Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Julep Maven worth it?

I started subscribing to Julep Maven in September of this year.  In case you haven't heard of it, Julep is a nail salon in Seattle, WA, that has its own line of nail polish and treatments.  They also seem to be branching out into other cosmetic areas, such as lip glosses.  To sign up for the Maven program, you first take a style quiz to determine your personal style.  (I had to take the quiz several times before I got a "style" that suited me.  I'm still not positive it actually does suit me, though.)  I am an "It Girl", apparently.  Once you establish your style, each month Julep sends you products tailored to that style.  The price is $19.99 per month, and they swear you will get at least twice that value in products monthly.  Before they send your monthly box, they send you an email telling you what will be in it.  If you don't like what you're getting, you can request a different box for that month.  You can also pause or cancel your subscription at any time, or send your box as a gift to a friend.  Additionally, Maven members get 20% any other purchases they make from the Julep website.

So, let's take a look at what I've received in the four Julep boxes that I have gotten so far:

As you can see, there is a variety of products.  Cuticle oil, a makeup bag, nail stickers, hand scrub and lotions, base coat, topcoat, nail pearls, lipgloss, and of course, nail polish.  First let's talk about the things I liked:

The makeup bag:  Cute, functional, roomy.  It has a zipper top with a cute pull, pockets inside to hold your lipsticks upright, and plenty of room in the main compartment.  I like the way it zips open really wide so that you can see everything well and get items in and out easily.  The only thing I dislike about the bag is the material it is made from.  It is that pressed-paper faux fabric like cheap mattress pads are made from.  I am not sure how well it will hold up in the long run.  I wish it were made of real woven fabric, or even vinyl.
Cuticle oil:  I love this stuff.  It smells great and I really like the rollerball applicator and the convenient size of it.  I do worry a bit about carrying it around in my purse because the bottle is made of glass, but so far it hasn't broken.
Glycolic hand scrub:  Love this stuff, too.  It has a bright citrusy smell and leaves your hands feeling soft.
SPF 30 hand lotion:  I like the idea of high spf hand lotion, as I am a pale girl.  It is creamy, unscented, and moisturizes well.
Brightening hand lotion:  Of the two lotions, this one is my favorite.  It has a fresh, bright smell similar to the hand scrub, is creamy and moisturizes well without being greasy.
Nail polish:  This is the reason I subscribed to the Maven program, after all.  I had heard great things about their polish, and for the most part they don't disappoint.  I don't really have the patience for swatching, so I did a skittle manicure using the Julep colors I have so far:
Thumb to pinkie: Helena, Leighton, Jaime, Sienna, Emilie

Pinkie to thumb: Helena, Leighton, Diane, Sienna, Stella

All of these applied like a dream, with the exception of Diane.  All but Diane were two-coaters (even the yellow!), and most could have been one-coaters if I were better at applying them.  Diane was the tricky one.  It's a dark green jelly, and was a total PITA.  I have four coats on here, and there are still bald spots, especially at the tip of the nail.  Also, Jaime, while beautiful, stains like hell.  My favorites are Sienna, Helena, and Stella.  I like the Julep bottle and brush, but you don't get much product at all, especially considering that each bottle retails for $14.00.

Now, on to the things I didn't like:

Nail stickers:  Nothing special.  They're not polish stickers like Sally Hansen's or Incoco's.  They're just cheap vinyl stickers like you can get in any drugstore or dollar store anywhere, and for a hellava lot less than $14.00 a package.  They only promise to last a day or two, which doesn't really seem like it would be worth the bother.  I'll probably give these to one of my nieces to play with.
Nail therapy base coat:  Has some kind of oil or lotion in it that floats around in the bottle like a cloud.  It's kind of mesmerizing, like a lava lamp.  As a base coat, however, it doesn't work at all for me.  It won't stick to my nails, probably due to said oil/lotion cloud.  It just peels right off as soon as it dries.
Fast-drying top coat:  This stuff is fail-in-a-bottle.  Watery, smeary, not particularly fast-drying at all, smelly, and not very shiny.  I am wearing it over the skittle manicure above, and it actually made most of the polishes LESS shiny than they were without topcoat.  It leaves behind brush stroke marks that make your polish look and feel almost textured.  DO NOT USE IT OVER NAIL ART!  It will smear the crap out of all your hard work.  Also, no matter how long you let your color dry before applying this top coat, it picks up the nail color and transfers it into the bottle and onto your other nails.  This is especially bad if you are using a combination of sparkly and non-sparkly colors.  You can't really tell in the picture, but the top coat picked up a ton of silver sparkle from Leighton and then turned the sparkle-less jelly Diane into a silver-frosted mess.  And now, there are silver and gold sparkles in the bottle that will get on any subsequent manicures that I do.  Well, they would if I were planning on ever using this stuff again, which I'm not.
Lip-plumping lip gloss:  One word: YUCK.   I was very disappointed in this, because the color (Intimacy) is gorgeous.  This gloss smells, tastes, and feels AWFUL.  Very chemically and kind of, um, metallic, I guess.  Just weird and unnatural.  It smells, tastes, and feels bad for you.  And it BURNS.  Unlike lip plumpers that use pepper or mint to increase the blood circulation in your lips, this stuff obviously uses some chemical that is just WAY too strong.  It feels like your lips are getting a chemical burn.  I couldn't get it off my face fast enough, and I had to brush my teeth to get rid of the metal aftertaste.

So, back to my original question:  Is Julep Maven worth the $19.99 a month?  Before writing this post, I was leaning towards "No".  However, now that I have actually sorted everything into "likes" and "dislikes", I see that there are many things I like, and few that I dislike or am "meh" about.  Hopefully, Julep will continue with what they do well (polish, hand creams and scrubs), and ditch the gimmicky stuff (stickers, excuse me, ahem, "appliques") and the downright horrible stuff.  I think I will give them another month or two, to see how it goes.  Maybe they will do more Polish Lovers options (which I missed out on the first time around, darn it).

So, are any of you Julep Mavens?  What do you think about the program?

xoxo, Natalie

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Penguins

I have been seeing lots of cute penguin nails around the interwebs recently, so I decided to do some penguin nails of my own.

Left hand:

Right hand:

I think the right pinkie is my favorite.  He has a candy-cane!  Or as one of my co-workers called it, a Christmas Worm.

I used Orly Frisky for the base color and acrylic paints for the penguins and their accessories.

I think I'm going to do a Charlie Brown Christmas mani next.  We are selling the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree at work, and I want one so bad!  They're adorable.  They come with one red ornament and a little blue Linus' blankie to drape around the base.  Hopefully they'll go on clearance soon.

xoxo, Natalie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

OMG. I. Am. Magic.

Last night, I painted snowflakes (and Snowglobe) on my nails.

This morning, I woke up to this:

Clearly, I am magic.  Tonight I am going to paint a billion dollars on my nails.  And maybe Tom Hardy.  Naked.

Here are some more pics of my magic snowflake nails:

I used China Glaze Sea Spray for the base, Zoya Trixie for the snowflakes, and topped it with one coat of China Glaze Snowglobe and two coats of Seche Vite.

OK, I'm off to conjure up some more magic now.  If you never hear from me again, just assume Tom and I are holed up on my new private island in the Caribbean.  Naked.

xoxo, Natalie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!!!!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving, filled with love and laughter and pie!  Lots and lots of pie!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Final Halloween Mani

I hope everybody had a happy and safe Halloween!  I had to close on Halloween, so no trick-or-treating for me.  Alas, I was the only one at work that dressed up, if you can call it dressing up.  Because of our dress code, you really can't wear much in the way of a costume.  I just did some cat-eye eyeliner and wore my kitty ears and my kitty-cat shoes and a black shirt.  Our store manager made a half-hearted attempt to say the ears weren't dress-code appropriate (something about "no hair ornaments", WTF?), but his heart wasn't really in it, especially after the H.R. manager said she thought they were cute!  He let it drop with, "Well, at least she isn't wearing a tail."  Hee!

Here is the mani I wore on Halloween.  It is a spooky swamp scene:

I had a hard time photographing it.  There is all kinds of glare.  The scene starts out with a haunted house on my thumb:

Followed by a graveyard on my pointer, a witch flying against the moon on my middle, a jack'o'lantern on my ring, and bats on my pinky:

I used Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gray by Gray for the background, and China Glaze Zombie Zest for the swamp.  I stamped the haunted house, witch, jack'o'lantern, spooky tree branches, and bats from Bundle Monster plates using black Konad Special Polish.  I freehanded the gravestones using Zoya Dove and the moon using acrylic paint.  I also painted over the jack'o'lanterns using Sinful Colors Cloud 9 and China Glaze Lighthouse, and I dotted-in the windows of the haunted house with Lighthouse, too.

Now, on to the Thanksgiving manicures!  I need a good burnt orange creme - does anyone have any favorites they'd like to share?

xoxo, Natalie

Friday, October 28, 2011

Frankenstein Mani

Here is my second Halloween mani.  After a quick, unscientific poll of my co-workers, I decided to do Frankenstein.

 Left hand:

 Right hand:

Left thumb:

 Right thumb:

I forgot the nostrils on the right thumb, and I ended up liking him better that way, but I wasn't in the mood to do the other three faces over.  I don't know why I felt like the nostrils were necessary in the first place.  I used Sinful Colors Innocent as the base, China Glaze White-on-White for the eyes, and Julep Leighton for the neck bolts.  I used Wet'n'Wild Fastdry Black instead of my usual China Glaze Liquid Leather.  I didn't like the W'n'W as much as the CG; it smeared something awful!  I don't think I will use it for nail art detail anymore, but it makes a great base coat because it is a one-coater and, true to its name, dries very fast.

While taking the pictures, I also ended up with a pretty good picture of the tattoo on my right hand:

Finally, here is Maddie in her Howl-o-ween costume.  Her lasers are powered up and set to "wtf are you doing to me, woman?!?":

I have time to squeeze in one more mani before Halloween.  I'm going all out with a spooky stamping scene.  Hopefully it will turn out well.

xoxo, Natalie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My First Halloween Nail Art!

Just a quick post to show you my first attempt at Halloween nail art.  Rins did a super-cute spider mani that I loved, but I just didn't think I could live with spiders on my nails - not even cute ones.  So I modified her idea using bats, which are one of my favorite creatures.

I think I may re-do them using some dark grey to define the wings a bit more.  They seem a little bit flat.  I do like the way the little fangs came out, though.

I used China Glaze Liquid Leather and White-on-White for the bats, and Cult Nails Quench for the bloody tips.

I can't decide whether to do Frankenstein or jack'o'lanterns next.  I'm leaning towards Frankie, and maybe his missus, too.  What do you think?

xoxo, Natalie