Zoya’s Color Lock System

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Zoya’s Color Lock System

  • Manufacturer: Zoya/Art of Beauty
  • Availability: from the webstore and salon dealers
  • Description: polish remover, ridge filler, base coat, top coat, and quick-dry solution
  • Staying Power: 4 out of 4 stars
  • Cost/Amount: $48 when purchased as a set; individual-product prices vary
  • Would you purchase again: yes
  • Similar sets: there are definitely comparable products; I'm not so sure about comparable sets (contents + price)

Zoya's Color Lock System is their own start-to-finish branded manicure products:

  1. Remove + nail polish remover
  2. Get Even ridge-filling base coat, or Anchor base coat
  3. any Zoya nail color
  4. Armor top coat
  5. Hurry Up quick-dry drops (optional)

Renew nail polish rejuvenator is included in the color lock system, though it's something that goes into older bottles of nail polish rather than something that goes on the nails or is a regular part of a manicure.

The items in the Color Lock system can all be purchased individually, letting people pick and choose which stuff they're going to use. During the winter holiday season, Zoya offers a "Holiday Minicure" kit for $20, with a .25-ounce bottle of Anchor, Armor, and Hurry Up along with a 2-ounce bottle of Remove +.

Step 1: Remove +: $9.99 for an 8-ounce bottle, or $32 for a 25-ounce "refill" bottle

I've used Sally Hansen nail polish remover for years. I wasn't bothered by the smell, but I was bothered by how it seemed to dry out my nails and cuticles a lot. I just assumed that this would happen with all nail polish removers: it's acetone, it has to be to take off the nail polish, Just Deal With It. When I placed one of my first Zoya orders (my second, I think) I got a free 2-ounce bottle of Remove +. I tried it once and was happy...and then I won an 8-ounce bottle of Remove + in a giveaway on Twitter, which was pretty cool. At this point I hadn't exhausted that one little freebie bottle, because I just wasn't doing manicures that often. Once spring rolled around, and there was actually sunlight, I started doing more manicures - partially to go out and play with my colorchanging polishes I bought from another vendor. I would be using the nail polish remover twice a week, but I was not seeing my nails and cuticles drying out quite as much. When I started changing my nail polish every few days for weeks on end, and saw a little bit of brittleness but not near as much as I'd expected, I was very happy. I've used Zoya's remover with Zoya, China Glaze, OPI, Sally Hansen...it takes off the nail polish, no problems. You've got to work harder with glitter nail polishes, but that's a function of the "glitter" and the particles more than any polish remover. This stuff is more expensive than something I'd pick up from the drugstore, but I like the long-term effects better. (One person on another forum did mention having drying problems with repeated use of Zoya's color lock products, though - so, just like with any beauty product, you may experience different reactions.)

The bottle design...is not my favorite. I can see how it would be wonderful for someone working in a salon as they wouldn't need to tip the bottle to dispense, thus risking spillage each time; it dispenses a set amount of product with each pump; and it's just less motion. So for someone who may be giving five or six manicures a day, this is probably really fantastic. For someone who does one manicure a week...it's not so wonderful. I don't hate it, but I don't love it, either. There's no visible indicator on the lid letting you know when it's "locked" versus "unlocked", so if you go to close an unlocked bottle...you've just wasted a pump of nail polish remover. I was a bit happier when I took the cheapie route and made my own "indicator" with a sharpie. It's also not easy to pour from this bottle into a smaller bottle, for travel purposes. I'd need to use a funnel to avoid spillage.

Final analysis: the polish remover is a Great Big Huge Yes-Yes-Yes, the bottle design is a "not my favorite". The refill bottle is, by far, the best deal. But if you truly love and adore the Big Flipper bottle design...rock that thing.

Step 2: Get Even Ridge Filling Base Coat: $8 for a 0.5-ounce bottle, or $19.96 for a 2-ounce "refill" bottle

This is step 2 in the color lock system. You use either this base coat or Anchor, but not both, for any given manicure. I tend to use a buffing block on my nails every week or so, and that keeps the ridging to a minimum. (Except for my thumbnails, which are just WEIRD. And apparently it's genetic. Thanks, Dad.) I haven't used this product, so I don't know how it performs as a ridge filler or as a base coat. I might try using it on my thumbs, though NOTHING is going to even them out completely. It would also be a bit weird to use one base coat on my thumbs and another on everything else.

Final analysis: none, haven't used it.

Step 2: Anchor Base Coat: $7.96 for a 0.5-ounce bottle, or $19.96 for a 2-ounce "refill" bottle

I got this and Armor once, partially on a whim. I wanted to see if they would really make the Zoya polishes last longer. With no base or top coat, Zoya's colors chip and peel about as fast as any other nail polish. With Nubar's Diamont as the base and top coat, the Zoya polishes got a bit smeared; and using Borghese's Brillante the colors wouldn't dry and would just sludge right off the nail the first time it brushed against anything. (I think this was a problem with the Diamont, though - or perhaps I wasn't waiting long enough for the base- and color-coats to dry before applying it as a top-coat. But the Brillante stuff was just hideous, no matter what polish I used. At any rate, onward.) When I used the Zoya base coat, the polish didn't peel away, and when I wore my darker colors (particularly Envy, which for some reason just loves leaving behind a green tinge when I remove it) the nail bed wasn't stained. The nails didn't change color, even when I effectively wore nail polish for a month with no letup (except for the one hour between removing the old manicure and applying the new one.)

Final analysis: Anchor is now a permanent part of my manicure regimen, though I will occasionally use one of my less expensive base coats especially if I know that I'm only going to be wearing that particular color for a day or two. When I buy it again, I'll be buying the "refill" bottle and splitting that with two friends - it will cost us all less money that way, both in terms of price-per-ounce and in terms of shipping. And since we'll be splitting it three ways, we won't have to worry about the "leftover" stuff drying up before we use it.

Step 3: any Zoya nail polish

Reviews...all over the site :D

Step 4: Armor Top Coat: $7.96 for a 0.5-ounce bottle, or $19.96 for a 2-ounce "refill" bottle

Some of the top coats I've used - particularly the drugstore brands - would smudge the polish during application. I don't know if that's because the polish wasn't 100% dry when I applied the top coat (though in one case I'd waited nearly 6 hours), or if there was some other factor at play. I haven't ever had this happen when I was using Armor. I have noticed that if I don't drag the brush down over the tips of my nails (as opposed to going right up to the tips, then lifting the brush), I'm more likely to get tip-wear after three or four days. The Armor top coat doesn't have a strong scent, which both Seche Vite and China Glaze Fast Forward do (at least to me - yow, need to clear out your sinuses in a hurry? Either of those will do the trick...)

Final analysis: Armor is now a permanent part of my manicure regimen, both when I use Zoya colors and when I use other colors. I've used it with China Glaze and with Nubar, and had no problems whatsoever. Sadly, it still mutes the holographic effect of China Glaze's OMG colors...but then again, just about any top coat seems to do that. It doesn't have much muting effect on any of my duochromes, though...which is nice. I haven't tried it with my UV-activated colorchanging polishes. If you already have a top coat that you're amazingly happy with, no worries - the cost is similar to the other midrange top coats I've used, and my results were similar enough with either brand. If you're still looking for an HG top coat, though, and live where you can easily buy Zoya (either from a local store/salon, or from their website - they do not ship outside the continental US at this time) give this one a try.

Step 5: Hurry Up Drying Drops: $16 for a 0.5-ounce bottle

I haven't often found myself in the position of having to do a manicure, then ten minutes later rush out the door or change a load of laundry or herd cats or toddlers, so waiting for a manicure to dry isn't something that's really been a huge issue for me. I got some Hurry Up as part of the color lock system, but I haven't tried it yet. This is the most costly standalone item in the Color Lock system, and is also marked as "optional".

Final analysis: don't know, I haven't tried it yet.

Renew Polish Rejuvenator: $8 for a 0.5-ounce bottle, or $19.96 for a 2-ounce "refill" bottle

And another product that I haven't used - though now if I ever need to use it, I've got a bottle. According to the web site it's specially formulated to work with nail polishes that are "big-3-free". I confess I don't know what that means, but I am guessing that the results would be different if you used this with polishes containing toluene, formaldehyde and/or dibutyl phthalates (DBP). I keep my nail polish in the refrigerator, which makes it last longer before it separates or goes all gaumy.

Final analysis: don't know, I haven't tried it. I also haven't ever used any nail polish thinner or rejuvenator, so I honestly wouldn't know what results to expect.


I like the fact that Zoya does offer the products invidually, as well as in the set. If someone wants to try out the whole Color Lock System, including the ridge-filling base coat and the rejuvenator, buying the entire set does give them a better deal than if they'd purchased each item alone. I also like that Zoya offers "refill" bottles of most of the products. They do offer a cost savings per ounce over the individual bottles (get four times the amount of a regular bottle, but pay just over 3 times the "regular-bottle" price) though that probably works best for salons or nail artists rather than individuals. If I bought the "refill" bottles, I might run the risk of the remaining product aging past its usefulness. Fortunately I have some friends nearby who also use Zoya products, and we have plans to split the refill bottles of Anchor, Armor, and Remove + three ways. That way all of us save a little bit on the product and on shipping, and we put less packaging into landfills. (Sure, it's just a drop in the ocean...but it's our drop.)

I definitely noticed a difference in the longevity of my Zoya manicures when I used their base- and top-coat, versus using base- and top-coats from either OPI, China Glaze, Sally Hansen, or Seche Vite. My nails and cuticles seemed less dry, less prone to splitting, when I was using their nail polish remover (even when I was using it every other day for a month.) The products are more expensive than drugstore-brands that I had been using, and even a bit more expensive than retail China Glaze or Seche Vite; but with Zoya carried in nail salons, you can find a Zoya dealer near you and buy your base- and top-coat from them. That keeps money in your community, supports a local business, saves on shipping, AND lets you get your Zoya-fix. (I have only been buying Zoya for two years, but I've never seen these products offered at huge discounts, nor have they ever been included in the various polish exchanges, "freebie" sales, et cetera.) The best way to get these seems to be to either get the "refill" bottles of Anchor/Armor/Remove + and split them with friends, or watch for Zoya to have a promotion like they did in November 2010 (purchase the color lock system, get six free polishes.)

If you want a good-performing nail polish remover that doesn't dry your nails and cuticles, get a mini bottle of Remove + and try it for a few days to see if it works for you - it's worked the best of all of the nail polish removers I've tried. If you like the performance of Seche Vite and China Glaze Fast Forward top coat, but don't like the smell of either of those products...try Armor and see if you also get comparable results.

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