Saturday, April 5, 2014

Julep April 2014 Review

Anyone who takes careful inventory of my color choices 1. should consider what they are wasting brain space on and 2. is probably not surprised that I choice to upgrade my Julep box this month. The theme of this box is literally called "the Vivids Collection". This nail polish collection is my nail polish soulmate.

A note for the purposes of transparency: As is my way, I did not actually spend real money on this box. I paid for it with points and definitely would not have upgraded to such an absurd extent (a traditional Julep box is $19.99 and this upgrade would have cost $74.99 if I'd paid for it out of pocket) under different circumstances. As it is, though, COME TO ME, SWEET BRIGHT COLORS.

Here's what I got:

There was candy, but it looked like that creepy no-name candy that comes in jars at terrible restaurants and looks like it has been there since the mid-1990s, so I didn't eat it. I probably will eat it one day when I am really hungry. Let us pray for the sake of my future self that this is not a mistake.

Nail Polish

The nail polish is BRIGHT AS FUCK:

The colors are:

Maren (It Girl): An iridescent bubblegum pink with flickers of electric blue.

Caitlin (Classic With a Twist): A highlighter pink.

Flora (It Girl): A shimmery fuchsia. The nail polish version of Urban Decay's Fishnet.

Kayla (Bombshell): Julep's description calls this an "electric iris"... and that's perfect. It's got a pink-leaning iridescence, as well.

Bailey (It Girl): A cobalt blue.

Phoebe (Boho Glam): A metallic, saturated, green-leaning teal.

Tatum (Bombshell): A metallic chartreuse.

Sunny (Boho Glam): A shimmery yellow chrome. The nail polish version of Sugarpill's Elektrocute in Hi-Viz.

Mariska (Classic With a Twist): A shimmery highlighter orange. Also, despite the name, it does not remind me of Law and Order SVU at all.

Here's how Caitlin, Flora, Kayla, Bailey, and Phoebe look on my nails all at the same time:

Sorry, nail polish lovers. Cuticles something something TOO COMPLICATED.

Face Stuff

Glow Pore-Minimizing Blush

My upgrade also came with blush and a bronzer. I was particularly intrigued about the blush, since I love blushes and Julep makeup is a little hit-or-miss. There were two blushes available this month. I chose Peach Bellini (the other color was called Petal Pink).

Like all Julep packaging, it's pretty bland. There's a mirror. It's got the shit you need.

The texture is really soft and smooth. Impressively so, in fact. It feels like what I would imagine pressed powdered sugar to be.

The color is also great, especially on fair skin, since it's not ridiculously pigmented (some people love blush pigmentation, but, to me, a too-pigmented blush is a serious flaw). It's a light, peachy blush with just a hint of sparkle in it. On significantly darker skin, I suspect it would be too light to really show up.

This is a terrible swatch. It was sunny and the sun confuses me. 
I actually got a request to do a Beauty Bullshit post on this blush, since Julep is making all kinds of AWFUL FUCKING CLAIMS about it. On their blog, they say, "Inclusion of diamond powder in our Glow formulas exfoliates the very top layer of skin ever-so-slightly, giving the beneficial vitamins and minerals a clear path to absorption. Yay, science!" (The "yay science" at the end for what is clearly unscientific crap makes me want to poke someone's eyes out.)

So, facts: diamonds can be used for exfoliation. That is true. But there's nothing special about exfoliation done with diamonds as opposed to any other physical exfoliator. It's just exfoliating by being rough on your skin. Diamonds are only used because they are expensive and make people feel fancy. Remember how I said that this blush is almost absurdly smooth? This is not doing any physical exfoliation. Guaranteed. I also checked on whether or not exfoliation has any effect on the way that the body handles vitamins and I couldn't find any studies on the topic whatsoever.

The blush is totally nice. I like the blush. I just wish they would advertise it based on reality.

The blush, sized at 0.25oz, is retailing for $24 for non-subscribers and $19.20 for subscribers. That's $96 per ounce and $76.80 per ounce, respectively, which is relatively inexpensive.

Glow Pore-Minimizing Bronzer

I also got a bronzer, which I wouldn't have picked out for myself, but I wanted all the other shit in the upgrade, so it tagged along for a ride. Again, there were two colors available. I chose Light Golden Bronze with the hope that the emphasis would be on the "light". (The other color was called Medium Tan.)

For some reason, even though the blush and the bronzer are almost exactly the same size (0.25 and 0.26oz, respectively), they put the bronzer is different packaging. While the blush mirror stays upright, the bronzer mirror opens all the way back. The bronzer pan shape is also longer and larger.

This bronzer also has the same nice, smooth texture, but I think that the problem with this texture is more evident for this product. Because it is so soft, I ended up with a product that had lots of little dings and nicks. I don't particularly care, but I can definitely imagine this being a bummer for some people.

I would probably call this a medium cocoa-y brown. On me, it runs orange, but all bronzers run orange on me, so that's a little meaningless.

I decided to swatch this next to a couple of other bronzers to give you a sense of how dark it is.

From left to right, you have Benefit's Hoola, Pixi Subtlety Suntouched (my favorite bronzer), Julep Light Golden, and NYC Sunny.

I think that this bronzer is very similar to Benefit's Hoola. It's very slightly less orange and it's shimmery. So, if you are looking for a shimmery clone of Hoola, this might work for you.

Julep's 0.26oz Glow Pore-Minizing Bronzer retails for $28 for non-subscribers and $22.40 for subscribers. That is $107.69 per ounce and $86.15 per ounce, respectively.

Here's how both Julep's Blush in Peach Bellini and their bronzer in Light Golden Bronze look on my face:

The blush is on the apples of my cheeks and the bronzer is very lightly applied on my cheekbones.


Finally, I got two brushes in this box: one blush brush and one bronzer brush. They are synthetic, duo fiber brushes that are very dense. The blush brush is angled and the bronzer brush is tulip-shaped.

The blush brush in particular is terrible with its compatriot product. The soft blush is completely SHREDDED by the blush brush, and then the bristles of the blush brush somehow manage to completely repel the product. The product description says it is "designed for specific use with Glow Blush", but I can't imagine that this is true, because they are so bad together.

I've had this stuff for a few days, so I've used 1. the blush and blush brush together (tragedy), 2. the blush with my usual Ecotools blush brush (nice) and 3. the blush brush with a non-Julep brush. I found that the Julep blush brush is nice if you are using a blush that is just too pigmented for you. It doesn't shred other non-powdered sugar-y blushes, but it does mute their pigment. If you are someone who is very fair and you have a lot of problems with over-pigmented blushes, you might like this as an anti-clown assurance tool. For everyone else, though, I'd probably skip this brush. It's expensive ($24 for non-subscribers/$22.40 for subscribers) and there is really nothing to recommend it over another blush brush. It is very soft, though.

I haven't played quite as much with the tulip-shaped bronzer brush because I don't typically use tulip-shaped brushes. I also don't think there's a whole lot of consensus about what the point of a tulip-shaped brush is, since I've seen them used as blush brushes (Real Techniques), all-over brushes (Sigma) and contour brushes (Sedona Lace). I have a sneaking suspicion that Julep only chose a tulip shape so that they could make rhymes behind closed doors.

I tried this brush with the bronzer and had literally no feelings about it. I'm not sure if it also muted the bronzer color, since the bronzer is so dark on me anyways. Since then, I've used it as a face brush a few times and, again, felt much. I definitely wouldn't buy this, but, since I have it, I'll use it.

Overall, I'm relatively happy. If I went back in time, I would have still ordered all of the nail polishes, but I would have added on the blush, instead of getting the whole collection, since I didn't really like the brushes, and the bronzer (like many bronzers) doesn't suit me at all.

If you are interested in joining Julep, you are always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here. The code "FREEBOX" gets you your first box for freeeeeee!


  1. I really like the blush. I got the Pink Petal one and it is nice and pigmented and lovely but OH GOD IT SMELLS SO GOOD WHEN YOU PUT IT ON. I checked out the ingredients, and there's a bit of Hibiscus or Hibiscus-related stuff in it, so that could be why?

    Also I feel like I need a new blush brush just for it. You're right about the shredding.

    1. You must have a better nose than I do! The smell on mine is pretty faint!

      I like my Ecotools blush brush, which has the added bonus of being really cheap.

    2. I got the Peach one and to me it smells kind of soapy, and a bit stronger than I want my face products to smell. It looks very pretty, though.

      And based on this review, I am super glad I skipped the brushes. I got the two-parter they released with the DD cream when it was marked down a lot and got truly horrifying results using it with my well-loved Tarte foundation, which is why I gave them a miss.

      I <3 Kayla but wish it was not quite so sheer.

  2. Ugh, the "yay, science!" phrase makes me cringe. Not only because of the cutesy patronizing tone, but also because any chemical compound or biological process or, like, anything in the world can be described as "science." That doesn't make it good or effective. Yeesh.

    That manicure is beautiful, however. I love the blurred watercolor effect of the dots.

    1. Thank you! I do not commonly get manicure comments...

  3. I think this has to be my favorite nail art look of yours yet! Loving it. And I know I told you this already, but your hair looks fabulous with that curly princess 'do! Too bad about the brushes. The blush is a lovely color but I usually dislike extremely soft blushers because they tend not to last as long on me as harder presses. But when you're as fair-toned and blush-addcted as we are, you tend to develop very specific tastes haha.

    Loving the look you did. Very natural and put together. Your skin looks luminous.

    1. Thanks! Must have been luck that day. My hair doesn't naturally wave well unless it is short... which it is definitely NOT right now.

  4. I ended up liking the brush, even with the Julep blush and my other cray soft blushes, I just have to use the ole' tappa tappa on it. Light press into the product (tappa 1) and then a single, decisive tap against the edge of the mirror (tappa 2). It doesn't shred the blush into a tiny pink tornado (hard-femme) but grabs enough so I can then press it onto my cheeks. Then blendies.

    I think for the most part the brush was designed with blendies in mind, and they didn't really consider the two other things a brush needs to do -grab and deposit product.

    Still, I am more disappointed in the blush than I am the brush. I can do many things, even with a mediocre brush, but the 20+ dollah blush that ended up looking the same as any other blush will only ever be one boring shade upon my cheeks. That or maybe Hourglass blushes have ruined me for blushes.

    1. Eh, I think the blush is pretty! It's also MUCH cheaper, ounce per ounce, than Hourglass, so I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. The Hourglass blush is way prettier, but it costs two and a half times more, ounce per ounce!

  5. Gorgeous manicure! The polish colours are awesome - especially that 'electric iris.' This makes me want to go and put some bright polish on... hmm...

    If only I were not in the lab, using copious quantities of organic solvents...I mean, you do your best to not get it on yourself at all, but it certainly does nothing for your nail polish!

  6. I have nothing useful to add, other than the fact that I am super jealous of the variety and quality of sample boxes you guys get overseas. I've had a look at the ones here in New Zealand and they're mostly just full of cheap crap.

    Ugh at the "yay science" also. I went to the Green Expo today and while there was a lot of good stuff (eg environmentally sustainable housing, some nice skincare products, yummy food) there was also a heap of pseudoscience. Yay ion-cleansing foot baths, alkalising water filters, chiropractors, the anti-fluoride brigade... NOT.

    1. Ugh, frustrating. There is no fluoride in the water here, which is a total bummer.

    2. Okay, I know that this is a beauty blog and not a health blog, but what is everyone's problem with chiropractors? I thought that had been Proven Cool for decades, what with health insurance covering it and all. No?

    3. Googled my own question! I think I get it now? It started out a hundred years ago making insane claims and steeped in fundamentalism, some modern-day chiropractors still pull that shit, others use x-rays and MRIs to do actual shit - and it's very poorly studied, possibly because actual medical experts who are familiar with it tend toward "it's doing something for sure, but I don't know what!"

      My phone app isn't letting me paste in here for some reason, but the Straight Dope has a pretty good summary of the whole thing. All I care about is whether it helps me on a physical therapy kind of level - I didn't know about its kooky background. This is amusing me though because the only other person I've heard dismiss chiropractic was my sister in law, who has a tendency to scoff at things combined with a tendency to avoid conflict, so she explained nothing when it came up. Now I see what she must have thought.I was saying I believed in... I guess!

  7. I tried the candy (for a second). Your assessment is correct. Throw it away.

    I also got Peach Bellini and LOVE it. I tried it with my crappy e.l.f. stippling brush and it went on beautifully.

    1. Thank you for sacrificing your mouth for the cause. ;)

  8. The polish colors are really good! I am definitely proper in love with the vibrant iris shade. I think it's safe to say your summer nail polish collection just a lot better, the colors are all so vivid, bright, and almost neon! I've never tried Julep, now I'm slightly intrigued, although I don't know about their makeup...

    1. Their makeup is definitely hit or miss. They have great stuff, terrible stuff, and in between stuff. (Like any company, really... we just happen to get sent a lot of it.)

  9. I understand. I would want all of those polishes. Everything else is gravy, except for perhaps the crap candy.

  10. Now I'm sadder that I couldn't afford this box, because those nail polish colors are so pretty :( The rest is crap to me though, ha ha. Except for the candy. I always like candy.

    1. You can probably find some great brights at the drugstore right now, if you're not willing to shell out the dough for a subscription!

  11. The candy tastes like cough drops. Do yourself a favor and toss them.

    1. Ew! Thanks for letting me know.

  12. I love, love Sunny. I've never worn a yellow nail polish before and maybe I should have tried one before. I think the chrome look they have on their polishes are just really pretty on my skin tone, maybe?

    I haven't tried the other colors (I got the two pinks, two greens, and yellow only), so I'll have to see, but so far I'm really pleased.

    1. That's one of the ones I haven't opened yet! Thanks for letting me know your opinion.

  13. I got this whole collection too. I have to say, some of your photos look a bit off in color. Kayla and Bailey look almost exactly alike in your photos. Kayla is much, lighter, sheerer, more purple than Bailey. Otherwise, a good review. The candy was gross, I agree.

  14. I've been lurking your blog for a bit, ever since I saw someone mention your blog on /r/MakeupAddiction. Anyways! I see you get a lot of julep polishes and seem to love them, but I had a question about how they last. I'll start out by saying how stupid my nails are. I will paint them at 5 pm and by 9pm they are horribly chipped. You would think I smacked my hands against the wall for the 4 hours.. but I also have to say I've only used drug store polishes. The only thing that has worked for me is gel.. and even then I have to touch up at least one nail if I wear it all day. So.. how long do these last? I love the colors!

    1. I've had similar problems with polish and I just this week realized that it's NOT the polishes, it's not my body chemistry, IT'S MY NAILS. I didn't realize how weak they were, because I had no idea what was considered weak. But I finally figured out that if they bend when I press on them, then they're going to bend when I do other stuff with my hands, and it's going to crack the polish until it starts chipping off.

      No wonder it always chips off the tips first -- even polishes that are really long-lasting will chip off the tips of my nails after a day or two, even though they stick around on my pinkies (which I guess hardly get any action) and sometimes my thumbnails (which bend less) for a week or more if I let them.

      I have heard that the vitamins they give to pregnant people are great for hair and nails, so I'm going to research some and try them. I tried one of those nail strengthening topcoats but it doesn't seem to have made a difference in wear time - it makes them a little stronger (only while it's on my nails tho) but not enough. My suspicion is that I'm not eating enough fruits and vegetables, or that that's at least part of the problem, because a preliminary glance at pills for this stuff is real heavy on vitamins A, B, and C, and seemed like it just went on to tell me more about vitamins I'm not getting!

      Oh, and the two-day wear time is only with copious amounts of base and top coat -- before, I was getting chips on the first day too.

    2. Yes! My pinkies are always the ones that stay the longest/ grow the longest. My nails are pretty flimsy too and after they get a certain length they break off on their own. I'll definitely try that with the vitamins! I've just always thought it was cheap polishes but you're probably right. Thank you :D I want to be able to wear nail polishes so bad.. but I never buy them anymore because they just make me mad.

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