Throwback: Essie Valentine red

Today it’s time for a very season-appropriate throwback: Essie Valentine Red. There is a very large chance that you’ve never seen or heard about this color before. These two reviews on MakeupAlley from 2006 and this post from Scrangie mention this shade, but that was the only time I was able to find anything about it online.

History of Essie Valentine Red

Valentine Red belongs to the first 130 Essies. Sadly, I don’t know anything about the stories behind the 130 first Essie shades. I have no clue if Essie was already doing their famous seasonal collections back then. What I’m fairly certain about is that Essie likely released the shades during the 80s though.

From the bottle (and the smell) of my polish, I estimate that Essie made my bottle around 2003. I’m basing that on the fact that my bottle has a dimple on the cap (instead of the embossed ‘e’ or name of the polish), on the label that says dist. Astoria, and on the fact that it does already have the name Essie embossed on the side (very early Essies were completely smooth). My bottle of Ruby slippers, which Essie also manufactured in 2003, smells very similar to my bottle of Valentine red. For all these reasons I think Essie discontinued Valentine red around 2003-2007.

Essie 126 Valentine red


Essie Valentine Red is a bright red with a hint of orange and pink. It has a very subtle pink/silver shimmer running throughout, that’s basically invisible in lower light. I was surprised to find out that this shade is a jelly, and the shimmer is floating in the base. I had to use two coats for opacity, but I think it would take three coats on longer nails. The application was very easy, especially considering it’s likely a bottle from 2003.

Swatch of Essie Valentine red


Sadly, this shade is very hard to find at the moment. I couldn’t even find it on eBay! I bought it myself from Vintage Essie’s Etsy, but this one was the only bottle she had, and she had only seen two before (the one I have and the one I own now). Essie’s new Valentine’s day collection also contains a shimmery bright red, so if you’re looking for one this might be a good option. All other shimmery red shades in Essie’s permanent collection are much darker, which makes me wonder why they discontinued Valentine Red in the first place.

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