Friday, December 30, 2011

Nars Zulu ends 2011 with a bang!

It feels like it was just yesterday when I started the red, gold and green series for the holidays and here we are looking at the end of another year. The past few days have been ridiculously crazy with the party a day schedule we've had, coupled with my poor honey bunny catching a virus (Such a lousy time to be sick! We hope he feels much better before the new year starts. And that he doesn't pass it on to me.) and hacking away every night. I've been piecing blog posts together whenever I have free time (I keep my promises!) and today I saved one of my newer acquisitions to end the series with a bang. In truth, it's one of the best deals I've scored nail polish-wise this year and it's one of the more (in?)famous polishes in my collection. Without further ado:

Say hello to NARS Zulu!

The Quick Take

Brand/Name: NARS Zulu
Color: Blackened dark green
Finish: Jelly/sheer
Price: $5.00 - $25.00 CDN for 14mL
Seen at: Various NARS cosmetic counters at your local mall, Sephora,
Note(s): I was very lucky to score this polish at a warehouse sale for only $5.00! Elsewhere, it retails $25.00.

The Fun Facts

It looks really dark in the bottle but it's very obviously green.

Hard to see, but this is the back of the bottle.

The clear label with black print on a dark background makes it hard to read.

NARS brush.

Dark but definitely green!

In the bottle (especially from my photos), you might think that this looks so much like black, never mind that you do know it to be a pretty true green. While that may be the case, it's still definitely green. The first coat shows it to be just that, however, once you layer on more coats for better opacity, the green color does get deeper without resulting in a black with a hint of green shade. Even in low light, this still shows its true color albeit being very dark. If you're not too keen on green, that's fine. Zulu will still aim to impress with it's ridiculously glossy finish in true jelly form. If there's one thing that amazed me more than the pretty green shade it flaunts, it's the uber shine you get even without top coat. It's so shiny that I was tempted to forgo top coat (but of course I didn't).
***All nail swatches were done with Orly Bonder Base Coat and two thick coats of  NARS Zulu unless stated.

Artificial light/No top coat/No flash
Super shiny vampy green.

Artificial light/No top coat/Flash
Notice a bit of streaky-ness?

Natural light/No top coat/No flash
Dark but not black at all.

I have to be honest. As well-touted as the brand is, I absolutely disliked the brush. The handle was so clunky that it makes it tricky to use the brush as I normally would. So I end up holding it a different way and lose some control that I normally would have otherwise. The rubberized grip is a major plus point as the bulky handle definitely needs it. (I shudder to think of a smooth plastic handle with all its chunky-ness.) I almost wish they designed the brush similar to the Chanel or Butter London polishes where the square top comes off to reveal a slim handle not unlike your traditional nail polish brushes. That would have made application so much more easier! Also, there's that little issue we call the formula. Sure it flows wonderfully but it can also be streaky. Admittedly, this is a jelly so it does lean on the sheerer side of the spectrum which only means that application must be done more carefully. The brush didn't really help the streaky-ness either. I experienced some cuticle drag (mostly because I used a thick coat so that's more my fault) and when I was trying to even out some areas, I only ended up dragging the polish and making it all the more streaky. Lesson learned, use more thin coats! Dry time is pretty fast, all things considered. It's safe to touch in about a couple minutes after application. Removal is easy but beware the Hulk fingers as it can stain a bit.

Artificial light/Top coat/No flash
Trust me, there's top coat even if it looks no different.

Artificial light/Top coat/Flash
Hammie says: Mmhmm! Reminds me of buko pandan*!

Natural light/Top coat/No Flash
Hammie says: Or maybe some seaweed wrapped sushi!

Top coat seems ridiculous after seeing how shiny Zulu is by itself. But to keep Chip City from becoming reality for as long as possible, it's a definite must.

The Lowdown

Zulu is so popular that NARS had to bring it back due to an overwhelming demand. I'm not even sure when it first came out but I did hear it caused a frenzy when it came back in 2007 when Sephora featured it on the model that graced the holiday catalog of that year. It was promptly sold out soon after and the brand no longer carried the color. Eventually, NARS conceded and brought it back in a Vintage Nail Polish Collection in 2010, albeit with some very slight differences to the formula. Apparently, the newer formula leans a bit more blue that's really only obvious at the first streaky coat. As you build it up, the polish is so dark that it doesn't really matter. Unless you're a die-hard color purist and insist on 100% consistence. Now as far as duplicates are concerned, a couple come to mind. First is Nfu Oh 569. From comparison photos I've seen, it looks like a fairly close match with enough layers to deepen the color. Both are jelly finishes although the Nfu Oh 569 at one coat looks to be a brighter green compared to one coat Zulu. Now, I don't even own a single Nfu Oh polish so availability and all that might be iffy. But there's good news! A cheapo alternative is NYC In a New York Minute Color in Flat Iron Green. No, it's not an exact dupe, it applies more like a creme than a jelly and has a touch more yellow than Zulu does, BUT for the desperate or uninitiated, it's a really good substitute that's readily available anywhere for a fraction of the cost. Or you can do like me and wait for the next warehouse sale to grab a bottle or two (assuming they still have stock, of course). But if you're not averse to paying full price, it's still available at the NARS website.

As I stated in the notes, I got my bottle for $5.00. Yes, $5.00. That's 1/5 of the retail price! Value for price is amazingly high, wouldn't you say? Especially when you think about how highly coveted this polish is. I'll tell you a little secret. At the warehouse sale, I actually didn't even know what polishes I had. The lighting was not the best and the clear labels with black print against a dark polish made it extremely difficult to read what color it was. At the time, it looked like a really nice dark green so I picked it up. I only found out it was Zulu when I had gotten home and was assessing the "damage". If I had known then, I'd probably have grabbed at least a couple bottles! Oh well. Hopefully my luck holds and I'll be able to grab some next time (maybe even one for a giveaway!).

I thought this was a great polish despite all the issues I encountered. The streaky-ness could very well have been my fault as I did opt to do thicker layers instead of my usual thinner layers in hopes of getting opacity with less coats. That's what you get for being impatient! The brush handle is something I can't fix but with a color as gorgeous as Zulu, I can forgive it for the time being (C'mon, wouldn't you?).

Hammie is just as enamored with Zulu. He thinks any frenzy caused by this polish is justified. We've finally weaned him off his alcohol fixation but now he's been after the dessert! He absolutely loves the super shiny finish that is very reminiscent of jelly. In fact, he says it's making him very hungry. Before he went off to make some buko pandan, he scored NARS Zulu:

10 Hammie Points!

Happy New Year!!! Any big plans for the countdown? What'll be on your nails when the new year ushers in? I haven't even really decided on mine! It's a toss up between Color Club Worth the Risque or China Glaze Ruby Pumps. Or maybe something else. What would you suggest?

*And in case you were wondering, buko pandan is a cold Filipino dessert comprised of shredded young coconut meat, green pandan flavored jelly and tapioca, all swimming in cream and sweet condensed milk. Yummmm!


  1. What a lovely green!! And you scored!! I love getting good deals like that, it makes me so happy ;0). This color looks great on you!

  2. It's such a high to know you've saved SO MUCH on something. :) It's when it gets addicting that makes it dangerous for the wallet. :P What was your biggest, score? Glad you like it, Marisa! Hope you had a fantastic New Year's Eve! :D Happy New Year!!!

  3. Happy New Year, Carmela! :)

    NARS Zulu looks way better on you. It looked more black on my nails, which of course greatly disappointed my green-polish-addict self. ;)

    Your photos look great! :) Did you use your new camera to take them?

  4. Happy New Year to you, too, Mary! :D

    Aww, thanks but I doubt it! ;) How many coats did you use? I was tempted to do 3 thick coats but was afraid it would show up too dark to be still be obviously green. (Plus the dry time on that would probably mean I'll mess it up before it completely dries!)

    I wish! But no, it's just my "winterized" set up. :) I still need to figure out how to diffuse the light more so it doesn't wash out the colors.

    I'm still tinkering with the new one. I'm a bit miffed that it's so sensitive to jitter that I mostly need to use a tripod with it, especially when I do macro shots. But the detail is phenomenal! I can't wait to do swatch photos with it! :D

  5. THIS dark green looks lovely on you!
    The closest shade to it that I own is Zoya Envy.
    That desert looks delish!!!
    Hope you had an awesome NEW YEAR!!! with plenty of health, polish and laughter coming your way in this 2012

  6. Thank you, Marta! I don't own Zoya Envy but now you gave me Zoya envy! (Ugh, cheesy, but true) That's one brand I want more colors of.

    Oh, it is! I'd totally make you some if you ever come visit. :D

    So far, it's been great! I hope you have a hundredfold of all those, too! You definitely deserve it. :)

  7. I used 2 coats, and they were pretty thin. The formula of the polish was perfect, so it was easy to apply thin coats compared to thicker coats like I usually apply.

    You must get your hands on Seche Vite! When you have that, even if you've used multiple or thicker coats, the dry time is lightning fast.

    Is your camera still sensitive to jitter even if you have a lot of bright light? I know that a high ISO value makes any camera more sensitive to even the smallest shaking. Good lighting is always your best bet. Sigh...I have to figure out how to winterize, too. Funny thing is that once I get around to it, it'll probably be the spring! :P

  8. And it still looked more black? That's so strange!

    Maybe I will when I win your giveaway...? :D I've been meaning to give it a go but I still have 3 other bottles of top coat (all different brands: OPI, Models Own and Color Club) that came with sets that I haven't even used yet. :S

    Nope, it was the low light that was killing me. But the tripod still helps a ton, I find. I lost my winter set up when the in laws came (it was in the room they're now using) so I've had to make do with a different, less effective one. I doubt you need to as your photos lately have been phenomenal!


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