Warm weather rainbow nails (skittles)!

Sometimes one, two, or even three colors just isn’t enough, and a rainbow is in order. :]

This is by special request from Mr. ‘Fiend, and I was happy to oblige.

From left to right, these are Nicole by OPI Challenge Red-y, Zoya Arizona, Julep Korin, Nicole by OPI Pros & Confidence, and Julep Charlotte. I later threw in Julep Lexie (not pictured) for a free-handed swipe of yellow between Arizona and Korin because the rainbow just didn’t look complete to me with yellow missing.

Here’s two coats of each, except for only one coat of Lexie over Korin on the middle finger, topped with Julep Freedom Top Coat.

In outdoor indirect natural light:

Nicole by OPI Challenge Red-y (the cool-leaning, bright cherry-red creme on my thumb) and Nicole by OPI Pros & Confidence (the turquoise creme on my ring finger) are exclusive Nicole by OPI colors that I got for free from a Kellogg’s Special K offer in 2013. The formulas on these are great and apply like butter – they definitely had the best consistency of the bunch. The brush is the somewhat wide OPI brush, which I don’t always love but worked really well with these two formulations. Pros & Confidence could be a one-coater, but Challenge Red-y is a bit sheerer and looks better with two coats.

Zoya Arizona is the bright orange creme on my index finger. The color is almost mac-‘n’-cheese orange, but it looks to me that it’s got just that tiniest touch of white – not enough to make the color pastel, but enough to lend it a softer look. No complaint about this formula either, but it is a little thinner, so it may take up to three thin coats, depending on how thickly it’s applied. It’s got the usual short-stemmed, standard-sized round, square-tipped brush Zoya usually uses.

In outdoor direct natural light:

Julep Lexie is the warm-leaning cheery yellow creme on my middle finger, and the formula on this one is great, as well. (I also wore this color in an earlier nail skittles.) Julep Korin is the bright yellow-green creme on the other half of my middle finger. Korin’s formula isn’t quite as easy to work with as Lexie’s, since it’s slightly sheerer and goopier, but it’s workable enough. These colors use Julep’s newer, wider brush, which is similar in width to the OPI brush, but it’s stiffer, so I find it more challenging to follow the curve of the cuticle with the Julep brush.

Julep Charlotte is the grape-y purple creme on my pinky. This one’s also a potential one-coater. I could have left it at one coat because it looked evenly opaque in one, but I added a second just to make sure. My bottle of Charlotte is an older one from 2012 or so, so it uses Julep’s older, standard-sized brush, which is much easier for me to work with than the newer, wider brushes. Your mileage may vary!

All of the polishes featured in this post are pretty good, but again, I have to say that the Nicole by OPI Special K 2013 colors are the ones that really stand out, both in terms of pigmentation and application. The colors aren’t particularly unusual, but the formulas are so good. Highly recommended, if you don’t have these colors already and can find a bottle somewhere. I know there’s been new sets of Special K exclusive colors since the one I got, and Challenge Red-y was offered again, so it might be worthwhile to keep your eyes peeled. :]

(UPDATE 5/4/15: Stain alert! I’d forgotten since the last time I used it, but Julep Korin unfortunately causes horrible yellow staining, and Nicole by OPI Pros & Confidence also has a tendency to stain. The other polishes are fine, with Zoya Arizona being easiest and cleanest to remove. Just a heads up!)


Christmas nail art fail! (plus Zoya PixieDust Chita and Zoya Logan)

My nail art experiments don’t always turn out well, and unfortunately, that happened this Christmas! I figured I might as well post the abomination I wore through the holidays, partly because I don’t mind if my failure amuses someone and partly because a  couple nails in there are swatches of nail colors I haven’t posted yet. Who knows? Maybe, on the off chance, someone will find it a little useful.

Sorry, it really is pretty ugly. This was taken in indoor fluorescent lighting:

I was too tired and annoyed with it to bother cleaning up my mistakes, too, so doubly sorry about that.

Anyway, I’ll start with the two somewhat decent swatches:

  • MiddleZoya PixieDust Chita, a lovely army-green polish with silver glitter scattered throughout. Great coverage at one coat and great formula. It dries very quickly to a finely textured matte finish and looks slightly yellower-toned and more desaturated in person. Couldn’t be happier with this one and wish I painted all my nails in this! One coat shown above.
  • PinkyZoya Logan, which strikes me as an overall blue-leaning medium-green foil-y shimmer with some gold shimmer mixed in there to warm it up. It’s super shiny and opaque in two coats, and I had no problems with the formula. Two coats shown above.

Now for the nails that I mangled:

  • Index – I started with two coats of Logan and dotted on Julep Margot (metallic gold), which I wasn’t satisfied with. I ended up trying to add some red dots of Milani Ruby Jewels (bright cherry-red glitter), but the result looked horrifying – like I’d somehow gotten blood spattered on my polka-dot pattern. D: In the end, I slathered a thin coat of Essie Hors d’Oeuvres over the whole thing in an attempt to mute the ugliness, and the above photo is what I got. Bleh.
  • Ring – I started with two coats of Julep Nicolette (white creme) and attempted a candy-cane stripe with Ruby Jewels. Nicolette was hard to work with, as it was strangely both runny and clumpy, which caused me to flood the cuticles on both hands. D: Ugh. I then waited forever for it to dry, but even when it seemed safely dry to the touch, it apparently wasn’t dry enough to use tape, and the stripes I taped down ended up pulling up polish, leaving a huge gooey mess instead of the clean stripes I’d wanted. I ended up brushing a thin layer of Ruby Jewels over the top to cover up the ruined white areas, hoping I’d still get a subtle stripe pattern. I guess it worked somewhat, but the white showing around the edges was way gross.

Lessons I learned: don’t overdo it with the polka dots and make sure to understand the quirks of a white polish (notoriously hard to work with D:) before attempting to do tape stripes over it!

Hopefully, I’ll have some time to post up something less appalling soon. :] Happy New Year!

Julep Dana, Ledi, Tia, and black cat nail decals

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’m still around. I’ve just gotten a bit busy with life stuff to keep up as frequently with this blog, but I’ll still be posting when I have a chance. :]

Anyway, quick post-mortem on my Halloween nails this year, using polishes and nail decals from the Julep October 2014 Black Magic collection:

  • Julep Dana (2 coats) on the index,
  • Julep Ledi (2 coats) & Julep Tia (1 coat) on the middle,
  • Dana (2 coats) with a Julep black cat nail decal on the ring, and
  • Ledi (2 coats) on the pinky,

all topped with Julep Freedom top coat. This is in natural light:

I was rushed when I painted these right before Halloween, so sorry for the sloppy bits here and there! ;P

Dana is basically a cool-leaning neutral white creme polish with a very subtle blue sheen. The white has the barest touch of beige to it, so it’s not as harsh as a stark white, but it still looks somewhat on the cool side to me, possibly because of contribution from the blue sheen. To be honest, though, you can barely see the blue once the polish is on the nail, as you can see in the photo above. It’s extremely subtle. In any case, Dana’s a flattering shade of white, and the hint of blue lends a feeling of cleanness to it.

Application was okay, but it wasn’t my favorite. It tended to go on a little patchy, and for some reason, the polish didn’t dry right on my ring finger, and I ended up having to redo the entire nail because it wouldn’t dry enough for me to apply the nail decal. The other nails with Dana were fine, though, so I’m not sure what the problem was. (I always wash my hands with soap and dry them completely before applying nail polish.)

Ledi is a black superfine shimmer. The shimmer is so fine, in fact, that it’s not all that visible, unless you’re actively looking for it, as you can see in the photo. Generally, Ledi will probably look like a black creme to a casual observer, though a closer look reveals a velvety texture from the very fine shimmer, which gives it a finish that reminds me of car paint. The shimmer gives Ledi a subtly more elegant look to it than plain creme, but it’s definitely not immediately obvious. Depending on how closely you stare at your polish, you may not particularly find this one particularly worth getting over a regular black creme. Formula on this one was great, though, and it went on very smoothly.

Tia is a sheer-ish black jelly with a smattering of gold and copper/orange glitters that flash green from certain angles. I like this one a lot, especially how well it layers over Ledi’s subtle shimmer. I didn’t swatch it on its own on a nail this time, but the swatch I did on the Swatch Me cap sticker suggests an opacity level similar to a smoky black top coat, like Sally Hansen’s Big Smoky Top Coat or L’Oreal’s Smoky Top Coat, except with glitter, of course. Glitter payoff is good, with no special placement needed to get the even distribution I have on my middle finger nail. No complaints about this formula, either.

The black cat nail decals worked just fine, though as with nail decals in general, there’s a little bit of a learning curve and patience needed to get the sticker on right. Even on polish that feels dry to the touch,  from my experience, a misplaced sticker may damage the polish and require a complete do-over. It’s best to work carefully and get it right on the first try. These decals are perfectly smooth with two layers of Julep Freedom top coat on top to seal them in.

These nails lasted at least a full week without noticeable damage, and all of it removed relatively easily, including the cat sticker. My only complaint about them is that the nails with Dana somehow looked more and more discolored over the week, and by the end, they looked practically beige. No amount of scrubbing with soap and water seemed to remove the weird brownness, which really bothered me. I have no idea if that’s because of Dana or the top coat or something else. If you have any insight into this, please let me know in the comments – thanks!

Revlon Parfumerie Wintermint & Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet with Julep Gloria

I’d bought Revlon Parfumerie Wintermint sometime ago and never gotten around to wearing it. Good thing I met up with my sister over the weekend, and she was wearing Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream, which reminded me to do that. In fact, for fun, I decided to duplicate her nails, except with similar polishes that I had on hand.

This is Wintermint, two coats, on all fingers, except for the accent nail, which is two coats Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet and a heart painted on in Julep Gloria, all topped with one coat of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat. Outdoor indirect sunlight:

I’ve heard that Wintermint is pretty close to Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream, if not an exact dupe. I don’t own the latter, but here’s a detailed comparison from KittyKam’s Nails.

Wintermint is a frosty minty, seafoamy green base with small marine-blue hex glitters and what looks to my naked eye like holo microglitter. The round Parfumerie bottle cap was a little more awkward for me to hold than the typical cylindrical cap, and the brush stem is a bit shorter than average, but the brush itself is pretty standard: round, flat-tipped, and medium width. The formula is smooth, easy to apply, and reasonably opaque in two coats, with no special glitter placement needed. Despite the glitter, it’s not too bumpy when dry. Dries fast.

By the way, my nails smelled pleasantly minty for all of one evening before the scent was no longer noticeable. That was kind of disappointing, since Autumn Spice kept its smell for maybe a few days. Still, the fragrance is a fun novelty.

Mint Sorbet is a straightforward mint creme and can probably be a one-coater, if you’re careful. I wasn’t, so I smoothed it out with a second coat. This polish also dries fast and has a good formula. The brush is flat, flat-tipped, medium width, and very easy to use.

Gloria is a reddish coral creme, one of Julep’s older colors, I think. I’ve never worn it on its own, so I’m not sure how it’d apply normally, but in my application dotting it in a heart shape, it felt a bit thick and dried almost too quickly. I was getting bald spots and threads of dried polish as I lifted my dotting tool sometimes! The upside is that it was very opaque on the first application.

The heart ended up bleeding a little because, as I mentioned before, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat tends to melt the polish under it, even when the polish already feels dry to the touch. I guess it’s a risky top coat to use with nail art, though maybe it could’ve worked out better if I’d let the polish dry even longer after it felt dry to me. My right hand (not shown) had more smearing because I top coated it first. Oops.

By the way, Julep’s Plie tool did help me out here. I tried the Plie dotting attachment both with and without the Plie handle, and I think the handle does help with balance. I’m not sure it’s superior to a typical dotter, though, since I haven’t used others.

And, here’s the original manicure that I was imitating. :] My sister used Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream instead of Wintermint, Revlon Jaded instead of Mint Sorbet, and Revlon Provoke instead of Gloria:

Can you tell our hands are related?

I was hoping to do a face-off of sorts, comparing her nails to mine in the same photo, but she tells me her nails have already chipped, so I don’t think we’ll be able to do that this time. I’ve got to get her to try the Miracle Gel top coat!

Maybe next time, we can collaborate on something.