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!

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LynBDesigns Slay

Quick swatch post: this one’s LynBDesigns Slay, a blazingly neon watermelon red-pink crelly, from the Vocab collection.

This is two coats in outdoor natural light – and believe me, it’s even brighter and more vibrant in person, as cameras can’t capture its fiery fluorescence like our eyes can:

Imagine this red-leaning pink in full neon glory, and you’d get Slay. The formula is amazing for a neon – in fact, I’d say it’s just about perfect. No white base coat required! It could be even more opaque with three coats, but I liked the slightly translucent candy-like look at two coats. It applies smoothly and dries faster than average to a matte finish. I used Essie Good to Go top coat for the glossy look.

I’m so in love with this polish. ❤ ❤ ❤ It’s so saturated and juicy, just the way I like my colors.

I’ve still got more from my LynBDesigns haul to swatch, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, do any of you have favorite neon polishes to recommend to me?

Durability & removal update 8/9/2015: Slay did pretty well over a week, but in the way of other neon polishes I own, the polish layer started to gradually separate from the nail plate a bit as time went on, and the heaviest-use nails (index & thumb on both sides) chipped by around the 5th day. Not too shabby, considering all the typing, piano playing, and baby-stuff washing I did. The polish (with a base coat underneath) didn’t stain my nails, despite the intense color, and removal was a breeze.

China Glaze Sun Worshiper

I’ve had China Glaze Sun Worshiper in my collection for a while – a present from Mr. ‘Fiend because he likes bright orange as much as I do :] –  but never got around to wearing it until today.

Not my best swatching job (sorry!), but here’s 3 coats topped with Julep Freedom Top Coat in indoor indirect natural light:

Sun Worshiper is a neon mac-‘n’-cheese yellow orange – delicious – that dries to a matte finish if not topped with a glossy top coat. It’s pretty darn sheer (this is three coats, and you can still see the nail line!), and the formula is a pain (more on this in a bit), but the color is so freaking awesome. So bright! ❤ Definitely more neon than my photos can capture.

Like I said, the formula is a huge pain. Besides it being sheer, which I don’t necessarily hold against polishes because it’s just a different look, it’s a streaky mess. It dries really quickly, which would normally be a plus, but because it dries so quickly, it also tends to leave very visible brush strokes when it dries because it doesn’t have time to self-level before setting. I tried to apply it carefully, but going over any area twice left bald spots, and this is the smoothest it got with glossy top coat. The brush – a standard non-wide round brush with a flat tip – was fine.

Here’s a a couple photos in outdoor direct natural light:

Yep, not my best paint job, but I hope it helps someone as a color/consistency reference anyway!

If there’s one thing I recommend when it comes to tips on polishing nails, it’s this: don’t polish your nails when you’re hungry! I did this before breakfast, and the hypoglycemic shakes made the ordeal with the trying formula even worse than it would have been already.

Oh, also, I do not recommend Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with this polish. I used it on my right hand (not pictured) and had crazy color transfer onto the top coat brush (polish underneath was definitely dry). I think Miracle Gel Top Coat tends to dissolve and leach out the neon yellow pigment in polishes, from my experience. Yuck. A thicker top coat like Freedom or Seche Vite also hides Sun Worshiper’s streakiness much better.

Next time, I might try this with a coat of another, more opaque bright orange underneath, to minimize the patchiness. I know a white undercoat is often recommended for neon colors, but white polish itself is typically a huge pain to apply, so I might try the orange first. I’ll update this post if I get around to that!

UPDATE 4/23/15: Sadly, this manicure didn’t hold up so well. It might just be me, or the base coat I used this time, but Sun Worshiper started separating from the nail shortly after these photos, and it chipped so badly I had to remove it after a couple days. I also had a similar peeling problem with Julep Nina, another bright orange, so I wonder if it’s something to do with the ingredients that go into these bright polishes. I’ll have to try it with another base coat and let you guys know how it goes.