Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary
I recently subscribed to Julep Brand’s monthly box program. Julep is, of course, the brand that is most well known for their nail polishes and manicure tools that “make a home manicure easy and fun.” I know I always enjoy doing my nails regardless of whether I use dollar polishes or fancy brands, but I do think many of their tools have innovative designs and are easy to use. The brand has a positive spin on beauty, being both made in the USA (Seattle, to be precise) and all of their polishes are 5-free and vegan. They also have a catchy little slogan “Beauty is about connection, not competition.” I’m going to be honest, though, I definitely compete over manicures. If my hands are smudge free I definitely feel awesome, but by the same token if someone else’s hands are winning that week I’m not afraid to tell them they’ve won the nail-lympics. It’s all in perspective I guess. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
The subscription program is known as “Maven”, and while there is a set box collection that is available the special thing about the Maven program is that you can customize the price bracket, style, and type or number of products you receive; and you can change your mind about any of those choices every single month.
There is a limited window of time at the beginning of each month to customize exactly what goes into that month’s box, but I sometimes find the window of opportunity is too short and I’d like a few more weeks to figure out exactly what I want. Because the customization window is open only a few days, I often find that I missed the window and I ended up with products I didn’t really like or want, so if you are considering buying a subscription you should consider if you remember deadlines or you love surprises- in both cases this is the subscription for you!
My March box included two nail polishes, a lipstick, candy, a coupon for future purchases, and an inspiring quote paper. I feel that the products weren’t perfect, but the colors and textures were interesting, and the overall package was worth the price tag- $25 a month. (For $40+ worth of products, so says They.) My Maven box is a cute little purple box, and this month it had green tissue paper and blue crispy paper packing thingies, so it certainly wins for cute packaging.
Jahvani is a nice color, a metallic champagne you don’t see every day. It’s subtle, for a metallic, and it’s a little mysterious how it can seem more silver or more gold depending on the lighting. The downside is that the formula is a little thick, so though it’s great for a full color swipe on your nail, it gets clumpy and lumpy for detail work like my pictured half moon manicure. And that’s even with a fancy detail nail brush- if you tried to do detail work with the built in brush, you’d be doomed. I do really like the color though, so it’s definitely staying in my collection. Like all the other Julep polishes, this has the fancy feature of allowing more air to get through your polish and penetrate your nails, which combined with strengthening ingredients in the polish and the green coffee extract antioxidants, is supposed to make your nails stronger. After a few months of using this brand, I think that my nails do seem to be a little happier, but you’ll still need to moisturize if your nails are longer in my picture.
My box included the Lulu polish as well. It’s a pale lavendery-mauve. It’s not a color you run into everyday, but it’s not exactly mesmerizing. The finish is called a “soft focus finish”, and it really is revolutionary. I’d say it looks like an eggshell finish in house paint, and it’s half way between ultra gloss and matte textures; and I can confidently say I’ve never seen another polish like this. The texture defies the use of any top coat, as it would only ruin the finish, so that definitely hurts the longevity of your manicure- most nail polishes last 1 week for me with base and top coat, this one last 3+ days with base coat. I’d also advise using a ridge filling basecoat, as without it the polish really highlights every single ridge you have and can make your nails look really odd. I still love the look, and I’m looking forward to trying more polishes with this texture- as long as they develop a topcoat to go with it.
Stepping Out Lipstick
The last Julep product I received was “Stepping Out”. It’s a pink with a hint of an orange undertone, but it’s still too pink to be a true coral. Maybe it’s Spring’s version of coral. I found that the lipstick came in a classy looking curved square shape black tube with a magnetic closure, and the sound as it snaps closed is oddly satisfying. The lipstick is oddly skinny- skinnier than my pinky finger- and it threw me off a little in application. All my other lipsticks are much thicker, and the change is a little odd, but not too detrimental to your final look. If you use a lipstick brush instead of direct-from-the-tube application it won’t be a problem at all, but the smaller size might reflect less product overall, which could be annoying for price and how often you might have to replace it. The formula is smooth and glides over those little creases and lines in your lips, if a little drying after wearing all day. I’ve also found it’s really smudgey the first few hours you wear it. Once it dries out it has better staying power than other lipsticks, but that initial smudginess is kind of annoying to me. So it’s not as hydrating as most other shiny finish lipsticks, and it doesn’t last as long as drying-but-stays-put lip stain balms. But it might be a good enough compromise between the benefits of those two products with minimized negative traits.
Julep’s Stepping Out vs. Revlon’s Colorburst Tease Seductress
Julep’s is opaque, but the Revlon is semi-sheer, so the end color is kind of pinky-coral with my natural lip color peeking through. Revlon’s lasts all day and won’t smear, and is slightly drying. Julep’s smears, and lasts almost all day if you can get it to hang around long enough to ‘set’, and is just barely more drying than Revlon’s (which isn’t really very drying at all in the first place- it’s just not actively moisturizing.) In the photo the colors seem really dissimilar, but Revlon’s is semi-sheer so my pink lips show through it and the overall look is a rather pinky coral, while Julep’s Stepping Out is a very pink color with just a hint of an orange undertone- so the colors aren’t really similar enough to compare- but I shared this comparison to show the differences between the different formulas. I didn’t compare it to a typical lipstick because I felt Stepping Out was not moisturizing, did not glide on, and overall was rather dissimilar to other lipsticks. Stepping Out is still a new-to-me color that wasn’t previously in my collection, so I’m going to keep it, but the claim of “Hydrates like a champ” that came in a cheerful mini poster for the product in my box doesn’t seem to hold true.
Every month there seems to be some random bonus product, whether it be a holographic top coat, a heart confetti polish, or a box of Junior Mints. This month I got two rolls of Smarties. Let’s be honest, now- the candy gets me just as excited as the other bonus products. Sweets are definitely the way to my heart. ;)
If you’ve tried the products, did you think my review was too harsh- or too kind? Do you like subscription services, or do they bother you?
Psst: If you want to try out Maven, You can head over here. Full disclosure: I get a boost back from the company if you click the link here, BUT this post was not paid for nor endorsed by Julep brand.