The Quick Take
Brand/Name: NARS Zulu
Color: Blackened dark green
Price: $5.00 - $25.00 CDN for 14mL
Seen at: Various NARS cosmetic counters at your local mall, Sephora, Nars.com
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
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.
Super shiny vampy green.
Notice a bit of streaky-ness?
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.
Trust me, there's top coat even if it looks no different.
Hammie says: Mmhmm! Reminds me of buko pandan*!
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.
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:
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!