Thursday, October 23, 2014

Julep Maven Anniversary: Hits and Misses

I have officially been a Julep Maven for one year! Last October I took my first ever subscription box risk and joined the Maven program. Between my monthly Maven boxes and a ridiculous number of outside purchases, I've amassed over 50 Julep polishes and an armload of beauty products. In honor of my Maven anniversary, here are a few of my very favorites and least favorites from my first year of Maven boxes. My style profile is Classic With A Twist, for the record, but I think I may be a closet Bombshell. I focused in on products and polishes from the past year's Maven boxes, so the whole Julep catalogue isn't represented here, or this would be a verrrry long post!

Hits: Polishes

May "Fresh Twist" Collection
Laree has been out of stock almost since it was released, and I understand why-it's amazing. This is not just another pink. That's why I'm kicking myself for not getting its purple shimmer twin, Paulette before it went out of stock. If Laree ever becomes available again, I may have to say polish budget be darned and get a backup.

December "Glitterati" Collection
I actually did get a backup of Joelle, and now I need a backup for my backup. Joelle is endlessly variable, stunning, and equally sophisticated and playful. It's a must have for me.

July "Poolside" Collection
Lissa is nothing special on the surface, but it's turquoise done just right. It's a little smoky, a little bright, and all around fun. I went back and forth on which polish to choose in July, but I am SO glad I ultimately chose Lissa over the lovely but predictable Beverly.

Misses: Polishes

February "Dramatic" Collection 
Keeping it real, I don't like Greta and I don't know why. It's just not "me." The finish is weird and foily, and the color isn't exciting to me at all. I've only used it once, in nail art, right after I got it, and I just don't feel inspired to pick it up again.

December "Glitterati" Collection
I almost didn't get Jillian. I swapped out my December Classic box for Boho Glam to get Misty (surprise! the must have for that box was Joelle), but I couldn't stop thinking about Jillian, so I ended up picking it up as a free polish (more on that later). While it's...fine, I guess, it just didn't have the depth I expected for an "eggplant bronze molten." It's red. A pretty red, but red. I was equally perturbed when I got Sinful Colors Rich in Heart and discovered they were pretty much the same polish. I haven't done a side by side, but they look identical to me, and Rich in Heart has a more agreeable formula. NOT happy to find out I wasted my freebie on a polish that has a $1.99 dupe when Julep has so many more unique shades.

April "Vivid" Collection
I think Mariska's a love it or hate it polish. I loved the "juicy tangerine" description, but I just couldn't love the polish in practice. It's ugly. My daughter, however, loves it. She's dying to know when I'm going to finally destash and give her my "traffic cone orange." There's also quite a bit of love for it in the reviews on the website. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Near Misses

October "Black Magic" Collection
I got Shailene as an add on, and it has been plagued with issues. My bottle, like many others apparently, was so thick and gloppy that it was barely wearable. I put it on my toes for a few days, but didn't care for it. When I saw that others has the same issue, I asked for a replacement. Julep shipped one out immediately, but the new one was just as bad, so I declared defeat and attacked Bottle #1 with polish thinner. It's still pretty thick, but why it went in the near misses column instead of the fails is that this color is absolutely beeyootiful. Once it got on my fingers, I saw it was a shimmery browned purple that's different depending on the light- it's rich and complex and interesting, and I think I love it. It's  If a color is going to be this much work, it better be special, and I don't have anything at all like Shailene. However, I also don't have any other Julep polishes with such major application issues, and I would never recommend it without a disclaimer, so Shailene gets filed as a near miss.

February-Free Gift
Love was free, and I like free. A lot. However, when I got it, I was kind of underwhelmed. It wasn't quite a glitter, not quite opaque, and the magenta glitter scattered throughout didn't really go with the rest of the glitter. I didn't think I'd ever use it. However, Love's saving grace is that it's incredibly versatile. It looks washed out on its own, but gives great coverage over other colors and really stands out as an interesting accent. On its own, Love is a miss, but with a little creativity, it's unique and a great addition to my collection.

Products: Hits
Glow Pore Minimizing Blush in Peach Bellini- April
I'm weird about blush, but this stuff looks and feels amazing. I was nervous about buying it, but as soon as I put it on, I was wowed. It's pricey (I wouldn't have initially spent even the Maven price for it if it didn't come in my box), but I use it almost daily and have barely made a dent.

Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat-June
Oxygen Base Coat has quickly become a favorite for me. I always use a base coat and a top coat, and Julep's are my favorite. I have other good topcoat options, but Oxygen is my go-to base. My nails are getting stronger without getting so hard that they break, growing faster, and splitting less since I started using Oxygen Base Coat. I ordered my third bottle with this month's box!

Products: Misses
Sweep Eyeshadow Palette-December
This is another item that fell in the "nothing special" category. It was a set of uninspired neutral shadows that don't apply, last, or look any better than the shadows I already use. I didn't hate them, but if I would have chosen something else if given my druthers.

Eye Sheen Liquid Eyeshadow- February
The Eye Sheen shadows were a sneak fail. They were a product I was really looking forward to. When I got it, the pot was tiny and it applied poorly on me. I also do my day to day eyeshadow with a finger- no tools for me- so the fact that I can't get to the shadow without getting it under my nails was not fun. I wanted to like it so much, but I just couldn't make it work, and eventually it hardened into an unusable ooblecky plasma. Now they aren't even available on the Julep site anymore, so maybe they're going back to the drawing board? The little glass pot is pretty cute, though; maybe I'll scoop out the shadow and make a custom lipstain or something fun like that!

Maven Experience: Hits and Misses
Whether Julep Maven is a good program or not is a hot topic in the beauty blogs. Honestly, I can only speak to my own experiences, and there are plenty of people whose experience was very different, but I am quite content with the service I received this year. I've always gotten quick responses to my e-mails (I hate the phone, so never tried to call), any issues, like the goopy bottle of Shailene, were resolved to my satisfaction, and I've never received a broken or incorrect item. Looking at the comments on their Facebook page, you would think Maven is a total nightmare, but I have had a wholly pleasant experience. They did used to give a free polish code on your third consecutive box (how I got Jillian), and I was disappointed when they unceremoniously discontinued that. They also changed the skip policy and raised the cost of the lowest subscription tier unless you prepay. Even though I got to stay under the old terms (I did decide to upgrade to My Maven, I'm in love with customizing my box!), I didn't think it was a positive change across the board. Part of the reason I joined was because the option to skip anytime made it risk free. Fortunately,  I have only skipped once all year, and now with the option to customize, I don't expect to need to skip very often at all. [Update: Julep recently announced the "I'm out this month" feature, which is essentially just bringing back the option to skip anytime. They can call it new if they want, I'm just glad it's back!] I will say this: Maven is not a budget program. They're expensive products, and while you get a good deal for their sticker price, you're not exactly getting a steal for $20-25 a month. I love that I get free shipping on my copious amount of Julep purchases, and this is more about treating myself to a fun splurge and maybe trying something new every month than saving on products I probably would have bought anyway. I haven't saved much money, but I am getting what I wanted out of joining and don't have any major complaints.

Ok, so it was still a very long post, but I hope it was fun to read. If you're not a Maven and want to try it out, hook me up and use my referral link to get started, and be sure to use code FREEBOX to get your introductory box for only the $3.99 shipping cost.

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