Mini E.L.F. Haul: Flawless Eyeshadow Quads and Acne Fighting Foundation

20150904_140646

I’ll start by saying that I’m a huge fan of E.L.F. and their products. Great products that you can try for cheap is pretty hard to hate on. Further, let me take a moment to gush about their customer service. I was supposed to have received their Studio Blush in “Gotta Glow,” which I hear is a pretty good dupe for the NARS blush in “Albatross.” Albatross is $30 and a highlighter that gets rave reviews, and I adore my NARS contouring blush, so if I can get the same effect from a product that costs me only $3, I’m definitely going to try out the $3 product. Unfortunately, my studio blush wasn’t included though I was billed for it, and the website says they’re not out of stock, so I had to contact their customer service… on the Friday afternoon before Labor Day.

E.L.F. thankfully managed to get back to me within 24 hours, not only promising to send me my blush but also sending me a $5 gift card for my trouble– which is $2 more than what I paid for the blush. I definitely have to give them major props for the way they’ve handled it. As I said, the blush appears to be out of stock online, so fingers crossed that the one they sent me is the correct one.

Now… On to the products I did get!

E.L.F. Acne Fighting Foundation in Porcelain

20150905_194104

I already use E.L.F.’s Studio BB Cream in Fair, and I love it. It’s a staple of my makeup collection for my every day “I’m not wearing any makeup” look. I’ve tried their Studio Flawless Finish Foundation in Porcelain, and while the shade is a good match for me, I would prefer something with a more matte finish and fuller coverage for my powerhouse foundation on days when I need it. Right now, that powerhouse foundation is Lancome Teint Idole Untra 24H, and I do love it. Of course, if I can find a similar foundation for $6…

There’s a pleasant citrusy fragrance to this product that I can’t quite place. It could be attributed to one of the “acne fighting” ingredients included (camphor, maybe?). I honestly can’t attest to that part of the product’s claims. I’ve battled blemishes, but I don’t have particularly bad skin. I purchased the product more for its full coverage and long lasting claims.

It goes on smoothly enough with a brush. I also used both fingers and a sponge just to be thorough. The coverage isn’t quite as good as with Lancome’s, which isn’t entirely unexpected. At Lancome’s price, I’d darn well better be getting my money’s worth. But for the price, I’d say E.L.F. hasn’t done half bad. I was able to build with this by buffing it into the skin with a foundation brush.

I tried doing a selfie of myself both before and after, but I can’t figure out how to get the lighting adjusted properly. Not to mention, pictures of me without any makeup could quite possibly scare small children. I’ll just say that I could see a full matte finish, and it was still in place after seven hours with little more than a setting spray to kick off and two blotting papers over the course of the evening. For $6, I definitely don’t feel like it was a waste of my money. I’ll likely be purchasing this again.

E.L.F. Flawless Eyeshadow Quad in Rio De Janeiro

20150905_194040

I already own these in Beautiful Browns, Tantalizing Taupe, and Smoky. I’m slowly working on getting the full color collection, as Tantalizing Taupe is probably my favorite eyeshadow quad. I use it all the time, and this from a woman who owns and loves the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette.

Regarding E.L.F.’s shadows… They’re very powdery, and they do have a tendency to wear off and crease easily, so I definitely recommend using a good primer with them. Thankfully, E.L.F. sells an amazing one of their own for only $2! If you’re going to really need stuff to stay in place, I also recommend following up with a brush of their Lock & Seal over the finished look.

These colors practically scream “fall,” which is why I got this one in particular. The base/highlight doesn’t add much in the way of color, but it does add a pretty shimmer perfect for the brow bone and inner eye. This didn’t contain any matte colors, but I don’t mind that. It’s gorgeous, as you can see.

2015-09-05 19.32.182015-09-05 19.35.49

Here, I’m using the “base” color all over. I’m using the peachy “lid” color on the lid up to the crease. The “crease” color is in the crease, obviously, and then pulled it out toward the outer corner to form my usual cat eye shape. The “line” color is being used to line the uper and lower lash lines and was also used to darken the outer “v” and blended into the crease, since the crease color left the outer corner a little too light for my taste. I’m also using Wet  n Wild Volume Plus Mascara in Black and E.L.F. Studio Eyebrow Kit in Light.

I know it’s difficult to see the lid color with my eye open. I have very hooded lids, which is why I’ll do my best to give you a picture of my eye both open and closed. I know my mascara could be thicker, too, but I’m purposely keeping it light here to highlight the shadow.

E.L.F. Flawless Eyeshadow Quad in Blushing Beauty

20150905_194049

There’s not really much to say here that I haven’t said above. I’m using the same lash and brow products as before. Here’s the finished look:

2015-09-07 20.55.152015-09-07 20.53.59

I used a slightly different application here from before. The “base” and “crease” shades were matte with this palette, but there was definitely some shimmer to the “lid” and “line” shades. I started by sweeping the base all over my lid and up to my brow. This time, I worked in my crease, building the color there and pulling it out into the outer “v” before I used a brush to pat the “lid” color into place. I also swept just a little of the lid color into my lower lash line before using the “line” color to line both upper and lower lashes.

I really hope that the lighting isn’t screwing up the overall effect for you guys. I can tell it’s not entirely doing the colors justice.

E.L.F. Flawless Eyeshadow Quad in Party Purple

20150905_194020

This one didn’t come with my order, but I spied it while I was at Target, so I picked it up. I’ve been wanting to try out some purples, and as with all things E.L.F., why not? It was only $2, after all. So here’s the finished look:

2015-09-08 19.42.192015-09-08 19.39.12

Brows and lashes are using the same products as above, though my brows are a little messy here. I’m lining with a mix of the “line” and “lid” colors. The “lid” color is on my lid, of course. “Base” color is used all over as per usual. This one had a slight pink tone to it and a bit of shimmer. I think this one and the Rio base are my two new favorites. Both are very pretty. I’m going to say the same for the gorgeous purple “crease” color here, used in the crease and outer “v.” I love this color so darn much. I’m probably going to be trying some other looks with it. I have a wine-colored lip/eye liner that I got in my Ipsy for August that I think will go great with this and the blush colors.

At the end of the day, my opinion on E.L.F. isn’t changing anytime soon. They have some great products, and if you hate them, you’ve lost only a few dollars per item. Most single items are no more than $6. So by all means give it a try!

Julep Maven Welcome Box – Neutrals

Julep Maven Neutrals Welcome Box
Image belongs to Julep.com.

Yes, I’m just now trying out Julep Maven, thank you very much. I’m not much of a nails gal. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. Then again, up until I discovered elf about a year ago, I was never really a makeup gal, either. Fast forward to today, and I haven’t met a beauty product I won’t try. (Most women go through this phase in their teens. I am apparently going through it in my mid-30s.) I’d have to have been living under a rock to not know about Julep Maven, though.

Don’t wanna hear my life story first? Click here to skip to the review.

Despite my newfound love of makeup, I hadn’t really gotten to my nails. I stink at everything from shaping to actual polish application. I had to watch about 3 hours of YouTube tutorials just to figure out how to put on nail polish because I was sick of mine looking like… well… You know how you can look at a page in a coloring book and tell the difference between when a toddler’s work and an adult’s? The adult has neatly stayed within the line while the toddler’s page has scribbles everywhere. Yep. I’ve been living with toddler-painted nails. I practiced a bit, and while mine still doesn’t look like a professional did it, it looks a little better. Now I just need to learn how to shape.

So here we go with Julep Maven… I saw the neutrals and thought it was probably a good place to start with high end polish. There’s also a bonus gold metallic eyeliner and I FREAKING LOVE GOLD METALLIC EYELINER. Worst case scenario? I hate it and I’m out the $2.99 I paid for shipping.

Before I get into the box review, let me go over the basics of how Julep Maven works. Every month for $24.99 you get three things. They can be polishes or other makeup products, tools, or even skincare products. The customization is, I think, what got me. If I was limited to nail polish only, I’d have never gone for it. You start out with a curated box based on your style profile, but once that box is revealed you have a few days before the order processes to switch out items. You can swap out a color. You can swap out all three items and replace them with just about anything else from skin care to makeup to tools. You can even skip the month if you like.

The skip feature is also something that sold me. A lot of subscription services don’t have that, and since I like trying subscription services, I very much appreciate the option to pause or skip for a month or two if I get bored or while I try something else and then come back. Having to cancel and resub is a pain.

These are my nails:

Wet n Wild Megalast Polish in Sugar Coat
Shaping? With a file? LOL! Also, my hand looks super weird in this picture. I promise I have normal hands.

As you can see, I’m still no pro when it comes to coloring inside the lines with nail polish, and I have the hands of a woman twice my age. My poor hands have had a hard life. But I will say that I love the polish currently on my nails: Wet & Wild Megalast in Sugar Coat, in case you were wondering. It looks pretty, it’s easy to apply, and (the best part) it’s super cheap! But I’m reviewing Julep right now, so it came off, and I made my best first attempt at shaping my nails. I even made it to the pinky on my first hand before I lost my patience and grabbed the nail clippers, promising myself that I’d eventually sit down with a proper nail file and tackle it someday soon. I’m only just now starting to push my cuticles back on a regular basis. (Baby steps…)

Julep Nail Color in Vanna

Julip Nail Color in Vanna
Yes, it’s messy. My fingers need a bib.

This is a 5-free polish (contains no dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, or camphor). I’m okay-ish with whites. Sometimes it looks good on me. Sometimes it doesn’t. My current favorite above is a very light and sheer pink, so there’s potential. Whites have a tendency to streak, though. This isn’t an absolute WHITE white. I’d say it’s more of a bone color. There’s a very light, almost undetectable (pink?) undertone to the color, so you don’t get the harshness of a bright white.

It’s very thick. Thick, like whites, can be good or bad. You typically want to apply thin coats of your color so that the polish dries quickly and evenly with fewer bubbles. (These are, I’m told, created from the gas the polish releases as it dries, and since the top surface of the polish dries the fastest, bubbles get caught under that dry top layer.)

I started with clean nails, applied a base coat, two coats of polish, and a top coat, wrapping the ends of my nails as I worked. I gave my nails 5 minutes to dry after the base coat and first coat of polish, then 30 minutes after coat #2 of polish. I gave myself another full 30 minutes after the top coat before I dared to touch anything. (Painting my nails is a great excuse to watch a movie.)

I have to say I’m impressed with how evenly the polish distributes itself after my messy application. It was nearly opaque in just one coat, but that could be contributed to the thickness of the polish. After two coats, it was definitely opaque. I could see a brush stroke or two, but nothing only because I was giving my nails a super duper closeup inspection.

There were a few bubbles, though. Again, it’s super thick, and I don’t want to chance trying to thin it, but it’s passable for a day or two. After just three days it was already cracking and chipping. (I’ve already said I’m hard as hell on my hands.) I also managed to somehow get ink from a ballpoint pen on one of them, and I couldn’t get it off.

Vanna is a good color that will go with just about anything, but I don’t think I’ll be re-ordering this one.

Julep Nail Color in Whitney

Julep Nail Color in Whitney
Buttah! Julep Nail Color in Whitney

Whitney is a great khaki-type color and is also 5-free. Julep describes it as a “mushroom grey beige creme.” I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description of the color.

This was almost as thick as Vanna, so I immediately had reservations. This time, I gave it a full half-hour in between coats because I had the time, but I still got tons of bubbles. (No, I don’t shake my nail polish or any of those things that we’re told not to do.) I know it’s said that you can put a drop or two of polish remove in there to thin it out, but I really don’t want to take the risk with a high end polish.

So I tried again, this time trying really, REALLY hard to get super duper thin coats. I was a little worried because the polish was going on kinda streaky as a result, but then absolute MAGIC happened as it dried. It all came together in a lovely, smooth layer. Again, I gave 30 minutes in between coats, not taking any risks. This time, I got super smooth nails with no lumps! So… Maybe this is a practice thing on getting the thickness just right? I might have to give Vanna another try.

The color is beautiful, and it’s an immediate favorite. I even did my toes! It looks great with my skin tone, and since it’s a neutral I can wear it with anything. Like Vanna, it smooths out beautifully, and I see no brush strokes this time around. It’s almost opaque after the first coat, but it still needs a second coat.

Julep Nail Color in Spencer

Spencer, like the other two, is 5-free. This one is a metallic.  Julep describes it as “vintage gold chrome,” and it looks pretty enough in the bottle…

2015-09-04 21.30.12

As you can see, I can easily see the brush strokes, and that’s not something I want to see. I was so focused, though, on making sure I had very thin coats. Perhaps I should try some thicker coats of this. But on first impression, I have to say that I wasn’t too impressed. It just ended up looking messy. For a polish that would regularly cost $8-9 in a Maven box, I’d really expect better.

Julep Gel Eye Glider in Smokey Taupe Shimmer

20150828_170142
This does no real justice to how metallic and pretty the color is, but you can at least see how smoothly it went on.

I’m afraid I couldn’t find the link to purchase this one seperately outside of the Maven Secret Store, though it’s presence in there suggests that it’ll be available to purchase very soon.

I freaking LOVE this stuff. In fact, it was probably my favorite item in the entire box. It goes perfectly with my beloved ELF Prism Eyeshadow Palette in Naked, so it already has a place in my collection. I glides on super smooth and gorgeous with just a light swipe.

Final Verdict

While only one of the three colors was an immediate hit, I only paid $2.99 in shipping for the whole box, and I did love the gel eyeliner as well as Whitney. The liner alone was worth the price of the welcome box, and I’m sure I’ll find other colors that I enjoy. I’ll probably keep Maven until I’ve built up a nice collection of colors plus base coats, treatments, tools, and top coats. This will definitely come in handy for picking out new colors as the seasons and trends change. I also plan to review those future Maven boxes as they come in. (In fact, my September Maven box arrived before I could finish testing these three colors to see how long they lasted.)

If you go with Maven and get three per box, they’re pretty reasonably priced at $8.33/each. Some are less if you find a good one on sale and add it on. I’ve paid around that much for drug store polishes, so I consider it reasonable. I think $10 is the most I’d pay for a polish, but it had better be a good polish.

These $8 polishes do contain 0.27 oz of polish compared to the 0.45 oz I get in my $2 Wet n Wild and 0.51 oz in my $7 Revlon. That said, I’m much more likely to buy a different color of polish than repurchase a color because I ran out. I’ve never had to toss a bottle of polish because I used it all up.

As I stated before, you can swap out products you don’t want with the ones you do, and you can skip boxes (or even send them as gifts) if you don’t want or need anything that month. I also like the little swatch stickers on top of the polishes. (A note on this: It took me a while to figure out how to get the swatch on top of the polish. When you have the polish closed up tight, pull straight up on the cap, It’ll come off and leave the brush intact. You can then unscrew the brush and place a swatch on the cap.)

Wanna try Julep Maven? Here’s my referral link for a welcome box of your own.