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.

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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!)

Nicole by OPI Lay it on the Lime

Nicole by OPI Lay it on the Lime is from last year’s Seize the Summer collection and the only one that caught my eye out of the set. It’s a fresh and bright melon-y, citrus-y yellow-green creme – almost neon and almost pastel, but not quite either. Very fun, though.

This is three coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat (which I actually don’t recommend paired with this polish because of some color transfer issues), in direct outdoor natural light:

The color is fantastic. Cheerily bright, almost loud, but just slightly softened with a milky touch.

The formula is thin, so it goes on a bit patchy. I used thinner coats because the polish seemed to take slightly longer than average to dry for me, and even after three thin coats and a glossy top coat, it still wasn’t entirely smoothly opaque. Maybe thicker coats were in order, but the dry time might be on the long side if it’s applied more thickly. I might have added a fourth thin coat to even it out, if I’d had more time during my lunch break. ;]

The Nicole by OPI brush is a flat, wide, square-tipped brush, but not as mop-like as some, so I didn’t have any trouble with it. Application, other than the challenges of a patchy thin formula, was pretty easy. No complaints overall.

The color reminded me of another bright yellow-green polish that I own – Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Chartreuse Chase – so I thought I’d post a quick bottle shot for your referencing pleasure:

In person (and in my swatch post linked above), it’s easier to see the fine turquoise shimmer in Chartreuse Chase, so the colors have a somewhat more similar feel. As you can see from this photo, though, Chartreuse Chase’s base color is definitely yellower and not quite as bright as Lay it on the Lime’s. Both are excellent colors, and both have slightly patchy formulas, but Chartreuse Chase definitely dries faster, true to the Insta-Dri name.

Bottom line: Lay it on the Lime doesn’t have my favorite formula, but I love the color enough that I don’t really care. 😀 What about you? Are you a fan of this almost-fluorescent green?

Sephora by OPI S-age is Just a Number

S-age is Just a Number is from Sephora’s Spice Market collection from fall 2012, and it’s since been discontinued (when the Sephora by OPI polishes were completely replaced by Sephora’s current Formula X line last year), but it’s still one of my favorite gold polishes. I hear it’s pretty close to Chanel Peridot, but I don’t own that one and can’t do a direct comparison.

Here it is in indirect natural light (shade), three coats topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat:

S-age is a brassy gold metallic with an iridescent/multichrome finish that, in the bottle, shows a spectrum of flash from indigo to teal to olive to a rosy bronze. It doesn’t quite have the same range of colors on the nail, sadly, but hey, it’s still pretty awesome. Typically, I see some of the rosy bronze through the teal on my nails, though the polish comes off as just another gold metallic if the light’s too strong.

I don’t know whether to classify it as a regular metallic, foil, or chrome – and that’s all pretty subjective marketing talk, anyway. It looks chrome-y in the bottle, but I think it’s got a little more scatter than I typically associate with chromes. It does have a super shiny finish, though.

The formula is pretty good, but it’s on the sheer side, like many chrome-y metallics. It took me three thin coats to get the opacity you see here, and if you look carefully in person, it’s still a tad sheer. Application is easy, though, even with the slightly wide, square-tipped Sephora by OPI brush (which is a bit on the large side for my smaller nails), and dry time was maybe on the quicker side of average for me. The end product shows brushstrokes, but it doesn’t detract from the polish, in my book; I kind of like the added texture on this one.

From this angle, you can see the olive flash very clearly:

And in direct sunlight (very sparkly!):

Really, it’s a fantastic polish, and because of the iridescent finish, it easily matches with a lot of things. I don’t usually match my nail polish to my clothing, but hey, it’s still nice when it matches!

Here’s a bottle shot, just so you know what I’m talking about when I say the multichrome in the bottle promises so much more:

Ah, well – it does still almost have that scarab-shell sheen on the nail. :] I’m going to miss this polish if I ever run out. Fortunately, I have a full size and a mini of this, so that’s not happening anytime soon.

Any of you have any discontinued favorites you’d like to share?

Nicole by OPI Iceberg Lotus | Face-off: Julep Freedom Top Coat vs. Julep Matte Top Coat vs. Julep Silk Effect Top Coat

I picked up this beautiful Target-exclusive polish, Nicole by OPI Iceberg Lotus, some time ago and hadn’t had a chance to try it out yet. Today was the day!

Iceberg Lotus is a stunner of a color – peacock blue-green glass fleck-y shimmer, with a dichroic teal-to-purple shift – but it’s very sheer. For your reference, this is one coat (in natural light):

See what I mean? Even after three coats, it’s still kind of sheer, as in there’s definitely visible nail line going on. It probably could have used four coats, but the polish has a bit long of a dry time, so I didn’t have the patience to spend the extra time. The shimmer is bright enough to mask the sheerness somewhat in most light, at least, but I still wish it was a bit more opaque.

On the flip side, the sheerness might make Iceberg Lotus a good transformative topper over a base polish, such as a black creme.

This is three coats, no top coat, in natural light (please excuse my dry skin – I didn’t want to apply moisturizer until I’d swatched the top coats!):

Other than the sheerness, the formula is good. The wide Nicole brush wasn’t hard to work with, fortunately, even with my smallish nails.

I used Iceberg Lotus as the base for swatching three Julep topcoats: Julep Freedom Top Coat (their basic, fast-drying glossy top coat – ring finger), Julep Matte Top Coat (middle finger), and Julep Silk Effect Top Coat (semi-matte with fine, pearlescent shimmer – index and pinky fingers).

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Again, in natural light:

The differences look pretty subtle in the straight-on photo, but it’s slightly more visible in this second photo, as well as in person:

The top coats work as expected. The glossy top coat is pretty self explanatory, though, from my experience, Freedom Top Coat seems to dilute the polish underneath if applied more thickly, as it did on the right edge of my ring finger in the photo above. The Matte Top Coat gives that squishy, velvety look that I love.

The Silk Effect Top Coat, meanwhile, adds a bit of a milky cast with a fine pearlescent shimmer that still dries glossy, though it’s not obviously different from a glossy top coat over Iceberg Lotus, unless directly compared with Freedom. If you’ve tried any of Julep’s silk finish polishes – like some of my favorites, Noelle and Shannon – this top coat does seem to add a similar finish.

I think I may have to swatch these top coats over another polish later on, especially to better demonstrate the silk effect top coat. I’ll update this post if I do!

UPDATE 1/17/2015: This polish/top coat combination had pretty good durability and lasted most of a week (about 5-6 days) without chipping. Even then, only my right thumb (using Julep Matte Top Coat) chipped, and tip wear was only minimally visible on all nails. Iceberg Lotus slightly stained my nails on removal, though, even with a base coat. I guess that’s the typical price for wearing teal!

Nicole by OPI Gumdrops My Cherry Amour

I’ve had this polish sitting around untried for a while, and I have no idea why I’d never gotten around to wearing it. It’s amazing! I finally ended up trying it out because I wore a black dress for a friend’s wedding and wanted something bright and contrasting to keep my ensemble from looking too heavy.

I love textured polishes, and this one’s a fantastic one with a semi-sheer berry-colored (pink/purple) jelly base and a relatively fine texture (similar to, though maybe a tad coarser than, Zoya PixieDust) mixed with a fine holo glitter. My photos don’t quite capture it, but the holo effect is fantastic and really gives off a subtle, scattered rainbow sparkle throughout. The base dries a nice, squishy-looking semi-matte in the way of jellies, without dampening the shiny of the glitter.

Here’s two coats of Nicole by OPI My Cherry Amour from the Gumdrops line, no top coat, photographed in outdoor natural light:

Something about the color made it impossible for me to photograph correctly – at least on my phone, which I use for most of my swatch photos. The color looks almost hot pink in the photo, but in life, the color is more like what you see in the bottom of the bottle, toward the bottom right corner of the above image. It’s bluer toned, purpler – kind of an intense raspberry jam color.

Here’s another shot in natural light:

 

 

Again, it wouldn’t come out as anything but neon rose in my photos, but I promise you it was purpler and a bit deeper in life. The formula is flawless, and even with the fat OPI brush that I find a tad clumsy to use on my smallish nails, I had no problems applying it easily. No complaints about anything regarding this polish, seriously. It’s so juicy-looking that it really cheered me up whenever I caught sight of my nails during the day.

Here’s another shot in the shade, again in natural light, though it still came out neon:

I also tried indoor artificial light, as well as my iPad and my real camera, but the color just will not photograph right! I suppose I could color correct in Photoshop, but it’s not the same. Ah, well. You’ll just have to take my word for it – go by the bottle color in my top photo, bottom right corner. :]

I think this color is still readily available in stores, and it’s not particularly new (or in-season) at this point, so it should be easy to find it on clearance or at a significant discount. I bought my bottle for $3.99 at an Ulta. Totally worth it.

OPI Muir Muir on the Wall, SpaRitual Imagination, and Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo

This week’s nails were a bit of an experiment because I really wanted to wear Arlo, but I didn’t feel like having so much bling and texture on every finger at the time. The combo turned out looking a bit random, but I think I’m okay with that. :]

In outdoor indirect light, this is:

Ring finger – Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo ($10 regular*), two coats, no top coat

Other fingers – OPI Muir Muir on the Wall ($9.50 regular*), two coats, with a gradient at the tip in SpaRitual Imagination ($12 regular*), approximately two coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

* I pretty much never buy any nail polish at full price and highly recommend bargain hunting and using coupons to get the biggest bang for your buck! Prices based off what I saw at Ulta.

Muir Muir on the Wall (which I’ll call MMOTW for short), from OPI’s San Francisco collection last fall/winter, is a watery, semi-sheer black base densely loaded with burgundy shimmer that shifts from plum to gold in the bottle. The blackened base with shimmer reminds me of the Julep “molten” polishes, like Angela and Blakely, or Wet n Wild MegaLast Under Your Spell. The gold side of the color shift doesn’t show up too much on the nail for me, but sometimes it does look more purple, like in the photo above. At least on me, this polish typically looks like a dark burgundy/plum.

From some angles, MMOTW is pretty dark because of that black base:

MMOTW’s formula is good, and it’s mostly opaque in one coat. The second coat evened out the mild patchiness very nicely. It applied smoothly and had an average dry time. The wide, thick, flattened, and square-tipped OPI brush isn’t my favorite, though. It’s a bit wide for my nails, so I have to turn it a bit sideways to keep from painting onto the skin. Otherwise, I’ve got no complaints.

I’ve posted about Imagination before – it’s a sheer mauve/puce base with dichroic shimmer that shifts from magenta to blue/teal. I probably should have known it’d primarily show up teal or blue over MMOTW, but I hoped that the magenta shift might help echo Arlo’s pinkish purple. It kind of does, sometimes:

The teal/blue shimmer wasn’t what I was going for when I initially painted on the gradient, but it doesn’t look so bad. I love the magical color shift on Imagination, either way. The mauve/puce base tone doesn’t really show because it’s so sheer. No problems with application on this one, either. SpaRitual’s rubberized cap is really easy to hold, and the brush is pretty standard, other than the slightly shorter stem. Imagination also dries pretty fast.

Finally, Arlo, from Zoya’s Magical PixieDust collection this summer, is a polish that I really wanted from the first moment I laid eyes on it. It’s got a cheerful pink-purple jelly base just packed with multi-sized holographic hex glitters and dries to a semi-matte, sugary, translucent texture. The texture’s a bit chunkier than the original PixieDust formula, but it’s much smoother than I expected from its hefty payload of glitters. It’s not nearly as rough or jagged as Essie Belugaria. Still, you’d probably have to be into textured polishes to like this one. I love it. It makes me think of a weird cross of kompeito and druzy. :]

Application is great. Arlo’s got good coverage in two coats (though it’ll still be semi-sheer because it’s a jelly), and no glitter placement or pushing around is needed to get a pretty even distribution of glitter and texture. It also dries super fast. The brush is the standard small, round, flat-tipped brush like other Zoya polishes I’ve tried, but the cap on this collection has a grippier, rubberized, velvety finish. It’s a nice touch, especially since the Magical PixieDust polishes cost $1 more than the typical Zoya.

Anyway, here’s a shot in direct sunlight, outdoors – MMOTW definitely looks less purple and more burgundy here:

I think the combination is growing on me.

Next week or the week after, I may have some indie colors to post up. :] Right now, my indie polish collection is pretty small, but I recently ordered a few that I’m really excited about. Something to look forward to!