Julep Maven is the monthly subscription box for people who would rather look at their fingernails than their faces. Based out of Seattle, Washington, Julep sends either two nail polishes and one product or three nail polishes month for $19.99.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for Julep if not for the promo I found. My promo code got me my first box for a penny. If you are interested in signing up, I highly recommend keeping any eye out for that deal, since it seems that they do it pretty consistently. The code I used was ‘JULEPVIP’, but I don’t know whether or not that still works.

The great thing about Julep is that they offer some level of customization and they offer the option of skipping as many months as you want whenever something isn’t your cup of tea. You take a quiz and are assigned one of five “style profiles”: “American Beauty”, “Boho Glam”, “Bombshell”, “Classic With a Twist”, or “It Girl”. If you don’t like what you got, you can just switch. You can also switch it up any month as desired. The first four receive two nail polishes customized to that “look” plus one product, whereas “It Girl” receives three nail polishes only.

The not-so-great thing about Julep is the value of the boxes is not nearly as high as they pretend it is. A normal bottle of nail polish is 0.5oz. A bottle of Julep nail polish is 0.27oz… so almost half the size. These folks are trying to convince you that 0.27oz is worth $14. That’s $51.85 an ounce. For reference, Opi nail polish, which costs $8 for 0.5oz, costs $16 an ounce and Butter London, which costs $14 for 0.4oz, comes in at $35 per ounce. So, sure, Julep is more cost-effective than Chanel ($30 for 0.4oz, or $75 an ounce), but that doesn’t make it a reasonable price.

Discounts are available for Maven members (nail polishes are $11.20, so $41.48 an ounce), but their crazy deep discounts suggest to me that they don’t even believe their nail polishes are worth asking price. For example, right now, their “Cocktail Glam Winter Collection” is 5 polishes for $24. That’s $17.78 an ounce. That is a very reasonable price for high quality nail polish. If they can make a profit selling their products for $17.78 per ounce, there is no reason to pay $51.85 per ounce.

The take-home message of this exercise in math is that I do not think that Julep Maven boxes can be priced in the same way that Birchbox or Ipsy boxes can because Julep prices are not fair based on the product quality. I bought the “It Girl” box, which has three nail polishes for, if you pay full price, $19.99. That’s 0.81 oz total.

  • If you believe that Julep is worth their full price, that is a $42 value! ‘Whoa,’ you may be thinking. ‘Great deal!’
  • If you think that Julep is worth their Maven discount rate of $11.20 per bottle, your box is worth $33.60.
  • If you think that Julep is worth the same, ounce per ounce, as Butter London, your box is worth $28.35.
  • If you think that Julep is worth the same, ounce per ounce, as Opi, your box is worth $12.96. Suddenly not such a great deal.

As a brief side note: In a feeble attempt to pretend that their nail polishes are not ludicrously small, Julep makes their bottles tall and skinny. Do you know how easy it is to knock over a tall, skinny nail polish bottle while painting your nails? Well, if you buy Julep, you will find out. I knock over chubby Opi bottles, so Julep is just a disaster waiting to happen.

With those admittedly major caveats stated, it’s time to talk about nail polish!

Julep’s picture, not mine.

The intro boxes are different from the monthly boxes. I think they may re-vamp them every so often, but basically they are the same month-to-month.

The “It Girl” box contains:

  • Delaunay, a “chili pepper red creme”. I will be frank. This is fantastic nail polish. I needed exactly one coat of this to be completely opaque. I painted my nails five days ago using one coat of this polish, some Opi Fresh Frog of Bel Air on my tips, plus a top coat of Seche Vite and they look so good I am hoping they will make it to Christmas. These nails have made an appearance in my last two blog posts, so you can check ’em out there.
  • Daphne, a “smokey sea-foam green creme”. This is also quite a lovely polish. It took two coats to get to full opacity, which is totally fine, and it looked absolutely flawless after that. It’s got a great vintage vibe to it, like the color was borrowed from an old-school toaster.
  • Otte, a “rich camel neutral creme”. I kind of think that this is an ugly color so I haven’t used it yet. I am trying to convince myself to love neutral nail polishes for professionalism reasons, but so far I just can’t.
  • Two glitters in bright pink and bright blue that I have no interest in whatsoever.

So, overall, the nail polishes themselves are pretty good. Obviously worth the $0.01 I paid for them! I have made a few purchases since this intro box, including the Pomegranate Body Creme (which smells great and feels like you are rubbing whipped cream on your belly) and the Pomegranate Body Scrub (which is a great little scrub and I am super into body scrubs in general right now). However, those were hecka Christmas discounted when I bought them and they are back up at full price now. I also bought two New Years Mystery Boxes (now sold out) for $20 each, which won’t be here for a while. My plan is to stay subscribed and skip except when I am truly inspired by the options.

Like Birchbox, Julep does have a points system that you can use to get free nail polish, but the points system doesn’t take purchases into account, just boxes and referrals, so it is not particularly generous. If you are interested in signing up for Julep and want to kindly give me points, you can use my link by clicking here.

Quick concluding statement about value: Arguably, getting three small nail polishes is of higher value than one big one, especially if you are the type to never finish a bottle of nail polish. Also, to clarify, I do think that these are higher quality nail polishes than Opi. Opi, although I love them so, is more amazing for their infinite color options than their impeccable formula.