Julep Ava & Revlon Transforming Effects Nude Graffiti

I’m not normally a huge fan of pale pink, but Julep Ava was sitting untried in my stash (I’d gotten it for free with one of my Maven monthly boxes at some point), and I thought it’d go well with Revlon Nude Graffiti, one of the Transforming Effects top coats just released this year.

I mentioned in my last post that I was interested in picking up Holographic Pearls from the same Revlon Transforming Effects line. Well, my local CVS happened to have a buy-two-get-one-free deal, which I was able to combine with some other coupons, so I went ahead and picked up some of the fun new top coats that appealed to me. They were just a couple bucks each after the coupons stacked – such a steal! I’ll swatch the others sometime.

Anyway, this is three coats of Ava with approximately one swipe-dabbed coat of Nude Graffiti on the accent nail, topped with Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat, in outdoor natural light:

Julep Ava is described as a “[b]allet slipper pink frost.” Honestly, though, the finish isn’t all that frosty and is closer to Julep’s other subtle shimmers. Ava’s more like a neutral pale pink creme with a barely-there pearlescent shimmer.

It’s not really my kind of color, but honestly, the real let down of this polish is how terrible the formula is. I think it was worse than Julep Zora, a similar color I previously swatched. It’s not that visible from my photo because the top coat helped even it out somewhat, but it applied very patchily and didn’t self-level well at all, even after two coats. I had to apply a third coat to make it opaque, and even then, it wasn’t very even. Even worse, it took way longer to dry than most polishes I own. Based on the formula, I can’t really recommend this polish, even if pale pink/neutral is your thing.

I liked Revlon Nude Graffiti much better than Ava, and I do think it pairs well with a pale neutral pink! It’s a smorgasbord of matte nude glitters in various shapes (hex, bar, and round), sizes, and shades (what looks to me like peach, pink, ivory, silver/gray, and white). The combination of soft colors somehow really appeals to me, and it adds subtle interest to an otherwise potentially boring neutral. It’s meant to be a layering polish, so the glitters aren’t too dense.

The formula is middling. The clear base is a little runny for my tastes, kind of like the clear base in Hearts of Gold FX. I found I sometimes needed to let some of the base run off the brush before I could apply the glitters without extra goop flooding the cuticle. Because the glitters in this one are smaller than the hearts in Hearts of Gold FX, though, it’s not as much of an annoyance to dab the glitters where you want them. It dries relatively quickly and not too bumpy for a glitter, which is great. If you don’t mind some texture, you might not even need another top coat, but I like it with one extra layer of clear coat so the glitters don’t snag.

As I mentioned, I used Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat with these nails. This top coat works well with some polishes, but maybe because Ava was a little weird/thick/goopy and didn’t quite dry right (even after waiting 15 minutes or so), it didn’t work quite as well with this combination. I think the top coat did as well as can be expected in smoothing out Ava’s unevenness, but it just didn’t dry with the same durability I’d gotten with Julep Phia – I ended up gouging one of my nails some hours after application when I accidentally nicked a zipper. 😛

Anyone else pick up any of Revlon’s new Transforming Effects polishes? What do you think?


L’Oreal Masked Affair

I finally found it! I was so excited that I rushed to swatch this one before properly rehydrating after running errands, hence the wrinkly fingers, sorry!

L’Oreal Masked Affair, one of the polishes from L’Oreal’s recent Dark Sides of Grey collection (an obvious but apparently unofficial tie-in to a certain movie/book) turned out to be a bit of a challenge to track down. Looks like it’s been a highly sought out color, at least among the online nail polish fanatic community – and probably for the same reason I was attracted to this polish when I saw swatches posted by other bloggers over the past month: it’s pretty rare to find a decent holographic polish, let alone a linear holo, from a mainstream drugstore brand at a mainstream drugstore brand price point.

In natural light, three coats, no top coat:

Masked Affair is a subtly lavender/lilac-tinged silver linear holographic polish with some scatter. It looks more obviously purplish in the bottle than on the nail, but against the pinkish notes in my skintone, it mostly looks silver. The linear holo effect is decently visible in strong light, though not the strongest I’ve seen. Certainly not bad, though, especially for a mainstream drugstore brand! In most lighting, I can see some rainbows, but not a super strong linear effect. This one’s opaque in two to three coats, depending on how it’s applied.

The formula isn’t my favorite, though it does dry remarkably fast, which I love. It’s manageable, but probably less frustrating for folks who can polish fairly dexterously, since it dries so quickly that going over one spot twice with the brush will pick up your polish and leave a bald spot. I think this is par for the course for holo polishes, though. Otherwise, application isn’t bad.

I recommend doing the sides of the nail before finishing off the middle – three quick swipes, and that’s it. Use thin coats and don’t go over a spot twice in that one coat; just fix any patchy spots with later coats once the previous coat’s dried. That worked out best for me, anyway.

Again in natural light, with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat:

The holo effect looked a bit dulled when I first applied top coat, but it got better when fully dry. See?

Still plenty of rainbows. :]

Is it a must-buy? Well, it’s probably up to personal taste, really, as well as your budget for polish and how much you care about the strength of the holo effect. I bought Masked Affair at my local Walgreens for $6 something, including tax, was able to find it after checking maybe five different local stores (CVS, Target, etc.), and I don’t regret my purchase. It’s certainly a decent holo polish at a reasonable price point, compared to $10+ for other holos I’ve seen – though the more expensive polishes also seem to have a stronger linear rainbow effect.

I almost picked up Revlon Holographic Pearls, a scatter holo special effect top coat, in the same shopping trip, and I may still eventually buy it after I think about it a bit. I hope this means we’ll be seeing more drugstore holos in the future!

Zoya 2015 New Year New Hue promotional mystery trio unveiling

I swear, Zoya has some of the best promotions.

Near the beginning of the year, Zoya celebrated 2015 by offering a free mystery trio of mini polishes and any three Zoya colors for $15 shipping. In essence, it was like buying any three Zoya polishes at a discounted $5 each and getting a free mystery mini trio and free shipping. Awesome, right?

The promise was that the “[m]ystery shades have never been available for retail sales and will not be available for individual (open stock) purchase. The three shades will be available exclusively in mini (0.25oz) sizes as part of the mystery gift only.

Well, mine arrived today, about a month later! Here are the three mystery minis: Severine, Anais, and Charlotte!


Severine is a neutral metallic – not quite gold and not quite silver but somewhere in the middle. Anais is a very slightly warm black with a subtle fine metallic shimmer that imparts a velvety texture similar to Julep Ledi‘s. Finally, Charlotte is an ivory/light khaki creme, another neutral.

So, it looks like these three colors are limited releases of colors from the Zoya & Peter Som A/W 2014 collaboration, created for Peter Som’s runway show and not available for purchase. Pretty sweet.

Zoya India, Zoya Cyma & Revlon Hearts of Gold FX

I was kind of sloppy with my Valentine’s nails this year, sorry. It was past my bedtime when I did them. ;P

This is Zoya India, two coats, on all fingers, except for the ring finger, which is Zoya Cyma, two coats, plus Revlon Hearts of Gold FX, roughly one coat brush-dabbed on, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat. In direct natural light:

Zoya India is from the Ignite collection last fall. (I swatched Remy from the same collection earlier.) It’s a rich cranberry purple-red jelly packed with dichroic glass fleck-y shimmer that looks to me like it shifts from pink to gold. This polish looks like a jewel-toned dark red in some light. So lovely. No problems at all with the formula or brush, and dry time was average.

In retrospect, I think the Miracle Gel was a poor top coat choice for this polish. It’s not quite thick enough to bring out the best glow from India’s complex shimmer, and even though the polish underneath was completely dry when I applied top coat, I experienced a lot of color transfer onto the top coat brush (which the Miracle Gel top coat has a tendency to do – my main peeve about this top coat). Yuck. I definitely recommend using a different top coat in this case.

In the shade (please excuse the wrinkly fingers of first-thing-in-the-morning dehydration, haha):

Zoya Cyma is from the Flourish collection from the 2008 holiday season that I don’t think is available anymore, but which I got as a random freebie from Zoya in one of my previous orders. It looks more reddish in the bottle, so I was surprised that it came off more as a cherry-candy red-pink on the nail. It’s also got a lit-from-within gold shimmer that’s hard to see in my photos, since I layered glitter on top, but Cyma does look pleasantly glowy on its own. Bright pinks and reds are not my typical go-to colors, and I probably wouldn’t have bought this polish myself, but it’s a great Valentine’s color . Great formula and usual easy-to-use Zoya brush, average dry time.

Revlon Hearts of Gold FX is a clear base with sparse holographic heart glitters and fine gold square glitters. I really like the concept of this polish, but the execution, sadly, leaves something to be desired. The base is watery, and I definitely needed to fish for the elusive heart glitters. Placement wasn’t easy, either. You’d think it’d at least be somewhat simple to deposit glitters with such a watery base, but the hearts tended to stubbornly stick to the brush right when I needed them to come off. I spent too long dabbing hearts into place and the goopy base melted Cyma a little onto one of the hearts. Ugh. D:

A tip for this one – collect the glitters you want on the brush, then carefully let most of the clear base drain off the brush before dabbing the glitters onto the nail. That seemed to work most of the time.

I think I’m going to want to look for a different heart-glitter topper for times I have less patience to work with Hearts of Gold FX. The two Zoyas, though, are excellent.

UPDATE 2/15/15: Bah, lots of staining with Zoya India on removal, which I’ve never had with a red polish before. I don’t know if it’s the base coat I used (Nail-Aid Peeling Nail Intense Repair Gel, my current go-to for the past year or so, which has usually been pretty reliable in preventing staining – I’ll have to write up a post about this product sometime!), a combination of the top coat and base coat, or just the polish itself. Gross. As you can see, the accent nail with Cyma was fine (though there’s some residue from the heart glitter in this shot). Next time I wear India, I’ll try a different base.

Just a heads up. Anyone else experience this with India?

Julep Margit

I’m finally trying out Julep Margit from my January Maven box!

This is two coats in natural light (overcast), topped with Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat:

Margit is described by Julep as “[m]ushroom with rose shimmer.” I wouldn’t say that’s inaccurate, but as you can see, though it’s pretty prominent in the bottle, the rose shimmer really doesn’t show that much on the nail. From some angles, you can see some subtle rosiness in the finish, but it looks mostly indistinguishable from silver from most angles. It does seem to lend the otherwise warm gray polish an almost lilac cast, though, which is interesting. The shimmer, in general, is pretty subtle, and from afar, Margit can almost pass for a creme.

The formula isn’t bad, but it’s a bit on the thick side, so it had a tendency to go on unevenly. Nothing a top coat can’t fix, luckily!

I did have some trouble with the brush, though. Julep’s recent brushes are wider than they used to be, with a bit of a flared tip, and they’re a bit large for my smaller nails. I try to compensate by pressing lightly and only using part of the brush, but that results in kind of uneven application, since the brush doesn’t fan out properly. It’s not my favorite, but that could just be me.

It’s too bad about the rose shimmer, but Margit’s more interesting than your typical neutral creme, especially if you’re limited to so-called work-appropriate polishes. I like the purplish tinge going on there.

Just a note on durability, probably more the Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat than Margit itself: it’s only been a day, and I’ve already gotten a tiny chip on one nail from just packing my work bag. Boo. I guess I’m getting too used to the hardier top coats I usually use, like Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat. It’s got a nice shine and dries fast, though, so you could do worse. Julep also claims it’s oxygen permeable and healthier for your nails, but I can’t vouch for that one way or another.

Next week, I’ll probably swatch something vaguely Valentines-y. :] We’ll see!