Skip to content

Monthly Manicure Reviews Featuring Nail Polishes: Smith & Cult Dark Like Me, Julep Katie, Joni, and Nicola

My nail polish collection is large, and thanks to my Julep Maven subscription, I keep adding to it. That means Julep polishes represent my biggest percentage, but I own a lot of brands. Once a month, I will share all of my monthly manicures listing the polishes I used, how many coats of each I used, and how long each lasted. This should give me an opportunity to use my polishes more often and actually review them. Since my polish collection keeps growing rapidly, I am not going to list them all in one place. Swatches and descriptions of every polish I own go into an article listing all polishes in the same color family. Typing the name of the polish you want to see in the search bar will pull up its respective article if I own it. If you have any requests on polishes I own that you want reviewed, please list them in the comments. As long as the polish you want reviewed is close to the color or finish I am looking for when I paint, I will consider it.

Tools of the Trade

I will only share pictures and reviews of each manicure tool the first time I use it in an article. If I use the same tool in the future, I will not picture it or review it again, unless it either improves or falls short from its past performance on a subsequent use. Both of my beauty tools from this month are in the first polish picture, because I forgot to separate the photos.

The Up & Up Nail Polish Remover Non Acetone is terrible. This is something I will never buy again, and I do not recommend it to anyone else. My fingernails always feel super dry and get really white when I use this. It does remove polish, but it takes a lot more product than higher quality removers.

The Ulta Beauty Wedge works really well for gradient polish, but this works better with protection for the finger. I did not have any latex or expensive nail wraps, so I decided to just clean up with nail polish remover afterward. That was a larger task than I anticipated, so I will never do this again. The after picture (below) was almost 48 hours later. It took about that long to remove all the excess polish from my fingers.


Polish and Nail Art

I will always include every product I add to my nails from start to finish (even if I’ve reviewed the product in the past). A different product combination can affect wear time. Unless I use a single product on its own (which I have and will do), it is almost impossible to attribute the single product responsible for poor wear time or longevity. Only when I wear a single product will I review wear time for the individual polish. When I wear multiple polishes together, I will review wear time for the combination.


I broke a nail shortly before this manicure, so I opted for Butter London Horse Power. Any polish that doubles as a nail strengthener and a base coat is perfect for a time when I really want to protect my nails. This one fits the bill. I never seem to break a nail when I am wearing this, and I can think of times when I’ve broken nails using other base coats. As with most multi-taskers, this does work better as a strengthened than it does as a base. If I were using a really dark polish or one that would stain my nails, I would not opt for this one. Compare this to my other base coats.


I wanted a pale, taupe-purple as my base for this look, so I selected Nails Inc Porchester Square. This is opaque in one coat, but you can darken it my adding a second coat if you want. Compare this to my other purple polishes.


For the gradient colors, I used Julep Katie and Smith & Cult Dark Like Me. The colors all blended together beautifully, and the overall result was a lot better than I expected. Compare these to my other purple and wine polishes.


I used Sinful Colors in Sheer Genius (which is no longer available for purchase) as my top coat. This is where I planned to stop, but I wanted to add something else. It needed some Ciate Caviar Pearls, which stuck perfectly to the Sheer Genius. These are no longer for sale. To keep them in place, I used Ciate Glitter Grip. That is no longer available either, but it is wonderful are making everything underneath it stay where it belongs. If I ever run out of this, I will need suggestions on something that holds things down this well. Compare these to my other purple polishes and top coats.


This look lasted 12 days. Most of the pearls were still attached, but the ones that remained lost most of their color. I had some slight chips at the tips of my nails and the base grew out a little. The pearls are fun to play with, so my younger son kept rubbing his fingers on them. They catch on everything, because they’re not super smooth. If you apply lotion a lot, you will find that lotion works its way into the crevices. In other words, this looks less pretty as time wears on. It will probably still look great if you do not apply lotion after every hand-washing, like I do.


The Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat is still my favorite. It leaves nails perfectly matte, so there is no doubt when the polish is dry. This dries really fast and smooth, so I can start painting almost immediately after applying. When I use this, my nails almost never get stained. Compare this to my other base coats.


My plan was to add a glitter top coat, so I wanted an orange glitter under it. Julep Joni is a citrine and was exactly what I had in mind. I should have used a second coat of Joni, because the full-coverage glitter polishes rarely go fully opaque with one coat. There are parts that are thinner than others. Compare this to my other orange polishes.


I added Julep Nicola, which is an orange glow-in-the-dark iridescent micro glitter top coat. It barely glows even when it is really dark. This is an orangish top coat, but it is extremely sheer. This was the perfect top coat to use with the Julep Skull & Crossbones Nail Wraps in White and Yellow. The polish adds a pretty effect without imparting too much color. My stickers still look white and yellow. I put white skeletons on my thumbs and yellow skeletons on my ring fingers. My nails are short, so I used excess from the stickers to apply single skeletons to every other finger. That means I still have 8 white skeletons left, but many of the 8 remaining yellow stickers are already cracked. Compare this to my other orange polishes.


I’ve only been wearing this combination for a little over 24 hours. The yellow stickers were problematic, because they would not come off the paper at all. They cracked when I tried to remove them no matter how much I moved the paper. It was a little too easy to remove the white stickers, because the background was almost greasy. Those were falling off the paper and weren’t too sticky. At least they came off in one piece, so I was able to adhere them almost perfectly. Julep said it would refund me for both sets, even though I really only complained about the yellow ones and mentioned how easily the white ones came off for comparison. Other than the stickers, the manicure went okay. My nails were not completely dry when I applied the stickers, so I did get some smudging. I started this manicure too late in the day on Halloween (busy with the kids’ school events all day), and my kids were ready to go trick or treating. If I had more time, this would have looked better.

See all nail polish reviews or all nail polish articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate and Direct Links

notcreative View All

I'm Kimberly. Shopping is always more fun when I've found the best deal available, so I am always on the hunt. My father instilled that in me, and I love that I carry a piece of him. Sometimes, my husband and sons (12 and 7) let me shop for them, too. They do not use as many beauty products as I do. We can all benefit from nice products, even though their routine ends with moisturizer. That is when I can convince my 12-year-old to apply it.

Deal or No Deal? What Do You Think?

%d bloggers like this: