We Tried 6 Hunger Games Nail Polishes & The Odds Weren't In The Favor Of Some Shades

When we saw that the luxurious nail lacquer brand Butter London was releasing a polish line in collaboration with the latest film in the "Hunger Games" franchise, we knew we had to get our hands on it. "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes," directed by Francis Lawrence, came out earlier this month, and you can rock the film's vibes through six versatile polishes, featuring both dark, mysterious hues and bright, peppy pastels. Of course, you can mix and match the polishes from the set, but they're equally divine on their own for a simple and sleek manicure. The Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer polishes are gluten-free, paraben-free, and vegan, and the formula was created to "promote brighter, stronger, [and] healthier-looking nails" to boot.


Any BookTok babe is likely in a puddle over the release of the epic film, and if you haven't yet seen the adaptation of the dystopian action-adventure novel by Suzanne Collins (or you're headed back to the theater for a second viewing), you still have time to don celebratory nails for the occasion. The set retails for $38 on Butter London's website and arrives beautifully packaged, immediately evoking imagery of Panem and lending you some creativity for your manicures. May the odds be ever in your favor as you dive into these stunning polishes.

Royal Emerald is our regal winner

After testing all six polishes in Butter London's set, our winner for the best lacquer is none other than Royal Emerald. This luxurious, deep, jewel-toned green is nearly transcendent. This velvety emerald is just like the forest floor, and we couldn't get enough of it. The hue also happens to be the other color in this set that still looks great with just one coat. The formula is thick, creamy, and glides on perfectly unlike some of the others. Moreover, Royal Emerald dazzles in the sunlight like a real gemstone and reminds us of a long, winding road trip through the perfectly gloomy Pacific Northwest — er, District 12.


For even more ornate manicures, we recommend pairing it with Bubbly Rosé or Afters for a perfect "Hunger Games" vibe. This polish is suitable for all of the upcoming holidays, as well as a quiet and cozy season of curling up on the couch to reread the epic YA series. Ultimately, Royal Emerald is royal indeed, and we're excited to wear it all winter.

Bubbly Rosé sparkles as our close second

We couldn't be more over the moon with this shimmering hue. Bubbly Rosé is an ethereal champagne tone, a dazzling balletcore neutral, and a great pick for the holidays. It glitters in the most divine shade of rose gold, and unlike the pastels in the set, this polish is buttery smooth. We applied two coats with ease and couldn't wait to see the glimmer out in the natural light, which more than met our hopes. These neutral glam nails are elegant, fairy-like, and sweet. The polish is also aptly named, although we stand by our desire to see names like Lucy Gray, Snow, or songbirds and snakes across the bottoms of the bottles in this set.


We could see this color being a beautiful complement to the other luminous, shimmering shade in the set — Royal Emerald — and we can also confidently say that Bubbly Rosé is our second favorite hue in the "Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" collection.

Smashing! is a smooth, scarlet dream

A true, classic red with an orange tint, this is the first polish in the set that doesn't require a second coat if you're in a rush, but it's even better with one. The formula glides on seamlessly, and the vibrancy of the red can't be denied from the first brushstroke. Because of this, Smashing! stands out on its own amongst the rest of the polishes in the set. 


It's daring and demands attention — definitely a snake and not a songbird. When wearing this shade, we can't help but think of the vibrant red nail polish that belongs to the warden in Louis Sachar's "Holes," which contains a secret ingredient: rattlesnake venom. We can safely say this formula doesn't contain snake venom, but it looks fierce nonetheless. There's something edgy about this fiery red hue, and we'd put it in third place out of the six polishes in the set thanks to its vitality and smooth consistency. 

English Lavender is cute but requires many coats

The first polish we tried from the "Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" set was English Lavender, a creamy pastel purple. Unfortunately, though, the first of anything isn't always the best, which was the case here. When testing out English Lavender, we immediately noticed that the polish's milky consistency required a second coat, and we did put in some effort to smooth out the polish. While this lavender hue was dreamy and top-tier, the texture of this shade didn't glide on as well as we'd hoped. However, as we know, that thankfully isn't the case across the board with this set.


Ultimately, English Lavender is a fun, feminine, and flirty purple hue that we could easily wear well into springtime. It's playful and dainty — definitely more of a songbird than a snake. For a bright and luminous manicure, it could be paired with Pop Orange, which is coming up next.

Pop Orange: well-pigmented but precarious to apply

Nearly identical to a dreamsicle, the creamy, tangerine hue of Pop Orange transports us poolside without a worry in the world. Pop Orange is certainly in the same pastel family as English Lavender and is just as youthful and free. Because of this, we noticed the same application hiccup that we did with English Lavender, with the polish being a bit sticky and not gliding on with ease. However, once the second coat dried, we were pretty satisfied with the thicker results.


There's a pleasing variety of colors when it comes to the "Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" X Butter London set, leaving something for just about everyone. And while the names of the polishes are perfectly descriptive — for most of the shades, at least — we would have greatly appreciated names that are more clearly inspired by the "Hunger Games" universe instead. There certainly isn't a shortage of themes and characters to choose from.

Afters is beautifully moody but stingy on coverage

Last but not least, we have Afters — a beautiful, deep burgundy. Afters has a romantic, dark academia element to it, and while its tone is a perfectly rich maroon, its consistency is unfortunately on the thinner side. We found that two coats still left some transparency, making a third coat necessary for full coverage. Of course, the smaller brush included in the mini nail lacquer bottles could be contributing to the difficulty in applying the formula for this at-home manicure, but the other nail polishes in the set weren't as difficult, so we did dock some points from Afters for it. 


Despite its consistency issues, Afters is a sophisticated and timeless shade for winter. We would pair this hue with cozy, oversized coats, dark tights, and brown leather boots for a complete holiday ensemble. We also couldn't deny a desire to study in the corner of a café during a rainstorm while wearing it. Essentially, it very much felt like a fitting hue for a "Hunger Games" collection, and with the proper number of coats, Afters is a pleasing, mysterious, and moody polish. Just don't expect to successfully apply this one in a rush!