Friday, March 18, 2016

March 2016 Julep Maven - Lighten Up + Add-Ons - Unboxing & Review!

It's been a long time since I've gotten a Julep Maven box; Julep is very kind and let's you skip a month (or two, or three...) and stay subscribed if you're not feeling the products for that month. It's the reason why the Julep Maven program is the subscription service that I've been subscribed to the longest. There have been some changes to the service over the years, but, since I've been around so long, Julep has allowed me to keep things the way they are and pay the original price, $19.99 a month, instead of upgrading to the new service and paying $24.99 a month.

However! Starting this month, Julep has decided to reward long-time subscribers and let them upgrade to the new service (which allows you to completely customize your Maven box), while still paying the $19.99. So how could I resist getting my very first, fully customized Julep Maven box?
Obviously I couldn't, and I even went so far as to get three Add-Ons, along with an extra free item for doing so.
Quick rundown of the Julep Maven program: nail polish-centric subscription service, though it is possible to get boxes with just makeup/beauty products (though Julep is a nail salon at heart and their nail products tend to be better than their other beauty products); $24.99 a month for approximately three full size products of your choice from the current monthly collection or permanent products (the choice is limited to the items that Julep lists, but there is a large variety); you chose all the products in your box and are able to pick your products starting on the 20th of the month; you change your mind as many times as you want until the 24th, when your choices are locked in; if you don't want to get a box in a certain month for whatever reason, you can also chose to skip that month's box, or have it sent to someone else (though you still have to pay for it); if you forget to edit your choices or to opt out for the month by the 24th, you will receive a curated box that Julep picks for you (this used to be based on your profile type, but I'm not sure if Julep still uses that system); Julep also has a rewards program where you earn points, called Jules, that you can use towards the purchase of add-ons or to pay for a whole box (you have to have enough points to cover the whole cost of an item/box; you can't redeem 100 points if an item costs 300 points, you need all 300 points, if that makes sense); if you're interested in signing up for Julep, you can use my referral link here, or you can go to the website.

Okay, so that wasn't quite as quick as I hoped for, but since I don't review this subscription often, I want to make sure I explain it properly. The theme for March was Lighten Up and the collection included a lot of frosty, shimmery, reflective polishes.
The quote on the back is from Kevin Aucoin, and very uplifting. Julep keeps shuffling around what info is on which card; these quotes used to be separate or on the discount coupon cards. They're now on the collection info card, which usually carried some extra info about the new products for the month or an advertisement. My biggest gripe with Julep, from their packaging to their products, is that they are always reinventing themselves. They constantly change names, update formulas, switch packaging; I understand and appreciate the desire for growth and change, but it gets annoying and it starts to feel like Julep is just trying to get us to keep buying their old products with superficial changes because they're marketing as "new".
Speaking of discount codes (...sort of), this month you can get 30% off your Julep order with MAR30. These codes aren't actually all that useful since you can't use them on discounted products, nor on mystery boxes (and you should never pay full price for anything from Julep since it will go on sale eventually).
The back of the discount code is the ingredient and allergy information for the candy this month, a Charms Cherry Blow-Pop. Julep normally includes candy in the Maven boxes, though there have been times (a very, very few) where I've gotten a different extra freebie.
For my actual Maven Box, I selected three items: two are polishes from the March collection, and one is one of my most favorite nail care products from Julep, the Mighty Nail and Cuticle Serum.
The Mighty Nail and Cuticle Serum functions the same way as a cuticle oil pen; you twist the bottom to push product into the bristles, which you then brush on your nails and cuticles. It absorbs really quickly, and it immediately makes my nails look healthier. I always notice a big difference in the appearance and strength of my nails after using this serum for a few weeks, and it's always frustrating when I run out because it's a fairly expensive product and I try to get it as "on sale" as possible. So I knew I had to get it when Julep announced that they were going to allow me to customize my Maven boxes! If Julep lets me, I'm going to get another one in my April box, so I can keep it at work.
Julep came out with a new finish for March, Holographic Jelly, in two different colors. The first one is Cecile, a "Caribbean breeze holographic jelly".
Out of the two holographic jelly polishes, this is my favorite. The holographic shimmer is fine, but strong, and the color builds on itself well. These are jellies, so they're sheer and require more coats, but because they're sheer, the holo really shines through and you get a lot of depth.
The other holo jelly polish is called Yiyi.
Yiyi is described as a "pink freesia holographic jelly". I find the holo shimmer in this polish to be a bit weaker than in Cecile, and it's a little harder to build Yiyi up since the pink is more sheer than the blue/green of Cecile. It's still a pretty polish, but if you had to chose between the two, Cecile is the better one.
For my Add-Ons, I got two more polishes and a nail care tool. I was going to include this first one, Tali, in my Maven box, but though it would be better to purchase it as an Add-On instead (it was cheaper than the products I picked for my actual box).
 Tali is a "glacier breeze linear liquid holographic", and it exceptionally pretty. Are you noticing a theme with my polishes this month? I've been avoiding holographic polishes since a lot of indie brands (who make stunning holo polishes) use SpectraFlair, which may or may not be a safe cosmetic ingredient. It's been difficult to find true holographic polishes from more mainstream brands (who hopefully don't use SpectraFlair because it's not an FDA approve cosmetic ingredient and they could get in a lot of trouble), but I've been seeing them more often and have decided to start purchasing some.
The other polish I got is Andie. I believe this polish was part of one of the recent mystery boxes (if not the most recent), and it's so weird and odd that I needed to buy it.
 I couldn't find Andie on the Julep website, so it's either all sold out, or Julep is saving it for mystery boxes/add-ons/savvy deals. It's a bizarre matte glitter mix top coat with multiple shapes and sizes, along with a very strange color palette. You don't have to fish for any of the glitters, so you get a good variety with every brushstroke. My swatch is two coats, which gives good coverage, but you can just do one if you want more of the base color to show through.
The third Add-On I purchased is the Cleanup Tool. This is a very straightforward product; it's a matte black metal tool that you use to clean up polish around the cuticles and under the nail. It's a very heavy and solid tool, though it's a lot shorter than I was expecting. I own the cuticle pusher, which is made out of the same material and has a similar design, and I was expecting it to be about that long; it's actually about half the size. Like the cuticle pusher, you can sanitize this tool by putting it in a dishwasher, or by boiling it for 2-5 minutes.
For purchasing three Add-Ons, I got a special bonus gift. I was kind of hoping for another nail care item or a makeup product, but the extra for this month was a nail polish (to the best of my knowledge, everyone gets the same extra for ordering three Add-Ons).
This is Nayely, and luckily it's a polish I don't already own (...I have a lot of Julep polish, though much of it is older since I haven't been getting my Maven box every month).
Nayely is described by Julep as a "papaya nectar crème". It is a boring cream, but the color is quite pretty and very spring appropriate, so I'm happy with it. Plus, it will probably make a good base for Andie.

And that's my March Julep Maven box! Overall, I paid a little under $40 for five polishes, a cuticle serum, and a metal clean-up tool. According to Julep, the total value of my box was around $90, so I saved about 60% off the full price. I do think that the products I got are worth the $40 I paid (which includes shipping), but I'm not sure if they are worth the $90 value Julep says they are (that is what they're worth if you purchased each item individually from Julep at full price, but as I said before, don't ever pay full price for a Julep product since you will be able to get it on sale at some point).

If you're interested in nail polish, and are interested in trying some of Julep's products, I do recommend signing up for the Maven service. As a Maven, you get 20% off of everything that's full priced, and you get free shipping. You can also eventually skip getting the monthly box without having to unsubscribe, which is a unique and very helpful feature; I'm not sure how it currently works, but it used to be that you had to get your monthly box for six months before you were allowed to skip it. It might have changed since I know people were upset and Julep made an announcement about it, but I can't say for sure, so make sure you do some research before signing up if that's something that concerns you.

Thanks for reading! <3

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