In July of last year, Gianna at Nouveau Cheap wrote a post on how NYC Flat Iron Green might be a dupe of NARS Zulu, which would be insane because, you know, the NARS is $17 and also limited edition and the NYC is $1.99 and available pretty much everywhere.
Well, I managed to get my hands on both, so I did a little experiment, and I come bearing the results...
Similar, no? :D G, I envy your eagle eyes! Under indoor lighting, these two polishes are nearly indistinguishable. Can you guess what I'm wearing where in the pictures above?
Index and ring finger are Zulu, middle finger and pinky are Flat Iron Green. But even in person, it's extremely difficult to tell. There were times when I couldn't even remember what I had on which nail.
However, once I got out in direct sunlight, it was a completely different story:
|(In the shade) NYC Flat Iron Green; NARS Zulu|
|(Direct sunlight) NYC Flat Iron Green; NARS Zulu.|
Forgive the weirdness of the swatches, LOL, I took these mid-polish removal... But as you can see, Flat Iron Green has a mossy base whereas Zulu is a deep emerald. Similarly, even with three or more coats, the jelly finish of Zulu means that it will look green in direct sunlight, particularly at the tips of the nails where it takes on a translucent quality. Flat Iron Green, on the other hand, is a fairly straightforward creme, so it's more or less opaque in nature.
I also wanted to show you guys how these two polishes wore. The bottle swatch pics up above were taken about a week after first application, with Sally Hansen Continuous Treatment Base & Top Coat as a base and Seche Vite on top. In general, both polishes held out about the same, but Zulu was definitely the more fragile of the two. If you hit enlarge, you'll see a chunk of Zulu missing from the tip of my ring finger.
However, I would attribute the fragility more to the finish than the formula. Whereas Flat Iron Green is pretty much opaque in two coats, Zulu took a little more work. The thicker layers required, in addition to the soft nature of jellies, probably makes it a little more prone to cracking and breakage.
Just as an aside, I have to say that Zulu is completely worth the hype... I mean, I am a green fiend, so that's not really a subjective statement, but it's just so PRETTY. Flat Iron is lovely, too, but there's nothing quite like watching the sun play through the depths of the green in Zulu.
Overall, I think both polishes performed really well. I didn't really need to touch them up for almost two weeks, which never happens for me. If you love greens, I'd definitely recommend them both, especially since NYC Flat Iron Green is currently part of the CVS Beauty clearance sale, which means that it might be gone for good soon.
However, if you need to pick between them... Besides the obvious price difference, I'd say it depends on what you want. If you're just looking for a dark green, then the NYC serves very admirably. But if you want to jump on the bandwagon, then I personally think the NARS is worth every penny.