Essie Full Steam Ahead

I’ve had Essie Full Steam Ahead for almost a year and kept forgetting to try it out. It’s from Essie’s summer 2013 collection.

Here’s two coats topped with Julep Freedom top coat, indoor incandescent light:

Full Steam Ahead is a fairly neutral, medium lavender with a subtle iridescent shimmer. Essie describes it as “pearlescent,” but I think the glitter grain’s not quite fine enough to give it pearly look. In any case, it’s a beautiful color. The faint iridescent sparkle showed up a bit better before I added top coat, but with top coat, the polish tends to look like a creme unless you look really hard.

In indirect natural light on the second day:

The formula on this polish is pretty good, if a teensy bit on the thick side. It was a little slow to self-level on the first coat but was mostly pretty even on the second go. I had to apply a little carefully to keep layers from being too thick and lumpy. Otherwise, it was pretty easy to work with.

I really enjoyed wearing this color, somehow. I’m usually tired of a polish a day or two in, but I didn’t get tired of this one during the week.

Durability is good, too. With my usual underlayer of Orly Bonder, I had hardly any noticeable wear for about four days, until I decided to assemble a table and chipped it in a lot of places. Still, not bad for how rough I was on it. It’s still mostly intact, except for chipping at the tips and a little on the sides.

That means it’s time to swatch a new color! I’ll be back when I decide which. :]


Sally Hansen Sugar Shimmer Sugar Cloud

I’ve had Sally Hansen Sugar Cloud sitting around for a while and finally felt like trying it out. Sugar Cloud is from the Sugar Shimmer series, which is full of candy-colored, textured, sparkly jellies and seems similar, if not identical, to the Sugar Coat polishes they seem to have replaced. (In fact, I accidentally called it a Sugar Coat polish on my Instagram. Oops.) I also picked up Work of Tart, a teal from the same series, and I may swatch that in the future.

Here’s three coats of Sugar Cloud, topped with Julep Freedom top coat, in full sunlight:

It was actually pretty shiny on its own (though there’s more of that delectable squishy jelly look), but the extra gloss from the top coat really made the shimmer pop.

As you can see, it’s still pretty darn sheer after three coats. At one coat, it kind of just looked like my nails were sparkly and discolored. At two coats, it still looked mostly like my hands were too cold. At three coats, it finally started to look sort of blue. It’d probably look better with a few more coats, but I decided to stop at three.

In the shade, natural light:

Sugar Cloud is a sheer powder-blue textured jelly packed full of dichroic pink-to-gold sparkle. It looks cooler-toned in the bottle (below), but at this opacity, it looks a bit warmer on me. Makes me think of a swimming pool on a sunny day.

This is what the color looks like in the bottle – much cooler toned. (Image from, referral link.)

The bottle’s instructions say to apply two thin layers, so it looks like it’s meant to be sheer, but the color didn’t look flattering that way on my nails. It’s acceptable at three coats, though, and the sandy, sugary texture still comes through, even with a coat of sparkle-enhancing glossy top coat.

Another angle, with varying focus levels to better show the pink/gold sparkle (yep, I’m dehydrated and grossly wrinkly in this photo – ignore that!):

The formula dries fast and is easy to work with. No complaints there.

I really like Sugar Cloud’s color, but I think I might like it even better if it were more opaque. Good news is, with Orly Bonder, it seems to stand up to quite a bit of wear so far, and I have hardly a chip on the third day. Not bad.

Julep Laree & Saaya, plus Plie Wand review

Over this past weekend – at a childhood friend’s bachelorette party, no less – I had a chance to try out my Julep May 2014 Bombshell box nail polish colors, Laree (“[g]olden pink taffeta shimmer) and Saaya (“[g]olden apricot shimmer”).

This is two coats of each (Laree on the index and pinky, Saaya on the middle and ring), topped with Julep Freedom top coat, in natural light:

I’m not sure why it looks like there’s a wrinkle on the ring finger nail, but it was smooth in person.

Another angle to better show the subtle warm gold shimmer in both colors:

Laree is a juicy-looking pink that reminds me of strawberry candy. Saaya similarly reminds me of a peach smoothie or sorbet. Both have a lovely understated gold shimmer that, like many Julep polishes, isn’t immediately obvious but does wonders for adapting the base shade to different skin tones and outfits. I’m a big fan of the glowiness of both colors from certain angles, thanks to that embedded shimmer.

These two polishes have similar formulas that are workable but, unfortunately, not the best. They’re a bit on the thick and chalky side, which doesn’t make for the smoothest or easiest application, though they do dry relatively quickly. They’re both reasonably even and opaque in two coats if you brush them on carefully, but Saaya was still mildly patchy and probably could have used a third coat for good measure.

One of my friends also brought a bunch of her Julep colors, including the Boho Glam set for May with the “[g]olden lilac tulle shimmer” polish, Paulette, which I’d almost picked up as an add-on and now sort of wish I had!


A bunch of us did try the new Plie Wand, though. I’m not sure the longer handle made much of difference in control for me, but some of the girls felt it was helpful, especially for painting toenails. The wand handle was comfortable to hold, but I had to screw the polish cap completely closed and remove the wand each time I took a break, since the wand unbalances the bottle. I guess that’s the trade-off.

Also, as I suspected in my last post, the attached brush cap couldn’t be easily removed without screwing the cap onto a polish bottle for leverage. We ended up having to pop the brush off the pre-inserted cap, then screw the brush-less cap onto a polish bottle to remove it. After that, it was a cinch to swap between caps.

I’ll update my thoughts on the wand if I have any stronger feelings after using it some more.