NARS Midnight Express

2 coats, sunlight

NARS Midnight Express is an inky blue in a jelly formula that is akin to NARS Zulu. This was re-released as part of NARS Vintage collection last year. I prefer this to Zulu. While Zulu looks black most of the time, Midnight Express is undeniably blue even when the lighting is poorer. Like Zulu, the application is somewhat uneven with only coats. Parts of the nail where I used a heavier hand showed up darker, while other parts were lighter. A third coat would have evened things out but I was afraid that the colour would end up looking black.

1 coat, sunlight

Here’s one coat just to show you how blue it was initially before I started layering it on.

Serena’s nails, with OPI Alpine Snow (matte), glittery silver nail striper pen, sunlight

With Orly Snowcone, Orly Pointe Blanche, sunlight

…. And with white nail striper pen, China Glaze Millenium, artificial light

Here are some of the designs we tried with Midnight Express. The last attempt was a bit out of hand as there were way too many things going on!

Vintage half-moon manicure

Reinforcement rings are pretty much all you need for the vintage half-moon manicure. That, and a lot of patience. By a lot, I mean if you have at least two hours to spare.

It all started with an article in Urban newspaper talking about two-toned nails. Nail aficionados will know that the real name is called the vintage half-moon manicure, which consists of painting a small portion of your cuticle a different colour from the rest of your nail. It is also sometimes called the reverse French. How hard can it be? I thought.

Barbara’s nails, China Glaze Millenium (silver) + Orly Royal Navy (blue), low light

Well, the first attempt was pretty much a disaster. I didn’t know that you had to wait for the silver to dry completely before pasting on the reinforcement stickers. When I removed them, much of the silver paint came off as well. That aside, I must say that Orly Royal Navy is absolutely stunning.

Maggie’s nails, Essie Body Language (pale purple) + OPI Black Cherry Chutney (dark purple), sunlight

Maggie’s nails turned out a lot better because we had time on our side. I think this colour combination is fabulous; Black Cherry Chutney is a luxurious shimmery burgundy from the OPI India collection. But the lines separating the colours could be cleaner. Perhaps the reinforcement rings were too sticky?

This is what I mean by clean lines. Cheryl handed me this magazine photograph and asked if I could recreate the look. So here’s Attempt #3.

Cheryl’s nails, NARS Midnight Express (blue) + China Glaze Something Sweet (pink), flash

Major fail. Jagged lines galore. Her mom said that she looked diseased. We spent close to two hours painstakingly doing this and still we couldn’t achieve perfection. Can someone help? If you know the solution, it would be much appreciated.

NARS Zulu, 2 coats, sunlight

Determined to achieve the elusive clean lines and cut down on the drying time, I decided to free hand the damned moon. Here I started off with two coats of NARS Zulu. I love the way the jelly glows. It’s so shiny you can see my reflection in the nails.

NARS Zulu (green) + Orly Pointe Blanche (white)

Using Orly Pointe Blanche, which is a white polish meant specifically for French manicures, I drew a curve line near the cuticle first, then filled in the rest of the half moon. The index finger shows the curved line.

NARS Zulu (green) + Orly Pointe Blanche (white) + Elianto Platinum Pearl (white shimmer)

Et voila! The vintage half-moon manicure without use of stickers. It’s far from perfect but at least I didn’t have to spend hours on this.

Here is a closer look. My least favourite finger is the index because the white blob looks like a lump of coal.

Just noticed that Fann Wong has a half moon in one of her advertisements. It looks kind of weird actually. White half moon over a bare unpainted nail.

NARS Zulu

2 coats, sunlight

NARS Zulu from the Vintage Nail collection 2010! This was another goodie I picked up from Hong Kong. For years now, Zulu was revered as one those super hard to find collectors’ polishes. Now that NARS has re-released this shade, it means that people late to the party can get their hands on the coveted colour. Now onto the colour description: this is a dark green jelly that dries super glossy (no top coat here). Formula was good, only marred by the small brush and the un-ergonomic square cap. There is some streakiness because I’m not used to the tiny brush and I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make the polish neat along the cuticles.

1 coat Zulu vs 1 coat OPI Here Today Aragon Tomorrow, sunlight

I thought Zulu would be really similar to OPI Here Today Aragon Tomorrow, so I did a comparison swatch. A huge difference when it’s just one coat! Zulu is a rich forest green and Aragon (ring and pinkie) is mossy and a lot less opaque.

2 coats Zulu vs 3 coats Aragon, sunlight

At full opacity though, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference, given that both belong in the almost-black categories. It will most certainly fail the boyfriend test (“Which colour do you prefer, dear?” “Err… they are both the same, aren’t they?” “No no… they are different!” “Err… they are both black, no?”)

2 coats Zulu vs 2 coats China Glaze Wagon Trail

So here’s another comparion with another near-black colour, China Glaze Wagon Trail. There is a clear difference this time, largely because of the golden-olive shimmer in Wagon Trail.