Julep March 2017 (Spring To It) Custom Maven Box (with promo code!)

Behind on posting, since I was down for the count with whatever slew of viruses ‘Fiend Jr. brought home from daycare the week before last. D: Anyway, here’s this month’s Julep Maven unboxing!

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This month’s quote: “Spring is when life’s alive in everything.” – Christina Rossetti, an English poet known for “Goblin Market.”

  • Skip the Brush creme-to-powder blush stick in Sheer Glow ($24 regular, $19.20 Maven), a multipurpose product that also works on eyes and lips,
  • When Pencil Met Gel long-lasting eyeliner in Clay ($16 regular, $12.80 Maven), a new color released last month,
  • When Pencil Met Gel long-lasting eyeliner in Fig Shimmer ($16 regular, $12.80 Maven), a new color this month, and
  • two One-Step Polish Remover Pads, this month’s freebie.

The promo code that came with this box is SPRING30 for 30% off a purchase at Julep’s website.

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Skip the Brush in Sheer Glow works great as a multipurpose highlighter. The finish is lightweight and comfortable. It does look subtly sparkly, which may not be for everyone, but I like it.

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I think I’ve said before that I enjoy the Julep eyeliners, so I keep picking up more colors. I haven’t tried the eyeliner in Clay yet, but Fig Shimmer is more purple and less burgundy than I was expecting from the marketing photos. Still a pretty color, though, and application is as smooth and long-wearing as usual.

And, tomorrow’s monthly selection time again. Looking forward to seeing what’s new!

Face-off: Julep Ellis vs. L’Oreal Masked Affair

A couple years ago, in February 2015, I went through considerable trouble to track down a bottle of L’Oreal Masked Affair and was elated when I succeeded in obtaining this drugstore polish that was, for whatever reason, popular enough to be a bit hard to find.

A few months later, in September 2015, Julep released its own silvery lilac called Ellis, and while it doesn’t seem to be a true holo, it’s still got some linear holo in there, and the color is so spot on that I can’t help but wonder if they took a page from L’Oreal’s book.

Anyway, here they are, side by side, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat and in natural light, two coats each (Masked Affair on the index and ring, Ellis on the middle and pinky):

As you can see, Masked Affair has larger shimmer particles and has a more visible linear holographic effect than Ellis, which is a finer and denser shimmer with a subtler linear holo effect. Ellis is also opaque in two coats, whereas I think Masked Affair looks better with three thin coats, as in my original swatch post.

Both have good formulas and dry pretty fast. Masked Affair dried faster but would benefit from a third coat that Ellis doesn’t need. Unfortunately, I didn’t find either polish very durable, and I had minor chips by the second day when I took these photos, but Ellis lasted about one day longer (about three days instead of two) before developing major chips.

Long story short, the polishes are very close in color but not in texture or holo effect. I love them both!

Essie Lots of Lux

I think I’ve worn this color at least a couple times before, but a quick search in my nail journal here says I’ve apparently never posted a swatch! This is Essie Lots of Lux, from the Encrusted Treasures collection from the 2013 holiday season.

Lots of Lux is a royal-blue textured polish that Essie describes as a “shimmering lapis lazuli blue nail lacquer with a super fine matte finish.” It looks a bit brighter and less purplish than the blue I associate with lapis, but it’s definitely multifaceted and jewel-like, with what looks to me like a bright metallic blue base and a touch of both silver and turquoise shimmer, and maybe a pinch of silver micro glitter with the blue texture particles. There’s a lot going on when you take a closer look.

At two coats, the polish was pretty opaque, but it didn’t really dry matte for me and had more of a muted metallic finish. The photo above is on day 2 and without top coat. Application was easy. It dried relatively quickly but chipped pretty quickly, too. I think this lasted all of 3-4 days. Beautiful while it lasted, though! Also, textured polishes touch up easily, so there’s that to make up for the below-average durability.

Removal was easy compared to a hardcore glitter, but it’s tougher than a creme, as can be expected of this type of polish.

…I’ve got naked nails now. What color to wear next?

Julep Christina

Late post of my Valentine’s week nails/swatch. 😀 Julep Christina is an older Julep polish (from 2011, I think), one of the first I ever bought, yet untried until this month.

This is two coats, topped with Essie Good to Go top coat, taken in outdoor natural light (please excuse the second-day tip wear):

Julep calls Christina a “deep orange shimmer,” and I don’t know if it’s just me, but it looks to me like a hot red-pink glass-fleck shimmer in person. The photo didn’t capture the pink tones I saw in person somehow. After seeing  Julep’s description, though, I am sort of reminded of OPI Jinx, one of my favorite hot orange-pinks, but orange isn’t the first color that came to mind for me.

Christina has a hot-pink base (which is more obvious on the first coat), but it’s loaded with enough gold-flashing fine flakies that it ends up reading as more red than pink. At angles that the gold’s more muted, though, it definitely looks pink. Either way, the bright color, sheer-learning base, and the dense iridescent flakies combine for nice depth and juiciness. 🙂

Formula is good and dries on the fast side of average. It was durable, too, and didn’t have major chips until maybe five or six days in. No staining (with my usual base coat), either! Thumbs up.

Julep February 2017 (Cozy in Love) Custom Maven Box (with promo code!)

Late post, but no biggie, since it’s another custom with previous releases. This month’s box was a birthday gift to my mom, with some of my recent Julep favorites.

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This month’s quote: “Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.” – Elinor Glyn, a British author who, according to Wikipedia, “specialised in romantic fiction that was considered scandalous for its time.” 🙂

  • No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel ($28 regular, $22.40 Maven), which I previously talked about in September 2016 – I love it because it’s lightweight and dries smooth and matte;
  • Boost Your Radiance Reparative Rosehip Seed Facial Oil ($36 regular, $28.80 Maven), which I tried and enjoyed when it came out last month – I love the delicious bergamot scent, which always reminds me of Earl Grey tea; and
  • a sample of Love Your Bare Face Hydrating Cleansing Oil, this month’s freebie from Julep, which was unexpected but also a favorite Julep product of mine because it gently and easily removes makeup without stripping skin oils or irritating my sensitive skin.

The promo code that came with this box is POLISHLOVE for a free polish  with a $10+ purchase at Julep’s website.

I hope she likes them – sometimes it’s hard to tell!

Sonnetarium Strawberry Smoothie, Banana Pudding & Cucumber Salad

I bought these three minis from a blog sale some years ago and somehow never got around to swatching them! These are three colors from Sonnetarium‘s Fresh collection from 2013 – Strawberry Smoothie, Banana Pudding, and Cucumber Salad. They’re as yummy-looking as they sound, and there are two additional colors, Blueberry Yogurt and Raspberry Sorbet, that I wasn’t able to track down at the time. (Someday!)

I feel so hungry just typing out those polish names. All of these are milky jellies (ugh, that sounds yummy, too), so they’re pretty sheer, but they all create that lovely, squishy, sugary jelly-sandwich look in three thin coats!

Strawberry Smoothie is a light pink jelly liberally dusted with fine white, red, and pink glitters – plus some holo ones, too, if I’m not mistaken. Yum! It’s got the densest glitter of the three. This one was also the most challenging to apply of the three, since it’s got the densest glitter and is sometimes a little clumpy. It’s also chipping pretty noticeably on day five of this manicure.

Cucumber Salad reminds me more of mint than cucumber, but it’s a lovely shade of blue-tinged green with a speckling of white and dark green glitters. This one was easiest to apply and is holding up beautifully at five days.

Banana Pudding is a pale yellow with white and yellow glitters. This one was had the least even application, but it dried the smoothest and had the glassiest finish. It’s starting to lift a bit at the edges but has only chipped minimally after five days, even on my heavily used thumb.

All three have thin formulas that require at least three coats for some semblance of coverage, but they dry fast! No glitter placement necessary for these, either. They self-distribute perfectly.

I love how tasty these polishes look and hope to someday find Blueberry Yogurt, which was my actual favorite of that collection, but which sold out before I even knew about it. Again, someday! 🙂

Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment (Take a Breather)

After that gel manicure in October 2016, somehow, my nails were just not as robust as usual. I know gel manicures aren’t supposed to really damage your nails, and maybe it was just the soak needed to remove the gel polish, but it definitely did a number on mine.

To try to combat the sudden peeling nails, I decided to try just using Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment ($18 regular, $14.40 Maven) for a few weeks. Julep calls it Take a Breather now, but I got mine before Julep rebranded everything. This is the original color, which is now called Sheer Pink, since there’s also other colors available:

This is a nail treatment and not meant to really provide much color, but the sheer pink tint seems to even out nail color and make it look brighter and cleaner. I only applied one coat, no base or top coat, and left it as-is for about a week each time. Then I’d take it off with a little of my home-brewed nail polish remover (just pure acetone with a tiny bit of distilled water and glycerin – I’ll make a note to share my recipe later!), wash my hands with soap, let them dry, and reapply one coat.

The good: The nail treatment seemed to be pretty durable and lasted almost a week. It’d start chipping after about five days, though, which is pretty average for me and polishes, but it seemed to hold up pretty well and glued together the separated nail layers nicely. The peeling parts were almost invisible while it was on. Easy to apply and dries fast, too.

The neutral or less good: I realize this is highly dependent on each person’s nails/nail chemistry, so I don’t hold it against the product itself, but it did seem to make my nails more brittle, unfortunately. After a couple weeks, I noticed chunks of the nail tips chipping off from just everyday activities, nothing rough. The brittleness got a tad worse in the third week, so I stopped using the treatment. My nails are naturally on the sturdy/hard (rather than flexible) side, and my skin and nails tend to be dry, so I guess I’m not surprised that I’ve been less compatible with the strengthening/hardening treatments I’ve tried. I think I might need something that encourages more flexibility instead. This treatment might work better for someone with softer or more flexible nails, though!

Overall, I like Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment and will probably still wear it sometimes when I feel like taking a break from nail polish, but I’ll probably have to restrict wearing it to one week or less at a time. I’ve heard good things about OPI Nail Envy but haven’t tried it yet. Do any of you have recommendations for me?