Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 131.0 – A Breath of Fresh Air, January Julep

For me, January begins to cold, bleak stretch of late winter that never seems to end. In my Northern East Coast area, it’s bitterly chilly, intensely windy, colourless, barren, and honestly more than a little depressing. I need to find joy in little things–blades of grass that still seem green, little birds nesting in my trees, a shiny new pair of boots… One of the fastest ways to lighten the mood is a pretty new nail polish, and January’s Julep Maven box brought me three of those.

Leah is described as a “vivid and refreshing grass green with a hint of shimmer.” I would describe this as more of a lime-jellybean green, or a granny smith apple-green, though it’s still quite refreshing. In the bottle, there is a sort of silvery blue-green shimmer, but on my nails it looked like more of a creme.

This was swatched two coats over Julep’s Nail Therapy and sealed with Fast Dry Top-Coat. It went on evenly, completely opaque in two coats.

Megan, a “playful and sultry Mediterranean aquamarine shimmer,” was the one I was most excited about. In the bottle, it’s an almost iridescent silvery green-blue. On my nails, the silvery shimmer makes it a steely ocean blue, even a tad frosty.

Swatched here is three coats over Julep Nail Therapy and sealed with Fast Dry Top-Coat. This shade applied a bit more sheer, but was completely opaque on the third coat. Above is indirect sunlight, below is direct sunlight. It can appear bluer or greener depending on the lighting.

I do apologize for the shadows in these pictures: they look like irregularities in the polish itself but really, it’s just shadows.

Julep sent one more polish that I just have not had the opportunity to swatch yet but will be sharing with you soon!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Cosmetics, Luna, Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis 127.0 – Early Resolutions and a NotD

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this season, it’s that no one is exempt from the stresses of the holiday rush. It doesn’t matter if you work in retail, in an office, or in any sort of technical position, everyone feels the weight of the season crushing them at some point. That said, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season.

One my New Year’s Resolutions is to be a better blogger–to stay on top of my posting schedule and post more quality articles. I would love to hear from you, my readers, about what you’d like to see written. Want more swatches? More nail posts? More outfits? More event coverage? Something completely different? Please, let me know! My contact information is clearly posted on my contact page, and there’s always Facebook and Formspring.

I’m really hoping that this will be a year of transformations. For all my new experiences and complete and total “up” moments, I fell into a slump towards the end of this year. I can blame my health, my dress code at work and school, my lack of income, any of it, but at the end of of the day they’re just excuses. This year, I vow to become 100% comfortable with myself, my body, my features, and my identity. Readers who actually know me will realize what a giant statement that is. If I’m not 100% comfortable with myself by the end of next year, at least I’ll be well on my way.

Since I’m a slave to school until May, I only have this week off as a winter break. In accordance with my first resolution up there, I’m going to try to put up a post every day between now and the date I return to the classroom.

Today, I have last week’s nails. Julep’s December colour was Helena, described as an “ultra-saturated fuchsia.” The colour itself is sort of a chameleon: in some lights, it looks like a deep purpled magenta, in others it’s a neon violet, in others still it’s a bright, true pink. I honestly did not expect to like this colour as pinks don’t usually play nice on my hands–but since this isn’t your typical pink, I didn’t really have a problem.

Below, Helena is shown in two coats over butterLONDON’s Nail Foundation with one coat of Essie’s A Cut Above on the ring finger.

These photos really downplay the blue tones this shade can have in certain lights. Under the fluorescent lighting of my classroom, this looked downright purple, while natural sunlight made it look like the bright pink it appears above.

Pink lovers in general would love this shade, but if you’re picky about your purples, this might not be your ideal. This would not have been a shade I’d order on my own, but I’m glad it was send in the December Maven package. There’s definitely nothing like it in my collection so far!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Aesthetics, Cosmetics, Impressions

Metamorphosis 119.0 – Julep Maven It Girl Box October 2011

I realize it’s almost November and I’ve been terrible with swatching lately. I seem to sit on colours for weeks before they make it up here. Thus is the case of October’s Julep Maven box, which arrived here much earlier this month. Why have I been holding out on you? My nails are in terrible condition and I’m sort of embarrassed. They take quite a beating in school.

This month’s It Girl box included a brightening hand cream (review to come) and two polishes: Leighton and Jaime. To be honest, I almost requested a shelf pull this month since I thought I had too many similar colours. But in the name of science, I decided to keep the box as-is and compare with my existing polishes.

Turns out, my fears were entirely unfounded. I can’t find exact dupes for either of these polishes. In the case of Jaime, described as an “ultra-saturated, dark turquoise blue,” is rather similar to a few in my collection (Zoya’s Breezi, butterLONDON’s Blagger), but none close enough to consider a dupe. If you don’t wear a lot of blue and have either of those, you can probably live without this, but if you’re a blue-lover like me it’s a good one to keep around.

I have a ton of silvers. True silvers, pewter-silvers, borderline-gunmetal-silvers, you name it. And I have them in every finish imaginable. It was hard to imagine that Leighton wouldn’t be a dead-on match for at least one of them. But…it’s not. Despite my massive arsenal of silver nail polishes, this is a colour I definitely do not own. While it’s described as a “pure liquid silver,” it’s not the metallic foil I anticipated. Rather, it’s sort of a frosted grey, like brushed steel. It’s a lovely colour, dramatic without being vampy. I think it will be a lovely winter colour. However, as with all frosted polishes, be careful applying or it can look wonky.

That’s not bubbling you see, that’s actual damage to my nail plate. Some of them have been repaired (which you can also see), but I wasn’t able to hide much. Below is a larger shot of the shade on my nail: you can see it’s not really a “metallic” as it is a “frost.” I actually held this against some brushed steel and it was the exact same shade.

Once again, I’m quite pleased with the shades and products Julep has included in the month’s box. I’ve all ready received the preview of November’s box and can honestly tell you, I can’t wait to see it!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Aesthetics, Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 110.0 – Julep Stella, September “It Girl” Maven Colour

The weather has officially dropped below 70 here and I think it’s safe to say Autumn has arrived. Considering I’ve lived most of my year in reds and golds and burgundies, I’m not sure I can say I’m in full-on Fall mode, but this month’s Julep Maven It Girl polish definitely helped me along.

When I received the preview email, I was instantly intrigued. Yellow nail polish was hot this summer, but Julep pulls the trend into fall seamlessly. Rather than the vivid, sunny shades we saw from companies in May and June, Stella looked deep and rich in comparison. Simultaneously described as a “yellow bronze,” and a “bright & bold” mustard, I couldn’t wait to see this in person.

The formula seemed similar to other Julep polishes, neither thick nor thin and easily spread. It did, however, seem a bit more difficult to build opacity: after three coats, I felt like I could still see my nail in places. Four, however, left my nails evenly covered. My hands have a sort of love/hate relationship with yellow. I love the colour and I think it works well with my olive undertones, but it’s a dust magnet. No matter what I did, I could see some dust particles that ended up trapped in the polish.

The following photos are four coats over butterLONDON’s Nail Foundation base coat. There is no top coat to show the natural finish of the polish.

Apologizes for not cleaning up my cuticles. As you can see, it’s actually a bright sunflower yellow though it looks lighter in the bottle.

Zoomed to show some of the dust trapped between the layers. It may look like the brush strokes are still visible, but my nails have been growing odd ridges lately. Gotta kick the biting habit once and for all.

I’m very pleased with this latest colour from my Julep Maven It Girl subscription. It’s a beautiful way to transition from summer to fall, or to add some warmth to chilly autumn days. I can definitely see myself getting good use out of this once the leaves start to turn.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Cosmetics, Impressions, Reviews

Metamorphosis 102.0 – Julep Maven Intro and Impressions

As a child, I was an incorrigible nail biter. I would bite them down to the quick, sometimes until they would bleed. Fast-forward twenty years and I was forced to keep them cut incredibly short and polish-free for work. I could still paint them on events or days off, but I’d always find myself with a remover-soaked cotton pad in the morning, frantically trying to remove glitter or thick shimmer particles before my boss saw the damage.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I now pride myself on my claws. I paint them at least once a week and am always searching for things to keep them healthy and strong. When I heard about the Julep Maven program, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist–nail polishes and nail-care products delivered to my door every month? Yes please!


Julep Maven is a monthly program from Julep, a nail salon and polish company based out of Seattle, Washington. After taking a brief quiz to determine your personal style, Julep assigns you a “Beauty Editor Style” that will help them select colours and products for your monthly mailing. I don’t know how many profiles are programmed into the quiz, but some fast blog-reading and google-fu tells me other possible results include “Classic with a Twist,” “American Beauty,” “Bombshell,” “It Girl,” and “Boho Glam.” Along with these colour profiles, Julep also takes a survey of your nail and hand health to send your customized monthly box. Below is my own Julep Maven intro box, hand-picked for an “It Girl” with dry, brittle nails.

The package arrived on my doorstep packed up neatly in a jet-black box (I thought I might have ordered something from MAC until I saw the Julep logo stickers along the sides). In addition to several papers explaining the program benefits, there was a thank you note from the CEO and Founder, Jane Park.

I thought this was pretty neat: all products sent in this box came in a paper Julep bag, as if I had purchased them myself from their salon. Go ahead and tell me I’m easily impressed–it’s the small things in life. But tied with a pink ribbon, the bag housed a small pink tissue-paper package containing my It Girl colors as well as other nail-care goodies.

Like Birchbox and, I imagine, other monthly services, Julep includes a card to explain the products you’ve received and the retail value of each. In my case, my It Girl box included two colours–Sienna, a shimmery pale gold (considered for Vogue in October), and Emilie, a not-yet-released turquoise-green. Additionally, I was sent Julep Nail Therapy, a moisturizing strengthener, and “Facial for Hands” Glycolic Hand Scrub for softening and brightening skin.

Aside from the glycolic scrub, all products were wrapped in plastic and sealed with a little Julep logo sticker before being wrapped together in hot pink tissue paper. The bottles are all long and rectangular, painted black on one side. The shape doesn’t bother me at all since I tend to hold the bottles between my fingers while I do my nails, but those of you who might put them down to lay your hands flat might not dig them. I sort of foresee these taking a tumble while dipping the brush back in.

The “Facial For Hands” Glycolic Hand Scrub comes in a simple black-and-white box, complete with product information, directions, and full ingredients. They recommend using once a day, though claim it’s gentle enough to use each time you wash–the product, however, is 3 fl oz and retails at $32, so I think using it as your regular hand cleanser could get pricey. This seems like a once-a-day TOPS thing to me.

Additionally included was a sample of the hand scrub as well as a sample of their Everyday SPF hand cream.

The first thing I dove into was the Julep Nail Therapy. It is of the utmost importance that I use a good strengthener at all times or my paper-thin baby-nails will bend and break, which is not just ugly but also incredibly painful and sort of gross. I typically use Essie’s Grow Stronger AND Rock Solid base coats on my nails, but I’m pretty low in my stash so I was excited to try this. The formula is a little thin and spreads over the nail easily, drying perfectly clear. It definitely reinforces the nail: one coat gave me the same strengthening power of about two coats EACH of my Essie products. Additionally, it smells decent. I can’t pinpoint exactly what the fragrance is, but it’s sort of spa-like. Perfume is listed in the product ingredients.

Sienna is a light shimmering gold. It reminds me a bit of butterLondon’s the Full Monty, but a bit more taupe-y. I can see myself getting a lot of use out of this polish–it’s a sophisticated, grown-up colour that’s neutral without being nude. According to Julep, this colour is being considered for inclusion in Vogue‘s October issue.

Emilie is not yet on the Julep website, but it’s a pretty deep turquoise green. It’s a vaguely familiar colour considering all the murky greens we saw this Summer in the nail world, but I don’t seem to have any this exact colour–it’s darker than OPI’s Mermaid Tears and bluer than Stranger Tides. I’m not sure how much Fall use I’ll get out of this, but going into the last weeks of Summer this is a gorgeous colour.

The following is two coats of Emilie over butterLondon’s Nail Foundation, all over one coat of Julep Nail Therapy. This is shown without a top coat to show how shiny the polish is on its own, but I will end up throwing a coat over anyway to make sure I don’t experience any extensive tip-wear over the week. I’m trying to cut my colours to one a week.

I’ve all ready received an e-mail from Julep giving me a peek at my next box. I’m not sure if that box is for September, or if this was simply an intro box and the preview was for August’s box. I guess we’ll see on the 26th, which is when Julep ships their monthly boxes. What really sold me on Julep Maven was the ability to request a new shelf pull for your box–if for any reason you aren’t happy with the box preview, you can request a new pull any time before the 26th and they will select new products for you. You can also put your membership on hold or gift your box any time before it ships out, guaranteeing that you’re 100% happy with your subscription each month. You also get 20% off all Julep purchases and free shipping, as well as invitations to exclusive Julep Maven events online (which I assume means sales–always a good thing)!

I’ll definitely be keeping my membership and eagerly awaiting my next installment! If you like nail polish, have a hand fetish, like to pamper your fingers, or even just love getting monthly boxes of goodies, Julep Maven is a great program. If you sign up here, you’d not only be getting in on a fabulous service, but also helping me continue to bring you posts like this: using my referral link lets Julep know that you heard about the program through me and credits my account. You don’t have to, but if you like seeing these posts it’s greatly appreciated!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

PS: Don’t forget–my Detrivore Giveaway is still on!

Cosmetics, Love Lists, Monthly Picks

Metamorphosis 65.0 – April Monthly Picks!

Wow! April was a major haul month, between the IMATS, Beautylish event, and Sephora sale, I’ve had a lot of new things to try out and play with. But there have been a few things that I’ve come back to again and again this month–here’s what I’m loving:

I managed to snag a 20 palette from Inglot at the IMATS for a pretty impressive discount, but even at full-price, this would probably rank amongst my best beauty buys of all time. These shadows are buttery, blendable, and amazingly pigmented all in the convenience of a palette. I don’t travel often, but this would definitely be a go-to item for future trips–such beautiful colours all in one place! I also got my hands on quite a number of OCC Lip Tars at that show, and Anime has quickly become one of my favourite lip colours. It’s a bright, bold neon pink that dries matte and stays on my lips for almost 9 hours at a time, even through food and drink!

After thoroughly loving theBalm blush I received from Beautylish, I purchased Mary Lou-Manizer during the Sephora %15 Off Sale. The texture of these products is just amazing for pressed powders–they’re soft and blendable, but not at all dusty. The luminizer is a beautiful shade of pale-golden beige that’s just right for highlighting my skintone. I also grabbed Korres Wild Rose Mask during the Sephora sale after reading up on the benefits of rose for complexion-brightening. I’ve only used this mask twice now, but it’s an absolutely luxurious experience–not only does it smell amazing and leave my skin feeling soft and moisturized, I swear my skin glows after using it.

Anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows how badly I’ve been dying to try butter LONDON. Lucky for me, my local Ulta started carrying their line and my ever-wonderful, amazingly attentive mother picked these up for me. I have a full review forthcoming, but I’ve been wearing this combo for a few days now and it is by far the shiniest, smoothest, most luxurious polishes I own. This colour, Blagger, was definitely on my list, but I likely wouldn’t have gotten the top and base coats simply because I all ready have so many–but I’m glad I did try them, because I really don’t have anything comparable! The top coat is impossibly shiny and the base coat is a creamy beige that dries matte, giving the polish a nice surface to adhere to. After five days of intense typing, working out, hand-washing, and my own personal nailbiting/picking habit, this remains chip-free and gorgeous. I think I’ve found my Holy Grail nail system!

What have you been loving this month?

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Cosmetics, Love Lists, Monthly Picks

Metamorphosis 50.0 – March Monthly Picks!

I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to do a sort of product feature. Weekly seemed kind of ridiculous, and seasonal seemed too infrequent, so monthly sounds good. I’ve got thirty-odd days to think up new features, and that’s perfect.

This month, my picks are all products I got in March. I’m not sure if that will always be the case, but this month it certainly is. When I get new products, I tend to test out every aspect of their usage especially if I’m reviewing them so I get really attached to a lot of products.

My first pick is Wylde Ivy‘s Silken Body Oil in Little Shop in Salem. It’s like a nifty little moisturizing perfume that goes on smooth, soaks in quickly, and leaves you smelling wonderful all day. The oil itself is made from a combination of Coconut and Jojoba oils with addition oils from various fruit seeds. I particularly like it in this scent because it’s a light incense-y blend that’s sweet and a little dusty and layers perfectly will all sorts of other fragrances. Plus, it doesn’t give me (or anyone else around me) a headache after too long, as most fragrances often do.

Zoya Nail Polish in Dannii is a soft pink-purple with an amazing multi-coloured sparkle. I’m always amazed by the depth of colour in Zoya polishes, which is why they’re my favourite hands-down. This particular colour is great for spring–it reminds me of newly-budding flowers.

For some reason, I was all about the metallic eyes this month. Meow Cosmetics‘ Heiroglyph from the Egyptian Treasures Collection was definitely one of my go-to shadows. It’s described on-site as “metallic chartreuse with verdigris overtones and metallic gold undertones,” but I see it as a darkened, antiqued gold.

You’ve seen how beautiful Brazen‘s Cherry Bomb lip gloss is. If you haven’t, go read my review right now. It’s richly pigmented but still layerable, it’s smooth and creamy, and it stays put for hours. I haven’t seen this listed in the shop yet (which is live again after a brief hiatus!), but the owner is always more than happy to do custom listings if something you want is “out of stock.”

I’ve never been a blush girl, but lately I seem to be obsessed! The more unusual, the more shimmery, pigmented, sparkling, or complex the colour, the more I love it. Meow Cosmetics’ PINK, Inc blushes are really gorgeous. They apply like a dream, they’re incredibly blendable, and they have just the barest hint of shimmer that really bring them to life. My favourite is definitely Slip. On site, it’s described as “bright warm coral PINK with a slight refreshing twist of citrus peach,” but it definitely reads as a light coral-y peach. I ordered it in the 10g size, though I sort of feel like I should have gotten the larger jar.

–and there you have it! Five items I fell absolutely head-over-heels for this month. Also, all $10USD or less.

What have you been loving this month? Products, foods, music, websites, events?

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine