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{March 21, 2014}   Julep Freedom Polymer Topcoat: Review and Photos

I posted last week that I received the Julep Freedom Polymer Topcoat as a 100 point “freebie” with my giant Sephora purchase.  I picked it without knowing anything about it, but suspecting it had something to do with gel nails.

Pic:

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It’s supposed to essentially turn regular manicures into “gel-like” manicures, give longer wear time than a regular top coat, but still be easily removed with nail polish remover.  As the kind of person who can’t wear polish longer than a couple of days without chipping, I was intrigued and excited.  I used to get gel manis but quit because the process was so time consuming and expensive.  Plus, I really prefer to do my own nails.  So this could be my miracle product, right?

Day 1: this past Monday evening, I pained my nails with three coats of CM Midnight Impostor, a purported Essie Starry Starry Night dupe.  I let them dry and then used one coat Julep.  The instructions say the polish either cures in regular light in 5 minutes, or under 60 watt bulbs in 2.  It just so happens that I recently installed 60 watt bulbs in my bathroom.  Since it was dark out, I began the awkward process of curing (awkward because the lights are above my mirrors, so I stood on the counter with my hands held up like an eagle’s wings under the light).

Picture, after curing:

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It’s hard to tell, but this topcoat does give that awesome gel manicure shine, and it really did cure in the 2 minutes, although I was paranoid and avoided doing anything for at least 10 to make absolutely sure.  Then I put this stuff to the test.  Opening pop cans, digging through my purse, typing typing typing at my day job, etc.  As a small bit of background, I am VERY hard on my nails, probably more so than the average person.  It looked great all through Tuesday and showed the most minimal of tip wear on Wednesday and most of Thursday.

Thursday evening (Day 3 of wear, but technically Day 4 if we’re counting Monday, which I don’t really):

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Sorry about the crap picture.  I had a terrible time, this is really the best one I had!  As you can (hopefully!) tell, the middle and ring finger have just the barest tip wear.  Pinky even less so, thumb on par with middle and ring.  The real disaster was the index finger.  In fairness, however, I know exactly how that big chip happened: candle wax spilled onto my dresser, and I used that nail to scrape it up.  Had I not done this, I feel confident they would’ve lasted through tomorrow.

Removal was nice and easy, as promised – I used the foil method, mainly because the polish is a glitter, and I had no problems whatsoever.

Worth it?  I’m still trying to decide, honestly.  In the pro column is how quickly it cured, the gel shine, how well it really did hold up, and the total ease of removal.  The negative, though, is I’m not really sure it lasted much longer than my regular Seche Vite, and at $18 a bottle, it’s quite a bit pricier too.  I suppose the real “death match” comparison would be using Seche Vite on some nails and Julep on others on the same hand, and then watching what happens.

Another thing I wanted to note – some of the reviews I saw on Sephora.com indicated major shrinkage and cracking, but I didn’t experience those problems at all.  Knowing it had to potential to shrink, I tip wrapped with both polish and topcoat, so I would definitely recommend that.

Has anyone else tried this?  Most of the reviews I see online have it lasting way longer than mine did, which just makes me think I really AM that hard on my nails, rather than the product itself being a problem.  I’m not putting this one in the “no” column just yet.  I think my expectations may have been a bit unrealistic, wanting both super long wear time AND super easy removal.  I guess I just want it all!!

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