Julep – a nail polish subscription


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I recently signed up for Julep Maven Nail Polish box and received my (FREE! – code is FREEBOX) Welcome Box this morning. If you’re not familiar with Julep, they are a nail polish subscription service, similar to that of a Birchbox or Ipsy however they focus on nail products. It is $24.99/mo, unless you pay in advance and you get a slight discount. You can choose to get other body care products in the box like cuticle oils, blushes and lip glosses as they also have an entire line of beauty products outside their trademark nail polish line. Personally, I’ve never tried any Julep products but have been interested in their polishes for some time so I bought a few more than just the three in the welcome box.

I first took the quiz to determine my “style profile” and got the It Girl, which is what I ended up ordering (you can change your box to one of the 5 other choices if you wanted to but this one has all nail polish, i.e. if you prefer the colors or products in another “style profile,” you may choose to receive that one instead). I received a very pretty muted blue called Margaret (at first glance seems very similar to Essie’s Bikini So Teeny but without shimmer), a soft green called Kam, and a muted orange polish called Princess Grace.  Bonus: Customers rate each color separately online so you have a pretty good idea if you’ll like something before you buy it based on reviews! Love that.

During the ordering process, you also have the option of including an ‘Extra’ which is simply adding one of their selected add on products, but for a discounted price. I chose the bright purple polish shade for $5 (usually $11-15 each, depending if you’re a member or not) that’s called Flora. It has a subtle blue sparkly shimmer which is barely visible in the bottle but very pretty. Julep describes it as an “…Exotic dragonfruit with blue shimmer.” How sub-equator of them.

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The last polish I got was called Abigail. I mean, it’s my name and I’m a sucker for those kinds of things as most girls probably are. They had an “Abbie” yellow shade but my name isn’t spelled that way so I passed on it. 😛  Not to mention yellow isn’t exactly a color I wear often. Abigail, though, is the most gorgeous highly shimmery champagne shade which Julep describes as “Light peony pink silk.” So since peonies are my favorite flower, this was literally made for me.

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Julep’s Abigail

I also got those two little square orange nail buffers in my box which definitely look like middle school erasers I’d keep in my Lisa Frank pencil box. They’re a perfect size for my purse though. Isn’t that something you never thought you’d need – a purse nail buffer.

All in all, my order came to a grand total of $19! Your first Maven box is free (value of $24.99) plus just one polish retails for $11-15, like I said, so I am very happy with my purchase overall. I just hope the quality is as good as the deal. If you feel like trying it out for yourself like I did, here’s my invite link; I think I just get “points” of some kind so it’s not like I get paid if you click it 😉    Join Julep via SFB Here


*Duh, a disclaimer: I am in not sponsored by brands in this post or was asked, compensated, or whathaveyous to write this. My opinions are definitely my own because I’m too stubborn to allow anyone to tell me what to say or do anyway.

Brand OCD: Philosophy

Before I get started, here’s a little pic from our recent weekend trip 🙂

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Ever since high school, I’ve been on the endless hunt for the perfect skincare routine to make my easily annoyed skin happy. I recently decided to try more of the Philosophy brand because so many people give their stuff raving reviews.

I’ve used Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple face wash. While I think it’s a nice gentle facial cleanser, I don’t think it’s anything spectacular. It does get eye makeup off rather easily, but none of that really wows me when I still use a eye makeup remover prior to washing anyway. My sister does love it and I’m sure it’s perfect for more drier skin types than my oil spill of a face.

I recently tried their Hope in a Jar Night cream. I have seen tons of hype around the product for years and didn’t think it was suited for my oily skin. I then got tired of all my night skincare moisturizer and decided to see if this product is worth it. In short, it is! The cream is thick and super-hydrating. It doesn’t break me out or make me oilier though I do use this at night, of course. I do feel like my skin is smoother to the touch and will be buying a full-size in the very near future.

When trying a new face or skin product, I usually combine it with my current product and use the new one in a small area to “test” it out before going full-face. I would totally rather break out/get irritated in a small portion (jawline) rather than all over my face. Does anyone else do this?!

I also love their Miracle Worker Retanoid Eye Repair Cream. It’s silicon-y and moisturizing and seemed to help with fine lines around my eyes. I am currently using something else, but will probably eventually re-buy this eye cream.

I have gotten a sample of the Philosophy Take a Deep Breath Energizing Moisturizer w/ SPF 30 (not the oil-free version) but haven’t tried it yet. It says to have caffeine to help detoxify and decongest the skin which is perfect for me to try on our upcoming Bermuda trip. If anyone has used this stuff, please let me know your thoughts on it & what kind of skin type you have! 🙂

 

BONUS PICTURES! I have been painting my nails all sortsa colors lately. Check em out below 🙂

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Essie in Mint Candy Apple

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Sally Hansen Xtreme in Pacific Blue & Sally Hansen Nail Stickers in Check It Out for the accent nail

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Essie DJ Play That Song and Color Club Nail Art Pen in Black (From May Birchbox, a sweet little kit is here) & Butter London glitter in West End Wonderland

My OOTD

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Chambray Shirt: Express (last season)

Tank: Target “Long and Lean” Tanks [*BONUS! They’re on sale for $5.40 right now]

Jeans: Express Extreme Stretch Leggings (not available anymore! wah!)

Shoes: Toms in Camo

*Please ignore my lovely garbage can. I can’t take a picture without that damned thing sneaking in! I need a better full-length mirror 😛

Top Nail Polishes of All Time

Herro!

Ok. NO secret here: I am a nail polish-aholic. In the hoarding type of way. It’s probably the most girly thing I publicly admit to doing. It’s also probably the prettiest “problem” to have.

I thought it would be helpful to post my HG nail polish colors/formulas and get others opinions on their favorites. Maybe you are here because you were all like, “Hey I need new nail colors but have no idea what are the good ones.” I am here to save the day!! Maybe not. Maybe I just try to pretend I’m a superhero. We all want to be one. I can be Mystique! Anyway…


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(Pictured are listed below, L-R)

1. Essie – Set in Stones. This gawgeous silver/gold glitter goes well and livens up any boring manicure. Sometimes I lust after nail art but my brain is waaay more ambitious than my body is willing to put up with. This nail polish somehow satisfies my nail art craving by just doing an accent nail. Crisis averted.

2. Essie – Mint Candy Apple. This cult fave is seriously the most beautiful shade of mint that it makes every Pinterest pinner like, die. Like, they can’t even. It’s what I’m currently wearing and what more testimony could you possibly need? P.S. It is definitely brighter than it seems in the bottle.

3. Essie – Bikini So Teeny. When this periwinkle blue shade came out about 2ish years ago, I wore it for 3 months straight – NO LIE. Anyone and everyone I knew had gotten addicted to this color (I like to think I had something to do with it). It’s my favorite to wear in the Summer. and Winter. and Spring. and on the beach. and at the park. and dog walking. I’ll stop.

4. Sally Hansen, Xtreme Wear – Pacific Blue. Let’s talk about my favorite shade of blue. Then make it a nail polish. Ok, here you go. ::grins::    The brush on this wittle baby is wide so you can coat the nail faster and the formula is creamy and opaque (which is apparently the adjectives that are going to seemingly apply to every single polish I mention in this post. Sorry but I’m not). Anyway, SH Pacific Blue is kind of a dupe for Essie’s Butler Please but I think Sally’s is a touch more pastel. I love it. ::cue singing “I don’t care, I love it” by Icona Pop::

5. Essie – Fiji. Easily my absolute favorite. It’s creamy, opaque, and an almost white-pink shade. It makes you look extra tan in the summer which is great because I’m see-through and it also looks good on absolutely everyone, even if you’re dark as the night. And therefore you make me jealous.

6. OPI – My Chihuahua Bites. This is an intense red-orange that is deep enough for the cold months and bright enough for the warm ones. It works on all skin tones and I was happily swayed at first to buy it due to the name. 🙂  If they marketed anything to me with Chihuahua in the name, I can’t say I wouldn’t buy it. I’m a marketer’s dream. I know.

7. Essie – Wicked. (not pictured) A deep, blood dripping down the neck red. Black-red. It’s sexy. Like you. You are the vampire with this color on your nails. Be the vampire. Add some Essie Set in Stones and you’ll be a sparkly vampire. [See wut I did thur?] Note: A color dupe for this color is L’Oreal Haute Couture Red which I blogged about here.

Honorable Mention: Essie – Dive Bar. This polish is a dark, black blue-green shade that looks freakin’ COOL on your nails. If you don’t like wearing black nail polish but like the look of dark nails, try this guy out. It reminds me of a mermaid or ocean. Mah brayn haz probz.

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Set in Stones, Mint Candy Apple, & Bikini So Teeny

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My Chihuahua Bites & Dive Bar

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Ok. I swear I’m not sponsored by anyone and especially not Essie although you really may be questioning me by all these mentions. I honestly just love Essie stuff/formulas/colors. I’m actually heading out to buy some of their Summer Neon line today. 😉

Also, my shopping tip! I usually order Essie & China Glaze nail polishes from Amazon. The prices are about $2+ cheaper than the stores and I love getting packages in the mail! 🙂

Thanks for reading/hanging out/bein’ a pal.

-SF

Brand OCD: Tarte

I’ve liked Tarte products for a number of years. After many months of BB, CC, CC+, -12%, wait… lets just say I’ve had my fill of fancy tinted moisturizers. I wanted to give another mineral foundation a try since my skin is oily and seems to do well with those types of products. I heard Arden (arose186 on YT) talk about how much she loves the Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation so I zeroed in on my next target. I settled on the lightest shade (fair honey) which has peach undertones. I thought I could get to work for my skin but it’s very sadly a little dark for me still. Once I get a bit more color during the summer I think it will work perfectly.

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The formula is definitely full coverage which surprised me. It doesn’t feel heavy on the skin though. I apply it using the Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush. It’s so dense, stubby and ermegerrd cute; it feels nice in the hand while working the product into your skin. I guess I didn’t need this brush but I really wanted to try the foundation with a super dense kabuki and it matched. So. You know how that goes.

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The wear of the foundation is pretty good. I still need to try it in the warmer summer months (a true test on my skin).  Overall, I’d give this product a 7.9/10.

 

I purchased the Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment. I needed a new eye cream and heard good things about this one. I really am always looking for a good preventative eye cream and one that brightens a bit. I remember loving a Vitamin-C product I got from Whole Foods a number of years back so I figured this one would fit my needs nicely, as the name suggests it’s vit-c infused. I also love love love that Tarte is paraben, sulfate and phthalate -free. That’s like, half it’s selling point in my opinion.

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The eye cream feels fresh, gentle, absorbs quickly and nicely into the skin. It’s thick enough so you feel like it’s definitely hydrating, doesn’t feel silicon-y and doesn’t burn my eyes/eye area. I’ve been using it nightly for about a month and just started using it in the day as well. I’ve never been the type to wear day eye cream but thought it might be a good habit to start forming. So far, I love it. I read some reviews on Sephora’s website that were glowing and then some that said they didn’t feel like this product did anything for their eyes. I guess I will wait to go through it to determine which side of the fence I finally fall on.

What’s your favorite Tarte product? I’m looking into trying the Lights Camera Lashes mascara possibly next!

Sketchfactor: Free Beauty Samples. Influenster. Free Stuffz.

Free stuff is nice but fake recommendations are uncool. You-can’t-sit-with-me-at-lunch uncool. I guess I need to state in this post that any product I say I like anywhere at all, I like it’s not because it was free or expensive but because it’s just friggin sweet.

That said, I’ve found this company called Influenster. It’s a website you sign up for membership or be invited by a friend. This company then periodically sends boxes of beauty & lifestyle sample(s) for you to try. You do not get products all the time nor are any promised at sign-up; they have specific rules about who gets what, based on your personal profile and lifestyle. I’ve actually gotten emails from them asking for further information regarding a potential sample and been turned down to participate due to my responses. I guess I can’t blame them. If the sample was chili pepper flavored lip gloss and I despise chilis, I’m not the right gal.

About a year ago when I had become a “member” of Influenster after a friends’ recommendation, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Truly, I get as excited when I receive an Influenster box in the mail the same as I do as if I ordered from Sephora. I just like getting packages. I am most pleasantly surprised by full sized, name brand products. Some are awesome new things, some things I don’t keep (i.e. nail polish in a terrible color). I happily fill out the -unrequired- little survey and hope that my testing helps improve the product {fyi, to date I have gotten 3 boxes in said time}. I love filling out forms and surveys. I am lame. Anyway. If the tester choses to share the product on social media, Influenster kindly reminds sample recipients to lawfully disclose that the product was provided by Influenster for sampling purposes, in case the person has forgotten how to be a decent human being.

There are products I’ve never even mentioned here (…or on my other internetz) that I absolutely love or even hate that I’ve gotten for free, and Influenster does not “punish” you or specifically praise you for doing either; I would never sign up to be a member of a sample company that made or guilted me into giving false positive reviews and I quite like that. I’m not one to tell my friends I like something when I really don’t, for the sake of getting a $3 eyeliner for free; it’s never worth it. And I’m a terrible liar.

I read/watch beauty bloggers and YouTubers who receive free samples to review and while I can appreciate the fact these beauty gurus promise the reviews are honest, I still wonder what the contractual obligations are, if any. I’m new to all of this beauty blogging and so I suppose I’m just inexperienced as far as samples and sponsorships go, but it weirds me out a bit. Usually viewers can figure out if the post/video is sponsored anyway so my opinion is just be upfront – don’t insult me and take your viewing audience for stupid. I love trying new stuff as much as the next product junkie, but I’m not interested in being dishonest for money. For some reason that makes me think of mobsters. I’d be a beauty mobster. I’d have a tv documentary after my stint in jail. I’d smuggle in lip balm… I think this is where I should stop.

So that’s my minimal experience with free stuffz. Thoughts, advice, or opinions on sponsorships or free products?

I’m hesitant to say it but… my skin looks awesome!!!

I’m getting really great results from the skin care items I’ve been using for the past few months. I posted about the products I was trying a few weeks back and wanted to give a happy update. My skin is greatly improving every day and I can honestly say I think it’s due to these items. Together or separate, I’m not sure what the biggest helpful addition is/was, but I’m super excited about it. You can read the post where I detail the products I’m using here.

Oh and here’s me today without any makeup and only my Shiseido moisturizer… o_O

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Sure, I took that picture with my iPhone so it’s not the greatest of qualities but I just want to point out how much smoother and clearer my skin recently has become. Which I never thought I’d get to say until I was like, 70.

I’ve been battling these bumps on my face for about 2 years now along with the occasional regular breakout. I have had a remarkably lesser amount of that in the past 2 months. One or two very minor blemishes pop up but they quickly go away.

[For sanity’s sake, I’ve just linked all these products for those reading at the bottom of the post.]

Here’s some newer products I’ve added into the overall routine (and also pictured is an oldie but goodie as in HG status):

1. Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Toner: I use this after I get out of the shower/after washing my face completely with my Clarisonic and MB Glycolic cleanser, before I put on moisturizer. I feel that this toner balances my skin and gets rid of any surviving makeup (which is quite the feat there, Mr. Makeup). I also found out this comes in *huge* pre-moistened towelettes which is super convenient for those who travel a lot.

2. L’Oreal Skin Perfecting Micellar 3-in-1 Cleansing Water Solution:  Ok. This stuff isn’t available in the US, so let me just say that straight away. I heard great things about Bioderma and that this L’Oreal one was a dupe so I bought it online on eBay. And wow… it’s quite amazing. It’s like a makeup remover and toner mixed into one. It feels like water, has no scent, and it is hypoallergenic, also a great plus for my breakout-prone skin. I tried it and immediately fell in love. It leaves no oily residue and removes everything with a cotton pad. I recently tweeted L’Oreal to bring this to the US since it’s so much cheaper ($6-8, US converted price for 200ml) than the Bioderma ($30ish for 250ml). Hopefully they hear my sobs all the way from my makeup chair.

3. Palmers Coco Butter Swivel Stick: I’ve used this stuff since middle school. People used to ask me if I was putting a glue stick on my lips. Boys thought I was weird. I just knew I had the softest lips in town. I think it’s needless to say I still use this every day and have multiples laying around the house. It’s soft, buttery, smells incredible, and covers your lips in 1 swipe. It also stays on your lips for a long period of of time and actually sinks into your lips, unlike an EOS ball lip balm. I’ll use this forever, I’m sure. Did I mention it’s under $3?

Oh, and did you notice the bottom of the one pictured, where my dog Stu decided to try it out as a bone? I never knew he was into soft lips.

4. Shiseido Ibuki Refining Moisturizer Enriched: Yes I’ve posted about this stuff before but here I go again!

I’ve been using this goo for about 4 months now, ran out, and have even repurchased it. I use it alone as my nighttime moisturizer. It’s thick, absorbs quickly, doesn’t make me oilier (thank god), has a nice scent (if you’re sensitive you may think it’s overpowering but I love it), doesn’t have any sulfate ingredients, and it doesn’t clog my pores — hallelujah! I have nothing bad to say about it except that it’s $45 for 1.7 oz… however one lasted me for over 3 months with using it every single night without fail.

5. Boscia Enlivening Amino-AG Eye Treatment: I posted in my February Skincare Update about how I was using this new product here when I got this as a sample and gave it a try as I really love all other Boscia products I’ve bought — I try to go for more natural products, both in what I eat and what I put on my body, as much as possible (provided the body/makeup product works, haha).

I use this eye cream at night after I put on my face moisturizer. It has a slight silicony feel without being overly slippery (hate that). It sinks nicely into my eye area and seems to hydrate it well. I don’t have much dryness in my eye area though so I can’t comment on how well it would work for people with extremely dry skin. I think it seems to have lessened any fine lines a bit and I would definitely purchase it in the future. I have another eye cream to try out first but I – officially, certainly – like this one a lot. 🙂

SkincareMarch2014Update

I’ve put all these items in a collection on my Luvocracy site so that anyone can find/buy them straight away aka no googling: Current Skincare Products Luvocracy Collection

Stay tuned as I will be posting about a face ‘peel’ I just tried and am seemingly falling in love with. As in, take-the-peel-out-for-dinner-and-buy-it-pink-roses love. I won’t be buying it red roses quite yet; I don’t want to jump the gun, ya know?

Thanks for taking the time to read & to hang out with me.

– SFB

Valentine’s Day + Birchbox!

I got the most incredibly perfect gift for Valentine’s Day – a year of Birchbox! I had been on the fence about subscribing but when my boyfriend subscribed to the men’s edition, I immediately got jealous and wanted one of my own. He smartly purchased me my own subscription as a V-day present and gave me the first 2 boxes to open! The first “Welcome” box was pretty neat but not my favorite. The first one included:

Gilchrist & Soames Shampoo and Conditioner 1.5 fl oz • 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented 100% Natural Mascara in Black Tea • Reviver Dry Deodorant for Clothes in Original Scent
Welcome box thoughts:
Gilchrist & Soames London Shampoo & Conditioner – These are nice little sample sizes of shampoo and conditioner that somehow remind me of a hotel I’ve stayed in. I’m fairly certain I’ve tried their products during an overnight stay somewhere but can’t exactly remember if I liked it or not. I’ll give them props for the packaging but these products have no special scent whatsoever. I suppose if you’re not the type to like floral or fruity smelling shampoos/conditioners, these smell just kind of ‘soapy’ and you might love them for it. Either way, I’m in no rush to try them & I’ll give them a shot once I run out of the plethora of products I have in line for me to use.
[P.S. Upon looking these products up, they are in fact carried by fancy-pants hotels. For once, my memory serves me semi-right!]
100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara in Black Tea – I just purchased a hand lotion by this brand in an Almond-y something or other (Almond Vanilla?) scent that I simply love so I was excited when I realized this was by the same company. I had no idea that they even made cosmetics since Ulta only seems to carry their skin care line. Anyway, the package says this is an ultra lengthening formula which is perfect for my every day use, not to mention I’d love to try something natural that I wear every day instead of the chemically alternatives, should it work just as good. We shall see since it’s an expensive little bugger at $21 for a full size tube!

The January Birchbox was much more impressive than the Welcome box. It included:

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips • Cynthia Rowley Liquid Eyeliner in Black Ink • Reviver Dry Deodorant for Clothes in Original Scent • Klorane Extra-Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk • Derma E Evenly Radiant Skincare Sampler

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Here’s my initial thoughts on the January products:

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips – This stuff is thick like Vaseline but not slick or slimy. It’s thick like a rich butter for your lips and has no taste. I love it after using it all day today so far. I’m sure I’ve mentioned at least 30 times by now that I’m a complete lip balm/Chapstick freak so I was automatically thrilled when I saw this in my box.

Cynthia Rowley Liquid Eyeliner in Black Ink – I never tried any cosmetics by CR but after swatching this on my hand, it is really smooth and wouldn’t rub or smudge off… at all. I had to lick my finger and rub the liner to get it off my hand (gross, I know. Shush.) It dried super fast. I don’t think it’s a black-black, it’s more like a charcoal black… which is fine in my book since I have plenty of black liquid eyeliners to go around. The pen tip is like that of the L’Oreal Infallible Super Slim pen which is my all-time favorite right now. Both of these have super slim flexible felt tips with a sharp point. I can’t wait to try this out for real. BONUS! I just found out on the website that if you newly sub to Birchbox, this liner is a free gift right now!!

Klorane Extra-Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk – I am excited to try this because I JUST bought the Peony Shampoo by Klorane and tried it for the first time yesterday… to then get this the very next day! Are the hair gods trying to steer me towards the path of righteousness? I love me a dry shampoo and will give it a shot asap. A full size of this wittle baby is only $5-7  on Amazon so if I like it more than Batiste, I’m definitely going to order one.

Derma E Evenly Radiant Skincare Sampler  – I never heard of this brand before so I need to do a little research as I’m really picky with my skin products.  It comes with a Brightening Cleanser, Dark Circle Eye Cream, & Brightening Serum. I already am liking the fact they are vegan and all natural which is a huge plus in my book. Since I’m really liking my skin care regimen right now, I’ll probably hold off trying these until I get in the mood for a change.

Reviver Dry Deodorant for Clothes in Original Scent – This is the weirdest thing ever that I got in my first two Birchboxes so far. It’s basically a reusable pad of deodorant for your clothes that you rub on yourself when you stink. Which is hilarious. I always thought that’s was what a washing machine was for. Or perfume. I mean… I guess it would come in handy if I went to a hibachi restaurant, smoky bar (I avoid those like the plague) or was in front of a campfire but other than that, this is probably going to be one of those products you remember years later that never made sense. Flo-bee anyone?