Sephora Play! April 2017 Unboxing

Purchased

Powder as Primer: Yes, you read that right.

This post contains affiliate links.

I have combination skin, but for whatever reason, my skin occasionally decides to be oilier than Saudi Arabia. Skin care products don’t seem to make a difference. Baking seems to help a little, but not much. Primer (or lack thereof) doesn’t see to help much. I have few different primers in my arsenal, but my two most expensive ones (both from Benefit) do more for me when I wear them OVER my foundation. (I use one for mattifying and one for brightening.)

And then I discovered this stuff…

e.l.f. Prime & Stay Finishing Powder

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This was originally purchased as a random new item from e.l.f. to try out and review, and I’ll admit I sort of had no idea what to do with it when I got it. It’s okay as a finishing powder, but I was curious about the “primer” portion of the description, mainly because everything I know about makeup tells me that I’m putting on my makeup in the wrong order if I do this. Primer goes first, then foundation and concealer, then powder. Right? Every woman knows this.

I’m here to tell you that I’ve apparently been doing things wrong all these years. This stuff… It works miracles, and it really hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. I went back and forth on how to use this, so I eventually decided that I should apply it as if I were going to go out without makeup. I went through my morning skincare routing and got my moisturizer game in order. Then I applied this with a dense powder brush (not the big, fluffy kind). There’s actually a new one from e.l.f. that works perfectly for this. A foundation brush also works. Then I let it set for a few minutes. The best way I can describe what happened next is to say that as the product was warmed up on my skin the powder residue seemed to melt away, leaving behind that smooth, soft focus finish.

Every foundation I’ve applied over it has lasted longer and needed less blotting, with or without baking. I’ve used Tarte, Lancome, Make Up Forever, Maybelline, e.l.f., and L’Oreal. I’ve used concealers by e.l.f., Maybelline, Tarte, and Sephora. EVERYTHING has stayed put for hours longer than I thought it would, and this little $2 product has quickly become my baby.

And then it went out of stock, and I couldn’t find a link to it on e.l.f.’s website without searching Google, which tells me that it’s likely this has been discontinued. I’ve been Googling and trying to find something similar, and meanwhile I’ve hit pan.

Now, I’ve never seen another product like this, but knowing e.l.f., it’s probably a dupe of something more expensive out there. So off I flew earlier today to hit up a few makeup counters. I think I confused the hell out of the poor salesperson at Sephora. When I told her I’d been putting powder on under my foundation and a mattifying or brightening primer over it, she looked at me like I’d just tried to take a bite out of the Too Faced Chocolate Bar display. I can’t say I’d blame her. I thought the same thing until I’d tried this stuff.

“Ma’am, you put your powder on OVER your foundation to set your makeup. Your primer goes under your foundation. Have you tried a primer?”

“Yes, and the ones I like tend to work a little better for me on top of my foundation. That Smashbox abomination that everyone else seems to love makes my makeup melt off faster. But this IS a primer– just in powder form. And I use another powder to set my makeup after I put on foundation.”

“Which powder are you using.”

“I have five. Two loose and three pressed. It just depends on what look I’m going for. The two loose are used for baking. The three pressed are a translucent, a translucent HD, and a mattifying.”

“And you’re putting those UNDER your foundation?”

“No, I use this stuff under, which is a powder primer, then my foundation and concealer, then a brightening or mattifying primer if I want, then powder.”

[Insert another look like I’m wearing my underwear on my head here.]

So yes, I get that it sounds like the strangest thing in the world, but it really does work, and I’m completely hooked. Thankfully, one of the other associates there knew about the technique and pointed me toward a similar product by Too Faced. They didn’t have it in stock, unfortunately, so I’ll have to wait until it’s delivered to do a full review on it. As best I could tell from the sample, though, it looks like I’ve found my new go-to.

November Favorites

I seem to be the only blogger not doing this, so I’ll start with a monthly edition.

Julep Nail Products

There were so many things from Julep that I’ve recently become familiar with and just love… I figured I’d cram them all into one category.I’ve really gotten into my Julep Maven subscription, and while I was never much into caring for my nails before, I’ve really established a routine. Something I tend to use a lot and will definitely reorder when it’s time… Vanish Cuticle Softener & Remover and Oxygen Performance Top Coat. Favorite nail color this month is my pick from November– Linnea. This is such a pretty pinky, shimmery neutral, and it lasts me all week.

Linnea

Continue reading “November Favorites”

Splurge v. Save: Foundation

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ll admit that at heart I’m a big freaking kid who loves to sit in the corner and color with all the crayons. I used to always want that gigantic box that has all the colors and the bonus sharpener on the side. Now that I’m an adult, my face is a canvas and makeup is my medium. Makeup is freaking FUN!!!

Of course, you’ve also probably noticed that makeup can be pretty expensive. How many people have walked out of Sephora cringing at their receipts? I know I have. If you’re on a budget, this can be a problem, but you’re also probably wondering if that old adage that you get what you pay for rings true, and if it does, you’re probably not going to want to cut corners when it comes to what you’re putting on your face. Continue reading “Splurge v. Save: Foundation”

Monday Musings

Yep. I’m definitely going to make this a weekly thing along with a Friday food post. That way, I think, I can be more consistent and get my randomness out  in one big post and then leave the rest of my blogging for my reviews. (It’s early on in this blog’s life. Be patient with me while I figure this all out.)

Black Friday Shopping

Well, I caved… kinda. I did get some online shopping in, but then we decided to leave the house at about 6 p.m. because my mother was keeping the kiddo over the weekend and we had only ourselves to worry with. By that time, everything was of course quiet as could be. We even squeezed in a trip to Red Robin, where I finally found poutine!

Technically not poutine.
Technically not poutine.

Now, I’ve been corrected by my Canadian friends that this is technically not quite poutine (though close enough), but when you’re in the Birmingham area, you take what you can get. It had fries, gravy, and cheese, and that was enough for me to love it. The burgers… not so much. They weren’t bad, but for nearly $15, I could be eating a Hamburger Fonfon.

…and Iron Bowl Shopping

This one is more our style. We tend to wait until the Iron Bowl is on and then hit the stores since, in Alabama, they become deserted wastelands. This year, we settled on The Summit. We checked out Trader Joe’s for the first time since it’s opened. We’d never been in a Trader Joe’s before, and it soon was dubbed “Hipster Aldi.” It was the only store aside from Sephora with a line at the register, and I didn’t want that chocolate Advent calendar that badly, so we left empty handed. I did pick up some gifts at Sephora and Barnes & Noble. We also ate at Flip Burger since we were in the area and since Laura and Nadine suggested it.

Lets all just take a moment to appreciate this hamburger.
Lets all just take a moment to appreciate this hamburger.

I’ve never been there before, either, but I have a feeling we’ll be going back. They also have poutine that wasn’t really poutine, but the real star was the sweet potato tots that I had to take home to finish. I could eat these forever!

REALLY not poutine.
REALLY not poutine, but still tasty.

New Makeup (because OF COURSE I got more)

Every time I walk into a Sephora I end up changing the brand of whatever it is I went in to get. Right now it’s foundation. I’m still playing around with the tarte foundation in different situations. I really like the finish on that. I grabbed some samples of Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundation to try as well. I also grabbed a sample of Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance in champagne. I like Urban Decay, and I’ve used it for ages, but the new formula or packaging or SOMETHING is annoying the crap out of me because it’s clumping on me. I really hate that wand applicator, too. So I figured I’d try out Too Faced’s version, which is very similar in appearance. If I like, I’ll switch. I’m eyeballing Urban Decay shadows again, and this time I’m going for the one in Sephora’s Superstars set— Lounge. Only thing is, I should be getting a holographic shadow in my next Julep box, so I’m going to wait and see how that looks, first. I’m also trying to wait until after Christmas before I really go nuts over eyeshadows in Sephora. Again.

I also got a Too Faced blush and liquid lipstick gift set, which were $36 for a set of three (making them $12 each), and an Origins mask mini trio for $10, making those a little over $3 each. I thought these would be fun to stuff in some stockings for my sisters-in-law, and I’ll probably keep the third for myself. That Fig lip color intrigues me, so I’m claiming that one.

I cleaned out my office. Only problem is… I cleaned out my office.

My office is that spot in the house where everybody dumps the crap that they don’t want to toss out but don’t have a place for, and I finally got fed up with it. We drug EVERYTHING out of there and into the living room, and the rule was that if it went back into my office, it had to have a place. If it didn’t have a place there or anywhere else, it had to go. There is now a pile next to the garbage can and a pile next to the car of stuff we’re going to toss, donate, or pawn (because I’m too impatient to sell it online or in a garage sell). I also kept two boxes in my office– one of pictures to scan and catalog and one of stuff to sell on ebay.

Problem now is that I never actually decorated this room. It’s a big blank space with a few frames on the wall, a couple of desks, and that’s it. I’m clueless when it comes to home decor, so now I’m on Pinterest trying to come up with ideas.

Thoughts on November Birchbox and Ipsy

Now that I’ve gotten both boxes and had a chance to try out the stuff in them, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the products inside.

Birchbox

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I stated before that I opted for the curated box this month. Here’s what I got along with the value of the sample sizes:

Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum, 0.1 oz – $3.56
I stated before that I’ve used products from this brand in the past. Considering my previous experience, I was a little surprised to find that the full size of this was only $36. As I’d expect from a serum, this is lightweight and very moisturizing, but I had to use a lot of it, and I imagine I’ll only get about three uses out of the tube I was sent. I doubt I’ll buy the full size. I just wasn’t that impressed.

Jouer Lip Enhancer, 0.15 oz – $7.27
This is nearly half the size of the full size tube. Not bad. Tati suggests having this next to my bed and putting it on before I go to sleep. I’ll admit it’s great for preventing chapped lips. It feels a bit like thin Vaseline, but I haven’t noticed any enhancement.

Shiseido ULTIMUNE EYE Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, 0.18 oz – $21.66
This stuff is expensive, but I have to admit that I was impressed with how well this stuff hydrates. I’ll definitely use up what I’ve got. The first time I used it, I dispensed about the same amount I usually do of my regular eye gel, and it was WAY too much, so I’ve been more sparing with it since. A little really goes a long way. Am I impressed enough to spend $65 on the full size? Probably not, but it’s on my Christmas wish list now.

Living proof. Perfect hair Day (PhD) dry shampoo, 1.8 oz – $9.90
I go through a lot of dry shampoo since I don’t wash my hair every day. This stuff goes on clear. There’s no annoying white powder in my hair when I use it. I already had another product under my cabinet from this same brand– the No Frizz styling cream— which I also love. The styling cream has a fresh grapefruit scent to it. The dry shampoo doesn’t smell exactly the same, and I can’t quite place it, but I’m just as in love with it. I might end up purchasing this again if I can ever get through my current stockpile of dry shampoos.

LOC One & Done Shadow Stick, 0.05 oz – $10
This was a full size shadow stick. I have so many eyeshadows and lipsticks and yet I keep buying more because some part of me is that child who wants that gigantic box of crayons. This was really nice. It glides on true to color, and it really does stay put and wears comfortably. I’ve had rotten luck in the past with similar products that would crease or smudge easily. I like that this stays in place without even needing a primer. It also paired well with my beloved Naked 2 palette. I’m VERY tempted to run on over to the Birchbox store and use my points getting the full lip and eye collection. I’m that impressed. If anyone got a sample of the lip color, let me know in the comments what you thought of it. Is it budge-free? Does it transfer a little too easily? Is the finish a true matte? How does it feel? I need to know these things.

The color I got was Day Trip, which is a great color for fall. Here’s a swatch:

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The total value of my November box was $52.39— not bad for a $10 box, and I’ll use everything. If you’d like to try Birchbox, click here for my referral link. You can also get 50 points added to your account with a new subscription when you use the code SUBSCRIBENOW50 at check out.

Ipsy

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SLMissGlam Boutique Blusher Brush – $14.50
This item alone paid for the bag, so that’s nice to have right out of the box. The bristles are synthetic and super soft. I still lean toward my Sonia Kashuk goat hair brush as my absolute favorite for blush and bronzer, but this will make a nice backup.

Smashbox Cosmetics Full Exposure Mascara, 3 ml – $5.33
I’m not super picky about mascara as long as it doesn’t flake or smudge easily. This doesn’t, and I love the brush. Would I purchase it again? Probably not. I just can’t justify the price considering there are other, much cheaper mascaras that also work for me, and I toss mine after about a month or two. Not to mention, I usually have 2-3 mascaras on hand due to my subscription boxes and gift sets. It’s a nice mascara, though, if you’re willing to spend $20 for a full size tube. Mascara just isn’t one of those things I tend to splurge on.

Hey Honey Come Clean: Propolis & Minerals Facial Scrub, 0.5 oz – $5.22
I was running low on scrub, and I didn’t care for the sample I got in my Target box, so this was nice to find in my bag. It’s REALLY THICK, and at first I thought maybe it had dried up in the tube, but persistence paid off. (I’d hope that the full size is a little easier to dispense.) It has a pleasant, sweet smell and feels great on the skin.

Demeter Fragrance Library Twilight Orchid Roll On Perfume Oil, .33 oz – $6.60
This has such a gorgeous, floral fragrance. Right now, I can’t stop sniffing my wrist where I applied it, and I’m sure I look like a total weirdo. It’s not overwhelming at all, and if I didn’t have a huge stash of fragrance samples (see also, the reason I have a mascara stash) I’d consider buying a full bottle. The only issue I have with the roller ball is that it might be a bit too subtle. I felt like I had to use a lot of it for it to be noticeable, particularly compared to the vanilla roller ball ipsy sent me last month, but if you don’t like overly heavy perfume, this is could be a good thing. It was also long lasting, and I think it’ll combine well with the vanilla. Unfortunately, all I see on their site is the cologne spray, and I don’t know if that’ll last as long as the perfume oil, but it has a very reasonable price point for the full size spray.

J. Cat Beauty Skinny & Long Eye Pencil, .08 oz – $2.99
According to ipsy, those who got this will get it in either Dark Grey or Ash Silver. Mine was in Ash Silver, which I’m thankful for because I don’t actually have a silver eye pencil. I have two dark grey pencils. This is a gorgeous shade (see swatch below) with just a hint of shimmer. I can see myself using it on upper or lower lashes, and it’s a great color heading into the holidays. It’s not smudge-proof, which I prefer in an eye pencil, but the product doesn’t claim to be, and I can always use another eye pencil. Plus it’s only a $3 pencil.

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The total value of my November bag was $34.64, not counting the cute makeup bags I get every month, and I’ll use everything here. If you would like to try Ipsy, click here for my referral link. As far as I know, there aren’t any coupon codes to use right now, but I’ll keep you posted. One of the things I’m not too fond of with Ipsy… When you first sign up, they’ll place you on a waitlist. You can skip the waitlist by sharing on social media (and you can later either remove those posts or set them so that only you can view them), but I find it annoying that you’re forced into viral marketing in that way. Still, it’s a wonderful way to try out new products, and it’s absolutely a great value.

Birchbox & Ipsy November Reveals!

I just got these in my email, and it looks like November is a winner for me for both Birchbox and Ipsy.

Here’s what I’m getting from Ipsy:

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I like the bag for November, but I have another bag with a similar print already that I got in a care package from Always. (Yeah, THAT Always.) That said, I might end up preferring this texture. In any case, the past two bags have made decent fall makeup bags, so it’s not like I’m in dire need of them. Overall, I’m very satisfied with everything in my bag for my $10. I’ll probably keep or use all of it. Here’s what’s in it:

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara
I believe this is actually the travel size, which goes for $9 on Macy’s website. Everyone should be getting one this month, unless I’m mistaken.

SLMissGlam Boutique Blusher Brush
Oh, I like getting brushes in my sub boxes! I like it a lot! This one retails for $14.50.

J. Cat Beauty Skinny & Long Eye Pencil
I really liked the #MOTD pencil from J. Cat Beauty that I got in a previous Ipsy bag. Judging from the picture, it’s silver, and I hope that’s the color I get. I don’t need more black eyeliners. Retail is $2.99.

Demeter Fragrance Library Twilight Orchid Roll On Perfume Oil
I like getting perfumes, but I’ve got a pretty large collection of them now, and I love that I can just toss these little sample sprays and roller balls into my makeup bag and go. I’ll never buy it outright as long as that’s the case, unless it’s Chanel No. 5. The full size of this is $20.

Hey Honey Come Clean: Propolis & Minerals Facial Scrub
Oh, I was actually running low on facial scrub! I’m down to my last sample, so this will be welcome! Retail for full size is $23.

And from Birchbox:

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I opted for the curated box this month. I’ll be honest and say that I really didn’t want any of the lipsticks or eyeshadows, but then I might end up happily surprised by the one in this box. In any case, Birchbox was determined to make me try out their new makeup line. If I do like it, I’ll probably end up ordering their Ultimate Collection, since it seems like a good value. Again, I’m pretty sure I’m getting my $10 worth here.

So aside from the eyeshadow, here’s what else I got:

Living proof. Perfect hair Day(PhD) dry shampoo 
I’ve tried Living proof products before. Some I’ve liked. Some I’ve hated. Dry shampoo is one of those things I use a lot in my life, so this will be appreciated. Full size retails for $22.

Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum
I’m familiar with this brand as well. Most of the spas I’ve visited use their products, and boy do they give you the hard sell after using them on you. I’m not sure if I’ve used this one in particular before, but I can’t recall ever trying a product from them that I’ve hated. Retail value for full size is $36.

Jouer Lip Enhancer
I’ve never met a lip enhancer that actually does (for me) what it says on the tin, and I’m convinced that it’s psychological for people that claim these work. We’ll see, but if it’s moisturizing, I’m still in. Retail for full size is $16.

Shiseido ULTIMUNE EYE Power Infusing Eye Concentrate
What’s not to love about an eye cream/serum? Retail for full size is $65.

I’ll of course have to wait and see just what sizes and variations I get of these products to truly determine the value, but so far it’s looking good.

So what are you guys getting?

A few things that might interest you guys…

Right now, you can hop on over to e.l.f. (one of my FAVORITE bargain beauty brands) and grab a whole bunch of their studio line products for just $1. That’s, of course, in addition to all the other wonderful products they already sell for only $1. Some of my favorites: Studio Matte Lip Color, Studio Eyeliner & Shadow Stick, Studio Lip Liner & Blending Brush, Essential Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer, and Essential Shimmering Facial Whip (perfect for strobing).

Also right now, if you sign up for Birchbox (referral link), you can get a free box of customer favorites. Use coupon code 2FOR1BOX to nab it! I’m a huge fan of getting beauty samples for $10, so Birchbox is my jam.

Influenster, which occasionally sends me items to try out and review, has sent me a VoxBox full of goodies– which I will of course be trying out and reviewing. Some of those reviews will go here. Others will go on my Twitter, Instagram, or (a newly made) YouTube. The links to those are on the sidebar if you want to give them a follow. I’ll admit that I suck at making those wonderful videos you see other people make, but I’ll hopefully get better, and in the meantime I think it’s a great medium to demo a few things I might want to review later on. I just need a tripod or something.

Speaking of non-beauty reviews, I figured I’d toss up a review for Plated, which I’m in love with, so keep a lookout for that as well.

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…

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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

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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.