As most of you undoubtedly know, Sally Hansen recently released an elusive—but permanent!—dupe of the very popular Deborah Lippmann Across the Universe.
AtU has been a looooong time lemming of mine, pretty much ever since it was released. However, up until recently, I could never justify plunking down $18 for a bottle of polish. (Oddly, paying the bills has actually made me more willing to spend money on ridiculously frivolous things... I mean, what's $20 for something that makes you happy vs. $600 for something you wish you didn't need? But that's an entirely separate conversation.)
Essence came out with a limited edition polish called Blue Addicted back in 2011, but I don't believe it ever reached North American shores. And unfortunately, I don't think any American drugstore brand has bothered to try and duplicate this particular shade, though Urban Outfitters has taken on several others, like Ray of Light and Lady Sings the Blues.
So when I heard about the Sally Hansen release, I was incredibly excited. Finally! Something accessible! Except... Well. Not really.
Apparently, Mermaid's Tale is currently only available in certain CVS and Target stores. I'd been unable to find a bottle around me for months when I happened to see it at my local Target about 2 weeks ago. I snatched it up as quickly as I could and ran to the check-out line to make it mine.
I've been looking around online, trying to find actual side-by-side comparison shots of these two polishes, but I haven't been able to find any. Therefore, I ninja-ed my way down to Nordstrom and judiciously abused my tester privileges, as only a desperate beauty blogger would. (Speaking of which, apologies for all the tip-wear. This is what happens when your work hours coincide with the sun's.) The pic I posted above is the result. Can you tell which is which?
Here's a macro shot:
|Left to Right: Across the Universe, Mermaid's Tale, Across the Universe, Mermaid's Tale|
What is different, however, is the small glitter. It's very hard to tell in the above photos, but AtU features a light turquoise glitter while SH features a royal blue one. Because the base is so dark, the shade of that small glitter can completely change the character of the overall polish. In extremely yellow lighting, for example, AtU flashes distinctly green while MT flashes distinctly blue. In direct sunlight, the MT base is much more subtle, since the royal blue glitter doesn't stand out nearly as much.
However, this is the kind of difference you can really only tell if you're looking directly at a comparison. If you were just wearing one polish or the other, I don't think you would know which was which at all. Unless, of course, you live for this kind of thing. :D
So which do I prefer? Personally, I would actually go with the Lippmann. I hate to say it, but the turquoise glitter does lend a much more distinct star-like effect, whereas the prettiness of the base gets kind of lost with the Sally Hansen. Formula-wise, I found them to be very similar. As with most jellies, they both take at least 3 or 4 coats in order to build up any semblance of opacity. For application, I prefer the SH brush, which is wide and is therefore much more deft at depositing color. On the other hand, the thinness of the DL brush allows for more control in placing the glitter, since you're forced to make multiple strokes in order to cover the nail.
Ultimately, I do think that these two polishes are one-or-the other: They're similar enough that you don't need both. But again, it all comes down to preference.