Julep Maven: First impressions

I had the loveliest surprise waiting for me when I got home yesterday:
My first Julep Maven shipment!
What’s Julep? Well, according to their website:

We are a hand, nail and foot care brand with four boutique nail parlors in the Seattle area. Founded on the belief that beauty is a connection, not a competition, Julep was created to celebrate the bond between girlfriends and the beauty of the human spirit. We have created a line of the most effective, toxin-free “Mani & Pedi Care” products and the latest runway-inspired nail colors.

The Julep Maven program is sort of like Birchbox, but strictly for Julep products:

We launched our new Julep Maven program to give all of our girlfriends access to the beauty editor Sneak Peek Box we create every month.  As a Julep Maven, you will have access to the hottest trends in nail color and the latest Mani Care and Pedi Care products – delivered right to your doorstep, just like the beauty editors do.  And you’ll have access to these trends and products before anyone else.

Essentially, for $19.99 a month, you get a package with a selection of Julep products based on the results of your personal style quiz. I signed up a couple of weeks ago (my personal style is “classic with a twist”), and my first shipment arrived last night. Inside the black shipping box was this cute gift bag:

I’m a sucker for packaging. And Julep started off strong on that front. Along with a welcome letter (with my name filled in by hand! I did a smear test!) and an explanation of my Maven benefits, I found a card listing the contents of my box:

Inside the bag I found more cute packaging. Like Birchbox, Julep appears to favor pink tissue paper and custom seals:

My first Maven shipment included a 3 oz. tube of “Facial for Hands” Glycolic Hand Scrub, two polishes, a base coat, and samples of the hand scrub and Julep’s SPF 30 hand cream.

The hand scrub contains extracts of grapeseed, sage leaf and lavender, orange oil, and apricot seed powder. It’s nice and scrubby-feeling, but not at all harsh. The tube claims it’s “gentle enough to be used every time you wash your hands,” and while I don’t know that I’d want to use a scrub every single time I wash my hands (I wash my hands a lot, which is probably how I ended up with the nasty case of wedding ring rash I’m still treating), I can definitely see using this once a day. My hands still felt spectacular two hours after I scrubbed.

On to the polishes. As a “classic with a twist,” I received the “darling pink” Reese, a bright rosepetal creme. I found Reese a surprising selection for fall, especially after applying it to my toes. (I apologize for no toe shots, but I read something once about foot fetishists stalking beauty blogs, and that just really weirds me out for some reason.) It’s a pretty color, but feels like much more appropriate for summer than autumn. I was surprised by the application; in the bottle, Reese looked like it might go on sheer, but it was even and opaque in two coats. I think it might have some potential for Konad stamping.

And then there is Alfre.

Oh, Alfre.

Alfre is a brand-new Julep shade for fall 2011. And it is spectacular. The Julep website describes Alfre as “royal metropolitan purple with a hint of shimmer.” In person, it looks purple in some lights and pewter in others.

I love it.

Here’s the beauty of the Maven program: I never would have picked this polish for myself. I don’t tend to gravitate toward metallic or shimmery polishes, and I absolutely would not have gambled $14 on Alfre. But I love the way this polish looks on my nails. It’s sort of a grown-up version of China Glaze Grape Juice meets Sephora by OPI Metro Chic. But better.

In terms of formula, both Alfre and Reese applied nicely. They’re liquidy but not thin, and once I got a feel for the consistency, they went on smoothly. I did get a couple of bubbles with Alfre, but I’m fairly certain that’s because I was painting in semi-darkness (we really need another light in the living room) and slapping it on a bit too thick. There are a few visible brush strokes if you look closely, but as you can see from the photos, they’re not obvious from more than a few inches away. Julep polishes are 3-free, and $1 of every sale goes to organizations that empower women.

When it comes to value, I’m very pleased with Maven based on this first shipment. Each of the two polishes I received retail for $14 on Julep.com, so right away I received $28 worth of polish for my $19.99. That doesn’t include the base coat, the scrub ($32), and shipping (included in the cost of membership). Plus, as a Maven subscriber, I get 20% off my Julep.com purchases (which will come in handy when I decide I can’t live without the “Catherine and Pippa” set). And Alaskans (and probably Hawaiians, too): Julep lives in the real world, with no ridiculous freak-state shipping penalties. Their standard shipping is U.S.P.S. Parcel Post. (Yes, I’m serious.) You’ll pay the same $19.99 everyone else pays.

Bottom line? I’m impressed, and I’m looking forward to more. I’ve loved the surprises of Birchbox every month, and based on this first month, I am very excited to see what the future brings with Julep Maven.


Note: The links in this post to sign up for Julep are personalized referral links. If you click through and sign up for Julep Maven, I get a credit to spend at Julep.com. If you sign up for Julep Maven, you can get your own referral code to share with friends and family.

2 thoughts

  1. I've been super happy with the Julep Maven program, too, and I agree: Alfre is an awesome color! Like you, I never would have gambled on it . . . but I wore it all last week and was so happy with it. It's chic and versatile enough to go with most of the things I wear, which is awesome.

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