Julep January 2014 Maven box: The Boudoir Collection, Boho Glam

I didn’t expect to make a second blog post today, but my January 2014 Julep Maven box arrived earlier than expected. I almost skipped this month, but I ended up going with the Boho Glam box because my husband was in love with the sage green creme, Hannah.

Here’s my box, as usual, packaged very nicely. The dove-gray scrunchy paper and pearly blush tissue paper look pretty snazzy together.

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The Boho Glam box had the Ta Da! Quick Dry Drops, Hannah (the sage creme), and Noelle (“[s]andy beach silk”). The bonus item, those spongy orange things on the right, looks like maybe nail buffing blocks to me, though I’m not 100% sure because the package didn’t say. They’re stiff and rough, so that’s my best guess. The card also includes a 10% off code (it’s cuticle10) for buying Vanish Cuticle Softener & Remover and Julep’s cuticle pusher. The usual inspirational quote square insert doesn’t have an inspirational quote this time: it just says “2014 will be my year.” I got Margot (“Old Hollywood gold shimmer”) as an add-on, partially because I love gold foils and partially because I was curious about something (read on).

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I haven’t tried the quick dry drops yet, though I figured they’d come in handy, since I’m very impatient. I’m looking forward to trying Noelle, the silk-finish polish (which Julep describes as “semi-matte with a hint of opalescence”), but I’m actually a little uncertain about Hannah. The sage green looks much more vibrant in Julep’s product shots than it does in person. If you thought my photo made the green look a little desaturated, kind of grayish with a hint of khaki, that’s not because the colors are off in the image; it really is sort of brownish in person. I’m going to withhold final judgment until I actually put it on, though. I’ll post swatches when I do.

(UPDATE 1/6/14: I’ve now swatched Sienna and Margot together for your reference pleasure.)

(UPDATE 1/15/14: Here are my swatches for Noelle and comments on the Ta Da! Quick Dry Drops.)

(UPDATE 1/28/14: I’ve now swatched Hannah, as well.)

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Meanwhile, Margot is the first color I’ve gotten from Julep that is almost identical to a previous color, at least in the bottle. I’ll post a face-off later, to compare it on the nail. Meanwhile, check out these photos. As I suspected from seeing the preview photos, it looks like a near-dupe of Sienna in the bottle.

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Sienna is just slightly paler and more greenish/cooler-toned than Margot, which has a more saturated color in comparison, but they’re otherwise almost identical. (Feel free to ignore the rose-tinged liquid at the top of Sienna; the polish had settled a bit and separated, but I shook up the bottle for the next two photos.) I’m pretty sure most people couldn’t tell these two apart if they weren’t right next to each other. I put Zelda next to the two, just as a reference point; it’s obviously much pinker-toned.

Close-up in shade:

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Close-up in full sun:

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Yep, pretty similar. You probably don’t need both (again, to be confirmed after swatching), but my burning need to compare these two polishes came first, so I hope this post helps someone. :]

Did you get this month’s Maven box, and if so, how did you like it?

Essie Belugaria

As I expected, my Christmas nails chipped horribly without Orly Bonder, so I changed things up early this week. :]

I’ve been dying to try out Essie Belugaria since I first saw it. It’s from Essie’s Encrusted Treasures collection for winter this year, the one that surprised me by how unusual it turned out to be. Belugaria is the most out-there polish in the collection, I think: it’s a black jelly packed with round beads reminiscent of caviar, as well as large holographic silver hex glitters. From a quick look around the blogosphere, it seemed to inspire either love or hate in people, which instantly intrigued me.

Day two, two coats of Belugaria in sunlight, no top coat:

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The rainbows are much more prominent in person than in these photos. It was kind of hard to capture.

As you can probably guess from my photos, application was a tad tricky, and the huge beads made it challenging to get a smooth curve above the cuticle. Then again, I think the super chunky texture makes unevenness a bit more forgivable, since it’s not super obvious in person. The polish initially dried pretty shiny but became semi-matte a few hours later.

Day one in indoor fluorescent lighting (man, it makes me look so yellow!):

I remember some bloggers mentioning that the glitter was covered up by the black base when they tried this polish, but I didn’t have that problem, myself. I’m not sure if it was my application method or what, but just in case, this is how I did it: I swiped on a first coat, which was pretty patchy and gross-looking (to be honest), then dabbed on a second coat the way I typically use glitter polishes, to fill in the bald patches and place the “caviar” and glitter in the less covered spots.

I wasn’t sure if I liked Belugaria at first, but it grew on me as I got used to it, and after a few hours of wear, I decided I do love it. :] The gritty (literally and figuratively) punk-rock look mixed with a dash of flashy rainbow and classy black is a winning combination in my book. It also looks kind of like space, but with a fun craggy texture. It’s hard to explain the appeal exactly, but suffice it to say that it manages to combine a lot of features I like into one polish.

I can definitely understand why it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Textured polishes don’t seem to do it for everyone,  for one, and Belugaria is way more textured than most, e.g., Zoya Pixie Dust or OPI Liquid Sand polishes. In fact, it’s downright scratchy (without topcoat), like concrete with sharp bits (the glitter) in it. This means it’s not the most comfortable thing rubbing against your skin – which is bound to happen all day long, since it’s on your hands. Because of the chunkiness, it also has a tendency to catch on stuff and chip off (I had a lot of chipped tips within a couple hours), and the beads, it turns out, are white on the inside and don’t look great against the black polish when chipped open. Also, as I mentioned previously, application can be a bit challenging and may require some patience!

Then again, it’s super easy to touch up because a fresh dab of polish blends in invisibly, due to the texture effect, and Belugaria seriously dries super fast without a fast-dry top coat or anything. It also looks different and super cool without being obviously flamboyant, and it can match with just about everything. On the whole, I’m a fan.

So, what do you think of Belugaria? Yea or nay?

Essie Toggle to the Top, Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Ivy League, Orly Sparkling Garbage, and Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Rosey Shooter

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! Just a quickie post with my festive nails today:

Index & pinky

  • two coats Essie Toggle to the Top, from Essie’s winter collection this year, Shearling Darling.

Toggle to the Top is a very rich, deep wine/raspberry jelly packed with brighter magenta glitter. It’s a bit patchy with one coat but smooth in two, and it builds nice glitter depth with just the two coats. The formula felt a bit watery to me for this kind of polish, but I also might have been shaking from drinking too much coffee, hence the wobbly application. Anyway, delicious color and my favorite from that collection.

Middle & ring:

  • two coats Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Ivy League
  • two coats Orly Sparkling Garbage, and
  • one coat Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Rosey Shooter.

I picked up Ivy League on clearance for $0.82 at my local CVS! It’s a lovely lime green shimmer on its own, though I tinted it bluer with Sparkling Garbage (from Orly’s Mash Up collection from the summer), which is a sheer teal jelly loaded with fine holographic silver glitter. Rosey Shooter is a clear base scattered with metallic almost-red rose-colored hex and round glitter in various sizes, as well as matte white multi-size round, hex and bar glitters. I liked the concept of Rosey Shooter, but the glitter is very diffuse, so you’ll need more layers if you want to have denser coverage.

Day two on this one with some minor chipping  already, mainly because I didn’t use my usual Orly Bonder underneath. Instead, I used Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Green Tea + Olive Growth as a base coat, which I often put under a coat of Orly Bonder. All nails topped with Seche Vite.

Anyway, that’s it for today! Happy holidays to all of you!

Zoya Dream, Seraphina, and Mosheen

I’m celebrating my almost-birthday by finally wearing three polishes from Zoya’s  Zenith collection for winter this year. I’ve seriously been super excited to try these ever since I hunted them down about a month or so ago. I was practically salivating as soon as I saw Dream and Payton (which I’ll swatch later on) and ended up liking the entire collection enough to buy all six. They’re normally $8 each, but with strategic coupon deployment on top of a buy-two-get-one deal at my local Ulta, I managed to pick up the set for about $32. Score! 😀

This is two coats of  Zoya Dream on all nails but the ring finger, which has two coats of Zoya Seraphina striped with Zoya Dream (two coats) and topped with Zoya Mosheen (one coat):

Zoya Dream is a rich deep-cerulean blue (somewhere between topaz blue and sapphire blue) jelly base with fine holographic flake glitter – it gives an effect like a starry sky or thickly falling snow. So beautiful – of course I’d choose this polish for my birthday nails! Two coats provided good coverage (and glitter complexity), and the formula is great.

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Zoya Seraphina is a neutral-toned silver-white metallic/shimmer. It’s hard to see in my photos because I slapped so much other stuff on it, but it’s got a really pretty, clean, icy, spun-sugar look to it on its own. The formula is good but pretty sheer, so I would’ve used three coats if I wore it by itself.

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Zoya Mosheen is a delicate-looking glitter effect polish with a sheer turquoise base (which does tint the base color a tiny bit), fine translucent iridescent blue/green bar glitter, and fine translucent pink/gold round glitter. It reminds me of candy, icicles, snowy pine needles, snow globes, and Christmas tinsel. :] The formula is a little goopy in the way of most glitters, but not overly thick and easy to work with.

In direct sunlight (the rainbow sparkle shows up more in person):

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I love all three colors – they’re all very wintry yet would look great at any time of year – but Dream is my favorite, hands down. Do you like the Zoya winter 2013 polishes? Which one’s your favorite?

Face-off: Revlon Parfumerie Autumn Spice vs. Julep Jillian

Ever since I first caught wind of the Revlon Parfumerie collection, I’ve had my eye on a few of the colors. The fun, old-school bottle design and scent gimmick were enough to get me interested, but there are some interesting colors in there, too.

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Revlon Parfumerie Autumn Spice ($5.99 at CVS) was on the top of my list and seems hardest to find, probably because it’s awesome, and everyone seems to want it. My CVS got them a little late, and I was lucky enough to snag the last bottle off the display yesterday. By chance, my Julep Maven box for this month also came in yesterday, and I noticed Julep Jillian ($14 regular, $11.20 Maven) surprisingly had some similarities to Autumn Spice, so I decided to do a direct comparison.

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I didn’t expect these two to be anything alike based on Julep’s product photos and swatches of Autumn Spice I’d seen around the blogosphere, but both polishes have a lovely dichroic purple-to-gold effect and, in warmer lighting, look pretty close in color. The most obvious difference is that Autumn Spice has a flakier, sparklier texture; it looks kind of like a glass fleck finish to me. Jillian is a smoother, fine shimmer in a translucent black base. In whiter light, Autumn Spice reads primarily like a spicy coffee brown to burgundy with gold flakes, while Jillian is often cooler-toned and purpler, closer to the eggplant Julep describes it as.

Anyway, on to the pictures so you can judge for yourself.

In bright indoor lighting (a warm white), the colors looked most similar. My index and ring fingers are Autumn Spice, while my middle and pinky fingers are Jillian:

In softer, whiter indoor lighting, they begin looking more different from each other:

In indirect sunlight with a splash of indoor lighting, the difference in color is maybe a little more apparent. This photo was taken on the second day. There’s some pretty noticeable tip wear, but that typically happens with me within a day, even with wrapping the tips, so it doesn’t really say anything especial about the durability of the polish. Your mileage may vary. Also, feel free to ignore the shimmer lotion. :]

By the way, Autumn Spice has a pleasant spiced apple cider smell. It’s subtle, but it comes through even with top coat over it, and it’s still smelling pretty good on the second day, after two showers. The sharper spiciness of the initial scent is fading, though, leaving more of the sweet undertone behind. I should probably stop sniffing my nails in public, eh?

Anyway, I had no problems with the formula on either of these, and they both became nicely opaque in two coats, as pictured above. I used Seche Vite over both polishes in my photos.

So, there you have it. Autumn Spice and Jillian aren’t super alike, but they’ve definitely got a little bit of similar awesomeness going on. I’d recommend them both, though I think, of these two, Autumn Spice has my heart. What do you think? Are you eyeing any other Revlon Parfumerie colors like I am? (I picked up Wintermint, but I still need Italian Leather, at the least!)

Julep December 2013 Maven box: The Glitterati Collection, Classic with a Twist

I’ll be honest: I waffled on this month’s Julep Maven box. I was kind of torn because I like many of the colors, but at the same time, many seemed a little too similar to ones I already have (not all of them Juleps), and the combinations for each Maven type seemed to include at least one color I wanted and one that I felt I had something similar to already.

In the end, I picked the Classic with a Twist box because I wanted to try out the Sweep Eyeshadow Palette, and Jillian, which Julep describes as a “[d]eep eggplant with bronze molten”, caught my eye the most out of this month’s polishes. Meanwhile, Mia, described as a “[g]reenish silver metallic”, struck me as similar to many silvery foils I already own, but I decided I’d take it anyway because I never get  tired of shiny silvers.

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The box also included a couple surprises: a set of two Twistbands (a silver and a blue-purple) with a code for 25% off the Twistband Club for 2014 (a hair-tie subscription service which quick Internet research tells me usually costs $10/month, with discounts if you purchase more months at once) and a Julep code for 40% off a purchase (excluding Maven Exclusives, Savvy Deals, and Secret Store items) before the end of this year. I might just save my Julep code for this month’s mystery box!

I snapped a detail photo of the two polishes, but the sunlight wasn’t really cooperating today, so Jillian looks black (keep scrolling for a better picture later on). In person, it’s more like the first photo – a shimmery burgundy that flashes gold in the right light. It does have a translucent black base, though, like Julep’s other moltens (Blakely and Angela), and will look almost black from certain angles.

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The eyeshadow palette has a magnetic closure, and the case is made of satin-finish laminated cardboard. There’s a piece of protective plastic between the mirror and the powder. At least one of the pots in my palette (Tiramisu, the leftmost and lightest color) is kind of crookedly set, and it doesn’t seem I can fix it. Overall, I feel the packaging and presentation isn’t quite as sleek and high-end-looking as previous Julep cosmetic products (like, say, the lip scrub), but it’s in one piece and seems sturdy and functional. As long as the product works well, I don’t care all that much.

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I haven’t had a chance to try these yet, and I hardly ever wear makeup, but I may have a chance over the holidays to use them and update this post with my thoughts on the shadows.

I also made a quickie color comparison of Mia with Missy and Sienna for your reference, so you can see how similar/dissimilar the colors are. I also included a much better/more accurate bottle shot of Jillian that shows off its potential gold-to-purple flash.

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In more yellowish fluorescent lighting, I found that Missy and Mia looked kind of similar. In whiter light, like in the photo above, Mia is more obviously green-tinted. I imagine the subtle greenish tint might make Mia more flattering for people with warmer/olive skin tones to wear, though I don’t feel it does all that much for my more pinkish skin. I do like Jillian a lot, and I’m happy with the box overall, though, as I suspected, I’ve got a few polishes in my stash kind of similar to Mia.

Next up, I’ll be posting a face-off between Jillian and Revlon Parfumerie Autumn Spice, which I luckily found at my local CVS today. (Score!) I’m just waiting until I have a chance to take a photo or two in sunlight before I write that up.

Did any of you get the Julep Maven box this month? Which box did you choose, and what did you think?