Julep August & Julep Karin

My September 2017 Julep box just arrived on Friday, and I haven’t had time to post about it yet, but here are the swatches of the two new colors I got in my box, Julep August and Karin. Here, they’re topped with Essie Good to Go top coat.

August, on all my nails except for the ring finger, is described by Julep as a “Chocolate Cherry Ghost Shimmer,” and I regret to say that I fell for that marketing sweet talk because chocolate cherry just sounded so yummy. 😦 It’s not a bad color, but it’s really more of a warm-toned/brownish off-black, and I already have a million off-blacks. Also, that Ghost Shimmer descriptor? Turns out it was probably a marketing-department euphemism for shimmer you really can’t see at all, except in strong direct light and only sometimes. August might as well be a creme, which is fine if that’s what you want, but I wanted to see at least a little bit of shimmer, and not just when direct sun hits it just right.

Formula-wise, at least it dries really fast. Streaky at one coat and okay at two, but if you have enough light hitting it to actually show the red tones in the polish, you can also see how unevenly it actually goes on (which I could not see while I was applying because it just looked black in regular indoor light). Also, I hate the current Julep flat-tipped wide brush. As I’ve said so many times before, it’s too fat for my small nails, and the flat tip is just too wide when it spreads to make a good curve along the cuticle, so I needed to clean up with a brush and acetone afterward, which I hate.

I guess in direct sun, it has a hint of the red that’s supposed to make it “chocolate cherry.” Meh. Disappointed with this one. :\

Karin‘s much better. It’s got an interesting cookies-‘n’-creme-milkshake finish going on, with darker matte particles suspended throughout, rather than the more standard shimmer particles. The base color’s a milky pale pinkish lilac (Julep calls it a “Powdered Lilac Crème”). Formula’s a bit thick, though (prone to cuticle flooding), and has an average dry time.

Tl;dr – August’s description is misleading, but it could be a decent warm off-black almost-creme, if that’s your jam. I think the Ghost Shimmer finish is pointless, personally, since it doesn’t even shimmer enough for a noticeable subtle effect. Karin is pretty cool, and I’d love this finish in more ice-cream inspired colors.

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Defy & Inspire Rock of Love

A new Target recently opened near me, and Defy & Inspire Rock of Love caught my eye while I was checking out the store. This is my first time trying this brand, and it’s a winner! Here it is, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat:

Rock of Love is semi-sheer, milky pale blue loaded with shimmer that flashes a glowy orangey pink in the light. So pretty. It reminds me of watching the sunset over the ocean. You can see the shimmer best in direct sun.

The formula is good and reasonably opaque in two coats. The brush was somewhat wide but not as wide as some of the Sally Hansen and Julep ones lately, and it applied fine. The shimmer shows brush strokes somewhat, but it’s not too obvious in person. It also dried fast, which always wins major points! ❤

This polish was $9.49 at my local Target, and I bought it before looking online because I was already at the store and it was the last bottle left, but on Target’s website, it’s $7.49, and I think you can pay from the website and reserve the item in-store. Wonder if doing that could have saved me two bucks! Ah, well. Next time.

Julep Carrie Ann

Sometimes after wearing some bolder colors, I just get this urge to wear something more boring – relatively anyway. Here’s Julep Carrie Ann, a sheer nude with some subtle holo sparkle:

You can’t see the holo sparkle that well in my photos, unfortunately, but it’s definitely there and shows up better in brighter light. It just happened to be an overcast day.

I liked the way this polish looked better at one coat, actually, but it’d be a no-go if you don’t like sheer polishes/visible nail line. At one coat, it applies evenly and has a your-nails-but-better look, and the holo shimmer seems to be, if anything, more visible. (Sorry I didn’t take a photo!) At two coats, I ended up with what you see here – something that somehow looks infinitely more boring and more humdrum creme-like. Oh, well. Work appropriate to the max.

Formula was fine, easy to work with with average dry time and average durability. Like many lighter colored polishes for me, though, it started getting a bit dingy looking after a few days, with some dark stains at the tips that didn’t come off with even vigorous hand washing. :\

Next time (if I get around to a next time with this polish), I’ll wear it with one coat and see if I like it better. At two coats, it’s okay but a little too drab for me!

Julep Kayla

From my untrieds, Julep Kayla, described by Julep as an “electric iris sheer with violet sheen.” This is two coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat, in outdoor natural light (both direct light and shade):

Kayla‘s got a jelly-like sheer, somewhat milky, quality, but it’s loaded with duochrome-y shimmer that flashes pink/purple. The base color is an interesting periwinkle blue-leaning kind of pastel-neon lavender – it’s hard to describe. The pink flash warms it up a bit, but it’s overall a cool-toned polish. By the way, my bottle isn’t nearly as dark as the swatches on Julep’s website.

It takes three coats for decent coverage, though it’ll still be sheer (as intended). Could be great for layering, I bet. Application was great, and dry time was average.

It’s a fun spring/summer color that’s somehow both bright and understated. 🙂 I’ve only worn it on its own so far, but I bet it could make a mean jelly sandwich!

Zoya Muse

Zoya Muse, from the summer 2014 Bubbly collection, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat, photographed in outdoor natural light:

The jelly-ish sheer and squishy medium blue base is transformed to a shifty teal because of the gold shimmer, and it’s packed with iridescent glitters. I love this one, even though it takes three (thin) coats for good coverage. The formula’s a bit on the watery side, but it’s not too hard to work with. Dry time was average.

Such an awesome mermaid polish, perfect for #MerMay. 😀

LynBDesigns Oh Captain, My Captain

I had LynBDesigns Oh Captain, My Captain sitting around in my stash for a long time, and I have no idea why I’d forgotten to wear it until now! (This polish is from the October 2014 Spark of Madness collection inspired by Robin Williams.)

As usual, two thin coats, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in outdoor natural light:

Oh Captain, My Captain is a beautiful polish, with what looks like a sheer black (or maybe super dark blue?) base with scattered holographic shimmer particles and an oil-slick-like multichrome (iridescent, if you want to skip the nail polish jargon ;)) flash. At the edges of the nail, I could maybe see some dark blue, but for the most part, it seemed to shift from purplish pink to gold and olive for me. The overall effect reminds me of outer space – stunning!

Application was great, covering well in two coats and drying faster than average. Durability wasn’t so good, unfortunately. I had major chips on the third day with my typical base coat and top coat. So awesome while it lasted, though! Ah, well. I guess that gives me a good reason to repaint my nails in pastels for Easter. :]

P.S. Here’s a link to the Walt Whitman poem “O Captain! My Captain!” the polish name references. 😀

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!