A picture of Ulta3 Golden Hour mustard cream nail polish next to Starrily Queen Bee mustard cream nail polish

$3 vs. $20 nail polish review

Can a $3 bottle of nail polish hold up against a $20 bottle of nail polish? Why such a price difference? Are they exactly the same? In this post I’m going to give you all the answers and more with this $3 vs $20 nail polish review.

What Are We Reviewing?

In this review we’ll be looking at two polishes. The first is Golden Hour by Ulta3 which you can find here for $3 AU. The second is Queen Bee by Starrily which you can find here for $19.80 AU (let’s round up for brevity’s sake). Both of these are available internationally. I purchased both bottles (read more on that below) with my own money; I was not paid for this review nor do I receive a commission from any sales of these polishes.

What Happened?

I came across this purely by accident. I’m a huge fan of mustard polishes, and a huge fan of creme polishes. Like, really good cremes because they’re amazing to wear on their own AND amazing to do nail art with. Anyway, I had heard really good things about the Starrily creme release. Starrily is a brand known for being rather expensive compared to other boutique/indie nail polishes, but their quality is apparently quite good. I only own one other polish from them and it’s only a topper so I didn’t know for myself.

The website on which I could get the Starrily polish is known for being super slow to get your order out, but I bit the bullet and ordered it. A few weeks went by, and I forgot all about it. One day I’m in a chemist and I see Ulta3’s Golden Hour trio (which is a gorgeous trio, by the way, and I bought all 3!) which includes this beautiful mustard creme. I completely forgot that I was waiting on Starrily, and I jumped at the chance to buy a mustard creme which had been on my mind, for $3!

A couple of days later my order arrives! Isn’t that typical?! I posted on Instagram having a little laugh at myself, and found out I wasn’t the only one who had done this with the exact same polishes. Also a few people asked me for a review as they were considering buying one of them. It took me a long time, but here it is!

Watch It

Watch it on YouTube

Let’s Get Down To Business

A picture of Ulta3 Golden Hour mustard cream nail polish next to Starrily Queen Bee mustard cream nail polish
Mustard creme nail polish comparison

So here we have the colors side by side. On  the left we have Golden Hour by Ulta3 and othe right we have Queen Bee by Starrily. 

As you can see both are a creamy mustard yellow polish. So what’s the difference? How do they apply? Let’s take a look.

How They Apply

The first coat of the cheaper polish Golden Hour applies quite nicely but it’s very thin – it definitely needs two coats.

Queen Bee is definitely thicker. On the first coat it’s a little bit difficult to work with straight after the thinner polish, and it’s applied a bit patchy. However, it is far more pigmented.

Second coat of Golden Hour: okay coverage in two coats. I would probably go for a third coat.

Second coat of Queen Bee is nicely pigmented and covers the nail nicely. In the second coat the patchiness is gone and it’s just fully opaque.

Final Thoughts

Did you think one polish was worth $20? In my opinion the Starrily is more mustard-colored; definitely truer to form. To be fair I didn’t do three coats of the Ulta3 because the Starrily didn’t need three coats so I thought two coats was a fair comparison. The cheaper polish was definitely more yellow than mustard and did need three coats. You could get away with two but for a really good finish it definitely needed three. Do I think that’s worth paying $17 more for? Not really. It depends on how much you want true mustard and if it’s just the, the cheaper polish on its own are you going to know that it’s not 100% just mustard color? What did you think? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.     

Why don’t you have a look at this post of 8 nail art tools you can’t live without or try some layered stamping (it’s easy!).

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