Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Julep Debacle

I apologize for the lack of posts recently, but either the weather hasn't been good for photographing indies (i.e. no sunshine) or if it has been good, I've been off doing something else. Between an incredibly weird busy time at work and a busy period in my personal life, I just haven't had a ton of time to devote to the blog. I'm headed out of town this weekend, but when I return, everything should be back to normal and I can finish up with the remaining brands that I want to discuss for indies! (I actually shot for a new blog post earlier this afternoon, so there should be a new one before the end of this week.) In the mean time, I thought it would be really easy to do this post since it's all text. I want to preface this post and say that I am not writing this with malicious intent, but rather to inform you all about a company that I feel does not deserve my business and really, anyone's business. I'm also writing this because I have advertised their services in the past and I want to let you know my change in heart toward them.

What company am I talking about? Julep. If I haven't mentioned it enough, I am a pretty avid Redditor and I belong to about one million and one beauty subs there. One of them is called /r/BeautyBoxes and it's completely devoted to subscription services. I discovered that sub shortly after I had started my subscription to Julep and to my dismay, the sub was littered with horrible reviews of Julep; not because of their products (there's mixed reviews on their polishes anyway - I happen to like them aside from the horrible stench) but because of their customer service. If you're curious, all you have to do is go to /r/BeautyBoxes and type "Julep" in the search option; you'll see the chaos. I, however, already had my subscription to Julep and since, at the time, you could only cancel your subscription over the phone, I just hung on to it. I did eventually attempt to cancel my subscription over the phone, but I could never get a customer service representative on the phone. I eventually gave up and just continued to skip every month of the subscription. Then the month of June happened...

You have to skip your box during a certain window of time on their site; it's "open" for something like a week. All you have to do is log in, go to the Maven section and go through a few more screens and you will eventually be presented you with the skipping option. I did this at the end of June, meaning that I would be skipping my July box, and carried on my merry way. Well, merry until I looked at credit card statement and noticed a charge from Julep. I attempted to call them since I had skipped the box, but I was unable to get a hold of anyone (shocking), so I emailed them. It took them a week to get back in touch with me; an entire week. At this point, my box had already shipped and there was nothing that they could do for me. Along with that, the customer service rep obviously didn't read the email I had sent and simply copied and pasted a response back to me.

Here's the thing with me; I worked in customer service for over seven years and I have no patience for people who don't do it well. I understand that Julep is probably completely understaffed or I at least hope that they are since they never seem to be able to answer the phone, but that's no excuse for not reading an email that is time sensitive and then sending back a canned response. I responded back to the CS agent in a very frank and matter of fact way and she got back to me immediately and cancelled my subscription (I requested that this happen) and said she would send me a prepaid label to return the box once I received it. The label, however, would take about two to three business days to show up, so I had to wait for it. Well, those business days passed and then a few more passed and I received nothing. At this point, I took to their Facebook wall which got fairly prompt attention and after a few more business days, I received my return shipping label.

I returned the box of nail polish that I didn't want and it was received by Julep on the 21st of July. In one of my previous emails, the CS agent stated that it would take 5-10 business days for a refund to show up on my card. I patiently waited those 5-10 business days and on the tenth day, when there was still no refund on my card, I called the customer service line. Amazingly, I got a hold of an agent on the phone (this was literally the first time ever out of dozens of calls) who proceeded to tell me that no refund had even been processed yet and that we would go ahead and it get it processed while I was on the phone. He did so and then told me that it would be another 2-10 business days before I got my refund on my card. Here I am on August 19th and I have finally received my refund. This is the ninth business day since that phone call. My bank is not the hold up here since every other refund I've ever received has shown in 24-48 hours but rather Julep's refund procedure.

It took almost an entire month from the date that they received my package to give me a refund and if I hadn't called them to check, who knows how long it would have taken. I have emails and Facebook posts to show how many times I had to contact them regarding this ONE charge. The amount isn't even that much, it's the fact that they are so irresponsible when it comes to everything. Take one look at their Facebook page and you can see complaints from a slew of people. Look at the Reddit sub that I linked earlier and you will find tons of people who have had slight issues like me and others have had huge issues with $70-$100 orders.

I am not writing this out of spite to bash the company but rather to warn all of you readers about the potential of getting screwed over. Since I recommended this company in the past, I feel that I needed to do this follow up. Honestly, aside from this, I never had any issues with Julep and I kind of though that people were blowing it out of proportion; guess I was wrong, huh? If you do want to subscribe to Julep, please, tread with caution.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Glamour Doll Eyes : Swatches & Review

Back on track and ready for more indies! This week I'm going to be talking about Glamour Doll Eyes, who I've actually had experience with in the past. Many moons ago, I used to be subscribed to their OTM service, where they would send you an exclusive color each month for a set price. I didn't know much about indies back then and I definitely didn't know how to apply them, so I got those few months of colors and had no idea what to do with them. So, when I saw on Reddit that the owner, Vee, was offering shadows for review, I snapped up the opportunity. After a few emails back and forth (and a few days), I got a little bubble mailer filled with my eye shadow choices. As always, this review is my honest opinion and I received no compensation for my opinions on these shadows!

The shadows I chose were Vulnerable, Bittersweet, Oddity, Mushroom, Just Bitten, and Brown Eyed Girl. Glamour Doll Eyes sells unblended eye shadows, which means that they aren't unique to GDE, but I chose six shadows that are unique to GDE. I swatched all of these shadows of NYX Milk Jumbo Eye Pencil (just to switch things up) and they all stuck to it very well.

All of the shades were accurate to what I saw in the pot and the only color that wasn't at full opacity immediately was Vulnerable, but it was still fairly opaque. Applying the colors to swatch was a breeze, but they are also really easy to apply to the eye. Perhaps I was just more careful this time, but I didn't feel like there was a massive amount of fall out with these shadows while applying, but there was definitely some (just like with most loose shadow). Having worn these shadows for the past few days, I can say that they do last all day with a primer underneath and can last through an entire soccer game. The only negative thing that I have to say about them, and it's hardly a negative, is that you must absolutely use a sticky base for these to adhere to. Like I said, that's hardly a negative, especially with loose shadow, but it is necessary with these to get decent pigmentation.

Vulnerable is a warm, peachy champagne shade that works really well as a brow and inner corner highlight. If you also wanted a very neutral, subtle eyeshadow, you could just sweep this over the lid.

Bittersweet is a warm toned taupe that would work well as an all over lid color.

Oddity is a bright acid green with loads of golden sparkle.

Mushroom is a cooler toned, grayish taupe shade.

Brown Eyed Girl is a really complex, wonderful shades that bounces between a slightly reddish purple to an almost brown shade. This shade makes me think of my best friend who happens to have brown eyes.

Just Bitten is a purple tinged burgundy shade.

And a few looks...

Oddity all over the lid with Vulnerable in the inner corner and on the brow bone (Illamasqua Heroine in the crease).

Brown Eyed girl on the lid with Just Bitten in the outer corner and brought through the crease.

Also! Sorry about the insane brows; I'm growing them out until the end of August and then getting them shaped. Only 22 more days of this nonsense...

And I'll send you off with a gif of the shadows! Let me know if you have any questions of comments!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Zoeva Brushes : Review

Ok, this isn't indie makeup, but let's take a quick break for today and talk about some brushes. I did not find out about Zoeva brushes on my own, my friend over at Pigmented Lips actually told me about them many months ago. So what stopped me from ordering before now? Are they insanely expensive? No. Do they look like bad quality? No. So what was it?! It's the fact that this company is based in Germany and shipping is $18. I didn't want to get a huge order since I wasn't familiar with the quality of the brushes, so a few Reddit friends and I decided to do a large order all together to help minimize shipping costs. After sitting in customs (thanks DHL!) for what seemed like an interminable amount of time, they finally arrived to our "mule" who then turned around and shipped them to us. I got five brushes total; a buffer, a luxe highlight, an eye blender, a luxe crease blender, and a brow line brush.

First and foremost, every brush comes in its own little zip slide bag which is made of plastic. The backside has the name and number of the brush in case you want to continue to store your brushes in their little homes.

#104 Buffer: This brush is pretty much like a million other brushes out on the market, but believe it or not, I did not own one that was this exact shape. I have a buffer from Coastal Scents that is a bit longer and some from Sonia Kashuk that are much shorter, but none this is exact size and height. I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that I bought this because it looked really similar to the Sigma F80. I absolutely adore this brush and it was the first one the I busted out to use. I've used it with liquid and with mineral foundation and it works amazingly for both types of foundation. The bristles are dense, but not so dense that it makes the brush impossible to clean (I'm looking at you Real Techniques Expert Face Brush). It distributes foundation evenly on the face and the length of the bristles are perfect for a nice, even finish. I can see myself ordering another one of these as a backup when I'm too lazy to wash my brushes. This brush is synthetic.

#105 Luxe Highlight Brush: Another brush that I bought because it looked similar to something else! If you saw my LA Haul post, then you would have seen a Hakuhodo brush that I bought that looks extremely similar to this; the B5521. So... seeing as how the Zoeva brush was only $13 and the Hakuhodo was $34, I thought that I would try this one out. The Zoeva is almost the exact same size as the Hakuhodo, which I was pleasantly surprised with since it's honestly the best size highlighting brush for my face. The #105 is a great brush, but it isn't as good as my Hakuhodo. The reason that it is similar but not as good is due to one major thing; the type of hair used to create the brush. Zoeva says that their brush is a blend of natural and synthetic hair, but doesn't specify the type of hair. If I had to guess what it is, I would say that it's most likely goat. The brush just feels a bit too dense to me and that's the only thing that bothers me. Since it's meant to be a highlighting brush, I feel like it needs to be a bit lighter and fluffier to distribute a more diffused higlight. That's my preference however and you readers might prefer a more dense brush! Regardless of that incredibly long side mention, the brush is still awesome and if you don't have $34 to drop on a single brush, this would make a good, affordable replacement.

#225 Eye Blender: This was a brush that I was really on the fence about getting, but that I'm ultimately really happy to I decided to pick up. I have some sort of weird aversion to anything that is even remotely shaped like a pencil brush because I have a MAC pencil brush that is horrible and scratchy and scarred me forever. Also, the fact that this brush is brown and makes me think of pony hair just brings back bad memories of scratchy brushes. The bristles on this are actually squirrel, but it still surprised me by how soft it was. It's not soft in the sense that it feels like you're rubbing stuffed animals on your face, but it's definitely soft for being a tightly packed, dense brush. This guy holds his shape, but also allows for really great blending in the outer corner of the eye socket. I haven't used it under the eye yet, but I think that it will also work perfectly for create a smoked out effect! When I place another order, I will most likely get another one of these.

#227 Luxe Soft Definer: I have to laugh a little bit since I think that this is the fourth brush that I've shown you guys that looks like this. I'm pretty sure my first review on one of these brushes was a Sigma E25, then the Coastal Scents Pro Fluff brush, and then the Hakuhodo J5523. Well, guess what, here's another white, fluffy, all over, jack of all trades kind of brush. I'm just obsessed with these kinds of brushes and I love comparing them to one another. I don't own a MAC 217, mostly because I kind of refuse to buy any brushes from MAC (it's a weird thing, don't even ask), so I can't compare this to that. I can, however, compare this to the other brushes that I own and I can say that it definitely falls right below the Hakuhodo J5523. The Zoeva brush was a bit odd feeling when I first got it, but after a wash, it was luxuriously soft and wonderful. Both the Hakuhodo and the Zoeva are made of goat hair and honestly, I think that the only difference between the two is probably how they're made; the Hakuhodo being hand made and the Zoeva... presumably machine made. It blends and applies shadows like a dream, so this will definitely be purchased again (and again and again?).

#322 Brow Line Brush: I think my reasoning behind this brush is seriously flawed, but it happened to work out perfectly for me, so I'll tell you what it was. I bought Anastasia Dip Brow a while back, used it once, and then never used it again. I really hated how it applied with an angled liner brush and even though I knew there had to be a better way to apply it, I just didn't want to look for it. Well, along came this brush and I knew as soon as I saw it that I needed to have it. It may just look like an angled liner brush, but it's broader, shorter, and better packed than any liner brush I own. Honestly, I think that this brush is probably the best thing out there for Dip Brow since you can literally line the length of your eyebrow and drag the color down into the brow all in a simple flick of the wrist. I am in love with this brush. I want to marry it. It's so simple and easy that I don't understand why they're aren't a whole lot more that look like this. This brush is synthetic.

I don't know if I just lucked out with the brushes that I ordered, but I'm going to say that Zoeva is stepping up in the world of affordable makeup brushes. The quality of these brushes is great and they all retained their shape and softness even after washing. Everything works exactly as it should and even though that highlighting brush is a little dense, I'd definitely still recommend it to people. I've already started planning my next purchase from Zoeva and I think that you should be too.

Questions, comments? Let me know down below!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Limnit Lipsticks : Swatches & Mini Review

A quick break from eye shadows and blushes to bring you an indie lipstick company; Limnit Lipsticks. I found out about Limnit a few months ago when I was on an intense search for a gray lipstick and could only find one that I liked on the entire world of the internet. Somehow, I stumbled upon Trina's (the owner of Limnit) shop on Etsy and discovered a whole new world of colors. I ended up waiting to place an order and then Trina closed up shop for a bit, but when she reopened near the end of June, I immediately placed an order. I kid you not, I sat on Facebook waiting for her to make the announcement that the store was open again and then poured over the new colors that she had created and carefully thought out what I wanted. 

I ended up buying three small pots of color, but you can also get full sized tubes if that's what you prefer. I actually prefer applying lipstick with a brush, so the pots of color are great for me. Unfortunately, Trina does not have the full sized tubes in her shop right now (they'll be returning, don't worry), but she does have pots of all of the colors available for $4.60/each.

The info card that comes with your order + a small note :)

Trina includes a small postcard in the order that explains how to get the best results from your Limnit lipsticks and also includes information on how to mattify the shades, how to remove them, and also how to store them. I think that this little information card is a fantastic idea since some products really do require a bit more attention and it's better to know all of that upfront.

The three shades that I bought were League of my Own, Abracadabra, and Goodness Graycious.

I also received a free sample of Olly Olly Oxen Free in this little plastic baggie. Don't be mistaken, there is a massive amount of product in that baggie and it will last me a long, long time.

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Outdoor, Natural Lighting

Abracadabra is a warm toned mid range purple. I have included both indoor lighting and outdoor lighting so that you can see how these lipsticks look under different lighting circumstances. The outdoor lighting is the most accurate for the shades, but I thought I would include both just so that you can see the difference that lighting makes.

The lipstick applied smoothly with my lip brush, but took a tiny bit of work to make sure that it wasn't patchy. In the realm of all lipsticks of the world, this was very easy to apply but in the realm of the lipsticks that I received from Limnit, this was the most difficult of the four. Once I got it on my lips and how I wanted, it was very pretty and I like the color quite a bit. I think it might be fun to pick up Bewitching Hour and mix these two shades together to create an awesome blue-violet!

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Outdoor, Natural Lighting

Outdoor Natural Lighting

Goodness Graycious is a warm toned, darker gray color. This is what originally led me to Limnit, gray lipstick! Although this isn't the actual shade of gray that was looking for, when I saw this color, I knew that I needed to have it. There's something almost kind of taupe colored about this lipstick, but not so taupe that it ends up looking like something out of 90s George Michael music video. 

The application of Goodness Graycious was amazing. It is so pigmented and so smooth that it just glided on like a dream. Sometimes, incredibly smooth lipsticks can get streaky and weird, but not this one; just absolutely wonderful to put on.

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Outdoor, Natural Lighting

Outdoor, Natural Lighting

League of my Own is a cool toned aqua green shade. So, I have a bit of a mild obsession with "odd" lip colors, so I pretty much had to purchase this shade. I try to steer away from light colored options of fun lipsticks, but since this one is so deep, I went with it. Ignore that patch near the center of my mouth, that was bad application on my part!

League of my Own is just like Goodness Graycious in that it applies wonderfully. However, if possible, I think that League of my Own is even more pigmented than Goodness Graycious. I had to put almost no effort into getting the rich opacity that is seen in the above pictures; totally awesome.

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Indoor Bathroom Lighting

Outdoor, Natural Lighting

Outdoor, Natural Lighting

Olly Olly Oxen Free is a rich, deep berry toned burgundy shade (how do you like all of the adjectives?). Pardon my language, but holy fuck, this shade is incredibly and I can see myself wearing it a ton in the fall and winter. The shade is something that most companies often attempt, but fail at making. If I could marry a shade of lipstick, this would be it. It's amazing; insanely pigmented and just glides onto the lips with zero patchiness or streakiness.

Only one word of warning with Olly Olly Oxen Free; this will stain your lips like whoa. I only had this shade on for about an hour and it left a stain on my lips for the entire next day. I'm sure if I had scrubbed and worked at it a bit, I could have gotten the stain off, but the color that it stained my lips was so pretty that I just put lip balm over the top and called it a day.

So... did I convince you to buy some lipstick? Honestly, diving into the world of indie cosmetics has been a bit overwhelming because it was something that I knew very little about, but it has been beyond rewarding. I have not had a single bad experience (yet? knock on wood?) and all of the owners of these companies have been amazingly kind and awesome. Trina at Limnit makes some of the most amazingly pigmented and smooth lipsticks that I've ever worn on my mouth and she carries "normal" colors as well as some more off the wall shades. I highly recommend that you pick them up!