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!

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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.

Face-off: Julep Becky vs. OPI Peace & Love & OPI

It’s face-off time! This time, I’ve got Julep Becky and OPI Peace & Love & OPI to compare:

  • INDEX: two coats Peace & Love & OPI topped with Julep Silk Effect Top Coat
  • MIDDLE & PINKY: two coats Julep Becky, no top coat
  • RING: two coats Peace & Love & OPI topped with Essie Good to Go Top Coat (glossy)

This is in outdoor natural light:

My phone camera didn’t capture it well, but both polishes are dark gunmetal-gray shimmers with a green-to-warm-purple dichroic/duochrome flash. Becky strikes me as a silk-effect (semi-matte finish with a fine pearlescent shimmer) version of Julep Blakely, which seems to be a pretty close dupe of Peace & Love & OPI. Here you can see some of the green-to-purpleness, mildly. As you can see, Becky and the OPI are pretty similar, especially when the OPI has the silk-effect top coat over it.

At this angle, you can see the purple flash. You can also see that Becky has a bit more scatter in its sparkle. The OPI polish is smoother and has finer shimmer. (Hmm, I swear I swatched Blakely at some point, but I can’t find the post, so maybe I didn’t take photos or do a write up. Drat.)

Here they are in indoor white-LED light, which shows the very subtle difference between the shimmer texture a bit better:

Yeah, it’s not a big difference, and honestly, it’s almost not noticeable in person.

Formula-wise, they both apply well and dry on the fast side. They’re both almost opaque at one coat but could use a second to even things out. The Silk Effect Top Coat is a bit of a pain because it takes a bit to dry, unlike the speedy Good To Go, so if you’re impatient and like the silk effect (or don’t own the silk-effect top coat in the first place), it could be worthwhile to pick up Becky, even if you already have Blakely or the OPI. I normally like the silk finish, but I wasn’t feeling it with this polish. It reduced the impact of the color shift and detracted from that oil-slick look, which was what I liked best about these polishes.

Bottom line: Julep Becky is pretty much Julep Blakely with a silk finish, and Julep Blakely is almost identical to OPI Peace & Love & OPI. I prefer it glossy, so I didn’t really need to have both Becky and Blakely (let alone all three of these!), but the urge to swatch them side by side is just too great to resist. :] OPI’s the less expensive brand (around $9 full retail for a 15 mL bottle, versus $14 full retail for Julep’s half-size 8 mL bottle), and the formula is great, so if you don’t care for the silk finish or the smaller bottle, I’d go with the OPI.

Face-off: Zoya Dillon vs. Julep Francine vs. Julep Shay

This past week, I thought I’d compare a couple similar recently released green-blue Julep polishes, Julep Francine from this May and Julep Shay from January, in case you (like me) were wondering if you’d accidentally bought two nearly identical polishes. I threw Zoya Dillon in there, too, just for the heck of it.

In the bottle, they look somewhat similar, but definitely not identical, and this held true on the nail, as well.

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Here they are, two coats each and topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, Dillon on the index finger, Francine on the middle and pinky, and Shay on the ring. Photo taken in outdoor natural light.

As you can see, Zoya Dillon (on the index nail) is, by far, a mintier, less saturated color, I think partially due to the base color itself, but also because of its predominantly silver shimmer. I really only threw it in there for kicks, since it’s not super similar.

Julep Francine has a somewhat sheer aqua/turquoise base filled with metallic shimmer, but the flash tends to lean gold in typical lighting, giving it a warmer, greenish overall hue. In some lighting, though, the gold shifts to blue, giving the polish a totally different look. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to capture that, since it tended to happen in dimmer lighting when I couldn’t get a good shot. I think Francine’s meant to be worn semi-sheer at two coats, but it’s sisters with Regina, and I’m guessing it can probably be mostly opaque at three coats. Anyway, the shimmer tends to mask the sheerness, even at two coats. In any case, the formula was easy to work with, and it dried on the fast side.

Julep Shay I’ve talked about in a previous post. Maybe it’s the drier weather we have here, but Shay dried slightly faster this time than in the humid tropical climate I last tried it out in. Compared to Francine, Shay’s shimmer texture looks chunkier, though it still dries smooth. I can’t tell if it’s from the scatter effect of the holo shimmer or from the shimmer particle size itself. In any case, the overall effect is more glitter-like and less smooth than Francine. Shay also tends to lean bluer/cooler than Francine when Francine flashes gold. They’re more similar in hue when Francine leans blue. Francine doesn’t have Shay’s glass-fleck iridescence, though.

This next photo in indoor white-LED lighting is a bit blurry, but hopefully it shows a bit better what I mean about the finer shimmer texture in Francine, as compared to Shay.

Durability was typical for me on all three polishes and lasted around three or four days, at least. Dillon chipped first, but it was on my more heavily used index fingers, so that could have also been the reason it lasted the fewest days.

(UPDATE 6/11/2016: Francine and Shay were both mildly staining. They left a slight turquoise tinge after removal with nail polish remover, though the parts that chipped off on their own didn’t leave stained nails underneath. Dillon didn’t stain at all.)

Tl;dr – Francine’s gold flash and Shay’s coarser and cooler holo sparkle are what set them slightly apart, and Dillon’s noticeably more muted than the other two, cooler than Francine, and possibly a tad warmer than Shay. From a distance or at a glance, they could pass for the same polish, so whether you’d want both completely depends on how granularly you distinguish between colors and finishes.

 

Face-off: LynBDesigns Time and Relative Dimension in Space (TARDIS) vs. Essie Starry Starry Night (Retro Revival version)

Been too busy to post for a while now, so I’m playing catch up today. 🙂 Going to try to make it quick!

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Quickie comparison between LynBDesigns Time and Relative Dimension in Space (TARDIS) and Essie Starry Starry Night (SSN), this year’s Retro Revival (RR) collection version, not the original. Index and ring are TARDIS, while middle and pinky are SSN, and both are topped with Essie Good to Go top coat. (Kind of sloppy application, but I was in a hurry packing to get on a plane!) In outdoor natural light:

 

I’ve previously written up a post about LynBDesigns TARDIS, so you can read all my earlier impressions it there. It could be from the pigments settling a bit, but I found the formula thinner than the last time I applied it last July, even after shaking up the bottle. Maybe it needed more shaking. In any case, these photos show four thin coats.

 

Essie SSN (RR) is not the same as the original SSN that so many nail polish collectors are crazy for and which I do not own. Michelle at All Lacquered Up did a really great swatch post comparing the two, as well as a few other polishes. Frankly, I almost didn’t pick it up because I already have Zoya Dream, which I love to death, and the finer sparkle in Dream captures more of what I love about the original SSN. After a lot of hemming and hawing, though, I gave in and purchased a bottle anyway. I wanted to give it a shot.

The new SSN’s got a deep sapphire-blue jelly base and small silver hex glitter (a bit smaller than the silver and turquoise square glitters of TARDIS) and is a much brighter blue than TARDIS and slightly brighter than the original SSN. These photos show two coats. Formula was fine and dry time was about average.

Here’s a shot after only one coat of each:

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Durability-wise, I didn’t have much luck with either polish; both chipped pretty significantly after only maybe two days, despite my usual base and top coats.

Bottom line: Obviously, these two polishes are not dupes, and neither looks that close to the original SSN, but they’re both pretty in their own way. (Ultimately, though, I think I still prefer Zoya Dream over both of them.)

Face-off: Essie Leggy Legend vs. Julep Luz

Quick comparison post! I mentioned earlier that I thought Essie Leggy Legend and Julep Luz might be fraternal twins. On a closer look, though, I think they’re probably more like cousins – not too alike, but maybe with some general similar features.

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Here they are in outdoor natural light, two coats each (Leggy Legend on the index and ring, Luz on the middle and pinky), topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, on the third day:

They’re both bronzy and metallic, somewhat coppery and somewhat golden, but that’s about where the similarities end. As you can see, Leggy Legend is definitely redder-toned and has a much finer texture than Luz. The shimmer particles are smaller and have way less scatter when the light hits them.

It’s a bit easier to see the difference in the overall hue in this next photo, also taken in outdoor natural light on the same day and around the same time, but with the sun coming in at a different angle:

I’ve already talked about Leggy Legend in a previous post and am still in love with this polish.

Luz is also a good one, though it’s got a different personality – less slick, more flamboyant. There’s a bit of a rosy, coppery undertone to it, as with Leggy, but in brighter or more direct light, the predominant color seems to be a metallic, less saturated yellow gold. Its loud sparkle makes me think foil – though I guess terms describing finishes are kind of arbitrary, anyway. Formula is great and dries pretty fast, and so far, durability is good. I’m now on my fifth day with these nails, and it’s just showing some expected tip wear. Not bad.

Here it is in indoor white LED light (again demonstrating how Luz’s paler gold sparkle tends to take over):

Not all that similar, but they play well together. 🙂

Leggy strikes me as the stand-out of the two polishes, mostly because its intense, glowy copper-gold is truly one-of-a-kind in my collection, whereas Luz’s predominant gold is more similar to other gold polishes I own. Both are lovely and apply wonderfully, though. Maybe I’ll do side-by-side comparisons of my other gold polishes someday.