Summer 2016 Pusheen Box unboxing!

Look what arrived on my doorstep this morning! It’s the Summer 2016 Pusheen Box!

I didn’t see any sneak peeks in my e-mail or on the website this time, so the contents were a complete mystery. The box arrived shrink-wrapped in plastic (which I still think is a nice touch) like the Spring 2016 box and was noticeably larger than the last box but also felt lighter. I was intrigued.

The items were cushioned nicely with wadded tissue paper, and everything arrived in good condition.

Like last time, the box came with a glossy card explaining the eight summer-themed items:

pusheen160723a

(1) The Mermaid Pusheen vinyl figure (Pusheen Box exclusive) is roughly 5″ long and about the same quality as Baker Pusheen from the Spring box. The print on her face, stripes, and scales is crisp and clear, but the rest of the print job is a bit sloppy, with some bleeding and smudges. Mine has a small bald patch on the star headpiece. Overall, though, it’s decent.

pusheen160723c

(2) The Mermaid Pusheen travel cup is a clear plastic, BPA-free, double-walled 16-oz. travel cup for cold liquids. (Hand wash, not microwave safe.) It has a transparent green screw-on plastic lid and transparent pink plastic straw with a stopper to keep it from sliding out completely. The Mermaid Pusheen design is crisply printed on a clear plastic insert sealed inside the airspace between the cup walls.

The insert is just a sheet wrapped around the cup and isn’t seamless like, say, some Tervis travel tumbler designs I’ve seen, but that’s okay by me. Tervis is overall higher quality, though.

pusheen160723d

Again, this cup isn’t the highest quality plastic travel cup I’ve seen, but it’s really not bad and very cute. It’s probably my favorite thing in this box, and I know ‘Fiend Jr. will love it! If I don’t end up taking this to the office as my cold beverage cup, it’ll probably become a travel milk cup for her.

pusheen160723b

(3) The Pusheen the cat ice cube tray (Pusheen Box Exclusive) is a six-well ice cube tray made of what feels like probably silicone (it’s soft and flexible), but the material isn’t specified on the packaging. Each well looks like it holds about an ounce. I’m thinking these would also make great molds for candy, frozen treats, soaps, or crayons!

pusheen160723e

(4) The Pusheen Heat Sealed Embroidery Patch can be heat transferred or sewn on, and it looks to be pretty good quality. Mine has a minor embroidery error about one third up from Pusheen’s feet, but it’s not that noticeable. It’s not as thick as some patches I own, but that could be a good thing. Saving this for ‘Fiend Jr.!

pusheen160723f

(4) These pale lilac Dance Party Pusheen sunglasses are super cute, with their chrome accents and colorful boomboxes, sunglasses-clad Pusheens, cassette tapes, and musical notes. The label says they have CE UV400 (100% UV) protection. Probably my second favorite thing in this box, only losing to the travel cup because I usually wear glasses and can’t rock these except when I use contacts.😛

(5) I didn’t take a close-up of the Pusheen Compressed Beach Towel (Pusheen Box Exclusive) because it’s still in its little compressed pancake form, which ‘Fiend Jr. has in an iron grip.:) When washed, it should expand into a 27.5″ x 55″ purple towel printed with a winking, lounging Pusheen. 100% cotton.

pusheen160723g

(6) The Pusheen weekend bag (Pusheen Box Exclusive) is a 100% polyester simple, lightweight duffle bag, about 18″ long. It’s made of fairly thin material and has no pockets other than the main zippered compartment, but the webbed handle seems reasonably sturdy, and it’s got a fun, 80s-esque Pusheen print. This will be great for transporting ‘Fiend Jr.’s toys to Grandma’s house! (Machine wash cold, gentle cycle, hang to dry, do not iron or bleach.)

(7) The Pusheen beach ball is petite (about 10″ diameter) and has ears and paws that inflate. So cute! ‘Fiend Jr. is scared of it, though.

(8) The Pusheen flip flops are your typical foam-sole flip flops with cute Dance Party Pusheen print. The quality isn’t especially great, though. They have a bit of a chalky feel, the print had already come off part of the left heel, and the straps are a bit loose in proportion to the sole. Usable but cheap.

pusheen160723h

‘Fiend Jr. and I enjoyed this box overall, especially its beachy, 80s theme (mermaids were all over the place after Disney’s The Little Mermaid came out in 1989!). All of the items are cute, though everything is made in China, and the quality of the items is cheap to middling, rather than excellent (like, say, San-X or Sanrio character goods).

I estimated the retail value of the contents at maybe around $74 ($8 for the figurine, $10 for the cup, $8 for the ice cube tray, $10 for the sunglasses, $1 for the patch, $10 for the bag, $2 for the beach ball, $5 for the flip flops, and $10 for the towel, based on prices of similar items), the box is still a reasonable value, if not necessarily up to the $100+ the website says each box is worth.

The Pusheen Box comes out once a season (four boxes a year) and is $43.95 per box (or $39.95 per box if you commit to a full year of four boxes), plus $6 domestic shipping in the US. It promises over $100 of licensed Pusheen goodies, many of them Pusheen Box exclusives, per box. The contents of the boxes are a surprise.

Julep July 2016 (Into the Sea) custom Maven Box (with promo code!)

I received my Julep Maven July 2016 Maven box almost a week ago (last Friday) but I didn’t have time to post about it until now.

I’d been thinking of skipping to save money, but I thought I’d give Julep’s new Lip Shade Sheer Lip Butter a try, since my lips need something with SPF that they’re not allergic to, and I’d yet to find the magic lip balm that fits that bill.

On to the box!

 

julep160708

Neon yellow tissue paper and turquoise paper crinkles: nice, bright summer colors. And:

  • Intro/quote card – “I must be a mermaid… I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” – Anais Nin, Cuban American poet.
  • Promo code – use JULY30 for 30% off a Julep.com purchase through August 31, 2016.
  • Glow Highlighting Powder ($28 regular, $22.40 Maven) – I think this product currently only comes in one color, since the Julep website doesn’t actually specify a color choice, but mine is labeled as Champagne.
  • Lip Shade Sheer Lip Butter in Macaroon ($22 regular, $17.60 Maven) – Julep’s new product this month, with broad-spectrum SPF 30.
  • Julep Tomi ($14 regular, $11.20 Maven) – “Bermuda blue holographic jelly”
  • Julep Mickey ($14 regular, $11.20 Maven) – “Pink geranium ghost iridescent,” a freebie!
  • Pizzazz Juicy Jelly – This was pretty yummy, actually. It’s a soft jelly made of agar (a kind of algae), which seems more common in Asian candies. These are made in Canada, though. (Mine was cherry-flavored, and TiO2’s was lemon.) A freebie!

Onward!

julep160708b

The Glow Highlighting Powder case has a simple and clean modern design, matte-black cover, and shiny sides. The hinge opens easily, though not so easily that I’d be afraid of it just swinging open in a bag. I did notice some loose powder inside the cardboard box, though, so I wouldn’t want to just throw this naked into a purse.

julep160708c

Here it is, opened, though with the protective film still covering the powder well. I don’t typically carry makeup with me since I hardly wear it and don’t bother to touch it up when I do, but the large mirror seems handy for that, so I dig it.

Glow seemed like it could be a fun, subtle addition to barely-there makeup, so I gave it a shot. I swiped some on over the usual highlight areas (cheekbones, bridge of the nose, chin, etc.), and it looked fine over my favorite mostly matte bareMinerals. The sparkly diamond dust added a bit too much shine to some of my tinted sunscreens/BB creams, though. Guess it takes some trial and error not to end up looking sweaty.😉

julep160708d

Lip products are always such a gamble for me because of how often they irritate my skin, but Lip Shade Sheer Lip Butter in Macaroon is okay so far! Only time will tell if my skin will eventually hate it, but it’s otherwise a nice product. It smells a bit like cotton candy or cookies, goes on smoothly and semi-sheer, and feels moisturizing. (Macaroon turned out to be not the most flattering color for me because it’s not as bright as my natural lip color and makes my lips kind of disappear into my face, but a little lip liner helps with that.)

julep160708e

And, finally, Tomi and Mickey, this month’s polishes. I’d completely forgotten that Julep promised to throw in a free surprise pink polish for sharing a Julep e-mail coupon earlier in the month. I’ll be trying these out soon and posting up swatches.

Disclosure: This post contains one or more referral links. I don’t expect you to use my referral links unless you want to, of course, and they don’t affect me giving my honest opinion. Referrals go toward products reviewed on this site – thanks!

Julep Amity

Two coats of Julep Amity, plus a coat of Essie Shine of the Times making a cameo appearance on the ring finger, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in outdoor natural light. Direct sunlight on top and shade on bottom:

Amity, described by Julep as a white-gold metallic signifying friendship, is a sparkly semi-sheer silver-white metallic shimmer, part of Julep’s limited edition Champagne Trio (along with Clio for celebration and Reiko for gratitude) celebrating their Maven program’s second anniversary in 2014. It’d probably build up to opacity with another coat or so, but I was fine with the semi-sheer look. It’s a bit frosty/pearly/brush-stroke-y, but the streaks aren’t that visible except under direct light, as you can see from the top set. The lighting also determines how sheer the polish looks:

Formula is generally good, though it’s hard to get the brush strokes not to show and is probably meant to be semi-sheer. Otherwise, I had no issues with this polish, and it dried on the fast side of average for me. Durability was good. I put these nails on in a rush for a wedding last weekend, and they’re still going strong with hardly a chip five days later.

As I mentioned, I brushed on Essie’s iridescent flakie topper Shine of the Times on the ring finger in an attempt to match my opal jewelry, but it’s hardly noticeable. You can see it if you look really carefully at these photos, but it’s basically invisible. Ah, well. I’ll put it to better use next time!

LynBDesigns Mind Palace

This is three coats of LynBDesigns Mind Palace, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, in outdoor natural light:

Mind Palace is from LynBDesigns’ Sherlock-inspired collection, Baker Street. This one’s a beautifully glassy grape-purple jelly loaded with turquoise square glitters; variously sized purple, silver, matte black, and matte white hexes; and matte white diamonds. The glitters need a bit of help getting to where you might want them (I didn’t really help them along in these photos, so they’re not terribly tidy, but a little bit of dabbing and gliding would have fixed the clumping), but that’s to be expected of a glitter party like this. Lovely depth and bright colors!

The formula is pretty good. It’s not hard to apply compared to other similarly chunky glitter polishes, which take some gentle coaxing to even out their distribution and ensure that the glitters lie flat. As reference, I didn’t really do anything special because I was doing these quickly, but I still got a decent, if not amazingly even, spread. Dry time was faster than average for me, and the glossy top coat brightened up the finish, which dries to a semi-matte on its own. I bet this would look deliciously squishy with a matte top coat!

Durability was middling. Probably because of the chunky glitters, it chipped in maybe two or three days (versus my average of three or four) because the edges of the glitter tend to catch on my clothing and things. I didn’t use a specially thick top coat to smooth it out completely because it was reasonably smooth (though not perfect) with one coat of regular top coat.

Overall, thumbs up! Love this bright, fun polish!

Face-off: Julep Becky vs. OPI Peace & Love & OPI

It’s face-off time! This time, I’ve got Julep Becky and OPI Peace & Love & OPI to compare:

  • INDEX: two coats Peace & Love & OPI topped with Julep Silk Effect Top Coat
  • MIDDLE & PINKY: two coats Julep Becky, no top coat
  • RING: two coats Peace & Love & OPI topped with Essie Good to Go Top Coat (glossy)

This is in outdoor natural light:

My phone camera didn’t capture it well, but both polishes are dark gunmetal-gray shimmers with a green-to-warm-purple dichroic/duochrome flash. Becky strikes me as a silk-effect (semi-matte finish with a fine pearlescent shimmer) version of Julep Blakely, which seems to be a pretty close dupe of Peace & Love & OPI. Here you can see some of the green-to-purpleness, mildly. As you can see, Becky and the OPI are pretty similar, especially when the OPI has the silk-effect top coat over it.

At this angle, you can see the purple flash. You can also see that Becky has a bit more scatter in its sparkle. The OPI polish is smoother and has finer shimmer. (Hmm, I swear I swatched Blakely at some point, but I can’t find the post, so maybe I didn’t take photos or do a write up. Drat.)

Here they are in indoor white-LED light, which shows the very subtle difference between the shimmer texture a bit better:

Yeah, it’s not a big difference, and honestly, it’s almost not noticeable in person.

Formula-wise, they both apply well and dry on the fast side. They’re both almost opaque at one coat but could use a second to even things out. The Silk Effect Top Coat is a bit of a pain because it takes a bit to dry, unlike the speedy Good To Go, so if you’re impatient and like the silk effect (or don’t own the silk-effect top coat in the first place), it could be worthwhile to pick up Becky, even if you already have Blakely or the OPI. I normally like the silk finish, but I wasn’t feeling it with this polish. It reduced the impact of the color shift and detracted from that oil-slick look, which was what I liked best about these polishes.

Bottom line: Julep Becky is pretty much Julep Blakely with a silk finish, and Julep Blakely is almost identical to OPI Peace & Love & OPI. I prefer it glossy, so I didn’t really need to have both Becky and Blakely (let alone all three of these!), but the urge to swatch them side by side is just too great to resist. :] OPI’s the less expensive brand (around $9 full retail for a 15 mL bottle, versus $14 full retail for Julep’s half-size 8 mL bottle), and the formula is great, so if you don’t care for the silk finish or the smaller bottle, I’d go with the OPI.

Julep June 2016 (Midsummer Light) custom Maven Box (with promo code!)

It’s that time of month again: my Julep Maven June 2016 Maven box arrived this past Wednesday! Julep’s monthly Maven box is still great, especially now that it’s fully customizable.

I customized my box this month because one of the main new products was a blush (Skip the Brush), which I pretty much never use. It’s a multipurpose makeup that can be used on lips and eyes, too, but I didn’t feel compelled to try it this time. I was also sort of lukewarm on the nail polish colors this month, so I skipped those as well.

Here’s what I got in my box instead:

julep160607

White pearlescent tissue paper, turquoise paper crinkles, and:

  • Intro/quote card – “When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome.” – Wilma Rudolph, fastest woman in the world in the 1960s.
  • Promo code – use JUNE30 for 30% off a Julep.com purchase through July 31.
  • Julep Voila! Nail Polish Thinner ($14 regular, $11.20 Maven) – can you believe I didn’t have a polish thinner on hand up through now? Figured I’d pick one up, since it fixes up those older polishes that start congealing on you.
  • Julep Love Your Bare Face Detoxifying Cleansing Stick ($28 regular, $22.40 Maven) – really wanted to try this since it came out a couple months ago!
  • Julep When Pencil Met Gel Long-Lasting Eyeliner in Sunset Gold Shimmer ($16 regular, $12.80 Maven) – I like these eyeliners, and Sunset Gold is a new color this month.

julep160607b

And, this month’s bonus freebie was Necco candy wafers. Never had these before; they’re like super-hard flavored fondant. I’m going to make a public-service announcement: don’t try chewing them like I did. I was scared I broke my teeth! Overall not my favorite, but it was still interesting to try this old-fashioned sweet from the 1840s, which I promptly felt an urge to learn about on Wikipedia. The flavors I got were orange, wintergreen, cinnamon, lemon, lime, and clove. Definitely old school.

julep160607c

The Voila! Nail Polish Thinner comes in an opaque dropper bottle with the glass dropper packaged separately in the same box. I haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t speak to its effectiveness, but I’ll let you guys know when I give it a shot.

julep160607d

This is the Love Your Bare Face Detoxifying Cleansing Stick with the screw-on cap removed but with the protective clear plastic shield still on. The clear shield pops right off if you carefully lift it around the edge with a fingernail, and the stick underneath is close to the consistency of a solid lip balm.

Julep recommends using the cleansing stick with their konjac sponge, but I also had good results using it with a silicone scrubby. It’s got a light, clean, citrusy scent that I like, and it left refreshingly clean but moisturized skin. It didn’t irritate my very sensitive, allergy-prone skin, either. I’m pretty impressed with this one and adding it to my skincare rotation. Thumbs up!

julep160607e

The When Pencil Met Gel eyeliner in Sunset Gold Shimmer doesn’t look quite as glittery on the pencil as it does in Julep’s promotional photos, but maybe it’ll have more of that foil effect when it’s actually applied. I’ll update this when I find out!

(EDIT 7/1/16: Well, the Sunset Gold’s got a bit more foil sparkle when applied onto the skin than seen on the pencil, but it didn’t come out nearly as metallic on me as in Julep’s photos. It was more like a mild shimmer in a matte burnt-gold base – maybe conservative office-appropriate, even. Mildly disappointing!)

What can I say? You can’t go wrong with a custom box, and it was awesome of Julep to extend customization to legacy Mavens. I’m happy.

Disclosure: This post contains one or more referral links. I don’t expect you to use my referral links unless you want to, of course, and they don’t affect me giving my honest opinion. Referrals go toward products reviewed on this site – thanks!

Face-off: Zoya Dillon vs. Julep Francine vs. Julep Shay

This past week, I thought I’d compare a couple similar recently released green-blue Julep polishes, Julep Francine from this May and Julep Shay from January, in case you (like me) were wondering if you’d accidentally bought two nearly identical polishes. I threw Zoya Dillon in there, too, just for the heck of it.

In the bottle, they look somewhat similar, but definitely not identical, and this held true on the nail, as well.

LF_160610

Here they are, two coats each and topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, Dillon on the index finger, Francine on the middle and pinky, and Shay on the ring. Photo taken in outdoor natural light.

As you can see, Zoya Dillon (on the index nail) is, by far, a mintier, less saturated color, I think partially due to the base color itself, but also because of its predominantly silver shimmer. I really only threw it in there for kicks, since it’s not super similar.

Julep Francine has a somewhat sheer aqua/turquoise base filled with metallic shimmer, but the flash tends to lean gold in typical lighting, giving it a warmer, greenish overall hue. In some lighting, though, the gold shifts to blue, giving the polish a totally different look. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to capture that, since it tended to happen in dimmer lighting when I couldn’t get a good shot. I think Francine’s meant to be worn semi-sheer at two coats, but it’s sisters with Regina, and I’m guessing it can probably be mostly opaque at three coats. Anyway, the shimmer tends to mask the sheerness, even at two coats. In any case, the formula was easy to work with, and it dried on the fast side.

Julep Shay I’ve talked about in a previous post. Maybe it’s the drier weather we have here, but Shay dried slightly faster this time than in the humid tropical climate I last tried it out in. Compared to Francine, Shay’s shimmer texture looks chunkier, though it still dries smooth. I can’t tell if it’s from the scatter effect of the holo shimmer or from the shimmer particle size itself. In any case, the overall effect is more glitter-like and less smooth than Francine. Shay also tends to lean bluer/cooler than Francine when Francine flashes gold. They’re more similar in hue when Francine leans blue. Francine doesn’t have Shay’s glass-fleck iridescence, though.

This next photo in indoor white-LED lighting is a bit blurry, but hopefully it shows a bit better what I mean about the finer shimmer texture in Francine, as compared to Shay.

Durability was typical for me on all three polishes and lasted around three or four days, at least. Dillon chipped first, but it was on my more heavily used index fingers, so that could have also been the reason it lasted the fewest days.

(UPDATE 6/11/2016: Francine and Shay were both mildly staining. They left a slight turquoise tinge after removal with nail polish remover, though the parts that chipped off on their own didn’t leave stained nails underneath. Dillon didn’t stain at all.)

Tl;dr – Francine’s gold flash and Shay’s coarser and cooler holo sparkle are what set them slightly apart, and Dillon’s noticeably more muted than the other two, cooler than Francine, and possibly a tad warmer than Shay. From a distance or at a glance, they could pass for the same polish, so whether you’d want both completely depends on how granularly you distinguish between colors and finishes.