Space nails! LynBDesigns Amazingly Unlikely & Time and Relative Dimension in Space

I’d been admiring LynBDesigns indie nail polishes from afar for a long time before recently taking the leap and picking up a bunch I’d been eyeing, including Amazingly Unlikely (3 coats on all nails except for ring) from the About a Galaxy collection and Time and Relative Dimension in Space (3 coats on ring finger) from the The Doctor is In collection.

This is day 2, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat in indirect natural light:

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Words cannot adequately describe how much I love Amazingly Unlikely. It’s like a galaxy in a bottle! It’s described as a “blue jelly base with multichrome shifting from purple to blue to pink to gold, aqua holographic micro glitter and blue to purple fantasy flakies.” The shift on the nail mostly shows up as pink to blue for me, and the overall effect over the blue jelly base and metallic shimmer looks like a shift from royal blue to a deep red-purple:

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Seriously gorgeous.

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The formula is a little goopy and looks streaky on the first two coats, but it’s nicely opaque in three. I accidentally flooded my cuticle applying this polish, as the goopiness took me by surprise at first, but I had no issues with it once I got a feel for the consistency.

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Time and Relative Dimension in Space (TARDIS <3) is described as “a deep blue jelly like base that has blue, silver, navy, and dark silver glitters suspended in it.” My particular bottle has such a deep navy-blue jelly base that it looks almost black. Based on swatches online, I’d expected a slightly bluer/brighter blue and maybe less uniform glitter visibility through the jelly base (more of a jelly-sandwich effect), but this is beautiful all the same – and still reminiscent of space and starry skies. It probably could have been opaque in two coats, but I did three thin coats for these photos.

Both polishes have a pretty standard round, square-tipped brush, which I had no problems with, and dry time for both was on the faster side of average for me.

Though the TARDIS polish was slightly different from what I expected, I still love both polishes – Amazingly Unlikely, especially – and am pleased with my first purchases from LynBDesigns. I’ll likely be swatching the rest of my haul in the coming weeks. :)

Any of you have favorite indie brands you’d like to recommend to me?

Julep July 2015 It Girl swatches: Juliana, Alyssa & Mara

I was so enamored with the color combination in this month’s Julep Maven It Girl box that I decided to swatch them together as skittles. (Well, that, and it’s so hard to find time to paint nails with a newborn – thank goodness for a helpful husband and family!)

Here’s two coats Julep Juliana on the index and pinky nails, two coats Julep Alyssa on the middle, and one coat Julep Mara on the ring. All nails are topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, except for the Mara, which stands alone. This is in indirect natural light:

Juliana (index & pinky) is a semi-sheer grapefruit-pink polish with what looks to me like a gold-to-pink shimmer. It could maybe build to opacity with a third coat, but I liked the luminous, translucent look at two coats. It looks so juicy! Even though the finish is a bit frosty, brushstrokes aren’t too obvious. The formula is easy to work with and dries pretty fast.

Alyssa (middle) is a bold medium turquoise creme that, if applied carefully, can provide full coverage in one coat. (I used two coats because I accidentally dragged the brush in one spot and left a bald streak.) The formula is a bit thick and requires some care to apply, especially in making sure excess polish doesn’t drip down Julep’s long brush stem. Dry time was average for me.

Mara (ring) is a saturated grape-sorbet purple textured polish with what looks like iridescent shimmer that seems to flash primarily gold and pink for me. It’s good to go in one coat! Application was flawless, and dry time was fast. I honestly can’t stop thinking of grape sorbet when I see this color, especially with the texture and sparkle reminiscent of frozen sweets.

Juliana’s sheerness and lit-from-within glow is maybe more obvious in this photo in indoor white-LED lighting:

I love all three colors, especially how they look together and remind me of summertime ice-box treats. Yum!

Did you get a Julep box this month, and what did you think of your haul?

Face-off: Zoya Marion vs. Julep Phia

As promised, here it is – a comparison of Zoya Marion (index and ring), from June 2015’s Zoya Mystery Trio Box, and Julep Phia (middle and pinky), from last June’s It Girl Maven monthly box.

This is two coats of each, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in direct natural light:

Marion and Phia are very similar neutral purple-pink metallic/foil polishes with magenta-to-olive duochrome/dichroic flash. Julep describes Phia as a chrome, but because of the visible scatter in its finish, it looks more like a foil to me. The two polishes are pretty close, though not identical: if you look carefully, you can see that Marion comes off a bit pinker and brighter than Phia.

From this angle, Marion also flashes more olive/bronze than Phia.

These same subtle differences are also visible in indirect light:

Overall, Marion looks a bit warmer and Phia a bit cooler, though if they weren’t being compared right next to each other, you might not notice the difference.

Formula-wise, they’re also pretty similar. Both polishes are fairly sheer and require two to three coats for opacity. I used two coats for these photos, but you can still see the nail line somewhat with two coats. If you’re a stickler for opacity, three coats should do it. Phia is slightly sheerer than Marion, but the difference isn’t that significant.

Both had excellent application, and dry time is about the same – on the fast side. Functionally, I prefer the Zoya brush and bottle shape, as it’s easier to use than Julep’s tall bottle and long brush stem, which looks elegant but is less stable and tends to gather a lot of excess polish that can drip, if you’re not careful. Neither brush or bottle style is a problem if you’ve got a practiced hand, though.

The biggest difference between the two is probably price. Zoya polishes usually go for $9 for a full-size (0.5 fl. oz.) bottle, whereas Julep colors, including Phia, are normally $14 ($11.20 Maven price) for a roughly half-size (0.27 fl. oz.) bottle. Julep often has good discounts, though, and their polishes sometimes go for $7 or $5 and may even come free with a purchase, so the actual price could be comparable to the $5 I paid for the 0.25 fl. oz. mini of Marion. In any case, at the time of this writing, Marion isn’t available for sale outside of the now-unavailable June 2015 Mystery Trio Box, so a true price comparison is moot.

Bottom line: Zoya Marion and Julep Phia aren’t exact dupes, but they’re close enough that you probably don’t need both. If I had to pick one or the other, I’d probably slightly prefer Marion, since it has slightly better coverage and an easier-to-use bottle, and it’s potentially the more economical choice. Otherwise, if I liked either pink or purple better, I’d probably pick the polish that leaned more toward my preferred color. :)

Disclosure: This post contains one or more referral links. I don’t expect you to use my referral links unless you want to, of course, and they don’t affect me giving my honest opinion. Referrals go toward products reviewed on this site – thanks!

Julep July 2015 Maven Box: The Drenched Collection, It Girl (with promo code)

Look what came in the mail today! It’s the Julep Maven July 2015 It Girl box!

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The contents were packed nicely in ecru paper crinkles and pearly turquoise tissue paper:

  • Mara, a “[t]histle blossom stardust” nail polish,
  • Alyssa, a “[b]eachside turquoise crème” nail polish,
  • Juliana, a “[p]ink grapefruit sheer iridescent” nail polish,
  • 2 Red Bird Southern Refresh-mints,
  • a card insert with this month’s inspirational quote (“Glamour is about feeling good in your own skin.” – Zoe Saldana), introductory descriptions of the new shower oil and konjac body sponge, and a brief note from Julep CEO Jane Park, and
  • a card insert with a $15 off $30+ promo code (ALLYOURS) and ingredient list for the mints.

It’s been a long time (not since January this year!) since I’ve gotten a Julep Maven box, and I finally opted in this month because the It Girl box’s nail polish color combination looked so yummy. The It Girl box isn’t the highest value box (the full-size beauty products featured in the other boxes are consistently higher value), but because the nail polish colors really drew me in, I got it anyway.

Check out these beauteous colors!

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Admittedly, I have other polishes close to Alyssa (because I can’t help myself when it comes to minty/aqua nail colors and collect them compulsively), but I’ve got nothing like Mara or Juliana. I can’t wait to try these out! I’ll definitely post swatches when I do. A face-off between Julep Phia and Zoya Marion are first on my list, though. (7/11/15 UPDATE: It’s up!)

Since I love Julep’s Bare Face cleansing oil and am always on the lookout for new hand moisturizers to fight my horribly dry skin, I was actually pretty excited about the new Rethink Your Shower cleansing oil and Your Cuticles Are Thirsty cuticle cream. I’ll have to try those out later. I’m hoping one or both of them show up in a future mystery box or Julep sale. :)

Julep Maven boxes are $19.99 each if you’re an oldbie like me or if you prepay for three boxes at once. They’re otherwise $24.99 each, and the contents are customizable. If you’d like to try Julep out, you can currently get a first free box with code TREATME! I love that you can skip boxes, send your box to a friend, or cancel whenever you like.

Disclosure: This post contains one or more referral links. I don’t expect you to use my referral links unless you want to, of course, and they don’t affect me giving my honest opinion. Referrals go toward products reviewed on this site – thanks!

July 4th: The Lady Varnishes Stay Puft, Pure Ice Deja Vu & Sinful Colors Star Blast-Off

I’ve swatched a few festive colors for July 4th! Here’s The Lady Varnishes Stay Puft, two coats, on all fingers except the ring, which is two coats Pure Ice Deja Vu layered with one layer Sinful Colors Star Blast-Off.

This is day two of this manicure in outdoor natural light, all nails topped with Essie Good To Go top coat:

The Lady Varnishes Stay Puft, from The Lady Varnishes’ I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost collection, is a fun glow-in-the-dark glitter topper with a sheer white base and multi-sized matte white hexes, translucent blue-raspberry blue and red hexes, and white glass-fleck-y shimmer. The sheer white is subtle but gives the nails a cleaner look. Also, my bottle is marshmallow scented!

The formula is a bit goopy and clumpy, but it’s not too bad to work with, since it’s sheer and hard to mess up. The brush is a bit thicker and wider than the typical standard nail-polish brush and easily fans out to cover the entire nail. I typically prefer the finer standard-size brushes, but I didn’t have trouble with this one, though it did pick up a lot of glitter at once. Dry time was super fast, always a plus.

Did I mention that it glows in the dark? It’s beautiful, too – the glow is primarily a soft blue and looks like a galaxy with all the glitters:

Super sweet!

Pure Ice Deja Vu is one of my favorite Pure Ice polishes. It’s a royal-blue metallic/shimmer with a fuchsia/purple duochrome/dichroic flash, and it’s opaque in two coats. The formula is a tad more watery than optimal, but it’s not too hard to work with, and the brush is pretty standard. Dry time seemed average.

Sinful Colors Star Blast-Off, which I picked up at the same time as Green Ocean from the Having A Blast display at Walgreens, is a glitter topper with matte white stars, small matte white round and hex glitters, and medium matte blue and matte red hexes suspended in a clear base. The base is a bit watery, so some fishing, dabbing, and manual glitter placement is needed to get a good distribution of glitters. The brush is pretty standard and picks up glitter decently. Dry time was a bit longer than average for me.

I think Stay Puft is a new favorite for me. I even like how it looks sheer. :) It goes for $11 at The Lady Varnishes’ Etsy store and is still in stock as of this writing. The other two polishes were $2 polishes at Walmart for Pure Ice and Walgreens for Sinful Colors.

What are your favorite July 4th polishes?

Have a happy and safe Fourth!

Zoya June 2015 Mystery Trio Box swatches: Zoya Temperance & Zoya Violet

Quick swatch post – here’s Zoya Temperance (primary) and Zoya Violet (accent), two of the three colors introduced the Mystery Trio Box released earlier this month, two coats each, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat. This is day two, hence the tip wear, without cuticle cleanup (sorry, no time!).

Direct outdoor natural light:

Temperance, shown on all nails except for the ring, is a somewhat cool-leaning gray creme/crelly, warmed up with subtle pink/green/gold shimmer, which gives the gray an almost purplish cast. The result looks neutral enough that I’d expect it to go well with most, if not all, complexions, and I don’t have any other polish like it. The formula is great, too – not too runny and not too thick – and even though it comes in a mini bottle, the regular Zoya brush tip (one of my favorites) and cap shape make it just as easy to apply as a full-size Zoya. It dried on the fast side of average for me.

Indirect outdoor natural light (shade):

Violet, on the ring finger, is a straight-up neutral-toned medium smoky violet crelly. The formula is a bit thinner than Temperance’s, but it’s pretty similar otherwise and applies well. The brush, as expected, is the same, and it also dried on the fast side of average.

I have no idea if Zoya will be releasing these never-before-seen colors for sale, now that the Mystery Trio Boxes have been sent out. Both colors are fantastic, though, and would make excellent additions to their huge lineup. When I have a chance, I’ll swatch the last of the three colors – Zoya Marion – in a face-off post with Julep Phia. Stay tuned!

Zoya June 2015 Mystery Trio Box unveiling

I’m such a sucker for Zoya deals. Late May, Zoya sent out an e-mail offering yet another Mystery Trio Box, promising “3 brand new, never before released or produced colors in adorable mini 0.25oz sizes,” promised to flatter all skin tones, plus a “special gift,” all for $15 and free shipping. I figured that with a newborn to take care of, I’d probably be too occupied to keep up with my nail-polish obsession for a while, so this might be kind of my last hurrah for now. :]

Here’s what I received last Saturday! (Yep, this blog’s probably going to see sparser updates for a while.)

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The three mini-sized nail polish colors, from left to right:

  • Mini Temperance ($5 retail for Zoya mini polishes), a cool-leaning medium gray with dichroic/duochrome gold-to-magenta shimmer,
  • Mini Marion ($5), a dichroic/duochrome green-to-purple metallic, and
  • Mini Violet ($5), a dusty violet creme.

As promised, these are the Zoya mini 0.25 fl. oz./7.5 mL sizes, only slightly smaller than a bottle of Julep polish (0.27 fl. oz./8 mL). All three colors are ones I’d be happy to wear, and I’m especially excited to try out Temperance, which is different from anything else I currently own.

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Just from looking at the bottles, Marion looks like it could be pretty spot-on as a dupe or near dupe for Julep Phia ($14 regular, $11.20 Maven), a color that I love. I’d like to do a face-off post later on, if I can find the time. (7/11/15 UPDATE: It’s up!) If Zoya releases Marion as a regular nail color later on, I suspect it could be a more economical substitute for Phia, as Zoya frequently has excellent deals. Even at full retail price, Zoya full-size polishes are typically about $5 less than Julep polishes for about double the volume of polish.

The “special gift” turned out to be two items:

  • A 1 fl. oz./15mL bottle of Zoya Remove+ nail polish remover ($2.30 estimated retail value, based on $4.60 for the 2 oz. size) and
  • A 12 g/0.42 oz. tube of Zoya Hot Lips Glossy Lip Balm in Sweet Tart ($6), which looks like a lovely raspberry/plum with fine silver shimmer. (I found a swatch posted by another blogger, if you’re curious how it looks when applied.)

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The estimated retail value of this box is about $23.30, based on Zoya’s regular website prices. When you think about it, the $15 price tag is significantly lower than that of a Julep monthly box ($19.99/month for grandfathered-in older Mavens or if you prepay for three months as a newer Maven with the option to fully customize your box, else $24.99/month), and the items are arguably a better value than what you’d get with a default Julep It Girl box – not that I’m saying that Zoya and Julep are necessarily interchangeable, but for those that don’t prefer one brand over the other, there it is. Not bad, not bad.

Did you pick up this mystery box, and did you like what you got?

Disclosure: This post contains a referral link. I don’t expect you to use my referral links unless you want to, of course, and they don’t affect me giving my honest opinion. Referrals go toward products reviewed on this site – thanks!