When I visited the States this summer, I happened to spot Fing'rs In Mint Condition, a clear attempt at a dupe for Mermaid's Dream, and immediately thought, "Comparison Post!" So I put together the following comparison post. True story!
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I found In Mint Condition in a giant display at Walmart. I'm not familiar with the brand Fing'rs, nor do I know whether the Heart 2 Art logo is also part of the brand or maybe a line that Fing'rs produces... Mostly what I know is, "Hey, this looks a LOT like Mermaid's Dream, and it's less than two bucks!"
The other thing I know is that I moved my lighting after I took these pictures of In Mint Condition, so I also shot the two polishes side-by-side for a more direct comparison, three coats each.
The two of these are close. Really close. And when you remember that the Fing'rs is about 1/10th the price of the original, many would consider them more than close enough. There are some subtle differences, though, which are easier to spot when you smoosh 'em up close, macro-style.
The Fing'rs is slightly darker than the Lippmann, and its texture is much smoother as well. That smoothness, I suspect, is a by-product of In Mint Condition's thick formula. It's not that easy to spread, and the brush's fly-away bristles weren't much help. So while it appears, close up, that the Fing'rs has particles very similar to the DL's, the difference in formula/application means a lot of the original's texture is lost.
Aside from the formula and texture, I also mentioned that In Mint Condition is slightly darker. This could be related to what appears to be a slightly higher concentration of blue glitter, skewing the overall shade. But when you peek in all close-like, you can also see that the Fing'rs doesn't seem to have the same light, airy seafoam green. They get close to it--I mean, it's really close--but it just doesn't quite match that same seafoam shade that's such an important element of the original.
All in all, how important are those little differences? Probably not very to most shoppers, and honestly, viewing them side by side, it's hard to insist that the DL is worth 10x more (even if it's .5oz instead of the .29oz Fing'rs). But for my money, Mermaid's Dream is just a prettier polish. The sparkle, shade, and texture are just more vibrant. I don't throw $20US at a single polish every day, but Mermaid's Dream is something special. And sometimes you just have to treat yo' self.