Face-off: Julep Ellis vs. L’Oreal Masked Affair

A couple years ago, in February 2015, I went through considerable trouble to track down a bottle of L’Oreal Masked Affair and was elated when I succeeded in obtaining this drugstore polish that was, for whatever reason, popular enough to be a bit hard to find.

A few months later, in September 2015, Julep released its own silvery lilac called Ellis, and while it doesn’t seem to be a true holo, it’s still got some linear holo in there, and the color is so spot on that I can’t help but wonder if they took a page from L’Oreal’s book.

Anyway, here they are, side by side, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat and in natural light, two coats each (Masked Affair on the index and ring, Ellis on the middle and pinky):

As you can see, Masked Affair has larger shimmer particles and has a more visible linear holographic effect than Ellis, which is a finer and denser shimmer with a subtler linear holo effect. Ellis is also opaque in two coats, whereas I think Masked Affair looks better with three thin coats, as in my original swatch post.

Both have good formulas and dry pretty fast. Masked Affair dried faster but would benefit from a third coat that Ellis doesn’t need. Unfortunately, I didn’t find either polish very durable, and I had minor chips by the second day when I took these photos, but Ellis lasted about one day longer (about three days instead of two) before developing major chips.

Long story short, the polishes are very close in color but not in texture or holo effect. I love them both!

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!

Face-off: Revlon Top Speed Crystal Glow vs. L’Oreal Bananarama Love

Woo! Third post of the night. Almost caught up now. I’ll try to make this a quickie.

Here’s a comparison of Revlon Top Speed Crystal Glow and L’Oreal Bananarama Love (from L’Oreal’s Miss Candy collection from summer 2013).


I really like yellow polishes, but I’m kind of picky about them. I ended up buying these polishes on the cheap on clearance (Crystal Glow for $2.99, and Bananarama Love for $2.39, or something like that) at different times because they both have that kind of lemony, banana-y, eggy yellow that looks yummy to me. I didn’t even know they were jellies (bonus!) at the time, but the color really attracted me.

Here’s four coats of Crystal Glow (index and ring) and four coats of Bananarama Love (middle and pinky), no top coat, in warm-white incandescent lighting:

As you can tell, they’re both very sheer, but Bananarama (middle and pinky) is way sheerer. They’re otherwise almost identical in color. It reminds me of Chinese egg tarts – yum! (I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.)

I’m drooling. (Image from Foodspotting.com, source linked.)

I really love the squishy, milky-acrylic jelly look, though the sheerness might not appeal to everyone, especially with how many coats it takes just to see the color. Both had average to somewhat long dry time, and even though I waited a long time between coats, by the third and fourth coat, the polish wasn’t really wanting to completely dry. I waited at least two or three hours before going to bed after painting my nails, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I even used my Julep Ta da! Quick Drops, which helped a bit but didn’t completely prevent the polish from smudging while I was sleeping.

In cool-white LED lighting (which makes my fingers look unnaturally purple!):

I bet these polishes would be great for jelly sandwiches. I’ll post some pictures if I try it one day.

Anyway, I think these polishes are similar enough that you don’t need both. They both take around four coats (and a lot more patience than I typically have) to look the way I like, but of the two, Crystal Glow gets my vote because it’s slightly more opaque.