Here is a bottle-lineup to show where Play Date falls against some other colors in my stash. I included Spontaneous because it's a commonly-owned color and not that far off, and then Essie Nice is Nice as a reference.
The closest polish in my stash ended up being Rimmel Wild Orchid. Wild Orchid is a sister in the orchid family to Play Date but no dupe. Wild Orchid is cooler and a shade darker. Here are comparison pictures. 3 coats of each, no basecoat and no topcoat.
Indoors with flash (sorry, still getting the hang of flash!)
- Essie $8 (drugstores, Ulta, head2toebeauty.com)
- Rimmel $3-4 (drugstores, Ulta, amazon.com)
- Essie has the cutest bottles, square glass embossed with "essie" on 2 sides. They have a white plastic cap, on the shorter side, with a medium-length stem. The brush is petite and thin and flexible. I like Essie's brush because it makes it easier for me to control & position the polish just where I want it. Play Date's formula was average, not streaky, and has a bit of that squishy jelly-creme quality that I have come to expect from Essie. It wasn't super-pigmented but it applied nicely in 3 thin coats and dried pretty shiny.
- Rimmel's bottles are square glass, just like the old Sally Hansen Salon bottles, and I like their shape & feel. The cap is tapered shiny black plastic, with a medium-length stem. The brush is kind of like a Sally Hansen Insta-Dri/CSM crossed with an OPI Pro-Wide or something. It is paddle-like, flat and wide, with a rounded end, pliable but with some resistance. I liked this brush! Weird considering I don't usually like these brushes. I have small nail beds, so sometimes these can be hard to control. This brush did a good job at making a nice neat cuticle line without being sloppy and applying the right amount of polish for an even coat. However, because of its size and firmness it can cause dragging if you don't wait long enough between coats. Wild Orchid's formula was opaque and medium-thickness, pigmented but not globby. It went on great with no streaks or problems, and it is opaque in 2 coats though I did 3 for uniformity. It dried less shiny than the Essie, a little more of a satin finish.
- Both Essie & Rimmel are owned by companies who perform animal testing, but Essie and Rimmel both assert that they do not test on animals themselves. This is what I consider a gray area in terms of how to vote no-cruelty with polish dollars.
- I love purples but these pink-y orchid-tones often clash with my NC20 skintone. Play Date and Wild Orchid are different enough to own both, especially if you really like these pinky-purple shades. I will probably just keep Wild Orchid, because it's cooler-toned and doesn't make my hands look as red as Play Date (ha) and I prefer the formula.
- If you are just looking for something close to the Essie for a cute spring color, Rimmel Wild Orchid is a great polish for a lot cheaper. If you're really coveting Play Date, I don't know if Wild Orchid will cut it.