Monday, April 25, 2016

Zoya Jace + Top Coat Test: Part I

Took a break from pastels and King Kylie (lol) to enable post a Zoya today. In the past, I used to push Zoya during April to share potential Zoya Exchange purchases, but since that didn't happen this year, surely I could share one Zoya.

Y'all know I love a weird green, just so long as it plays well with my skin tone. After the undocumented fail that was Zoya Shawn, I wasn't so sure about Zoya Jace when I saw last summer's Island Fun collection at Ulta. The Island Fun colors reminded me a heck of a lot of the Summertime collection (2011), so I skipped it until I saw clearance stickers a few months later. I don't know why, but there's something about a clearance sticker that makes me go full ham, so when I grabbed a handful of Zoyas, I grabbed Jace, too. (And then I proceeded to stay away from Ulta for like two months.)

I am happy to say that Jace is what I wanted Shawn to be: swampy, but not too drab or unflattering for me. According to Zoya, Jace is a tropical green. I guess that works???? It has lots of olive in it. I also think Jace has more of a medium depth than Shawn did, which I appreciate.

Three coats with a new top coat I'm trying out. :)

See what I mean about the color? Anyway, I think it's a little darker on the nail, but not too much. I am very much digging it, and am very glad I decided to go for it in the end. I don't know that this would survive a battle against greens like RBL Become One or Sinful Exotic Green because Jace is warmer than those two; in the back of my mind, I'm crushing on a nice medium green creme and I don't want to buy the new one from OPI New Orleans right now.

This is one of those Zoya cremes that is a total dream to apply: so smooth and buttery! If you have a heavier touch while polishing, then you'll be able to get this opaque in two coats. I found that I needed three, but I'm not sure if that's because I tend to go easy when I'm polishing or if Jace really does need three coats. Either way, it looked patchy to me at two under the OttLite, so. Dry time with this new top coat was pretty fast, which made me pretty happy, too. While I didn't have any staining after removing Jace, it would be good to keep Cutique or some whitening paste around just in case if you use a different base coat than I do.

Okay, so about this new top coat. I'm experimenting with various top coats to find out which one will be my new Zoya go-to when I've used up my remaining bottle of Cult Nails Wicked Fast. As we all know when it comes to nail stuff, YMMV due to body chemistry and other factors. However, Zoya nail polish has the peculiar distinction of not playing well with top coats from many, many brands, which makes finding a new Zoya-compatible top coat a bit of a challenge.

Most of us remember ALU's Zoya Ivanka Wear Test from back in the day (if you don't, read it HERE). The main takeaway of that post is in this paragraph:
It’s all about an ingredient called CELLULOSE ACETATE BUTYRATE. Any base coats containing it will prevent their polish from adhering and top coats with the ingredient must be carefully formulated to work with Zoya lacquer. Any guesses what ingredient is in the majority of quick dry top coats?? Ding, ding ding!!
Good to know, right? Here's the thing, though: my beloved Wicked Fast also contained cellulose acetate butyrate ("CAB" from this point forward). I figured I would chalk up my success with Zoya and Wicked Fast to two things, the first being body chemistry and the second being the actual formulation of CAB in Wicked Fast.

CAB positive.

I've noticed that ALU post continues to be a resource even now, six years later. And that's awesome. Buuuuut I've also noticed that means people tend automatically tend to rule out any top coat containing CAB, which was interesting. Let's revisit that paragraph in Michelle's post. The edits in red are me:
Any base coats containing it will prevent their polish from adhering and top coats with the ingredient must be carefully formulated to work with Zoya lacquer.
"Must be carefully formulated"? I was grasping at straws, but there was enough of a loop hole in those four words for me to start adding top coats with CAB into the lineup to try. I mean, if Zoya played well with Wicked Fast, there's gotta be something else it'll work with, too.

Here're a couple of my stipulations for my Zoya Compatibility & Wear Test:
  1. I wanted to try a creme polish first, because sometimes when you wear a shimmery polish, any cracks or weirdness in your top coat won't be visible right away. I was curious about Jace and I'm super feeling green polish right now, which made this polish an easy choice. Plus it's not too light or too dark. Will I try Jace every time I try a new top coat? For variety's sake, I might not; I'd like to see how other top coats wear with shimmers and glass flecks, too. I guess the Zoya brand would be my constant. 
  2. Now that I'm opening up this Zoya experiment to other top coats with CAB as an ingredient, my primary criterion is that this top coat is readily available for purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. I've heard amazing things about HK Girl's Glisten & Glow top coat, and I'm sure I will try that someday, but right now I need to be able to have physical access to products.
  3. In addition to being easily accessible in a brick & mortar store, I prefer top coats that are core products and nothing in danger of being discontinued or -- heavens forbid -- limited edition.
  4. Last but not least, it needs to cost up to $8 without a coupon or discount. I tend to stock up on Seche and Gelous when Sally's has a treatment sale, and whenever there's a free Essie top coat promo at Ulta, I'll go for that because it's not like I wasn't going to buy an Essie polish anyway. But I cannot be rolling with crazy prices right now -- that'll just put a dent in my clearance bin budget. 😜

First up in my top coat experiment is a top coat that I remember being a low-key fave on the old MUA nail board. I don't think I bought it until after I'd been blogging for a few months, so this is at least four years old. Bottle shot time!

Please excuse the OttLite glare! At least you can see where the ingredients list includes CAB.

Salon size, bitch. I bought this one at Walmart back in the day.

Some observations:
  • Formula: Even taking into account any new versions of the Pro-FX formula as well as the fact that I own a salon-sized bottle that I for some reason never used, I have to say that I really liked the formula. It reminded me of NYC GCS and Cult Nails Wicked Fast in that it's thinner than and not quite as viscous as SV. But unlike GCS, I didn't have any of the streaking that sometimes happens with GCS.
  • Application: Again I have to point to my humongous bottle, because I'll bet the brush is a little easier to wield with a regular-sized one. I had to let some of the top coat drip off the brush or else I would have over done it, but other than that, it was all gravy. I've noticed that it will streak a little if you use too thin of a coat or you go over your original coat top coat, so that's something to avoid. I also have to wonder if this is as easy to apply once you've put a usage dent in your bottle.
  • Self-leveling?: I don't think Pro-FX self-levels, really. I didn't have any issues with Jace self-leveling on its own, so I didn't encounter anything out of the ordinary in that department and will have to try Pro-FX with a fussier Zoya.
  • Dry time: I think it was about on par with Wicked Fast (so, faster than GCS but not as speedy as SV).
  • Misc.: I'm pretty sensitive to scents, but I don't think this top coat is a particularly stinky one. And on another front, my skin and nails didn't seem to have any weird reactions to this. Win. 

The pictures I posted at the beginning of this post were taken the day I put Jace on, so you have a pretty good idea of what it looks like. Here are some not-so-color-accurate pics of the rest of the time I wore it:

Day 2: left hand + right hand

Day 3: left hand + right hand. My middle right nail was starting to peel that day, and finally chipped when I reached into my purse to grab my wallet at Marshalls. Boo hiss.

Day 4: Missing my left hand but w/e because it looked the same as the days before and for some reason I have three pictures of my right hand, which, ughhhhhhhhhh.

Day 5: left hand + right hand. That left corner of my left middle finger was starting to chip at this point.

I could have gone a few more days wearing this, but honestly? My nails were getting way too long (I hadn't cut them in almost two weeks) and I hated staring at those chips. In the scheme of things, those chips are not as disastrous as others I've had in the past. I washed dishes without gloves, took long showers (okay, when my hair is as long as it is, long showers are a given), cooked, and baked; in other words, I like to think I've put this Zoya and top coat through its paces. Maybe next time, I should wash & detail my car. HA.

  • Days worn: 5
  • Base coat(s) used: 1 coat of SS Instant Artificials (pink bottle).
  • Tip wear: Almost nonexistent until Day 4, and even then it was so minimal compared to what a lot of polishes do with SV that I'm thrilled about this.
  • Cracking at sides? None!!
  • Shine: Dulled and scratched after the first day, but no more than any top coat does. I think this is comparable to GCS and Wicked Fast. SV has a crazy shine but it dulls and scratches incredibly fast; without that much of a shine factor here, it would make sense that the dulling & scratching wouldn't be too much, either.
  • Days without chips: 2. Sadface. However, I've often said my right index and middle nails are my weakest ones, so it pretty much takes a miracle for them not to chip these days.
  • Any other issues? Sadly, there is one problem with this Pro-FX top coat, but I don't think I'll have to deal with it for a long time. I didn't get a chance to pop into a huge Walmart last week, but I did run into a little one near my parents', where I noticed that store didn't have a recent version of my Quick Dry. Instead, they had this:

    Cameo appearance by my Sally card

    Another reason I'm side-eyeing the "gel" trend, negl. I didn't buy this because I'm still sitting on my big ol' salon-size bottle, but if any of you have, it would be so helpful if you could weigh in as to whether this "supreme gel" does anything in the self-leveling department!

Pro-FX verdict: I would be lying if I said this top coat wasn't the one to beat so far! Yes, I did get some chips, but again, those are my chip-prone fingers. It is what it is.

If you read all the way through this post, you rock. Anyone liking Jace? What's in your Zoya Exchange cart? What's your current favorite top coat to use with Zoya? Any other Pro-FX lovers in the house? I NEED TO KNOW.

Thanks for reading! I would like to post one more time this week, but I can't decide what to blog. Another Kylie? Another Zoya? A completely random Prince-tastic purple? I don't know about you, but I am far more cut up about Prince than I thought I would be. :(


  1. Ok, so don't hate me but...I get great wear with Zoya no matter what top coat I use, including SV. It's one of my favourite brands because it's one of the longest wearing on me. Weird body chemistry is weird.

    That being said, I've had great success with Formula X The System with brands that typically don't wear super great on me, including OPI (I've gotten DRAMATICALLY increased OPI wear time with it) and Butter LONDON (it no longer chips within the the first 12 hours). My main complaint is that the Formula X top coat becomes goopy and unusable once you've gone through 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottle. But when it's good, it's REALLY good.

    1. Hatechu! I remember wearing SV when I wore Zoya Geneviev last year but not the specifics of that outcome :( I'll add it to the line-up.

      But good call with the Formula X top coat! I think it's like $10? $11? which is still higher than I would like ... but I will have to give it a try eventually. Does thinner help with the goopiness? I will thin the crap out of my base coats and use them for swatches until I can't any more.

    2. You know, I hadn't thought to try thinner (#polishaddictfail). My current bottle of topcoat is pretty new, but I will have to dig out my thinner when it inevitably becomes a thick, stringy mess.

      Have you tried the topcoats from KB Shimmer or A England? Both are pretty good, and KB Shimmer's is pretty reasonably priced.

    3. I know nothing about either of those top coats, so thanks for bringing them up!! Where does one even buy A-England nowadays? Part of the reason I have so few is because IDK who sells them any more.

  2. I used that ProFX topcoat until I ran out and it was discontinued. It does get pretty thick and stringy towards the end, as a heads up. KBShimmer's is my topcoat of choice now. I like it better than HK Girl (doesn't get as thick), plus it's cheaper! I still use ProFX base coat - it's by far my fave, so I found a lot on eBay for 3 of the 2.5 oz bottles. Hopefully I will never run out! That was 2 years or so ago and I'm only about halfway through the first bottle!

    Zoya cremes don't last on me at all, seems like no base/top coat combo has worked for me. Same with China Glaze cremes and RBL in general. Massive amounts of tipwear in 12 hours, chips in 24. I normally can wear polish for a week without issues! I hunted around for a combo that worked, but finally decided there were enough other polishes that DO work for me that I didn't need to go bonkers trying to force those brands to!

    1. I think all top coats get disgusting halfway/towards the bottom of the bottle. That should give my bottle of thinner a nice workout, LOL. Whoa, 3 salon-size bottles ... you should be good for a really long time! I think I go through 2 bottles of Gelous & Instant Artificials per year since I've started using those.

      Thanks for seconding KBShimmer's top coat! I'll look into that when I get back to online hauling, haha. I've never used a KBShimmer polish, either, so if I were to order the top coat I'd probably have to jump in on a friend's order or something.

      Oh no! Part of the reason I'm trying so hard to make Zoya work for me is because I have quite a bit of them (probably a whole Helmer drawer?) and although they do not last as pedis, they're too lovely for me to give up. So I hear you re: ChG + RBL. #lacquerheadproblems :)


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