Orly Retrowave Summer 2020 – Review & Swatches

Alright, I admit I’ve been a bit absent. This is the longest I’ve gone without publishing a post in quite a while! Like I haven’t posted a single post yet in June, and that just feels weird to me! So let’s talk about it.

Everyone is well aware what is going on in the US right now, and I mentioned it a bit in my very last post about the Essie Summer collection so long ago. I will say that I definitely felt weird just normally posting away, and I didn’t want to feel like I was taking any attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement, or just brushing it off. It’s been some time of just learning how to integrate it into my daily normal life and posting, as that’s what it’s all about – an actual longterm change of thought and actions. And it’s been thinking about how I can integrate it into this blog going forward as well!

Even just googling and trying to find swatches on deeper skin tones for this post and specific, it was so hard to find! There were ZERO blog posts (alright maybe the blogging medium is dying out, but it’s what I post on, so of course I gotta point it out). All of the top blog posts that popped up immediately about this collection were on light skin tones. I found ONE YouTube video. And luckily was able to find a few accounts on Instagram. But it was sad to see firsthand just how underrepresented it was. If you’re a deeper skin tone looking for swatches for actual reference, there’s BARELY any resources out there. I know I’m speaking to the choir here, as this is an issues that people of color have been dealing with FOREVER. And Orly doesn’t do swatches on their website, so where are you supposed to find those photos? So many people use swatches to truly see what a color is like before they buy, and it’s a shame that they’re so limited. I’m recognizing my own privilege all these years that I could ALWAYS find swatches on people with my own skin color, even before I started blogging. I’m only one White person here, but nothing will change if we don’t keep bringing it up, and trying to change it for the better. It’s all things that I, and others, should have been bringing up so long ago, and I’m sorry it took me this long to say anything about it. It can sometimes feel like “I’m just one small little nail blog, what I can do”. But I can’t keep thinking like that, like even speaking to just one other reader about it helps.

Obviously, I am just one person swatching, one pale white person. I can’t offer swatches on different skin tones at all. And in the end, this is my own personal blog, so it’s going to be my own content. BUT, I can still direct you to people and creators and accounts who can do that! So something I’m committing to in all of my future posts is making sure to link to others who are swatching on different skin tones, especially Black creators with deeper skin tones than mine. Polish is so universal, and can be worn by anyone, so it’s time I show that any way I can! I definitely make sure to google and search for more swatches, but if there are other creators you love as well, please let me know in the comments! It’s the least I can do during this time, and I want to make a commitment to supporting more Black creators in this space – something I should have been doing a long time ago. It’s about being better.

So be sure to scroll to the end of this post to see full links to those other creators!


So that’s my piece for now. Maybe you just want to get on to the nails already, and I’ll do that. I just want to continue pointing out these things, these things that I’m sorry I’ve just noticed, even though people of color have been saying it for so long. It’s time for me to be better, especially as I gain more readers on this blog.


Alright, now onto the nails. It’s about combining and integrating these thoughts in our everyday lives, so we still have swatches to look at.

As you can see, we’re looking at the Orly Summer 2020 collection. It’s called the Retrowave collection, and features 6 super saturated cream shades, with 4 more neon shades.

Just like all the other Orly shades I review on this blog, I received this as part of my Orly Color Pass. The Color Pass is a subscription through Orly, where you sign up and pay up front, and then receive their 4 collections all throughout the year automatically. Each box will automatically ship out, and also always contains other goodies besides the polish collection. It evens out to be less than $5 per polish, especially when you factor in the other things you get in each box, so it’s a great deal IF you’re like me and looking to buy all of the collections anyways. If you’re just looking to buy single individual polishes, I of course, recommend sites like 8ty8beauty.com. It can be a quite an upfront investment, but as someone who will be spending that money anyways, it works out to pay once and be done with it.


As mentioned, the Retrowave collection is 6 super saturated and rich creams. Now because these are neons, I will say some of these were a pain in my butt to capture! My camera did not like them at all, and I had to color correct most of them to match to real life. Catch me staring, back and forth between my photos and a swatch stick, ultra focused trying to get these to match. Let’s get into these already.

Up first we have ‘Psych!’. This is one of the two deepest, non-neon shades in the bunch. This is a lovely deep, saturated (take a shot for every time I say that in this post) berry cream shade.

This was a touch uneven in the 1st coat, especially if you do thicker coats. But it was easily opaque with a 2nd coat. It also deepened up to match the bottle shade as well with that 2nd coat. Not what I think of for a traditional summer color, but I’m not here to say what you can and can’t wear in each season! (Though I think this would make a lovely fall color as well).

Orly – Psych!


Now onto these troublesome neons. Up first we have ‘Hot Pursuit’. This is a super bright neon coral shade. This was giving me trouble as it was pulling too warm in my swatches. It’s definitely got a nice cool-toned, almost strawberry lean to it.

This felt a little more thin and sheer on the 1st coat than others, but it was smooth. It builds up well in a 2nd coat. It’ll depend on your preferences and own painting style, this might be good in a 2nd coat, or you might prefer to top it with a thin 3rd.

But look at that NEON. A perfect summer shade (listen I know I just said I’m not here to say which colors go with the seasons, but you can’t argue with neons in the bright summer sun).

Orly – Hot Pursuit


‘Oh Snap!’ is one I was very excited for, as I’m always interested to try a new neon yellow. I did have to color correct just a touch, as this was more of a true highlighter yellow. It has a touch more green to it than a full on bright neon yellow.

Orly didn’t disappoint again, and this was fully bright and opaque in 3 easy coats with NO WHITE BASE – you might even be able to pull off 2 thicker ones to be honest, if you have smoother nails (I also had a little bit of a wonky brush which could have added to it as well).

I couldn’t be bothered with neons a few years ago – I hated having to put them over white bases and using like 4 coats total. But Orly has really changed and upped the game, and their neons have been fantastic these past few years. Honestly, if you’ve been looking for good neon formulas to add to your stash, this collection has quite a few.

Orly – Oh Snap!


Up next, this is ‘So Fly’, a super bright highlighter green shade. This definitely has some cool-ness too it, but it’s still a super bright, saturated neon green shade.

And just as I was saying about amazing neon formulas: this was just TWO COATS. Two coats, no white base, and you get this smooth, incredible neon shade. This was absolutely my favorite of the collection as I was just so blown away. This is definitely one to add to your stash if you don’t have a great neon green yet.

Orly – So Fly


Now this POLISH, this SUCKER. This next one gave me the MOST TROUBLE. It just didn’t want to show color correct, and it took a lot of editing, and I’m not sure if I got it quite right yet, but I got it as close as I could. This is a bright sky blue shade, but it’s also got some cool-ness, and almost dustiness to it. It’s so interesting, and not just a normal neon blue.

This had an uneven 1st coat, but was easily opaque with a 2nd. Another easy formula on the nails, and no complaints here (except to my camera).

Orly – Far Out


Lastly, we bookend the collection with the other deeper shade. This is ‘Gotta Bounce’ and it’s a nice deep, dusty navy blue shade. It’s leaning right in between a blue and a purple, and it’s another that’ll transition nicely over to fall as well.

And this had the BEST formula of the bunch. It was opaque in just ONE COAT, so smooth, it just glided on the nail like it was painting itself. Super lovely to work with.

Orly – Gotta Bounce


And that’s the Orly Retrowave collection! There were some stunning formulas here – only two that could be 3 coats, and they were super bright neons so I expected it. Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of these shades.



And now as promised, I wanted to link to creators swatching on deeper skin tones, so please be sure to check them out!

TMC Natural Beauty


Be sure to check these ladies out!


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Previous Posts
Essie ‘Bustling Bazaar’ Summer 2020 – Swatches & Review
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4 thoughts on “Orly Retrowave Summer 2020 – Review & Swatches

  1. So Fly is the one I HAD to have – cannot wait to wear it! I kind of love that they threw some darker shades in the collection, might be fun for people who like to do nail art.

    TMC Natural Beauty does fantastic swatch videos, I love watching her!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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