Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunset Gradient, and Julep Maven Core Classics March Review

Have I mentioned how much I love gradients? I know I've said I think that glitter gradients are just about the perfect DIY manicure, and I've explored various methods to create a gradient, but have I truly emphasized how much I adore them? To round out my weekend, I did a sunset gradient with a simple accent using my new Salon Perfect nail art striping polish in White Out- it's a little thinner than my Jordana striping brushes, and was a good value at about $2. The other polishes I used were Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Mellow Yellow, Pure Ice in Drive Me Crazy, and Julep Karen.

I started with a yellow base and used a sponge with Mellow Yellow and Drive Me Crazy for the gradient using the Nailasaurus gradient technique (I did forget the "swirl them with a toothpick" step this time). Then I dabbed a piece of sponge dipped in Karen along the median between the two colors. This fuzzed up the boundary a little and added a subtle touch of sparkle. Dabbing a third color down the middle is a good way to create more depth, and softens things up when you're still practicing your gradients like I am.

Now to the Julep Maven subscription box reviews.

This month I strayed from my default profile, Classic With A Twist, and picked up the Core Classics box, which included the Freedom Polymer Topcoat, Oxygen Nail Treatment, and a good quality Teflon cleanup tool, as well as Harriet (a guava creme polish) as an add on. I love new polish, but I made the right call this month. As a newer Maven (since November), I'm wary of the higher priced products I haven't tried before. Even at Maven prices (20% off plus free shipping on all orders), I basically got the cleanup tool free and saved almost $10 on the products by choosing this box, and paid the same as I do for drugstore polishes for Harriet. You can see Harriet swatches in last night's post.

Oxygen Nail Treatment: To tell the truth, this product surprised me. I stripped my nails bare after a weekend of abuse, put two coats of the nail treatment on them, doused my cuticles in Luxe Repair Skin Serum (another surprise favorite Maven box pickup), and went to bed. At that point, I wasn't wowed. It has a nice, soft color and sheen, but nothing special and it dried kind of slowly compared to what I'm used to.

When I woke up, my cuticles looked much better, and I washed a few loads of dishes. This is where the nail treatment impressed me. Normally after washing dishes my nails are soft and almost transparent, even when I have polish or a basecoat on. With this treatment, my nails were only slightly softened, looked great, and hardened again fairly quickly. I was so happy with the next day difference that this one, which I didn't plan to buy on its own, goes in the "will buy again" pile.

Freedom Polymer Topcoat: This product was the selling point on the Core Classics box, but the jury is out on whether I'll buy it again. Not because of the product itself, though. So far, it appears to do everything it says it does. It's very shiny and dries hard in five minutes with no special lamps or lighting. However, it doesn't have the "gel shine" appearance any more than my regular topcoat, Sally Hansen Mega Shine, and doesn't dry much faster (though it does dry harder in five minutes- Mega Shine dries smudge free in five as well, but isn't fully hard for about 15). It's an excellent topcoat. It's just not enough better than my Mega Shine to pay almost twice as much. Where it has a chance to pull ahead is wear time. I have chronic chipping issues, which usually isn't a big deal because I usually don't wear a mani more than a few days at a time. However, when I get super busy, extended wear time would be really useful, and if this topcoat is as shiny and quick drying as my current favorite AND wears chip free for more than three days at a time, I'll keep a bottle on hand at all times.

Don't you love it when all the contestants are winners?

Mega Shine...
vs. Freedom Polymer

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