Blogger’s note: Subscription box services are a great way to try higher-end products for a fraction of the price. In my subscription box series, I review boxes I have personally sampled and do the leg work for you. I have not received compensation or free product for these reviews. If this changes, I will inform my blog fans. The reviews are my personal opinion based on my experience. Your experience may be completely different.

I have a nail polish addiction. I can’t resist the shiny little bottles of color. Over the years, I have accumulated quite the collection. I’m not entirely sure how I heard about Julep, but the idea of a pretty box arriving each month with nail polish inside really appealed to me. I joined Julep’s Maven program November 2013. I’m still a Maven at the time of this post.

Julep Box

My first Julep box


Boho Glam Starter box

About the Company

Julep is a female-owned company based in Seattle. The polishes are 4-free. Each bottle of polish is named after a woman. Julep donates proceeds to organizations that empower women.

How it Works

The Julep Maven box is a monthly subscription box retailing for $19.95 a month with free shipping. Most polishes retail at $14.95, but Mavens receive discounts and deals on the website. Each box contains two polishes, a beauty product, and something extra. The something extra may be candy, hair ties, or the black makeup bag in the picture.

Once you open an account, you’ll take a quiz and create a style profile. Mavens are divided into five categories — Boho Glam, Bombshell, It Girl, Classic with a Twist, and Modern Beauty. The Modern Beauty box rarely contains polish and focuses on beauty products.

The order window opens on the 20th of each month and stays open until the 24th. During the open window, you can preview the polish colors, edit your box to a different style, and customize certain products in the box. For example, the current box offers a gel eye liner pencil. You can choose which color you prefer. Julep also offers the option to skip the box for the month. You also earn Jules reward points for every product purchased and earn a free Maven box after 2400 earned Jules.

They charge the card on file on the 27th and ship the box shortly thereafter.

A gold glitter color

A gold glitter color

A matte navy

A matte navy

Product Quality

I am very picky about nail polish. My nails take a beating from typing and lifting heavy objects. I also wash my hands religiously. I have an affinity for OPI and Essie. Both nail lacquers hold up very week under stress.  I was hoping Julep would be a fantastic product considering the higher price point. I give myself a manicure once a week. I don’t mind a mid-week touchup, but once the polish chips, it needs to be removed immediately.

My first polishes, pictured above, were fabulous! Tatiana, the gold color, lasted 10 days with one touchup and no top coat. Michelle, the navy color, didn’t chip for almost three weeks without a top coat. I was impressed. Unfortunately, none of the other polishes have the same staying  power. They can chip within a day or two and require multiple touchups. I used the Freedom Polymer gel top coat a few times. There was shrinkage around the cuticle and didn’t extend the life of the polish.

The formula tends to be gloopy. It’s thick and difficult to apply. Some polishes are the opposite and are thin. I rarely paint my nails twice with the same color. The polish is too think and stringy and separates far too soon. I would tolerate this from a low-end polish. I continued my subscription hoping for the best, but the best has yet to come.

On the other hand (pun intended), the beauty products are fantastic! I have opted for the Modern Beauty box on occasion. Julep loves the inundate the Boho Glam box with purple polishes. It is possible to have too much purple in one’s collection, so I’ll opt for the beauty products. I have eye shadows, luxe serums, eye liners, lip glosses, blushes, and bronzers. All the products are great. I didn’t particularly like the lip gloss; however, I like pigmented glosses. Julep glosses are quite light and opaque. It wasn’t a quality issues, so much as it was a personal preference.

Customer Service

The Internet is rife with customer complaints. I personally have never contacted customer service. In all honesty, this is reason I haven’t canceled my subscription. The cancellation process is not as easy as other subscription box services.

This month, I knew I was low on funds, so I opted to skip my box. The skip option was not available. Needless to say, my bank declined the transaction when they charged my card. They tried again three days later when the funds were available. For reasons that are not clear, they waited an exorbitant amount of time to mail my box (almost two weeks). I received an email a few days ago notifying me of a change in my products. One of the polishes was out of stock. I always cringe when a subscription service runs out of product. It indicates an inventory issue related to oversight. If you have x amount of subscribers, you should have at least x amount of product. But I digress. The email stated they exchanged one of my polishes for another August favorite and sent a promo code for a free polish.

Fair enough.

Until I received my Maven box this afternoon. There were two polishes and an eye liner in the box along with two Jolly Ranchers. I read reviews about the August box already and knew one of the polishes, Queen Anne (yet another purple polish), was a freebie to celebrate the brand’s third anniversary. In other words, there should have been three polishes. The other polish, Neha, is really pretty but is part of the Bombshell collection. They did swap out a polish. They stiffed me the other polish. To their credit, they did send a promo code allowing me to order a polish of my choosing. But why the deception?

I teach writing in the communication field. I reread the email. Maybe the email lacked clarity. I was not mistaken. They were supposed to send one of the original polishes associated with my stye profile and swap out the other. Not only did I not receive what I ordered, but they assumed I wouldn’t find out about the added value polish that was already a surprise gift. I only wish they didn’t promise what they couldn’t deliver.

Inside the box

Inside the August Maven box

Plum gel liner pencil, Neha (gloss dark pink), Queen Anne (purple glitter), and my Jolly rancher spoils)

Plum gel liner pencil, Neha (gloss dark pink), Queen Anne (purple glitter), and my Jolly rancher spoils

Final Thoughts

I really want to like this subscription box. The concept is so appealing on paper. Unfortunately, most of the items do not deliver in quality. I hope this changes. I will most likely cancel my subscription once I have an afternoon to dedicate to calling customer service and waiting for a reply. This is, by far, the worst subscription box company I have tried.