More Julep May 2015 Mystery Box swatches: Julep Bea & Julep Marcella (plus Julep Marcy & Revlon Whimsical)

I didn’t think I’d make it to another swatch post before I became too busy with ‘Fiend Jr. to paint my nails, but I guess she’s still too comfy in there to bother coming out. ;)

Anyway, I liked this month’s Julep Mystery Box colors a lot and wanted to swatch more of them! Here is:

  • Thumb: three coats Julep Bea,  a “[l]emonade crème,”
  • Index & pinky: two coats Julep Marcy, a “Prosecco silk (semi-matte opalescent)” released this March that wasn’t actually part of the Mystery Box but which I got for free with my order using code SPRINGFUN,
  • Middle: two coats Julep Marcella, a  “[w]eathered pink crème” and the other Mystery Box new exclusive aside from Shayla, and
  • Ring: seven(!) coats Revlon Whimsical, obviously not part of the mystery box, but it’s one of my absolute favorite nail polishes ever.

This is in outdoor indirect natural light (sun’s setting over here), and Bea and Marcella are topped with Essie Good to Go top coat (the other two have no top coat):

First, the two May 2015 Mystery Box polishes:

Julep Marcella (middle) is a cool-leaning medium orchid-pink creme, and it’s wonderful. I doubt I’d ever wear a full manicure of this type of pink myself, but its brightness is fun in small doses (you may like it in large doses, too, if you’re a pink lover!), and the formula is excellent. It was almost fully opaque in one coat and could probably be a one-coater if I’d been more careful. With a glossy top coat, the creamy texture really shines through. Great application, and dry time seemed on the fast side of average.

Julep Bea (thumb) is a pastel lemony cool-leaning yellow crelly/creme, and its formula is a bit more watery, though not difficult to apply. It was still a tad patchy/streaky after two coats for me, so I needed a third to even it out. A fourth coat may help even more. It also dried on the fast side of average for me and, besides the thin formula, I found it pretty easy to work with. I love the bright-but-muted color, but the extra coats required is only somewhat mitigated by its relatively fast dry time.

Julep Marcy (index & pinky) is an off-white silk-finish polish with gold/pearlescent shimmer – basically what I’d hoped Julep Bunny would be like, as Bunny’s advertised gold shimmer just doesn’t show on the nail. Marcy, thankfully, does have decently visible shimmer! It dries to a mildly textured matte similar to an eggshell finish. Great formula on this one as well – it takes about two to three coats for full opacity, depending on your application style, but it dries so fast, you probably won’t care, even if you need to add a third coat. It’s meant to be worn without top coat and looks nice that way. I haven’t tried it with top coat, but I bet it’d be lovely when glossy, as well.

Revlon Whimsical (ring) is part of Revlon’s permanent collection and probably the polish I’ve worn the most times – which says a lot because I own so many that I don’t repeat colors too often, even ones I really like. It’s a very sheer baby blue/soft aquamarine jelly with a sprinkling of multi-sized hex glitters in pink and blue. This polish takes patience, as it’s very sheer and looks best with multiple thin layers applied when the layer underneath dries completely for that yummy, milky, squishy jelly-sandwich look. I’m not exaggerating when I say I used seven thin layers to get the opacity pictured above. You can use a similar-colored creme undercoat to speed things up, but I personally prefer the glassy, slightly translucent layered jelly/glitter look. Your mileage may vary, but I think it’s worth applying the five to seven layers! Dry time is average, and other than needing lots of coats if you want any semblance of opacity, application is great, with no special glitter placement necessary.

Bottom line: Marcella and Shayla are both excellent exclusives that make the May 2015 Julep Mystery Box a real winner for me. Totally worth it. Thanks for renewing my interest in trying out future mystery boxes, Julep! <3

Julep Shayla & Essie Good to Go Top Coat

Julep Shayla is one of the new, exclusive polish colors that came with Julep’s May 2015 Mystery Box, which I received a couple days ago. It arrived at a great time, since my last paint job was just starting to chip mightily.

Here’s three coats on day two of these nails (hence the slight tip wear), topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in outdoor natural light (overcast):

Julep describes Shayla as a “[p]urple perennial full-coverage microglitter,” another one of those empty marketing phrases that really means next to nothing and doesn’t help me understand the color of the polish. (What kind of purple perennial? There are so many, and they’re very much not all the same purple! It also says nothing about the holo particles mixed in, which I think would’ve been a great selling point!)

To my eye, it looks like a clear base packed with a variety of microglitters, primarily grape purple and holographic – and the latter throws out fabulous rainbow sparkles in bright light! Also great: the overall mix of colors from the holo glitters helps create a fairly neutral impression of purple that I expect will probably look great with most/all skin tones and many outfits. I’m a fan.

No complaints about the formula. It dries faster than average to a matte finish, and though it seems to need at least three (thin) coats for reasonable opacity, it dries so fast that it shouldn’t be too much of a pain to slap on an extra coat or two. A shiny top coat helps bring out the best in this polish.

On another note, this is the second time I’ve used Essie Good to Go top coat now, and my experience so far is that it dries very fast to a glossy sheen that stays shiny pretty well, but it does seem to wear down quickly on the nail tips and doesn’t have the durability of Julep Freedom or Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat, two of my other go-tos. (My favorite used to be Seche Vite, which I still miss, but I stopped using it because it’s not toxin-free.) On my last paint job, Good to Go lasted about three days before chipping slightly and five days before chipping significantly, whereas Miracle Gel top coat can typically last a full week and Freedom almost a week on me.

Anyway, there you have it! This may be the last swatch post before ‘Fiend Jr. makes her grand debut, so if I’m MIA for a while, that’ll be the reason. :] Wish me luck! <3

Julep May 2015 Mystery Box (Version 1) with Julep x Brika bag

I just realized that I haven’t picked up a Julep mystery box in over a year! This time, though, I was in the market for a light slipcover for my iPad, and the faux leather Julep x Brika bag with its candy-bright crystalline shapes was calling my name.

At $29.99 for the entire mystery box package, guaranteeing the Julep x Brika bag and two new polish colors I liked, I was confident I’d get enough value out of the mystery box, no matter what the other items were. Julep promised a total product value of at least $150.00, though this is based on their arbitrary full retail prices.

Anyway, here’s what came in today!

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The Julep x Brika bag does not disappoint. The cheerful print is just as vibrant in person as it is in the promotional photos, and the bag looks well made and sturdy enough. The outside is faux leather, the inside is lined with mint-green cotton, and it’s got a small, flat, zippered accessory pocket inside. It’s not terribly padded as far as tablet cases go, but it’ll do for the light protection I was going for. In Julep’s blog post about the 9″ x 11″ pouch, they said it could fit an iPad Mini, but the bag is actually a great size for my iPad Air 2, too.

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I think it’s an exclusive, so it’s not available at Brika, but significantly smaller pouches (around 9″ x 7″) at Brika seem to go for $28.00 to $36.00, so it’s probably safe to say that the pouch itself has a retail value of at least the entire mystery box price.

Now, on to the Julep products the bag came with. According to my invoice, I ended up receiving May Mystery Box Version 1.

In beauty products, I received a Julep Length Matters mascara ($24.00 regular, $19.20 Maven) and a Julep Lip Gloss in Vivid ($20.00 regular, $16.00 Maven).

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I’ve never used the Julep mascara and am looking forward to giving it a try. Meanwhile, Vivid is described as an “[i]ridescent burgundy shimmer with Power Cell Complex™” and looks pretty accurate to the description. I’m also looking forward to testing this out and hope my super sensitive lips don’t hate it!

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The five polishes included in my box were:

  • Chatoya, a “[b]right platinum glitter top coat” from December 2014,
  • Marcella (new for the May mystery box!), a “[w]eathered pink crème” that reminds me of orchids,
  • Shayla (new for the May mystery box!), a “[p]urple perennial full-coverage microglitter,”
  • Brandis, a “Taos turquoise crème” from February 2015, and
  • Bea, a “[l]emonade crème” from August 2013.

I liked how the colors kind of match the Julep x Brika bag – and, hey, I didn’t get any duplicate nail colors this time, either. :]

I threw Marcy (“Prosecco silk (semi-matte opalescent)”) into the photo below, since I picked it up as an extra freebie polish in my mystery box order with promo code SPRINGFUN, which may still be active at the time of this writing. Doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

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Julep nail polishes retail for $14.00 regular and $11.20 Maven. Altogether, that comes to a total retail value of $114.00 regular and $91.20 Maven for the beauty products on their own. I’m guessing this means Julep values the pouch at $36.00, which isn’t unreasonable, given the prices of the smaller pouches at Brika.

Overall, I’m well satisfied with this mystery box. It’s unfortunately no longer available on Julep’s site, so I think it’s sold out, but the SPRINGFUN promo code for a free nail polish with your order may still work. And, if you’re not a Maven yet and want to try out the monthly box, you can currently get a free 4-piece welcome box with promo code SPRING.

Happy Friday!

Essie Fashion Playground & Essie East Hampton Cottage

I never tire of mint green.

This is Essie Fashion Playground from last spring’s Fashion Playground collection, three thin coats, on all nails except the ring finger, which has four thin coats of Essie East Hampton Cottage, all topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in outdoor direct natural light:

Essie describes Fashion Playground as a “plucky pistachio shimmer,” but personally, I think the color is too blue to be pistachio. It’s definitely more of a minty green that reminds me of some jadeite milk glass dishes and mint chocolate chip ice cream (my favorite!). I’m full of love for this color. <3 It mostly looks like a creme, but it’s got a subtle, fine glass-fleck shimmer similar to Essie Full Steam Ahead – you probably won’t see it unless you’re looking for it, but it adds a touch of sugary sparkle.

East Hampton Cottage is, per Essie, “a beachy sand pink with hints of sheer shimmer perfect for a French manicure.” True, it’s a pale pink in the bottle, but on the nail, it comes across more like a pearlescent/frosty almost-white. It’s meant to be sheer, but I like the milky opacity built up over four thin coats, as shown in my photos. The brushstrokes aren’t overly visible, despite the finish, especially with top coat.

In outdoor indirect natural light:

Fashion Playground did take three thin coats, minimum, for even opacity, though. Application’s not bad otherwise, and the polish seemed to dry on the fast side of average with thin coats, but as always, the multiple coats take some patience. I haven’t tried it with thicker coats, but I wonder if applying the polish more thickly would work better with this particular formula.

East Hampton Cottage was similar in application to Fashion Playground in that it’s sheer and required four thin coats for the opacity you see in my photos. No complaints about the Essie brush, which is short-stemmed and pretty standard-sized and round with a square tip, though my Fashion Playground brush had a weird rogue hair that luckily curled up away from the tip and didn’t affect application.

Also, I have nothing but good things to say about Essie Good to Go top coat, which I actually used for the first time with this manicure because I got it for free when I purchased these two polishes at Ulta recently. It’s not thick and goopy like Seche Vite or Julep Freedom, but you can brush it on half-dry nail polish, and it hardens pretty fast into a nice, smooth, glossy finish. I’ll have to use it more times to fully confirm how I feel about this top coat, but so far, it’s a winner.

Finally, here’s a bottle shot (left to right: Fashion Playground, Mint Candy Apple, East Hampton Cottage), just to show how much bluer Mint Candy Apple is compared to Fashion Playground:

As I mentioned in my swatch post about Mint Candy Apple, I’d hoped that it’d be more the color of Fashion Playground, but now that I have Fashion Playground, I think I’m set. :]

Blue opal nails (Revlon Brilliant Strength Beguile and Sinful Colors Green Ocean)

Mr. ‘Fiend and I were at our local Walgreens renting Captain America: The Winter Soldier in preparation to see Avengers: Age of Ultron when I spotted a new Sinful Colors display for their Having A Blast collection for this summer. I ended up picking up Star Blast-Off and Green Ocean. I think Star Blast-Off is new, and Green Ocean is usually released seasonally around St. Patrick’s Day. I want to save Star Blast-Off for Independence Day, but nothing was stopping me from giving Green Ocean a go. ;)

I started off with two coats of Revlon Beguile – from Revlon’s Brilliant Strength line, which is now sadly discontinued – shown here in indoor artificial light (cool white LED) because I painted my nails at night and didn’t have any sunlight to work with:

Beguile is a blackened base with what looks to me like a fine dark-teal-to-purple dichroic/iridescent shimmer. It looks like a dark royal blue in this lighting, but in natural light, the predominant color is definitely more of a deep teal in most lighting, including sunlight. I mentioned before that Revlon’s Brilliant Strength polishes are not all made equal when it comes to formulation, but luckily, Beguile is one of the good ones. It was evenly opaque in two coats for me, and the dry time was average. The brush is of the flattened, slightly wide variety, with a mildly curved edge, and it’s very easy to use. No complaints about this polish at all. It’s wonderful.

Then, I added one layer of Sinful Colors Green Ocean and topped it off with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel , the combination shown here in outdoor indirect natural light on day two (hence the slight tip wear :P):

Green Ocean is a glitter topper consisting of a somewhat goopy bluish green-tinted translucent base, suspended with a varied mix of multi-sized and -shaped glitters and flakies, most of which produce a dichroic indigo-to-green shift.

Here’s the same combination in outdoor direct natural light:

As I mentioned, Green Ocean’s consistency is a bit goopy, so you have to be a bit careful with application to make sure the flakies apply flat to the nail instead of sticking up and to ensure it doesn’t go on too thickly. The Sinful Colors brush is the standard round-stemmed, square-tipped kind, and it’s easy enough to use. The glitters and flakies suspend well enough that no fishing or special application is necessary to get the pictured density of particles in one coat.

Here’s another angle in direct natural light to show you the color shift to indigo:

Green Ocean does dry a bit matte, so a glossy top coat is needed to bring out the shine in this topper. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat worked just fine in this case, but a thicker glossy top coat that better smooths out the glitter/flaky texture might look even better.

The end result reminds me of a blue opal – really lovely. I’d love to experiment and see what other colors Green Ocean plays well with. At $1.99 a bottle (or cheaper, if you wait for a deal or coupon), I’m especially pleased with this Sinful Colors topper.

Have any of you tried Green Ocean and have any layering combination suggestions? Does anyone miss the Revlon Brilliant Strength line as I do sometimes?

Warm weather rainbow nails (skittles)!

Sometimes one, two, or even three colors just isn’t enough, and a rainbow is in order. :]

This is by special request from Mr. ‘Fiend, and I was happy to oblige.

From left to right, these are Nicole by OPI Challenge Red-y, Zoya Arizona, Julep Korin, Nicole by OPI Pros & Confidence, and Julep Charlotte. I later threw in Julep Lexie (not pictured) for a free-handed swipe of yellow between Arizona and Korin because the rainbow just didn’t look complete to me with yellow missing.

Here’s two coats of each, except for only one coat of Lexie over Korin on the middle finger, topped with Julep Freedom Top Coat.

In outdoor indirect natural light:

Nicole by OPI Challenge Red-y (the cool-leaning, bright cherry-red creme on my thumb) and Nicole by OPI Pros & Confidence (the turquoise creme on my ring finger) are exclusive Nicole by OPI colors that I got for free from a Kellogg’s Special K offer in 2013. The formulas on these are great and apply like butter – they definitely had the best consistency of the bunch. The brush is the somewhat wide OPI brush, which I don’t always love but worked really well with these two formulations. Pros & Confidence could be a one-coater, but Challenge Red-y is a bit sheerer and looks better with two coats.

Zoya Arizona is the bright orange creme on my index finger. The color is almost mac-‘n’-cheese orange, but it looks to me that it’s got just that tiniest touch of white – not enough to make the color pastel, but enough to lend it a softer look. No complaint about this formula either, but it is a little thinner, so it may take up to three thin coats, depending on how thickly it’s applied. It’s got the usual short-stemmed, standard-sized round, square-tipped brush Zoya usually uses.

In outdoor direct natural light:

Julep Lexie is the warm-leaning cheery yellow creme on my middle finger, and the formula on this one is great, as well. (I also wore this color in an earlier nail skittles.) Julep Korin is the bright yellow-green creme on the other half of my middle finger. Korin’s formula isn’t quite as easy to work with as Lexie’s, since it’s slightly sheerer and goopier, but it’s workable enough. These colors use Julep’s newer, wider brush, which is similar in width to the OPI brush, but it’s stiffer, so I find it more challenging to follow the curve of the cuticle with the Julep brush.

Julep Charlotte is the grape-y purple creme on my pinky. This one’s also a potential one-coater. I could have left it at one coat because it looked evenly opaque in one, but I added a second just to make sure. My bottle of Charlotte is an older one from 2012 or so, so it uses Julep’s older, standard-sized brush, which is much easier for me to work with than the newer, wider brushes. Your mileage may vary!

All of the polishes featured in this post are pretty good, but again, I have to say that the Nicole by OPI Special K 2013 colors are the ones that really stand out, both in terms of pigmentation and application. The colors aren’t particularly unusual, but the formulas are so good. Highly recommended, if you don’t have these colors already and can find a bottle somewhere. I know there’s been new sets of Special K exclusive colors since the one I got, and Challenge Red-y was offered again, so it might be worthwhile to keep your eyes peeled. :]

(UPDATE 5/4/15: Stain alert! I’d forgotten since the last time I used it, but Julep Korin unfortunately causes horrible yellow staining, and Nicole by OPI Pros & Confidence also has a tendency to stain. The other polishes are fine, with Zoya Arizona being easiest and cleanest to remove. Just a heads up!)

Nicole by OPI Lay it on the Lime

Nicole by OPI Lay it on the Lime is from last year’s Seize the Summer collection and the only one that caught my eye out of the set. It’s a fresh and bright melon-y, citrus-y yellow-green creme – almost neon and almost pastel, but not quite either. Very fun, though.

This is three coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat (which I actually don’t recommend paired with this polish because of some color transfer issues), in direct outdoor natural light:

The color is fantastic. Cheerily bright, almost loud, but just slightly softened with a milky touch.

The formula is thin, so it goes on a bit patchy. I used thinner coats because the polish seemed to take slightly longer than average to dry for me, and even after three thin coats and a glossy top coat, it still wasn’t entirely smoothly opaque. Maybe thicker coats were in order, but the dry time might be on the long side if it’s applied more thickly. I might have added a fourth thin coat to even it out, if I’d had more time during my lunch break. ;]

The Nicole by OPI brush is a flat, wide, square-tipped brush, but not as mop-like as some, so I didn’t have any trouble with it. Application, other than the challenges of a patchy thin formula, was pretty easy. No complaints overall.

The color reminded me of another bright yellow-green polish that I own – Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Chartreuse Chase – so I thought I’d post a quick bottle shot for your referencing pleasure:

In person (and in my swatch post linked above), it’s easier to see the fine turquoise shimmer in Chartreuse Chase, so the colors have a somewhat more similar feel. As you can see from this photo, though, Chartreuse Chase’s base color is definitely yellower and not quite as bright as Lay it on the Lime’s. Both are excellent colors, and both have slightly patchy formulas, but Chartreuse Chase definitely dries faster, true to the Insta-Dri name.

Bottom line: Lay it on the Lime doesn’t have my favorite formula, but I love the color enough that I don’t really care. :D What about you? Are you a fan of this almost-fluorescent green?