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.

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?

Julep Audrey with Revlon Transforming Effects Holographic Pearls

Weekend nails time!

This is three coats Julep Audrey, an older Julep color that’s still available, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat. The photo was taken in natural light, indoors:

Audrey is a pale, neutral-to-cool-leaning pink jelly with a yummy-looking spun-sugar glass-fleck shimmer. It’s pretty sheer and requires three coats for the opacity you see in my photos (nail line still somewhat visible), though if you don’t mind sheer, I also liked the subtler look at two coats. The formula’s easy to work with but seemed to have an above-average dry-time. My bottle came with Julep’s Favorite Things by Oprah box from 2012, so it has the older, finer-tipped brush that I like better than the current wide Julep brushes.

I later added one coat of Revlon Holographic Pearls (from the relatively new Transforming Effects layering top coat line) on the ring finger. This is in the shade, taken in outdoor natural light, which lent the pink a cooler tone:

…whoops, looks like a little lint got on my pinky nail. Please ignore. :]

Holographic Pearls is a clear layering top coat suspended fairly densely with fine silver holo glitter. It’s got a decently strong scatter holo rainbow effect, especially in direct light. The formula and brush are both easy to work with, though it dries a bit gritty. I’d recommend a layer of clear top coat over this one.

Here’s an out-of-focus photo to better show the rainbows on the accent nail and in the bottle:

No complaints about either nail polish – they’re both lovely. :]

Essie Haute As Hello & Revlon Brilliant Strength Dazzle

After last week’s moody dark-green polish, I really wanted to wear something bright, so I thought I’d swatch a couple colors that I don’t think I’d posted yet.

Essie Haute As Hello and Revlon Brilliant Strength Dazzle are both older colors in my collection. Haute As Hello is a summer 2010 color, and I believe Dazzle was from 2012, from the Brilliant Strength line that’s been discontinued. Both have the same issue for me: I love the colors, but I’m just not a huge fan of the formulas. More on that in a bit.

Here’s three coats of each in natural light. I topped Haute As Hello with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, but Dazzle is shown without top coat:

Essie Haute As Hello is a hot pastel coral/peach creme that sometimes looks muted and sometimes looks like a soft neon, depending on the light. As I mentioned, I love this color. The formula, though, is honestly a bit of a pain to work with. It’s a bit thin, applies a bit patchy, and doesn’t self-level super well. It took me three thin coats to get a relatively even finish, and even then, the ridges from the brushstrokes didn’t completely level out. A glossy top coat fixed that, thankfully.

I wouldn’t recommend Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with this polish, though. As I’ve mentioned before, though this top coat has great durability, it tends to have some color transfer with some polishes, even if you make sure the polish is dry before applying top coat, and Haute As Hello is one of them. The top coat brush ended up picking up the yellow pigment in the polish and some of the actual polish itself, even when I applied only light pressure. Again, not recommended.

Revlon Dazzle is a bubblegum-pink jelly with an iridescent glass-fleck shimmer. Like most jellies, it’s pretty sheer and still shows visible nail line after the three thin coats I applied. I think I’d used five thin coats for opacity the last time I used this polish.

In any case, the sheerness isn’t what bothers me about Dazzle; it’s that this polish just refuses to dry! I waited about half an hour between coats and checked that the polish was dry to the touch before applying a new layer, but no luck. Even with the help of quick-dry drops, the polish half-dries to a malleable, clay-like consistency that doesn’t wholly cure until maybe the next day, so it’s really easy to ding up the finish (or make weird textured indentations in it) in the meantime. Ugh. It’s really too bad because I otherwise really love this color, and the brush (rounded tipped and slightly wider and thicker than a standard brush, but not nearly as thick and mop-like as the OPI brush) and application are excellent, if you don’t count the atrocious dry time.

The Brilliant Strength polishes were advertised as all-in-one formulas and meant to be worn without a base coat or top coat. Some of my Brilliant Strength polishes are better than others, and they don’t all have this drying problem, but I’m guessing the formulation is part of why the line isn’t available any longer.

The colors look more similar in the bottle, but Dazzle is much cooler-toned on the nail.

 

Obviously, I love these colors enough that I haven’t relegated either to a nail polish sale yet, but are they worth the struggle? For Haute As Hello, maybe. It at least dries fast and can be fixed with a good top coat. For Dazzle, I’m not so sure. I’ve worn this color maybe three times because I like the color too much to give up, but it makes me angry every time! I might try it one more time with a quick-dry top coat and see how that fares.

Zoya Dillon, plus Revlon Transforming Effects Gold Glaze & Matte Pearl Glaze

I’m back with another experiment using this year’s new Revlon Transforming Effects toppers! :] This time, I decided to try out Gold Glaze, a clear top coat with a warm yellow-gold shimmer, and Matte Pearl Glaze, a matte top coat with what looks like a blue-to-magenta dichroic/duochrome shimmer.

I started off with Zoya Dillon from last spring’s Awaken collection. I purposely picked a shimmery polish to experiment with, since I’ve seen some swatches of the toppers on cremes and bare nails, and I wanted to test how they’d interact with something that already had its own shimmer.

Here’s three coats of plain Dillon in strong outdoor sunlight, no top coat (again, please excuse the dry/dehydrated fingers!):

Dillon is a minty medium blue-green metallic with silver shimmer. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I sometimes see a bit of gold in the shimmer. The polish is a bit sheer and takes three coats to reach a good opacity, and it dries with a squishy finish, like a jelly. Formula is easy to work with, though it’s not the fastest drying, and as usual, I like the standard-sized (not wide like many brands’ brushes) Zoya brush.

In this next photo, taken in the same strong outdoor sunlight, I’ve added:

  • Index & pinky – Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, one coat (glossy clear)
  • Middle – Revlon Transforming Effects Gold Glaze, one coat
  • Ring – Revlon Transforming Effects Matte Pearl Glaze, one coat

Gold Glaze‘s effect isn’t immediately obvious in all lighting, but it does add just that touch of extra gold shimmer and scatter to the finish. Because Dillon’s already got a similar shimmer effect to begin with, it’s not quite as dramatic as it’d look over a creme, but it’s there. It’s also a bit more visible in person.

Matte Pearl Glaze obviously matte-ifies the finish and adds a cool-toned shimmer. The magenta in the shimmer is still there, somewhat, but I found that it mostly looked blue over Dillon.

I also feel like the Miracle Gel Top Coat seems to bring out the gold notes of Dillon’s shimmer that I mentioned earlier.

It might be slightly easier to see some of the differences in the shade (indoor indirect sunlight):

And, finally, I slapped another coat of Gold Glaze over Matte Pearl Glaze on the ring finger, just to see what would happen. Here it is in strong outdoor sunlight:

And in shade/indoor indirect sunlight:

The gold sparkle from Gold Glaze creates a pretty interesting effect over the cooler-toned shimmer from Matte Pearl Glaze, resulting in something relatively neutral with a bit more depth. Pretty neat.

Anyway, that’s my layering experiment for the week. Hope it’s helpful or interesting to someone out there!

Julep Ava & Revlon Transforming Effects Nude Graffiti

I’m not normally a huge fan of pale pink, but Julep Ava was sitting untried in my stash (I’d gotten it for free with one of my Maven monthly boxes at some point), and I thought it’d go well with Revlon Nude Graffiti, one of the Transforming Effects top coats just released this year.

I mentioned in my last post that I was interested in picking up Holographic Pearls from the same Revlon Transforming Effects line. Well, my local CVS happened to have a buy-two-get-one-free deal, which I was able to combine with some other coupons, so I went ahead and picked up some of the fun new top coats that appealed to me. They were just a couple bucks each after the coupons stacked – such a steal! I’ll swatch the others sometime.

Anyway, this is three coats of Ava with approximately one swipe-dabbed coat of Nude Graffiti on the accent nail, topped with Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat, in outdoor natural light:

Julep Ava is described as a “[b]allet slipper pink frost.” Honestly, though, the finish isn’t all that frosty and is closer to Julep’s other subtle shimmers. Ava’s more like a neutral pale pink creme with a barely-there pearlescent shimmer.

It’s not really my kind of color, but honestly, the real let down of this polish is how terrible the formula is. I think it was worse than Julep Zora, a similar color I previously swatched. It’s not that visible from my photo because the top coat helped even it out somewhat, but it applied very patchily and didn’t self-level well at all, even after two coats. I had to apply a third coat to make it opaque, and even then, it wasn’t very even. Even worse, it took way longer to dry than most polishes I own. Based on the formula, I can’t really recommend this polish, even if pale pink/neutral is your thing.

I liked Revlon Nude Graffiti much better than Ava, and I do think it pairs well with a pale neutral pink! It’s a smorgasbord of matte nude glitters in various shapes (hex, bar, and round), sizes, and shades (what looks to me like peach, pink, ivory, silver/gray, and white). The combination of soft colors somehow really appeals to me, and it adds subtle interest to an otherwise potentially boring neutral. It’s meant to be a layering polish, so the glitters aren’t too dense.

The formula is middling. The clear base is a little runny for my tastes, kind of like the clear base in Hearts of Gold FX. I found I sometimes needed to let some of the base run off the brush before I could apply the glitters without extra goop flooding the cuticle. Because the glitters in this one are smaller than the hearts in Hearts of Gold FX, though, it’s not as much of an annoyance to dab the glitters where you want them. It dries relatively quickly and not too bumpy for a glitter, which is great. If you don’t mind some texture, you might not even need another top coat, but I like it with one extra layer of clear coat so the glitters don’t snag.

As I mentioned, I used Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat with these nails. This top coat works well with some polishes, but maybe because Ava was a little weird/thick/goopy and didn’t quite dry right (even after waiting 15 minutes or so), it didn’t work quite as well with this combination. I think the top coat did as well as can be expected in smoothing out Ava’s unevenness, but it just didn’t dry with the same durability I’d gotten with Julep Phia – I ended up gouging one of my nails some hours after application when I accidentally nicked a zipper. 😛

Anyone else pick up any of Revlon’s new Transforming Effects polishes? What do you think?