Julep India & Julep Bjork

Another quick and dirty swatch post: Julep India, two coats, with one coat of Julep Bjork (Metamorphic Top Coat) on the ring finger, all topped with Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat.

This is in natural light (shade):

A tad messy, sorry – ‘Fiend Jr.’s battering-ram kicks to my internal organs don’t do much for my concentration! I would’ve done some cleanup afterward, but the sun was setting, and I wanted to snap a few photos before it got dark.

I really love this kind of multidimensional blue and wish I had a car in this color. While I’m wishing, make that a Tesla in this blue.

Julep describes India as a “[f]reshwater blue shimmer.” I prefer straightforward color descriptions to empty-calorie marketing descriptors like “freshwater” (I sure hope fresh water wouldn’t be this color!), but I guess I can see how it gets the refreshing feeling of the color across.

It looks to me like a somewhat frosty metallic, medium cool-toned blue with fine shimmer that flashes green or teal. The base itself is a bit dichroic/duochrome-y, too, and seems to shift from cobalt blue to turquoise. The result is a polish with a lot of depth and mesmerizing sparkle that could probably flatter a wide range of skin tones.

I added Bjork (“[b]lue pearlescent silk top coat”) to the ring finger, just to see what would happen. The dichroic teal-to-purple shimmer in Bjork definitely adds to the scatter effect – and when looked at carefully, you can tell it looks a bit milkier than India alone – but it otherwise doesn’t do much for India.

Nothing to complain about, formula-wise, and dry time seemed average. As I’ve said before, Julep’s recent brushes have been a tiny bit too square-tipped and stiff for my taste, since they tend to make painting the curve at the cuticle a bit challenging for smallish nails like mine. It’s workable if you’re careful (and not getting beat up by your future offspring), though. Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat worked great for this polish and dried fast.

India’s a win. I wish I hadn’t passed up the August 2014 Maven box that had this color (I think it was because it was out of stock at the time I made my selection), but I’m definitely glad I picked it up later! <3

Essie Haute As Hello & Revlon Brilliant Strength Dazzle

After last week’s moody dark-green polish, I really wanted to wear something bright, so I thought I’d swatch a couple colors that I don’t think I’d posted yet.

Essie Haute As Hello and Revlon Brilliant Strength Dazzle are both older colors in my collection. Haute As Hello is a summer 2010 color, and I believe Dazzle was from 2012, from the Brilliant Strength line that’s been discontinued. Both have the same issue for me: I love the colors, but I’m just not a huge fan of the formulas. More on that in a bit.

Here’s three coats of each in natural light. I topped Haute As Hello with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, but Dazzle is shown without top coat:

Essie Haute As Hello is a hot pastel coral/peach creme that sometimes looks muted and sometimes looks like a soft neon, depending on the light. As I mentioned, I love this color. The formula, though, is honestly a bit of a pain to work with. It’s a bit thin, applies a bit patchy, and doesn’t self-level super well. It took me three thin coats to get a relatively even finish, and even then, the ridges from the brushstrokes didn’t completely level out. A glossy top coat fixed that, thankfully.

I wouldn’t recommend Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with this polish, though. As I’ve mentioned before, though this top coat has great durability, it tends to have some color transfer with some polishes, even if you make sure the polish is dry before applying top coat, and Haute As Hello is one of them. The top coat brush ended up picking up the yellow pigment in the polish and some of the actual polish itself, even when I applied only light pressure. Again, not recommended.

Revlon Dazzle is a bubblegum-pink jelly with an iridescent glass-fleck shimmer. Like most jellies, it’s pretty sheer and still shows visible nail line after the three thin coats I applied. I think I’d used five thin coats for opacity the last time I used this polish.

In any case, the sheerness isn’t what bothers me about Dazzle; it’s that this polish just refuses to dry! I waited about half an hour between coats and checked that the polish was dry to the touch before applying a new layer, but no luck. Even with the help of quick-dry drops, the polish half-dries to a malleable, clay-like consistency that doesn’t wholly cure until maybe the next day, so it’s really easy to ding up the finish (or make weird textured indentations in it) in the meantime. Ugh. It’s really too bad because I otherwise really love this color, and the brush (rounded tipped and slightly wider and thicker than a standard brush, but not nearly as thick and mop-like as the OPI brush) and application are excellent, if you don’t count the atrocious dry time.

The Brilliant Strength polishes were advertised as all-in-one formulas and meant to be worn without a base coat or top coat. Some of my Brilliant Strength polishes are better than others, and they don’t all have this drying problem, but I’m guessing the formulation is part of why the line isn’t available any longer.

The colors look more similar in the bottle, but Dazzle is much cooler-toned on the nail.


Obviously, I love these colors enough that I haven’t relegated either to a nail polish sale yet, but are they worth the struggle? For Haute As Hello, maybe. It at least dries fast and can be fixed with a good top coat. For Dazzle, I’m not so sure. I’ve worn this color maybe three times because I like the color too much to give up, but it makes me angry every time! I might try it one more time with a quick-dry top coat and see how that fares.

Zoya Veruschka

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m doing a second polish swatch for the day because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be festive. :]

Zoya Veruschka, one of Zoya’s MatteVelvet polishes that come in the classy frosted-glass bottles. I believe it was first introduced in the winter of 2009 as a limited edition polish, though I picked it up during a re-release this past winter. A quick look at Zoya’s site says Veruschka is gone again, though, so if you’re looking for this color, I’m guessing you’ll have to find it through a third party.

This is two coats, no top coat, in natural light (shade):

Veruschka is a deep, rich, somewhat blue-toned green with silver shimmer that reminds me of evergreen trees. As suggested by its MatteVelvet label, it dries to a satiny matte finish and is meant to be worn without top coat. Judging from how it looks wet, though, I’m sure it’d look great with a glossy top coat, too. The matte finish isn’t very forgiving with bumps or unevenness on the nail, but the second coat does help smooth that out. A glossy top coat could probably help with that, too.

In any case, I found I needed a second coat to get good coverage. No complaints about the formula or brush (standard size with a relatively short stem), and this polish dries pretty fast. As with most polishes, though, even if it feels dry to the touch, it probably has to cure a bit before you, say, handle a dog. I gouged one of these nails doing that almost immediately after these photos, hehe. Whoops.

Anyway, happy St. Patty’s, and have a beer for me. No beer for me for a while, else I’d really love a milk stout!

Orly Beautiful Disaster

Quickie swatch post – this is three coats Orly Beautiful Disaster from Orly’s Summer 2013 Mash Up collection, topped with Julep Freedom Top Coat and in natural light (with some tip wear, since I didn’t have a chance to photograph it until day 3):

Beautiful Disaster is a red-toned purple/magenta with shimmer that shifts gold for that lit-from-within look. In certain light, it has a blue flash that cools the color to more of an electric purple, which you can see a bit on the upper part of the nails in this next photograph.

Fabulous color, if not the most unusual one I own. The formula is a tad thin, but it builds up to full opacity in two to three coats, depending on how thickly you apply it. (I prefer thinner coats, so I used three.) No complaints about the application, brush or dry time.

My favorite color from the Mash Up collection is still Mayhem Mentality (a neon orange creme), though. I’ll have to swatch that one for the blog sometime. :]

Zoya Dillon, plus Revlon Transforming Effects Gold Glaze & Matte Pearl Glaze

I’m back with another experiment using this year’s new Revlon Transforming Effects toppers! :] This time, I decided to try out Gold Glaze, a clear top coat with a warm yellow-gold shimmer, and Matte Pearl Glaze, a matte top coat with what looks like a blue-to-magenta dichroic/duochrome shimmer.

I started off with Zoya Dillon from last spring’s Awaken collection. I purposely picked a shimmery polish to experiment with, since I’ve seen some swatches of the toppers on cremes and bare nails, and I wanted to test how they’d interact with something that already had its own shimmer.

Here’s three coats of plain Dillon in strong outdoor sunlight, no top coat (again, please excuse the dry/dehydrated fingers!):

Dillon is a minty medium blue-green metallic with silver shimmer. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I sometimes see a bit of gold in the shimmer. The polish is a bit sheer and takes three coats to reach a good opacity, and it dries with a squishy finish, like a jelly. Formula is easy to work with, though it’s not the fastest drying, and as usual, I like the standard-sized (not wide like many brands’ brushes) Zoya brush.

In this next photo, taken in the same strong outdoor sunlight, I’ve added:

  • Index & pinky – Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, one coat (glossy clear)
  • Middle – Revlon Transforming Effects Gold Glaze, one coat
  • Ring – Revlon Transforming Effects Matte Pearl Glaze, one coat

Gold Glaze‘s effect isn’t immediately obvious in all lighting, but it does add just that touch of extra gold shimmer and scatter to the finish. Because Dillon’s already got a similar shimmer effect to begin with, it’s not quite as dramatic as it’d look over a creme, but it’s there. It’s also a bit more visible in person.

Matte Pearl Glaze obviously matte-ifies the finish and adds a cool-toned shimmer. The magenta in the shimmer is still there, somewhat, but I found that it mostly looked blue over Dillon.

I also feel like the Miracle Gel Top Coat seems to bring out the gold notes of Dillon’s shimmer that I mentioned earlier.

It might be slightly easier to see some of the differences in the shade (indoor indirect sunlight):

And, finally, I slapped another coat of Gold Glaze over Matte Pearl Glaze on the ring finger, just to see what would happen. Here it is in strong outdoor sunlight:

And in shade/indoor indirect sunlight:

The gold sparkle from Gold Glaze creates a pretty interesting effect over the cooler-toned shimmer from Matte Pearl Glaze, resulting in something relatively neutral with a bit more depth. Pretty neat.

Anyway, that’s my layering experiment for the week. Hope it’s helpful or interesting to someone out there!

Julep Ava & Revlon Transforming Effects Nude Graffiti

I’m not normally a huge fan of pale pink, but Julep Ava was sitting untried in my stash (I’d gotten it for free with one of my Maven monthly boxes at some point), and I thought it’d go well with Revlon Nude Graffiti, one of the Transforming Effects top coats just released this year.

I mentioned in my last post that I was interested in picking up Holographic Pearls from the same Revlon Transforming Effects line. Well, my local CVS happened to have a buy-two-get-one-free deal, which I was able to combine with some other coupons, so I went ahead and picked up some of the fun new top coats that appealed to me. They were just a couple bucks each after the coupons stacked – such a steal! I’ll swatch the others sometime.

Anyway, this is three coats of Ava with approximately one swipe-dabbed coat of Nude Graffiti on the accent nail, topped with Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat, in outdoor natural light:

Julep Ava is described as a “[b]allet slipper pink frost.” Honestly, though, the finish isn’t all that frosty and is closer to Julep’s other subtle shimmers. Ava’s more like a neutral pale pink creme with a barely-there pearlescent shimmer.

It’s not really my kind of color, but honestly, the real let down of this polish is how terrible the formula is. I think it was worse than Julep Zora, a similar color I previously swatched. It’s not that visible from my photo because the top coat helped even it out somewhat, but it applied very patchily and didn’t self-level well at all, even after two coats. I had to apply a third coat to make it opaque, and even then, it wasn’t very even. Even worse, it took way longer to dry than most polishes I own. Based on the formula, I can’t really recommend this polish, even if pale pink/neutral is your thing.

I liked Revlon Nude Graffiti much better than Ava, and I do think it pairs well with a pale neutral pink! It’s a smorgasbord of matte nude glitters in various shapes (hex, bar, and round), sizes, and shades (what looks to me like peach, pink, ivory, silver/gray, and white). The combination of soft colors somehow really appeals to me, and it adds subtle interest to an otherwise potentially boring neutral. It’s meant to be a layering polish, so the glitters aren’t too dense.

The formula is middling. The clear base is a little runny for my tastes, kind of like the clear base in Hearts of Gold FX. I found I sometimes needed to let some of the base run off the brush before I could apply the glitters without extra goop flooding the cuticle. Because the glitters in this one are smaller than the hearts in Hearts of Gold FX, though, it’s not as much of an annoyance to dab the glitters where you want them. It dries relatively quickly and not too bumpy for a glitter, which is great. If you don’t mind some texture, you might not even need another top coat, but I like it with one extra layer of clear coat so the glitters don’t snag.

As I mentioned, I used Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat with these nails. This top coat works well with some polishes, but maybe because Ava was a little weird/thick/goopy and didn’t quite dry right (even after waiting 15 minutes or so), it didn’t work quite as well with this combination. I think the top coat did as well as can be expected in smoothing out Ava’s unevenness, but it just didn’t dry with the same durability I’d gotten with Julep Phia – I ended up gouging one of my nails some hours after application when I accidentally nicked a zipper. :P

Anyone else pick up any of Revlon’s new Transforming Effects polishes? What do you think?

L’Oreal Masked Affair

I finally found it! I was so excited that I rushed to swatch this one before properly rehydrating after running errands, hence the wrinkly fingers, sorry!

L’Oreal Masked Affair, one of the polishes from L’Oreal’s recent Dark Sides of Grey collection (an obvious but apparently unofficial tie-in to a certain movie/book) turned out to be a bit of a challenge to track down. Looks like it’s been a highly sought out color, at least among the online nail polish fanatic community – and probably for the same reason I was attracted to this polish when I saw swatches posted by other bloggers over the past month: it’s pretty rare to find a decent holographic polish, let alone a linear holo, from a mainstream drugstore brand at a mainstream drugstore brand price point.

In natural light, three coats, no top coat:

Masked Affair is a subtly lavender/lilac-tinged silver linear holographic polish with some scatter. It looks more obviously purplish in the bottle than on the nail, but against the pinkish notes in my skintone, it mostly looks silver. The linear holo effect is decently visible in strong light, though not the strongest I’ve seen. Certainly not bad, though, especially for a mainstream drugstore brand! In most lighting, I can see some rainbows, but not a super strong linear effect. This one’s opaque in two to three coats, depending on how it’s applied.

The formula isn’t my favorite, though it does dry remarkably fast, which I love. It’s manageable, but probably less frustrating for folks who can polish fairly dexterously, since it dries so quickly that going over one spot twice with the brush will pick up your polish and leave a bald spot. I think this is par for the course for holo polishes, though. Otherwise, application isn’t bad.

I recommend doing the sides of the nail before finishing off the middle – three quick swipes, and that’s it. Use thin coats and don’t go over a spot twice in that one coat; just fix any patchy spots with later coats once the previous coat’s dried. That worked out best for me, anyway.

Again in natural light, with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat:

The holo effect looked a bit dulled when I first applied top coat, but it got better when fully dry. See?

Still plenty of rainbows. :]

Is it a must-buy? Well, it’s probably up to personal taste, really, as well as your budget for polish and how much you care about the strength of the holo effect. I bought Masked Affair at my local Walgreens for $6 something, including tax, was able to find it after checking maybe five different local stores (CVS, Target, etc.), and I don’t regret my purchase. It’s certainly a decent holo polish at a reasonable price point, compared to $10+ for other holos I’ve seen – though the more expensive polishes also seem to have a stronger linear rainbow effect.

I almost picked up Revlon Holographic Pearls, a scatter holo special effect top coat, in the same shopping trip, and I may still eventually buy it after I think about it a bit. I hope this means we’ll be seeing more drugstore holos in the future!