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!

Throwback Thursday: Sally Hansen Nailgrowth Miracle Precious Pearl

I’ve never done a Throwback Thursday post, but hey, I just happen to be wearing the first nail polish that started this whole nail polish obsession: Sally Hansen Nailgrowth Miracle Precious Pearl. More on that in a bit.

This is in outdoor natural light, two coats, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat:

Precious Pearl is a very sheer, frosty ivory pearl with a strong pink shift. At two coats, it’s still almost transparent, especially from certain angles. The formula’s a bit watery, but it’s not bad to work with, especially in thin coats. It had an average dry time for me. Overall, it’s a decent polish, if you feel like wearing something sheer (which I was, for some reason, probably as a palate cleanser, so to speak).

I think the formula does possibly speed up nail growth a tad (at least when worn without base coat), though I can’t be sure because I haven’t taken down empirical data or anything. 😉 I have pretty fast-growing nails as it is, and I itch to trim them every few days, so I’m basing this purely on my qualitative impression that I’ve felt like trimming my nails again even sooner than usual.

Precious Pearl probably isn’t in production anymore; I haven’t seen it in stores in years. Also, if I saw it now, I think I would scan over and pass it up almost immediately, in favor of something loud, like a neon orange or teal holo. A few years ago, though, I owned zero nail polishes and had no interest in nail polish whatsoever.

So what got me started on nail polish? Wrecked nails after a gel manicure (my first manicure ever!), which I got for my wedding. I think my nails got buffed a bit too much before the gel polish was applied, so they felt horribly sensitive after the polish was removed. I ended up going to the drugstore that night and picking this up, hoping the Nailgrowth Miracle part wasn’t just a gimmick and wanting something that looked as close to my natural nails as possible…without being too boring. 🙂

And with that, my fate was sealed. I’m still not big on getting salon manicures (well, I’ve only ever had three in my life, two for weddings and one freebie when I got that first gel manicure removed when I didn’t know how to do it myself yet!), but maybe fourth time’s the charm? I usually feel bummed out afterward that my fingers are sore and that I could have painted my own nails just as well and cheaper. Maybe tomorrow’s (again wedding-related) salon visit will be better. ❤

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.

Julep Tanith & Pure Ice Private Show

This past week’s colors: Julep Tanith (index and pinky) and Pure Ice Private Show (middle & ring). I was going to do all Tanith, but I didn’t feel like going all nude, even with the gold sparkle! Kind of a weird combo, but I guess I was vaguely thinking ballet and Swan Lake when I picked out these colors.

Anyway, swatches in outdoor natural light, two coats of each, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat:

Tanith is a mauve-y nude jelly with gold shimmer. At two coats, it’s definitely still a bit sheer, but I kind of liked it that way, so I left it as is. It’d probably be opaque at three coats. Not too boring for a nude. ❤

Formula was easy to apply, and dry time seemed average. Dries smooth.

Pure Ice Private Show is a black jelly generously dosed with fine glitter in what looks to me like red, pink, blue, and silver. Good stuff, especially with glossy top coat. I hear it’s a pretty close dupe to Butter London The Black Knight.

The formula is easy to apply and opaque in two coats. Dry time seemed faster than average. It dried slightly gritty, but top coat smooths it over nicely. My main issue with this polish is its durability – it chipped pretty badly in a day! I remember it being prone to chipping the last time I wore it, too. (Still, Pure Ice polishes are only $2 a pop at Walmart compared to Butter London’s $15, so if longevity isn’t an issue, it’s not too bad.)

July 4th: The Lady Varnishes Stay Puft, Pure Ice Deja Vu & Sinful Colors Star Blast-Off

I’ve swatched a few festive colors for July 4th! Here’s The Lady Varnishes Stay Puft, two coats, on all fingers except the ring, which is two coats Pure Ice Deja Vu layered with one layer Sinful Colors Star Blast-Off.

This is day two of this manicure in outdoor natural light, all nails topped with Essie Good To Go top coat:

The Lady Varnishes Stay Puft, from The Lady Varnishes’ I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost collection, is a fun glow-in-the-dark glitter topper with a sheer white base and multi-sized matte white hexes, translucent blue-raspberry blue and red hexes, and white glass-fleck-y shimmer. The sheer white is subtle but gives the nails a cleaner look. Also, my bottle is marshmallow scented!

The formula is a bit goopy and clumpy, but it’s not too bad to work with, since it’s sheer and hard to mess up. The brush is a bit thicker and wider than the typical standard nail-polish brush and easily fans out to cover the entire nail. I typically prefer the finer standard-size brushes, but I didn’t have trouble with this one, though it did pick up a lot of glitter at once. Dry time was super fast, always a plus.

Did I mention that it glows in the dark? It’s beautiful, too – the glow is primarily a soft blue and looks like a galaxy with all the glitters:

Super sweet!

Pure Ice Deja Vu is one of my favorite Pure Ice polishes. It’s a royal-blue metallic/shimmer with a fuchsia/purple duochrome/dichroic flash, and it’s opaque in two coats. The formula is a tad more watery than optimal, but it’s not too hard to work with, and the brush is pretty standard. Dry time seemed average.

Sinful Colors Star Blast-Off, which I picked up at the same time as Green Ocean from the Having A Blast display at Walgreens, is a glitter topper with matte white stars, small matte white round and hex glitters, and medium matte blue and matte red hexes suspended in a clear base. The base is a bit watery, so some fishing, dabbing, and manual glitter placement is needed to get a good distribution of glitters. The brush is pretty standard and picks up glitter decently. Dry time was a bit longer than average for me.

I think Stay Puft is a new favorite for me. I even like how it looks sheer. 🙂 It goes for $11 at The Lady Varnishes’ Etsy store and is still in stock as of this writing. The other two polishes were $2 polishes at Walmart for Pure Ice and Walgreens for Sinful Colors.

What are your favorite July 4th polishes?

Have a happy and safe Fourth!

Durability update 7/8/2015: Stay Puft started chipping within 2-3 days, but the other two colors lasted about a week without too much damage.

More Julep May 2015 Mystery Box swatches: Julep Bea & Julep Marcella (plus Julep Marcy & Revlon Whimsical)

I didn’t think I’d make it to another swatch post before I became too busy with ‘Fiend Jr. to paint my nails, but I guess she’s still too comfy in there to bother coming out. 😉

Anyway, I liked this month’s Julep Mystery Box colors a lot and wanted to swatch more of them! Here is:

  • Thumb: three coats Julep Bea,  a “[l]emonade crème,”
  • Index & pinky: two coats Julep Marcy, a “Prosecco silk (semi-matte opalescent)” released this March that wasn’t actually part of the Mystery Box but which I got for free with my order using code SPRINGFUN,
  • Middle: two coats Julep Marcella, a  “[w]eathered pink crème” and the other Mystery Box new exclusive aside from Shayla, and
  • Ring: seven(!) coats Revlon Whimsical, obviously not part of the mystery box, but it’s one of my absolute favorite nail polishes ever.

This is in outdoor indirect natural light (sun’s setting over here), and Bea and Marcella are topped with Essie Good to Go top coat (the other two have no top coat):

First, the two May 2015 Mystery Box polishes:

Julep Marcella (middle) is a cool-leaning medium orchid-pink creme, and it’s wonderful. I doubt I’d ever wear a full manicure of this type of pink myself, but its brightness is fun in small doses (you may like it in large doses, too, if you’re a pink lover!), and the formula is excellent. It was almost fully opaque in one coat and could probably be a one-coater if I’d been more careful. With a glossy top coat, the creamy texture really shines through. Great application, and dry time seemed on the fast side of average.

Julep Bea (thumb) is a pastel lemony cool-leaning yellow crelly/creme, and its formula is a bit more watery, though not difficult to apply. It was still a tad patchy/streaky after two coats for me, so I needed a third to even it out. A fourth coat may help even more. It also dried on the fast side of average for me and, besides the thin formula, I found it pretty easy to work with. I love the bright-but-muted color, but the extra coats required is only somewhat mitigated by its relatively fast dry time.

Julep Marcy (index & pinky) is an off-white silk-finish polish with gold/pearlescent shimmer – basically what I’d hoped Julep Bunny would be like, as Bunny’s advertised gold shimmer just doesn’t show on the nail. Marcy, thankfully, does have decently visible shimmer! It dries to a mildly textured matte similar to an eggshell finish. Great formula on this one as well – it takes about two to three coats for full opacity, depending on your application style, but it dries so fast, you probably won’t care, even if you need to add a third coat. It’s meant to be worn without top coat and looks nice that way. I haven’t tried it with top coat, but I bet it’d be lovely when glossy, as well.

Revlon Whimsical (ring) is part of Revlon’s permanent collection and probably the polish I’ve worn the most times – which says a lot because I own so many that I don’t repeat colors too often, even ones I really like. It’s a very sheer baby blue/soft aquamarine jelly with a sprinkling of multi-sized hex glitters in pink and blue. This polish takes patience, as it’s very sheer and looks best with multiple thin layers applied when the layer underneath dries completely for that yummy, milky, squishy jelly-sandwich look. I’m not exaggerating when I say I used seven thin layers to get the opacity pictured above. You can use a similar-colored creme undercoat to speed things up, but I personally prefer the glassy, slightly translucent layered jelly/glitter look. Your mileage may vary, but I think it’s worth applying the five to seven layers! Dry time is average, and other than needing lots of coats if you want any semblance of opacity, application is great, with no special glitter placement necessary.

Bottom line: Marcella and Shayla are both excellent exclusives that make the May 2015 Julep Mystery Box a real winner for me. Totally worth it. Thanks for renewing my interest in trying out future mystery boxes, Julep! ❤

Blue opal nails (Revlon Brilliant Strength Beguile and Sinful Colors Green Ocean)

Mr. ‘Fiend and I were at our local Walgreens renting Captain America: The Winter Soldier in preparation to see Avengers: Age of Ultron when I spotted a new Sinful Colors display for their Having A Blast collection for this summer. I ended up picking up Star Blast-Off and Green Ocean. I think Star Blast-Off is new, and Green Ocean is usually released seasonally around St. Patrick’s Day. I want to save Star Blast-Off for Independence Day, but nothing was stopping me from giving Green Ocean a go. 😉

I started off with two coats of Revlon Beguile – from Revlon’s Brilliant Strength line, which is now sadly discontinued – shown here in indoor artificial light (cool white LED) because I painted my nails at night and didn’t have any sunlight to work with:

Beguile is a blackened base with what looks to me like a fine dark-teal-to-purple dichroic/iridescent shimmer. It looks like a dark royal blue in this lighting, but in natural light, the predominant color is definitely more of a deep teal in most lighting, including sunlight. I mentioned before that Revlon’s Brilliant Strength polishes are not all made equal when it comes to formulation, but luckily, Beguile is one of the good ones. It was evenly opaque in two coats for me, and the dry time was average. The brush is of the flattened, slightly wide variety, with a mildly curved edge, and it’s very easy to use. No complaints about this polish at all. It’s wonderful.

Then, I added one layer of Sinful Colors Green Ocean and topped it off with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel , the combination shown here in outdoor indirect natural light on day two (hence the slight tip wear :P):

Green Ocean is a glitter topper consisting of a somewhat goopy bluish green-tinted translucent base, suspended with a varied mix of multi-sized and -shaped glitters and flakies, most of which produce a dichroic indigo-to-green shift.

Here’s the same combination in outdoor direct natural light:

As I mentioned, Green Ocean’s consistency is a bit goopy, so you have to be a bit careful with application to make sure the flakies apply flat to the nail instead of sticking up and to ensure it doesn’t go on too thickly. The Sinful Colors brush is the standard round-stemmed, square-tipped kind, and it’s easy enough to use. The glitters and flakies suspend well enough that no fishing or special application is necessary to get the pictured density of particles in one coat.

Here’s another angle in direct natural light to show you the color shift to indigo:

Green Ocean does dry a bit matte, so a glossy top coat is needed to bring out the shine in this topper. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat worked just fine in this case, but a thicker glossy top coat that better smooths out the glitter/flaky texture might look even better.

The end result reminds me of a blue opal – really lovely. I’d love to experiment and see what other colors Green Ocean plays well with. At $1.99 a bottle (or cheaper, if you wait for a deal or coupon), I’m especially pleased with this Sinful Colors topper.

Have any of you tried Green Ocean and have any layering combination suggestions? Does anyone miss the Revlon Brilliant Strength line as I do sometimes?