I’m Not So Sure About Julep.com, The Nail-Polish-Of-The-Month Club

I’d seen a million ads for Julep.com on my Facebook or various clothing and beauty sites and they always caught my eye. There’d be pictures of nail polishes in cute colors and something about getting a new box every month. Fun! I live on a budget, though, so I always quelled my desire to join. Then I visited a Julep pop-up shop sometime before Christmas. Located in downtown Manhattan,  it had a sign out front advertising a free nail polish for anyone who came inside. So, I went in and completed a brief survey to get my free polish. (It’s glittery gold and I love it.)

Of course, the sales associates tried to encourage me to join Julep. Maybe they weren’t permanent employees, or maybe they were just exhausted a few days before Christmas, but it all sounded kinda convoluted.  They explained that you could sign up as different kinds of “mavens” with a style profile and you’d get certain polishes every month, but if you didn’t like those options, you could change them online. I was really confused about what all the “style profiles” meant and why: BoHo Glam, Bombshell, and Classic With A Twist get two nail polishes and one beauty product each month, It Girl meant you got three nail polishes every month, and Modern Beauty meant you got two beauty products every month. The colors of the polishes and the makeup products seemed pretty arbitrarily attached to the different style profiles; I liked ones for all of them.

But I figured $19.99 for three nail polishes (or two polishes and one beauty product) is not a bad deal. It is definitely less expensive than getting a mani-pedi once a month. I was especially excited by the idea that if I didn’t like the particular polishes, I could just switch them around with colors online, as I had been told. So I signed up at the pop up shop.

When I got home, I looked at the Julep web site a little further.  First, I was irritated to see all the ads online say you can get your first box free (if you use the promo code FREEBOX at check out) but I had to pay full price for mine. It bothers me when companies offer a discount, but don’t tell their customers about it. I understand that companies need to make money, but it felt sleazy. Why couldn’t the sales associate who signed me up to Julep given me the first box free as if I had signed up online? Just because it wasn’t ecommerce?

Second, I realized that what the sales associates had told me about switching polishes wasn’t exactly true. Yes, if you don’t like the colors for your “style profile,” you can change them. But you can’t change by individual polishes. You have to change my “style profile.” So if you don’t like the three polish colors in your It Girl box, you can change to one of the other “style profiles” but you have to take whatever colors are arbitrarily assigned to those profiles. There is no picking and choosing the polish colors at all.  What if I like one polish color offered in It Girl, one polish color offered in BoHo Glam and one polish color offered by Bombshell? Suddenly paying $19.99 for three polishes (or two polishes and one beauty product) that I may not all want didn’t seem like such a good deal.

It is possible to buy individual polishes on Julep, but they cost $11.20 each if you are a subscriber and $14 if you are not a subscriber. Considering that I can buy an Essie polish at my neighborhood drug store for $8, it seems like even less of a good deal. (In fairness, older polishes go on sale for $2.99, so maybe the key is to wait a couple months.)

My first Julep box is on its way in the mail. I’m going to see what I think before I decide whether to cancel the subscription. I love makeup and nail polish, but I do feel like the employees at the pop-up shop were misleading.

Does anyone else belong to Julep’s Maven program? What do you think?

Follow me on Twitter. Email me at [email protected]

[Image via Julep.com]