Aug 042011

On a recent trip to a local CVS drugstore, I noticed a display of Revlon Carbonite ($4.98) with the tagline “Wear the ‘It Color’ of the Season.”  Fortunately, I’d already learned from Nouveau Cheap that Carbonite was Revlon’s effort to duplicate Chanel Graphite.  Could my beauty friends get the same look of a $25 polish for under $5? I had to investigate.

I swatched as one color Chanel Graphite, the next Revlon Carbonite and so on.  On the edges, I put Chanel Strong (a metallic gray) and Chanel Black Pearl on the other side.  Indoors under flash, you can see that the colors are both close.  Chanel Graphite has a touch more green to my eye (click to enlarge):


Outdoors in sun with flash, you can see the Chanel sparkle more clearly (click to enlarge):

One more outdoors with flash (click to enlarge):

By reader request, here are some on-finger swatches.  These are swatched differently.  Revlon Carbonite are the left two fingers.  Chanel Graphite are on the right two.  This one is indoors with flash:

 Outdoors in the late evening sun:

To my eyes, the outdoor pictures show the famous Chanel sparkle and that chameleon color-shift of Chanel Graphite.  I’ve always maintained that no one does sparkle like Chanel–no one.   It’s enchanted with fairy dust.  Having said all that, the price difference can be a significant consideration.  In other words, whether something is close enough to justify the price difference is something every beauty lover must decide for herself.  What do you think?  (please vote in the poll, below)

[poll id=”15″] 

By the way, here’s The Polish Police’s comparison with Chanel Graphite and OPI’s Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous.

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  30 Responses to “Revlon Carbonite– A Dupe for Chanel Graphite?”

  1. Wow, these are incredibly close, but I like the Chanel because of the extra sparkle that makes it a little more special! But the Revlon sure looks like a great substitute 🙂

  2. In indoor light the Revlon seems like a good dupe – but the natural lighting pictures say it all! The Chanel has that extra X factor about it – that special sparkle and something just more sophisticated about the color. it’s hard to make sparkly polishes look sophisticated and not gaudy/tacky, and Chanel does it just right. I don’t have the money to spend on chanel polishes, but if I did, I definitely think this one is worth the extra.

  3. Wow what a close dupe! They look almost identical in the indoor lighting.
    I am 100% with you on that no one does sparkles like Chanel..oh well I guess it only matters to the Chanel makeup fans, as most people would be happy with a cheaper dupe 🙂

    • I agree with you both! Chanel does it best especially since they were the original innovators of this color. Great job Amy on the detective work 🙂 They are strikingly close but I agree with Stephanie below that other brands often fall flat in finish. A great alternative for a steal (versus splurge). I still think that Chanel wins hands down as they have with many other Revlon-dupe-attempts.

  4. did you realize you can add pigment or shimmer to any nail polish to KICK up the sparkle? it’s something you can add – your own special touch. you can do the same with lipgloss and body lotion/oils. Enjoy that tip for the shimmery summer!

  5. Carbonite does not even come close in my book. I’ve compared the two in person and the revlon just falls flat. Way flat in comparison. The revlon polish looks bad to me in general. Chanel Graphite has dimension and special fairy dust that can’t be cheaply duped! Honestly I hope no one spends $5 on revlon trying to dupe this color when there are many other better revlon colors.

  6. There is another Revlon polish that could be a dupe to a Chanel polish. My friend gave me a Revlon polish called Black with Envy and it looks pretty similar to the Black Pearl I have. I was kind of surprised.

  7. It’s a close enough dupe for me, but I have to say Chanel sparkles prettier 🙂 It has additional dimension to this color which Revlon doesn’t have 🙂

    Also, in case someone is looking for a dupe of Chanel Black Pearl – here’s a cheap one – (not my blog, just found that) 🙂

  8. Looks close inside, but I agree that the Chanel trumps the Revlon in natural light. BUT…let’s face it…$25 is a pretty ridiculous price to spend on nail polish (and this is from someone who has quite a few Chanel polishes)! The Revlon for $5 is a much more rational choice for many.

    Of course, I did buy Chanel Graphite and hated it (had it put on my toes during my regular pedicure and went back 2 days later for a polish change so I didn’t have to look at it anymore)! I gave it to a friend so she and her daughters could try it!

  9. Thank you for the wonderful pictures and review! I live in Canada and we don’t have the Fall 2011 Chanel collection at counters yet…another few weeks they tell me! But, I was lucky enough that my darling DH, on a business trip to NYC last month, picked me up the Graphite @Macy’s. It’s truly lovely but honestly, if a friend asked, I’d tell them to get the Revlon one would no the difference!

    A fan, Lisa

  10. I voted close enough. There is that unmistakable Chanel quality but for those who cringe at spending $25 for polish this is an excellent alternative.

  11. You’ve got such a sure instinct for writing exactly what one wants to read, Amy. : )

    Even compared to such a close dupe, Chanel has got something special. Even if your swatches weren’t labeled, you can tell the difference. Thank you for taking such consummate care to photograph these in different lighting.

  12. Have purchased all three of the Fall 2011 Chanel nail colors this year, I can truly say “I agree with you!” when it comes to the superior quality and overall color textures of Chanel nail colors. However, some folks may want to buy the Revlon just to test prior to buying the Chanel; especially if they don’t purchase it often or have never. It would be a terrific Plan B Dupe.

  13. Thank you so much for these comparisons. Now, I’m a fan of Chanel polishes (Chanel everything, actually) but I have to say, the Revlon is a close enough dupe for me. In fact, I kind of prefer it because I tend not to like so much sparkle in a nail polish. Now Peridot…that’s another story altogether! It’s a special and unique enough colour that I feel it’s totally worth the $25.00.

  14. I agree up close Chanel Graphite has that something something that is lacking in Revlon Carbonite. From far away I’m sure they would look identical. I will probably be picking up Carbonite though for its name sake alone. What geeky girl wouldn’t want this color!
    “Oh, they’ve encased him in carbonite. He should be quite well protected. If he survived the freezing process, that is.” -C3P0

  15. I think Carbonite is nice but it’s just not in the same league for me as the Chanel it just has that beautiul sparkle that the Revlon hasn’t got.

  16. I am a product snob and even though it would be smart to get Revlon, I would rather buy Chanel.

  17. The basic color is so close that if someone was drawn for color, take the Revlon for sure. What I liked, tho, was the bit of sparkle that is in the Chanel, so it figures that I like the $25 polish best because I love the added sparkle.

  18. I keep connecting opi luceren-tainly look marvelous with all of these shimmering almost satin finished color. its definitely not a dupe though because the photos show that there are micro gold shimmer flecks

  19. seems like the revlon one is a taupe colour when seen in flash light or in sun. not as dark. looks an in-between quarz/graphite version. both nice, both “important” colours to wear. one things I’d like to compare is how easy it is to remove them. some sparklie enamels scratch nails when removed, which is certainly not the case with chanel.

  20. Actually a perfect dupe for Graphite is OPI Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous – even the color-changing properties in the sun are the same!

  21. Fantastic post, Amy, and stunning pictures as usual. I usually avoid Revlon polishes (hate the brush), but I think you got me with this one (and of course I already have Graphite).

    If I could ask one more thing of your comparison, your macro setting has better vision than my eyes. For an idea of how similar the two shades might look on my hands, I’d love to see a photo taken from slightly further away.

  22. I’ve discovered another dupe that’s possibly even closer to Chanel’s Graphite than Revlon’s Carbonite. I don’t know the shade’s name but I bought the polish at the Face Shop and it is such a close match it’s ridiculous. I’ll try to post pics.

    • From the pics you’ve posted, the main difference I can see between the two colors is that the Revlon looks a bit more red (red undertones? warmer?) whereas the Chanel is cooler. Then there is the characteristic “fairy dust” shimmer/ glitter as you’ve said. The Face Shop polish is also cooler (like the Chanel) and has more oomph in the fairy dust department.

  23. Great post and photos Amy! Not to detract from that I would like to point out since many people think it’s a close dupe, glitter is very hard to photograph. I own Chanel and I’ve tried out Revlon’s to compare, I wouldn’t call it an exact dupe or even an close dupe. This is because what make this Chanel’s color unique and exciting for me is how it glitters and shimmers, like Amy’s mentioned it’s like fairy dust. In my opinion in real life comparison Revlon doesn’t have any of the x-factor of Chanel’s Graphite.

  24. […] nail polishes myself to do a comparison, but from what I’ve seen from other bloggers (this is one of the best comparisons I’ve seen, from Cafe Makeup), it’s pretty close but is lacking a bit of gold shimmer in certain lights. But personally, I […]

  25. […] turn Cafe Makeup into “Chanel dupe” central (far from it).  We previously examined how Revlon Carbonite compares.  I learned from via a twitter message from Nouveau Cheap that this year’s […]

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