Month: September 2012

My Julep Maven intro box arrived! Swatches + reviews (photo heavy)

My Julep Maven intro box arrived yesterday afternoon, and I’m so very excited to share it with you!

Before I get to the swatches, let me tell you a little bit about Julep and why I was so hyped up about this box. Julep Maven is a subscription beauty box service from the Julep nail brand, based in Seattle, Washington. Like most beauty box services, you take a style quiz and then receive a box each month tailored to your style profile.

Julep Maven costs $19.99 per month, for which you receive $40 worth of Julep polishes and other goodies. The really cool thing about their program is that you can view each month’s box a week before it ships, then elect to skip a month or choose goodies from another style profile if you don’t like the box they’ve put together for you.

I was really excited when I heard about Julep Maven because I’m a nail polish addict and I love, love, love the “skip” feature. On top of that, Julep Mavens receive new colors in their boxes that aren’t yet available for purchase; they receive 20% off and free shipping on all regular orders; and you can earn freebies by referring your friends.

The Julep polishes come in a variety of fashion-forward colors and are all four-free, which means they’re free of Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde Resin. They’re also cruelty-free and Julep donates a portion of all of their profits to charities benefiting women.

The final really impressive piece that sold me on trying this service? They’re currently offering promo codes that let you receive your intro box for just $0.01! Yes, it’s true. Here’s my referral link to their site: (you don’t have to use it, but I’d be thrilled if you did!).  At checkout, use one of these codes: “TWITTER1”, “COLOR2012”, or “PENNY” (at the time of this writing, all three codes were still valid). There’s absolutely no obligation–if you don’t like your intro box or just don’t want to shell out that much each month, skip away or cancel anytime.

With all of this awesomeness, I had to try Julep Maven. I signed up last week and was so thrilled to see my box arrive so promptly! Without further ado, let’s get down to my review.


My Julep box was small enough to fit in my mailbox, which made me very happy. I don’t like it when the postal service leaves packages sitting out on the doorstep, especially when the weather turns bad.

The box includes pretty pink tissue paper, a welcome card, and a style profile card (my style is “Boho Glam”). I really like the design of the packaging–it’s pretty without being frilly.

Inside is this pretty reusable bag. I really appreciate that Julep is trying to stay eco-friendly by not packing their boxes full of things that people can’t reuse or recycle. This bag is the perfect size for stowing a pair of shoes in my suitcase when I travel so they won’t dirty my clothes!

The back of the bag has this inspirational reminder:

Here are some detail shots of the cute printing around the inside edge of the bag, listing the five style profiles…

…and the recycling reminder on the bottom of the bag.

Inside: Products: The Best Pedi Creme Ever!

I haven’t tried the pedi creme yet because I’m currently testing another product on my feet and don’t want the two to overlap! But I can say that it smells lovely. The creme is supposed to exfoliate, hydrate, and nourish with a blend of essential oils and natural ingredients, including shea and cocoa butters; almond, macadamia, grape seed and coconut oils; and extracts of grape seed, sage, and lavender.

This is a full-size bottle which typically retails for $22. Personally I think that’s awfully high for a pedi creme, but I suppose I’ll just have to try it first and see. (With my Maven discount, it would be $17.60, which is a little better.) I’ll post a review of this in the next week or so, once I’ve had a chance to try it out.

Nail Polishes–Julep Nail Polish in Sasha (coral) and Toni (lavender gray)

For my Boho Glam style profile, I received these two full-size polishes. They come in these cute lip gloss-style bottles. Each bottle is 0.27 fl oz and typically retails for $14 ($11.20 with the Maven discount). 
I’ve read lots of complaints about the Julep bottles being so oddly shaped. I personally think they’re really chic looking and they’ll be easy to organize in my tiny, crammed cosmetics case. But it is a bit difficult to keep the bottle from tipping over while you’re dipping the brush in and out. I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker, you just have to be careful and set the bottle on a level, sturdy surface.
As for the brush, it’s not super-skinny or super-wide; it’s very middling and has a nice flat, solid shape. If you’re used to cheap brushes, you’ll love this one; I know I did. 

The color is very creamy and covers easily in two coats, which makes me very happy–the bottles will last longer and I won’t have to wait as long for my mani/pedi to dry! But that brings me to the one thing I didn’t like about this polish: it seems like it takes a long time to dry. I’m not sure why this is–maybe because it’s four-free?–but I’m impatient, so this is my big huge major gripe for the product.

However, once it dries, it’s extremely shiny. Seriously, I can’t stop looking at my nails even as I type! I can’t say how chip-resistant it will be, but for now, I’m happy!

Julep Nail Polish in Sasha

When my package initially arrived, I began second-guessing my choices. This polish looked more orange when I first looked at it, and I was thinking maybe it just wouldn’t be right for me.

Wrong! Sasha is the perfect coral: not too bright, not too light, not too pink, not too orange. I’m a bit of a cosmetics cheapskate and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I would happily pay full price for this polish. It’s easily one of the most wearable shades I’ve ever bought and I think it could be worn anywhere: to the beach, to dinner, even to a wedding. It’s definitely going to be one of my go-to polish shades all year round and I’ll be repurchasing it as soon as it runs low.

Julep Nail Polish in Toni

I’m really on the fence about this shade. I thought it was more gray in the bottle, but it’s actually really purple. I would call it a dirty lavender shade.

Toni is a beautiful shade and very unique–I can’t say I’ve found anything like her yet. I love how the purple comes out in the light, and yet it can look more gray at times. I think this color is also pretty versatile and very chic.

The problem is, I’m just not a purple person; in fact, I kind of avoid the color. So while I really adore the shade and am very impressed with the fashion-y hue, I don’t know that I would buy it again for myself. I am very happy that I got it in my bag, though, because as I said it’s a very different sort of color and I really think Julep nailed the mix of gray and purple.

Overall I’m very happy with my intro box and will definitely stay signed up for the service; why not, when you have the option to skip any months you’re not interested in? I will have to see how chip-free these polishes turn out to be over the course of the week, but for now I have to say that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with these polishes.

$14 seems like an expensive polish, but once I used them I realized that they really are superior to the cheapie drugstore brands I’ve favored for years. I wouldn’t splurge on these all the time, but they’re definitely worth every penny as a special treat. The formula, the colors, everything is so perfect and lovely and I’m so happy to have signed up! I can’t wait to see the boxes that roll out over the winter season, and I’ll be sure to share each and every one that I receive with all of you.

New deal: free five-piece intro kit from indie mineral makeup company Minerals By Bee

Here’s an exciting new offer I stumbled upon thanks to he lovely beauty blogger ChicaChew. Minerals By Bee is an indie mineral makeup company based out of Iowa that offers natural mineral makeup and body products. Currently, they’re offering new customers a chance to try their products for FREE with a five-piece introductory sampler kit; all you have to pay is the shipping!

Here’s what you get in your order:

  1. Fruit Enzyme peel:  mint green, crème textured peel exfoliates without granules or abrasives. Combined proteolytic enzymes and salicylic acid soften the skin and dissolve excess buildup. Special blend of essential oils support circulation and purification. 
  2. Fine Polish Facial Beads:  an effective, but gentle creamy scrub which contains rice bran to absorb oil, along with salicylic acid and papain to exfoliate.
  3. Sugar Smoothie Body Creme:  blended with sugar cane extract, Mango and Shea nut butter to leave the skin smooth and twinkling with a subtle glow.
  4. Shimmer eye shadow: 100% mineral perfect for sensitive skin.
  5. 2ml (0.07oz) perfume sample:  long lasting fragrance with NO alcohol, contains 30% pure perfume oil in a silk base with aloe and vitamin E.

I placed an order and only had to pay $3.50 for shipping, which doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all. I have no idea if the kit will contain any full-size items or all sample sizes; it typically sells for $5 according to the website, so I’m guessing that these will probably all be single-use sample sizes.

Here’s the link to go to the offer. It did say on the website that all orders were on back order–apparently the site has been crushed by the amount of traffic it’s gotten since posting the offer, so I’m not sure how long it will take to ship out (though I did already get the confirmation and receipt e-mails).

Cute Shoe Monday: military-inspired heeled booties

How awesome are these heeled booties? I just picked these up and cannot wait to rock them with everything from dresses to jeans. I love the olive-brown color–it’s basic and yet not at the same time. I could see these with skinny jeans, a tee, and a cozy scarf; or with scrunched-down socks and lots of layers to make a summer dress more autumn-appropriate.

Studded Suedette Ankle Boots, $32.80, Forever 21

My Urban Decay order arrived! Lipstick swatches + mini reviews (photo heavy)

My Urban Decay order arrived, and I’m so happy with it! This was my first time ordering from them, and I was super-impressed with the speedy delivery–I placed my order on Sunday, and the box actually showed up on Thursday.

Can I just note that this box was stuffed to the brim with padding? Very nice. I get really irritated when I order something and it arrives poorly packed and poorly padded.

Since there are so many pictures in this post I’m going to insert a post break and let you keep reading after the jump!


Five hot nail colors to fall for this season

I love nail polish and I love  updating my polish “wardrobe” when the seasons change. Here are five hot nail colors to fall for this season, depending on your usual polish pick:

1. Blackberry wine is hot this year, and is a great update if you love vampy red polish. Zoya Nail Polish in Toni, $8,

2. More of a trendsetter? Emerald green is the natural successor to summer’s run of mint greens. Julep Nail Color in Hoch, $14,

3. If you love the girliest of pinks, do something a little different–but still glam–with a gold mani. Wet n Wild Fergie Nail Color in Grammy Gold, $3.49,

4. Prefer a nude shade so nothing clashes? Go a little more edgy with a shade of gray–it’s still a neutral. Sonia Kashuk Nail Color in Dime A Dozen, $4.79,

5. Black is so last season. This fall, blues are almost black (but not quite) and flecked with shimmer for a totally non-goth look. Zoya Nail Polish in Ibiza, $8,

Get the Look: Gwyneth Paltrow on the October cover of InStyle

Woo-hoo! My first issue of InStyle magazine just arrived in the mail this week, and look who’s on the cover: Gwyneth Paltrow, actress, singer, mom-of-two and wife to Chris Martin (aka singer for one of my favorite bands ever).

Gwyn’s rocking on-trend purple in a daring design–a jumpsuit–paired with some chunky bracelets. Here’s how you can get her look for less:

1. Lacquered Square Bracelet, $7.80, Forever 21
2. Bold Colorblocked Triangle Bracelet, $12.80, Forever 21
3. Etched Pyramid Bracelet, $9.80, Forever 21
4. Pyramid Pattern Bracelet, $6.80, Forever 21
5. Break It Down Backless Purple Jumpsuit, $47, Lulu’s

My eight favorite pieces from the new Lana Del Rey H&M collection

The new H&M fall/winter collection starring Lana Del Rey is finally here, and I’m obsessed! I think it’s safe to say that I would wear almost every single item in this 46-piece collection, but since that’s obviously not feasible, I thought I’d highlight my eight personal favorites!

1. The long white coat with faux-fur trim. I love everything about this piece, from the faux-fur detail to the asymmetrical zippers. If I had to buy just one piece from the entire collection, it would probably be this one! Coat, $49.95.

2. Everything Lana is wearing in this picture below is awesome. The metallic boucle moto jacket is such a hip fusion of business and party and I could see dressing it up or down. Jacket, $29.95.
3. A peplum top? Yes, please, when it’s this pretty. Blouse, $17.95.
4. How about that fuzzy white miniskirt? It would be my party-worthy fun buy for the season. Skirt, $34.95.

5. I love this twist on traditional shift dresses; I think you could make it very ladylike or very femme fatale, depending on what you added to the outfit. This one has a tweedy texture with faux-leather detail. Dress, $19.95.
6. This sweater is another not-so-basic basic; it’s a cable-knit sweater, but the peachy hue and slouchy fit make it very modern at the same time. Sweater, $19.95.

7. Okay, what would a collection be without some shoe candy? I think these burgundy pumps could be your jewel-toned go-to party shoe for the rest of the season. Shoes, $49.95.
8. Remember when I said that every girl needs a pair of nude pumps? Well, here’s that pair. Shoes, $34.95.

Unfortunately for me they STILL haven’t opened an H&M store in my town–one has been under construction in the mall for the better part of the summer, and last I heard it was due to open this fall, but I haven’t heard a firm date. I’m hoping it opens up by the end of the month and will stock this full collection, because I just can’t wait to see these pieces in person!