The strong teal sheen is distinct and it applied much smoother. I couldn’t help gasping every time I walked outside with this on my nails.

I am a little let down that it was so close to something I already had in my stash but if I had to choose between the two, DS Charcoal would come out on top. It’s a bonus that it has the pretty silver cap and I was able to get my hands on this limited edition polish.

If you’re just looking for a gray duochrome, this may not be the best choice. The Designer Series polishes retail for $12. That’s not cheap! Unless you really want the special bottle with the silver cap, I would go for the alternatives. If you’re picky and want the best of the best, in my opinion, this is my pick. This polish has not been officially released yet, it’s on its way for Holiday 2015. You can be able to find this on certain e-retailers and it is coming soon to Ulta stores, check your Ulta to see if they have it in stock yet. I’ll update this to let you know when it’s officially out!

Also don’t count out the other Designer Series polishes. There are some great ones that they’ve released over the years. I absolutely LOVE the DS Titanium from last year! Take a look at my review and swatches of DS Titanium here! That one’s a MUST have for sure and you can purchase it on Amazon currently for just $6.25 & free shipping!




  1. Ariadna says:

    These types of polishes make me weak in the knees!!! I don’t have any of the other ones you mentioned but I have China Glaze Choo-choo-choose you, which looks somewhat similar to this one. I’m glad the water trick worked out for you, your nails look awesome!! Maybe Santa will bring me this polish for Christmas!!

    • chezadrienne says:

      I hope you get your hands on this! It’s beautiful and if you don’t have one of the similar dupes I mentioned then you’re absolutely in for a treat! Choo-Choo Choose You is a little different but I can see how they can look similar. That reminds me, I need to dig that up and wear it soon. Now, I’m itching to re-polish my nails! Thanks a million for reading!

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