NARS Zulu Swatches & Review

NARS Zulu SwatchNARS Zulu nail polish is like a mythical creature. Since I became an obsessed collector of nail lacquer in just the past few years, I have heard so many people gushing about  NARS Zulu polish.

Alas, I could only admire this limited-edition on the internet. The inky blackened-green jelly nail lacquer was wildy popular in 1996 when it first came out, and it sold out quickly. But I had no idea since I was still in grade school, wasn’t yet a nail aficionado, and didn’t have money to splurge on NARS Cosmetics nail polish.

After many tears and protests, polish blood was no longer shed to franken this coveted color. It was a glorious day to find out that Zulu would be resurrected for a limited time. You can bet your acetone I rushed to the mall to get it on the release date (October 1st).

So does it live up to the hype?

NARS Zulu Swatches & Pictures

NARS Zulu Swatch

2 Coats in Direct Sunlight

NARS Zulu Swatch

2 Coats with Flash – I got major tip wear in 3 days, which is unusual for me

NARS Zulu Swatch

2 Coats with Flash – Please excuse the ding I got. And keep in mind that this polish has a mirror-like gloss in person. My photograph doesn’t show it well.

NARS Zulu Nail Polish Bottle

Cap has a nice, soft matte finish that makes it comfortable to use

NARS Zulu Nail Polish Bottle

The green only really peeks through under bright light or with flash. Most times, NARS Zulu nail polish just looks black in other lighting.

NARS Zulu Ingredients

NARS Zulu polish contains Bismuth Oxychloride in the ‘may contain’ ingredient list. Usually I’m allergic to it, but for some reason it doesn’t affect me when it’s in nail polish.

NARS Zulu Packaging

Come see swatches of NARS Zulu layered with Nubar 2010 flakies!

Claims: TRUSTED, but Product: BUSTED

√ High Gloss

√ Chip-Resistant


Key Notes

  • Name: NARS Zulu
  • Collection: Vintage (Limited Edition)
  • Amount: 15mL
  • What I Paid: $21 CAD
  • Vintage Collection Colors Available: Zulu, Mash, Midnight Express, Full Metal Jacket, Cha Cha Cha, Blue Lagoon, Tallulah, King Kong, Hunger & Zizi
  • Where to Buy: NARS website, Holt Renfrew, NARS counters at The Bay & other department stores

NARS Zulu Review

This is one of the most expensive nail polishes I’ve ever purchased, yet I didn’t think twice when I handed my money to the cashier at Holt Renfrew. And it was even the first time I’ve ever wanted to buy anything from Holt Renfrew – expensive luxury isn’t really my thing. I’m a woman of the people!

I’ve wanted NARS Zulu nail polish ever since I first started collecting, so carrying this small black box made me feel giddy inside.

Inside, you’ll find a little pamphlet. I laughed so hard when I saw that their simple product claims were stated in 12 (yes, twelve!) languages. Trees were killed for this? NARS, you’ll have to answer to a higher power.

Even as a nail-polish junkie, I know that it’s still just nail polish. Reminds me of the time I received a ballpoint pen as a gift and it came with an instruction booklet translated in tons of different languages. The English portion said something obvious like: “Twist the barrel of the pen clockwise. The pen is now ready to use.”

Trees everywhere are loosing leaves from stress.

It pains me to bust a cult favorite, but I have to do it. While I absolutely love the color in the 1st coat (which is a dark emerald with a jelly finish although streaky), by the 2nd, it becomes so blackened, you can only see the green in bright light and even then you have to really inspect your nails.  I tend to use 2 medium-thick coats, so maybe if you use thin coats, the green would be more apparent. Also, I can’t be sure, but maybe wearing one coat of white polish underneath may help.

If you like near-black nail polishes like OPI Lincoln Park After Dark and OPI Here Today… Aragon Tomorrow, you’ll fall in love with NARS Zulu. If they frustrate you, pass on this one unless you’re like me and need it for your collection.

It’s also worth noting that it takes me several days usually before I see tip wear (i.e. the wearing away of the polish from the edge of the nail). With NARS Zulu, I saw tip wear after just 3 days and that’s really soon for me. To prevent this, next time I’m going to wrap my tips (i.e. coat the edge of my nail with polish) with an extra coat of color. Then again, maybe it just didn’t play well with my base and top coats.

This is what I wore under and over the nail polish:


  • No Toluene, Formaldehyde, or DBP
  • Super-shiny jelly finish
  • Rich highly pigmented color
  • Handle allows for greater control during application
  • Sleek minimalist packaging

  • Expensive
  • Limited-edition color
  • Near-black green looks just black in most lighting
  • Not long-wearing (got tip wear quicker than usual)
  • Waste of paper to have product claims listed in 12 different languages. Couldn’t geo-targeted packaging save trees?

Final Verdict: 6.5/10

Despite busting NARS Zulu nail polish, I can’t completely knock it. The formula is dreamy – buttery smooth and absurdly glossy although for some reason, it didn’t translate well when I tried to capture it with my camera.

But the color wasn’t love at first sight and the wear wasn’t as long as I’m used to. I recommend this color to nail-polish collectors, those who like extremely vampy hues, and those who won’t feel guilty about shelling out a lot of cash for one bottle.

This product was Mary’s winner for the 2010 Richie Rich Award.


4 thoughts on “NARS Zulu Swatches & Review

  1. D

    you know what helps with this and other too-dark jelly polishes?

    adding clear polish. jellies are really the simplest of nail polish colors, they are just pigment added to crystal-clear nail polish.

    anyway, adding clear makes this color perfect in two coats. if you prefer a less translucent color though, adding a bit of white instead of clear is the way to go.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey D!

      Thanks for the great tip! If I wear this polish again, I’ll have to remember this and add clear polish. 🙂


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