Julep Hannah

I decided to make a lengthier post about this polish because it’s such an interesting color: so easy to underappreciate but ultimately pretty amazing.

I mentioned that I had my initial qualms when I received Julep Hannah with my January 2014 Julep Maven Boho Glam box. The marketing text described Hannah as a “[s]age crème”, but in person, the color in the bottle looked more like a murky, slightly greenish khaki that didn’t especially appeal to me. Standing alone, it really doesn’t look that much like a sage green, which I’d always thought of as a slightly grayish green, not the mildly greenish variation of tan that I was seeing:

Julep Hannah official color swatch – pretty accurate.

I was prepared to be let down, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how the sage green finally emerged against my skin tone, after three coats of Hannah (no top coat in these photos) – somewhat true to the Julep product shots, after all.

In cool-toned artificial indoor lighting, the green looks more intense:

Day 2, in outdoor natural light, shown with my homegrown pineapple sage plant for color reference:

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I know pineapple sage isn’t the dusty green of regular culinary sage, but you can see how Hannah isn’t quite green in comparison. In fact, it’s closer to the color of the concrete planter, with just a touch of green, but it could pass as a sage green after all. For what looks like a swampy brown-gray-green on its own, it’s a surprisingly lovely color as a polish!

The finish is what I’d consider a crelly – somewhere between a creme and a jelly – and has a delicate translucency that reminds me of milk glass. The consistency is a bit sticky and remains a bit sheer even when applied more thickly, but it’s not the worst to work with. It was definitely not evenly opaque after two coats, though, and even after three coats, it’s still got some balder spots if you look carefully. Overall, the formula was okay, though admittedly not my favorite because of its tendency to encourage bald spots. The color is surprisingly flattering against skin, though – I expect it’d be flattering on a variety of skin tones, if not all complexions – and I like it a heck of a lot better than I expected.

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This polish reminds me of what I said to my sisters when I first told them what I thought of Julep. Though I find Julep tends to err on the conservative, work-appropriate side, I think their strength is in subtle polishes like Hannah that may not look especially eye-catching on first glance (at least to a person like me who loves their garish colors and finishes) but that surprise with their versatility and how well they compliment a variety of skin tones.

A couple other Julep colors that have struck me as interesting for similar reasons are Simone and Leila. Both of these polishes disappointed me at first because their advertised opalescent shimmer was hardly visible on the nail, but I discovered upon wearing them that the almost-invisible opalescent shimmer allowed these colors to gracefully adapt to a variety of outfit and complexion colors, due to the discreet color shifts from that hidden shimmer. Amazing.

Anyway, that’s what sold me on Julep in the first place and why I’m still a Maven. If you’d like to try their monthly subscription for free, you can use the code FREEBOX for a first free Maven box, and as always, you’re welcome to use my referral link, if you’d like to send some love my way.

P.S. I did try the Ta Da! Quick Dry Drops with this polish, and again, I supposed it might have helped a little, but even after following the bottle directions and then waiting another three minutes after the drops, I still got dings and gouges in my polish. I think I’ll continue sticking with my quick-dry top coats when I’m not using any special finishes.

Both products are priced at $14.00 regular and $11.20 for Mavens.

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Julep Noelle and Ta Da! Quick Dry Drops

I gave two of my Julep Maven products from this month a try for this post – two birds with one stone and all that. :]

Julep describes Noelle ($14.00 regular, $11.20 Maven) as a “[s]andy beach silk,” with the silk finish described as “semi-matte with a hint of opalescence.” In these photos, I’m wearing Noelle on all nails, one coat on the index and middle fingers and two coats on the ring and pinky fingers, just to show you how little difference there is with the extra coat. No top coat this time.

In indirect natural light:

I like Noelle. I didn’t have anything like it in my collection before, and though it’s a bit muted for my usual flamboyant tastes, it’s lovely in a subtle way.

And in more direct sun to better show off the sparkle:

Julep’s description of the color and finish are pretty spot-on. Noelle is a soft silvery nude/sand, and the finish strikes me as a matte-ified frosty/pearly shimmer – not too different from using a matte topcoat over a shimmer, as far as I can tell, but convenient that it does it on its own. It reminds me of sugar and ice cream. :9 The swatch on the cap of my polish bottle felt a little more textured, but it’s actually got a velvety feel on the nail.

Application was smooth and very easy to control, though the formula is a teensy bit thick, and it was easy to accidentally have too much polish on the brush. I didn’t have any problems with it, though, and I think this one can be a one-coater. With two coats, the color’s a bit denser and actually becomes a bit cooler and grayer toned, at least against my nails and skin. I felt it was reasonably opaque in just one coat, though, and I prefer it at one coat, with the rosier tone.

The nice thing about this polish is you can easily tell when it’s dry because it goes from shiny to matte. You can kind of see the brush strokes in this polish, especially if you rush through the application like me, but it’s much less noticeable after it dries, thanks to the finish.

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I’ve never used quick-dry drops before because I typically use Seche Vite over everything, so Ta Da! Quick Dry Drops ($14.00 regular, $11.20 Maven) were a new experience for me. I did as instructed and applied 1-2 drops to the base of each nail after waiting about a minute. The drops spread out over the entire nail as soon as they hit the nail surface and left a bit of light oil on the nail and surrounding skin. They smelled strongly medicinal, not so much like acetone or other typical solvents in nail products, maybe because of the various plant oils in the formula (rosewood, sweet almond, rice bran, lavender, and ylang ylang). The pungent smell lingered on throughout the afternoon (I painted my nails during my lunch break) and is still there after washing my hands a bunch of times, but the herbal scent is pleasant once it’s not punching you in the face.

I’m not entirely sure how much they helped with drying the polish, since I’d never used Noelle before, but it’s definitely not instantaneous. It still took a few minutes, and I accidentally dinged my pinky maybe one or two minutes out (oops!), so it took longer than that to fully dry. I’ll have to test it out with a polish I have more experience with one of these days. If I do, I’ll update this post.

Face-off: Julep Margot vs. Julep Sienna

In my post about the January 2014 Julep Maven box, I mentioned that Margot and Sienna struck me as being very similar colors, with Sienna appearing just a smidgen more silvery/unsaturated. Now that I’ve swatched them on the nail, I can confirm that they’re similar enough that they can probably be considered dupes of each other for practical purposes.

These photos are taken in indoor light. (I might add a sunlit shot later on.)

Bottle comparison:

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On the nail:

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In harsher lighting:LF_140106b

UPDATE 1/7/14: Here’s an extra shot in natural light on day two, with my phone camera:

Basically identical twins with just a few hard-to-spot differences to tell them apart, am I right? In person, Margot is slightly warmer and a bit sparklier in some light, so personally, if I had to pick one, I’d go with Margot, but I honestly don’t think anyone would notice the difference if it wasn’t pointed out. I stand by my earlier conclusion that you probably don’t need both.

Lupicia Tea 2014 Happy Bag

This post isn’t about polish, but it is about a mystery bag. It’s hard for me to pass up a mystery bag/box, especially when it’s an excellent value. It’s even harder for me to pass up a mystery bag when that bag is full of delicious tea – which, by the way, for those of you reading my blog for my nail-related posts, is full of antioxidants and excellent for your health, which positively affects your nails and everything else as a bonus!

The day after New Year’s, I stopped by Lupicia, a specialty tea shop, while I was at shopping at my local Japanese grocery. The nice salesperson there informed me that they’re currently selling Happy Bags, which are blind/mystery bags guaranteed to contain tea worth at least double what you pay, while supplies last. They had a $30 bag worth at least $60 and a $60 bag worth at least $120.

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I’ve wondered for some time now if my addiction to mystery bags is somehow cultural. Fukubukuro (福袋), or lucky bags, are mystery grab-bags customarily offered by all kinds of Japanese stores around New Year’s. It’s probably a good thing I don’t have ready access to a lot of those, else I’d probably go broke.

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Predictably, I picked up a $60 bag because I love Lupicia tea. Here’s what was inside, including each item’s regular value:

The total value of this bag comes out to $121.50, and I now have enough tea to last me the year. :] Pretty awesome deal, yeah?

As a note, my two sisters each picked up a $30 bag, and their contents turned out to be identical, so it’s possible that the bags at each price level include the same items. If you got one of these, I’d love to know what teas you received and test my theory!

UPDATE 1/7/14: I forgot to mention earlier that I got a Mixed Assortment bag. The store I visited had two choices, Mixed Assortment and Herbal. It looks like the Lupicia website only offers one type of bag, so it might be different from the bag I bought. Hope that helps!