Face-off: Sephora Formula X Riotous vs. Julep

On my birthday last month, my pet human husband gave me Sephora Formula X Riotous as part of my birthday present, just because he liked the color. When I saw it, I couldn’t help myself. I had to sprint to my stash, immediately dig out my bottle of Julep Nellie (from my October 2014 Julep box), and do a little dance while comparing the bottles side by side. (I don’t know about you, but I have this profound feeling of resonance when I see a polish color that looks just like something else I own…and I think Mr. ‘Fiend has an uncanny tendency to reliably buy me near-spot-on dupes all the time possibly for the same reason.)

Anyway, before we go on: I’m sorry for the super crappy paint job. I kind of slapped this on half in the dark while watching Stranger Things. 😀

Well, they’re pretty close, aren’t they? The formula on these two fuchsia creme/crelly polishes is almost identical, too. Both had slightly watery formulas (not too watery but watery enough that I accidentally flooded a cuticle when I wasn’t paying attention) but excellent coverage in two coats.

Riotous dried faster than Nellie, though, so it gets the edge for that! Other than that, though, I really can’t say there’s much difference between the two. Durability was about the same. They lasted on the longer side of average for me (maybe four or five days). I honestly couldn’t tell them apart on the nail, so you probably don’t need both, even if you’re a polish fiend.

Sephora Formula X colors were originally $10.50 for a 0.4 fl. oz. bottle, but it looks like they’re currently on clearance for $5 each at the time of this writing, and Riotous is no longer available at their website. (I don’t know if this means Sephora’s discontinuing their Formula X line, but if so, that makes me sad!) Julep colors are usually $14 for 0.27 fl. oz. ($11.40 Maven), but they frequently have deals to pick up polishes for cheaper. Both are great!

Nuance Nightshadow | Face-off: Julep Desiree vs. Revlon Holographic Pearls

Here’s a quick comparison of Julep Desiree, a holographic top coat that came as a free gift with this month’s Julep Maven monthly box, and Revlon Holographic Pearls, which I previously tried over a shimmer polish with less dramatic effect. (They’re not all that similar, and I may even own other holo toppers that are more dupe-y, but this is just what I grabbed.)

In outdoor natural light, I’ve got two coats of Nuance Nightshadow (a dark blue creme) on all nails, plus:

  • index: Essie Good to Go top coat (1 coat)
  • middle & pinky: Julep Desiree (1 coat)
  • ring: Revlon Holographic Pearls (1 coat) + Essie Good to Go top coat (1 coat)

First things first: Nuance Nightshadow is great – dries on the fast side and super glossy even without top coat, and the formula is easy to apply. Opaque in two coats. (Nuance is Salma Hayek’s CVS-exclusive brand, and the nail colors I’ve seen aren’t especially adventurous, but the ones I’ve tried have good formulas and durability.)

Julep Desiree is a delicate holo top coat with a clear base. It’s a subtle and beautiful effect, and the formula is easy to apply and provides good coverage (in terms of shimmer density, not opacity, obviously) in one coat. It dries a tad on the slow side, though. A quick-dry top coat could help with that.

Revlon Holographic Pearls is like a gaudy disco ball next to Desiree, but hey, sometimes that’s what you want! Against Nightshadow, it’s clear how glitter-packed HP is in just one coat, and it’s definitely not subtle. HP dries matte on its own, but I added an extra layer of glossy top coat for better rainbows. This one dries pretty fast, and no complaints on application.

Here’s another shot in different lighting, to give you a better idea of the holo rainbow effect:

I had the coffee shakes and was pretty sloppy, sorry!

Anyway, there you have it, in case anyone ever wondered how these two holo toppers look side by side.

Vacation nails & Taiwanese nail lacquer: Julep Shay, LynBDesigns Thirsty & UNT EA055 愛情的微光 (A Glimmer of Love; English name: Mint to Be)

I recently got back from a two-week trip to Taiwan and had a great time there! Can’t go wrong with the company of beloved family, copious amounts of great food, and lots of hiking in brutal island sun to kick this post-baby body back into some kind of shape.

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…Plus, I had the chance to snag some Taiwanese nail polish while I was visiting the motherland! xD This is UNT EA055 愛情的微光 (Ai Qing de Wei Guang, or A Glimmer or Love) from UNT’s Love Captain collection:

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(UPDATE 5/7/16: I just discovered UNT has an English website, and this color is named Mint to Be for the English-speaking customers. I’ve updated the references below with the official English name, as well.)

It was 99 NT, or about three bucks, on sale (normally 199 NT, or about six bucks). UNT might be a drug-store polish, but I can’t be sure. I found it at a FamilyMart. In the department stores, I mostly saw familiar brands like OPI and such, so I was excited to try UNT when I saw that it’s a made-in-Taiwan brand.

I also picked up another UNT glitter topper called 欲望是合理的 LV035 (Desire is Reasonable; English name: Daily Miracles) that I’ll swatch on another day.

Anyway, I brought Julep Shay from my January 2016 Julep Maven box and LynBDesigns Thirsty on the trip with me, knowing that I’d be in the mood for some bright untried colors while I broiled in the tropical heat. The trip was so hectic that I almost didn’t get around to polishing my nails, but two days before I left, I threw in the towel and just painted my nails on the moving tour bus. It didn’t come out especially well as a result, though I tried to take maximum advantage of stop lights and traffic, and I didn’t have a chance to take better photos, but eh, other things took higher priority. 😉

This is two coats Julep Shay on all nails, except for two coats LynBDesigns Thirsty on the ring finger, topped with two coats UNT EA055, all topped with Essie Good to Go top coat. The photo was taken on the Taipei subway in artificial light of some sort, probably white LED. The color’s not too off – though, of course, Thirsty’s neon doesn’t photograph properly.

Shay is a turquoise glass-fleck-y shimmer (described by Julep as a “[c]eladon iridescent chrome”) that’s beautifully bright. Perfect tropical vacation color. The formula was easy to apply, but the dry time was annoyingly long! I dinged some of my nails because I didn’t wait long enough for them to dry. Takes patience, but it’s a beautiful polish.

Thirsty is a neon mac-‘n’-cheese orange (yum!) crelly that is definitely way more impressive in person than in a photo, which just can’t capture those blazing neons. (Well, either that or monitors can’t display it.) Love. Perfect formula, fast dry time.

EA055 (愛情的微光/A Glimmer of Love/Mint to Be) is mint-green and teal multi-sized glitter topper with a clear base. Like an average glitter topper, it requires a tiny bit of fishing for glitter in the bottle and dab-and-glide glitter placement, but it’s not too bad. I needed two coats to get the glitter density I wanted. Dry time seemed average or maybe slightly longer than average for a glitter, but not bad.

Durability on this combination was fantastic, though; this mani lasted me a good week before chipping significantly. Happy with all three polishes overall. ❤ I hope I have more chances to travel abroad and collect foreign nail lacquers!

Julep Hayley & Julep Rosie

I love beets. There may be other ways to describe Julep Hayley‘s deep red-purple – say, wine or Bordeaux or cranberry – but beetroot describes this color pretty well.

Here’s two coats on all fingers, other than Julep Rosie (also two coats) on the ring finger, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in direct natural light:

Hayley has super-rich color and great color payoff. It’s bright in direct sunlight and deeper/vampier in indirect light. It also has a slightly squishy, slightly translucent crelly finish that seems to glow in the sun but is opaque enough that there’s no visible nail line.

Hayley’s formula is on the watery side for a Julep, which I discovered when I accidentally flooded the cuticle on the first nail. I found it a little bit challenging to work with, especially because Julep’s unusually long brush stem tends to collect more excess polish, and since a thinner formula runs down the stem so much faster, it’s easy to accidentally have too much excess polish drip down the brush while you’re working. The clunky wide and flared Julep brush, which isn’t my favorite, has brush bristles are a little too stiff for easily applying such a liquid polish, though it’s manageable if you’re careful (unlike me). The dry time is also a little long, and a fast-dry top coat really helps here. I’d definitely recommend applying this in thin coats, though, which requires a little bit of care.

On its own, Hayley dries to a slightly squishy, glossy finish that looks even better with top coat. In indirect natural light:

Rosie is a charcoal jelly with what looks to me like multi-sized fuchsia glitters (including microglitter) and silver holo microglitter. The base is pretty sheer and is still sheer at two coats, but the glitters provide a decent amount of coverage. It’s not totally opaque, but I kind of liked the lace-like, slightly sheer effect. The formula was a bit goopy, kind of like Julep Celeste‘s, but it’s workable and suspends the glitter well (no special placement or application technique necessary). Rosie dries fast to a matte finish and isn’t too bumpy for a glitter, but I preferred the smoother, glossy finish with a glossy top coat.

I wish Hayley dried faster, and a different brush would have probably made the thin formula easier to work with, but I’m otherwise pretty pleased with these two polishes.

Julep Arielle

This week’s swatch is the other color from the October 2015 Julep Maven Classic with a Twist box, Arielle.

Julep Arielle has a creme finish and looks something like a cross between charcoal gray and dusky purple. I don’t have another like it, and it’s neutral enough of a color that it goes well with a wide range of outfits. The formula is great – goes on like butter – and takes two coats for good opacity. Dry time seemed about average.

Here it is, two coats topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in outdoor direct natural light. In the morning, the sunlight brought out more of the gray:

And here it is again in outdoor direct natural light, but at a different time of day (late afternoon). The light quality brought out more of the purple tones:

I’m on day five of this manicure, and other than some minor tip wear, it still looks pretty much perfect. Great relative durability on this one! (UPDATE 11/1/15: This manicure ended up lasting me almost two weeks before chipping more noticeably – wow!)

Arielle strikes me as a cooler toned, purpler version of Julep Fiore. I may do a comparison post later on.

Happy weekend!

Julep July 2015 It Girl swatches: Juliana, Alyssa & Mara

I was so enamored with the color combination in this month’s Julep Maven It Girl box that I decided to swatch them together as skittles. (Well, that, and it’s so hard to find time to paint nails with a newborn – thank goodness for a helpful husband and family!)

Here’s two coats Julep Juliana on the index and pinky nails, two coats Julep Alyssa on the middle, and one coat Julep Mara on the ring. All nails are topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, except for the Mara, which stands alone. This is in indirect natural light:

Juliana (index & pinky) is a semi-sheer grapefruit-pink polish with what looks to me like a gold-to-pink shimmer. It could maybe build to opacity with a third coat, but I liked the luminous, translucent look at two coats. It looks so juicy! Even though the finish is a bit frosty, brushstrokes aren’t too obvious. The formula is easy to work with and dries pretty fast.

Alyssa (middle) is a bold medium turquoise creme that, if applied carefully, can provide full coverage in one coat. (I used two coats because I accidentally dragged the brush in one spot and left a bald streak.) The formula is a bit thick and requires some care to apply, especially in making sure excess polish doesn’t drip down Julep’s long brush stem. Dry time was average for me.

Mara (ring) is a saturated grape-sorbet purple textured polish with what looks like iridescent shimmer that seems to flash primarily gold and pink for me. It’s good to go in one coat! Application was flawless, and dry time was fast. I honestly can’t stop thinking of grape sorbet when I see this color, especially with the texture and sparkle reminiscent of frozen sweets.

Juliana’s sheerness and lit-from-within glow is maybe more obvious in this photo in indoor white-LED lighting:

I love all three colors, especially how they look together and remind me of summertime ice-box treats. Yum!

Did you get a Julep box this month, and what did you think of your haul?

Zoya June 2015 Mystery Trio Box swatches: Zoya Temperance & Zoya Violet

Quick swatch post – here’s Zoya Temperance (primary) and Zoya Violet (accent), two of the three colors introduced the Mystery Trio Box released earlier this month, two coats each, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat. This is day two, hence the tip wear, without cuticle cleanup (sorry, no time!).

Direct outdoor natural light:

Temperance, shown on all nails except for the ring, is a somewhat cool-leaning gray creme/crelly, warmed up with subtle pink/green/gold shimmer, which gives the gray an almost purplish cast. The result looks neutral enough that I’d expect it to go well with most, if not all, complexions, and I don’t have any other polish like it. The formula is great, too – not too runny and not too thick – and even though it comes in a mini bottle, the regular Zoya brush tip (one of my favorites) and cap shape make it just as easy to apply as a full-size Zoya. It dried on the fast side of average for me.

Indirect outdoor natural light (shade):

Violet, on the ring finger, is a straight-up neutral-toned medium smoky violet crelly. The formula is a bit thinner than Temperance’s, but it’s pretty similar otherwise and applies well. The brush, as expected, is the same, and it also dried on the fast side of average.

I have no idea if Zoya will be releasing these never-before-seen colors for sale, now that the Mystery Trio Boxes have been sent out. Both colors are fantastic, though, and would make excellent additions to their huge lineup. When I have a chance, I’ll swatch the last of the three colors – Zoya Marion – in a face-off post with Julep Phia. Stay tuned!