A Subscription Box actually changed my life

Julep Review Confession:
A beauty company helped me actually self-care
This company helped me make my year better
This might be the most in-depth review you'll ever read about a monthly subscription box program, but for those of you who know me, you know I do things differently. If I'm writing about something, I must be passionate about it, and I promise to give you a deeper sense of how something as "normal" as makeup actually improved the quality of my life tremendously. I'm so happy with how Julep helped empower me to take care of myself that I feel comfortable sharing about it. I only realized this as I reflected on an amazing night out last Wed. at the spontaneous #MavenMeetup (which I'll tie into later). I decided such a fun night required a more thoughtful discussion.

The following is an openly-honest review from someone who is learning to self-care. 
I'll include promo codes for your free box at the bottom in case you'd like to try Julep for yourself! In doing so, links in this post may be affiliate, as a heads up. 
You can send it to yourself, to your Mama for Mother's Day (just a suggestion), or to a friend (maybe you know upcoming Birthdays?)! Side note: if you use ebates, you also get 5% cash back at Julep! Ebates is a magical cash back site that rewards you for your online purchases. You can use my link here to sign up on ebates using an e-mail address and then go here to get your Julep shopping on. The cash back really adds up & it would be nice to know it helps other people as well! We've saved a lot with it.
Live long and prosper, Julep! You rock!
Anyway, so as a grad student away from home, I've really neglected taking care of myself. 
Student loans are expensive, I'm getting married in the fall (woop woop!), they raised rent & internet service bills, and I'm traveling to 6 weddings this year (7 if you count both of our intimate receptions--one in Orange County and one in Paris). As a community leader and student researcher in the medical field, I just end up feeling guilty if I spend time doing anything other than studying or organizing outreach events that could help so many more people in our community! It feels like I'm taking time away from doing what I should be doing. What this created is a sense of doing so much for everyone else and silencing my inner desire that I have needs, too. 
I didn't want to be selfish.
I already have so much...I don't need things. Why would I spend money on feeling glamorous when the only one who sees me (mostly) are my petri dishes?
Of course, this doesn't mean I've suddenly let myself go! 
I've always believed in getting ready for me, and I dress how I feel...
but it's true--I HAVE felt like I've PURPOSELY dimmed down my own sparkle this year because I haven't felt like myself. And I did it to myself!

I stopped dressing as naturally eccentric as I would back home-home in Southern California, where I don't have to be concerned about the weather changes or getting cat-called while walking to school everyday...
...where the water is filtered, my skin is happy, and my hair doesn't feel like it's suddenly thinning from a confused, dry scalp. 
I'm breaking out in my late 20s, the ends of my eyebrows are sparser, my skin is between confused oily and dry, academia has made me second-guess myself when I speak, I need Sensodyne and TUMS...
...and I've been purposely dressing "down" (for me, anyway) because I'm in an academic, professional environment from 6AM - 11PM where I also need to be lab safe from toxic chemicals and syringes. 
I suddenly felt unhappy, which is a very strange feeling for me!
Before grad school
IN grad school #lolol P.S. Hobbit love
#soronry #midnight #lablife #Biochem
A video posted by Jacky So (@jackypostgrad) on

So on the Jacky Scale of "Default Happy" to "LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE THE UNIVERSEEEE!!!!!!!!!!", I've been in a "Default Happy with lots of private miserable moments" zone. 
I needed to do something to turn it around, but what? I can't let my skin breathe here like I can in So Cal, but I still needed to take care of it!

I wanted to self-care more, and it led me to discovering the indulgent layers of +Julep . 

A modern-day beauty company has actually reinvigorated my recent everyday life in more ways than one! I don't know if Jane Park (the chic and humble #ladyboss founder) knows this, but she's really helped me get through the most difficult year I've had in a long time because her company isn't a product--it's a lifestyle. By way of her nail polishes and eyeshadows and skin creams...they're not just beauty products; they're more than that because Jane is more than the creator of a beauty company.

Jane is a caring visionary who truly believes in making the world a better, more positive place--reaching one woman at a time and finding a way to unite us from all over. She's made products she genuinely believes in and surrounds herself with people who genuinely care...because she genuinely cares. That kind of personal touch trickles down into the most minute of details, but the details are what make the difference.
How could you not love Jane?! She's amazing. 

Julep is different.
It's what I've been looking for and why I've been so noncommittal to beauty brands before. 

I've never been a MAC girl, or a NARS girl, or even an OPI girl. I've never been a salon girl, or an Ulta girl, or even someone who enjoys going to the beauty counter at the department stores. I've never relished any of those things. I want products that I know are good for my skin. I stock up on French beauty products every time I go back because EU regulations are much stricter than US regulations...so I trust them more. Even within the same brands, the quality of a product sold in the States can be different than the version sold in France.

However, even having this kind of political-business knowledge and foresight, I still didn't take as care of myself as well as I should have. Honestly, thank goodness for external genetics because I'm really lucky I've been able to get away this long without self-caring. 

Now that I'm heading into this next phase of my life, I want to feel as sophisticated and professional in the privacy of my home as I do when I'm being a #ladyboss myself in the outside world. 

A few things set Julep apart from other beauty brands. 
1st, Julep polishes have always been 5 free (none of those toxins in other polishes). 
Maybe that's why my flatmate's cat claimed these Julep polishes lolol
What I find more meaningful, though, is how Julep's founder has always thought about improving the quality of life for the end user. Always being considerate of how she could figure out a way to give everyday women (and men!) the kind of service that would make their lives better, Jane started Julep as a way to begin a different conversation about beauty. 

She wanted a place where moms could hang out and get pampered with the best ingredients and not worry about people yelling at their kids there. Then, Jane and her Maven bestie Susie started the +Julep Maven  Program (monthly box program) as a way to reach people who might not be able to come into the physical location.

Assuming I'm not the target demographic (I'm neither a mom nor a salon-goer, and I'd rather spend money on a good AYCE than lipstick), I'm proof of how good the products are & how valuable Jane's concept is. 
If you're a busy student (especially if you have sensitive skin or would considered "ethnic" by beauty industry standards), give Julep a chance to do you right! I'm impressed with their cross-application of products for all skin colors, but I'm also most impressed with their customer service, who respond ASAP and just want their Maven members to be happy. 

As a light Southeast Asian who tans easily (and turns orangey, no joke), makeup out there really isn't made for me. That's just the current reality of the beauty industry. Diversity in skin tone isn't really something companies think about when they're developing products. And then if companies do consider Asian skin tones, products are catered to Mainland Asia...but what about the rest of us?
It's even hard for me to figure out what colors are best for me because my own skin tone varies so much. I mean...what color am I?!?!
What color am I?!?!! You can see the variation in my natural tone and how confused my skin gets based on whether I've seen any sun or not. P.S. Shoutout to my girlfriend Amanda of feast.fashion.faves in the left corner! Give her blog a visit if you haven't yet! SUPER proud of how she's grown fff! :*
On top of that, you know Asian skincare is the real deal (we're told to take care of our skin since day 1), but access to (affordable) Asian skincare is hard to come by in grad school.

What did I find in Julep?
The makeup and nail colors are SWATCHED on people with DIFFERENT SKIN PIGMENTS!
1st of all, nicest and longest-wearing eyeliner I've owned. It helps to see how much the sparkle in this one would look--just the right amount of dazzle!
ONE OF MY FAV SHADOWS! Honestly, if it weren't for these swatches, I would have assumed the purple would look different on me. It doesn't actually look purple-purple on me--it's more of a "light smoke" and is PERFECT for if you don't want your smoky eye to be too dark. The color is also buildable.
Ditto for their inspiring collection of lip colors. This one lasts all day for reals!
I actually have my girlfriend this polish and she LOVES it. I appreciate how they swatch all of their polishes on different skin tones so we can more realistically visualize how they'll look on us. 
What's more, Jane is Korean by heritage and brought what's great about the intense, Korean skincare regimen to Julep in super user-friendly formulas.
I actually get excited to wash my face now. It feels soooo good!
What this means is that instead of feeling stressed about setting aside time at the end of each night to do a proper 7-step regimen...Julep has compacted it into only 2. 
In my head, I'm now like, "Yeah, okay! I can do 2 steps." And knowing how good the products are, I actually look forward to washing my face now because it feels so good. No matter how tired or how busy I am (or how late it is!), Julep has helped me set aside time at the end of EVERY night for myself since taking care of my skin before bed now feels like an easy formula.

Sometimes, I'll even throw on the Nightshift Mask (a cream you put on and wash off in the morning) if I'm going to bed "early" enough. It's like a 2-in-1 because then I wash it off when I brush my teeth in the morning and my skin already feels hydrated! 
The mask has encouraged me to get more zzzzs, which is CRAZY for me to do because I come from a family of functioning insomniacs and change is hard!

And then the makeup--oh my gosh! 
I've NEVER felt such good makeup. 
Remember, this is coming from someone who prefers to buy her makeup in Paris for the better EU regulations. But even so, makeup just wasn't made for my skintone and I'd have to keep putting on more and more for it to work. 

NOW, what might take me 12-15 minutes to do with my old makeup now takes me only 3-5 minutes! Julep colors are that pigmented and agreeable to my awkward skin color! I'm so happy with the quality and I've gotten so many compliments on the different shadows and lip colors that I finally feel like this is the first time I'm enhancing my natural beauty instead of seeming like I'm trying to cover it.

LOVE the makeup and lasting quality so much that I decided...YES! JULEP WILL be my wedding makeup!
I've always wanted to do my own makeup for my wedding, so now I'm really excited to start sharing different "looks" with different Julep products until I find the right one for my vows.
Testing the makeup at a friend's wedding!
On top of Julep's delicious, lasting makeup with pigments that work with all skin tones, the monthly Maven program feels like a gift every month. 

I know that I am getting a regular package of different self-care goodies that I picked out every month, and you open the boxes and they pack everything to look as though it's your birthday every time
Julep is celebrating YOU celebrating yourself EVERY time!
It's such a small detail that means so much.
Wouldn't YOU get excited opening this every month, too?!
Because you pay for the months in advance (different plans depending on what you can afford), you already know that you get the fun of choosing luxurious items for yourself in the future each month and it helps you envision progressive self-caring without the stress of whether you can afford it or how it's going to get to you. 

As someone who had trouble self-caring, paying a set amount ahead of time helped me commit to my self-care plan because I already knew that I could, at least, set aside a certain amount for myself for the next x months. 

I look really forward to when I get to pick out items because Julep's stash is always good and always changing, so I get to feel happy that I'm taking care of myself AND feel like I'm getting first access to things before they become trends (which I LOVE). 

Julep's products are innovative and always reach us first before the other brands even begin coming up with something similar (Don't leave your brows at home, for example).
Julep was 1st! And of course they help guide you to your right brow powder/liner color with pics and swatches depending on your skin tone + hair color! 
So pretty much, the Maven Program is a gift to yourself. 

And if you add on 3 more items (at special discounts) at checkout with your monthly box, Julep throws in a surprise gift...which makes opening your monthly gift to yourself THAT much more rewarding! 

You can also skip a month and save that credit for another month if you don't dig anything you see, and you can also send your month's box to someone else to surprise them!

Julep seriously makes self-caring really easy and convenient!
Hooray! :D
What Julep has been able to do is solve a very real problem for women (and men), especially for fellow professional students who need to learn how to self-care more but struggle with finding time to do so. 

I'm also more effective with my days because I want to make sure i'm home in order to get to my building's package room to pick up my monthly gift of self-love! Now, I suddenly have a reason to hurry home (if I lived with my fiance or had kids, they'd probably be my reason to hurry home lol, but since I don't...JULEP is my reason hahaha)! 

This is how I feel EVERY time I get to open a box:
A video posted by Jacky So (@jackypostgrad) on
Each month's box is filled with brand new products that I know I can't get anywhere else, so I'm happy to try them for the first time.

I actually started making time for myself to enjoy this process. 
I. started. making. time. for regular self-care, thanks to Julep!

And this self-investment helped make it easier for my to find other ways to invest in my emotional and mental well-being, since now I have the mindset to do things for myself without feeling selfish or guilty. I'm indulging and I LOVE IT!

To be honest...it wasn't even supposed to be this way! Haha

I originally subscribed to Julep to send nail polish gifts to my flatmate, who always has the best nails. What ended up happening is that I started falling in love with the product, too. I wanted in!
I identified with the #noregrets, lift other women up messaging of the company and the kind of good-for-your-skin ingredients in their products that I would normally only find in Paris. I actually wanted things for myself...and I didn't feel guilty spending money on myself because I saw them now as investments for my skin (also having a future wedding to prepare for is a nice self-excuse haha).
Gotta take care of those hands when you wash them all the time!
But still, before I do anything, I need to break down a cost analysis in my head and think about it logically. Before Julep, I actually spend more money on random crap because I deprived myself of things I needed and then would binge shop at Target on the rare occasions when I joined someone else on a convenient trip there. Now, I can actually walk into a Target and honestly say to myself, nah, I don't need anything here because my Julep box is on the way with items I know are good for me!

I wish Julep founder Jane Park and her Maven Program co-founder Susie knew exactly how much the Julep Maven movement improved my quality of life as a busy, minority female academic! I would have told them at the very special and intimate Maven Meetup we were just at had I realized it then!

The colors *.*
Shall we talk about what has helped me 100^nth%  commit to Julep being part of my every day life now?

Last Wed., I went alone to a spontaneous Julep Maven Philly Meetup and had one of the most amazing nights ever, meeting some amazingly incredible people! 
We Julep-ers who get the Maven Monthly boxes are called Mavens...and Mavens meet up with each other! :D
#MavenMeetup Recap!
I've never felt so young but also so bonded, and everyone I met, it felt like we had all known each other for years. I felt lovingly adopted by Julep founder Jane Park, her Maven bestie Susie, and their beautiful-on-the-inside-and-out crew. It turned into such a meaningful experience that I wish I could have shared this with Ryan, who had to fly back to Minnesota that morning and couldn't join us!

In reflecting on how amazing this night was, it made me realize how Julep has actually helped me self-care more since I joined. 

I've always lived boldly, honestly, proudly vulnerable and fearless to new and unknown experiences...but I've always neglected SELF-care. I've always self-loved and self-accepted, but I didn't self-care. 

I learned how to self-love, but not how to self-care...or if I did, somewhere along the way, I forgot how.

To be honest, I didn't even realize it until this last year when I had moments of feeling really unhappy with myself. I don't get unhappy with myself, so what was going on?!

The crazy ride of my 20s + grad school led me to discover how and why I wasn't giving that back to myself, and as I transition into this next phase of my life, I wanted to give myself back the gift of the kind of care and attention I give to others.

The goal of my year hasn't been to accomplish x,y,z or win x awards, make x amount of dollars, travel to x location, get married, say no more, say yes more, exercise, etc...

The goal of my year is to SELF-CARE more. And Julep helped me do that.

Practice self-care every day. Make it a habit. Make it part of my lifestyle. 
Remind myself to put my own needs first and not feel guilty about it. Buy candles that smell good and light them often, have fun doing my nails, take off my makeup and clean my skin, pamper my skin with products that are good for me, and enjoy putting on makeup that feels good to me.

Julep makeup and skincare products come from a brand whose message hits a #goodvibesonly nerve with me--this innovative, female-empowered driven company.

I think that must have drawn me into the Julep brand in the first place is how much I self-identify with the lifestyle and positive, bold, girl powered message of the company.

Yes, the products are seriously amazing and I didn't expect to fall in love with such a diverse array of polishes, makeup, and skincare...but honestly, what surprised me the most is how much I want to keep supporting Julep because the people behind-the-scenes of the brand make me care about what I'm putting on my face or on my hands...because they genuinely care.

I purchased for the product, stayed for the people, and fell in love with the lifestyle and meaning of the Julep community.
Fun DOES look good on everyone! ;) This has always been one of my life's mottos, so when Julep made these totes, I knew it was meant to be! Hehe
Jane created a community of women (and men) who spread positivity, support, and encouragement in freeing yourselves of fear in trying new things--and that kind of bold, self-empowerment reminder comes from the baby steps of trying new products every month.

From the moment you get ready for the day, you are putting on something that was made very thoughtfully with empowering you in mind. You are reminding yourself that you're taking care of yourself. You're reminding yourself that you not only can be brave, but you are brave. You are getting ready to face the world, and you feel good!
Julep founder & CEO Jane Park sharing with us inspiring #ladyboss messages about her personal journey
No one in the Julep community is going to make fun of you for trying a new look or experimenting with a new color that might not be your best because we all are.

We are all experimenting, trying in life. Every day is a new experiment. Some days work, some days don't, and the Julep community gets that message on a very intuitive level. What matters is that you're trying--and at whatever age!

For anyone who ever feels shy about going to events, traveling, or doing anything alone--do it! :)

Stop limiting yourself! 
Brave pretty!

I usually go to a lot of things alone (esp. before Ryan) because I figure I'll meet people there. By going alone to events, I'm opening myself up to meeting more people, and the potential is endless. Many of my lifelong friends, to this day, are people who were also off on their own when we befriended each other because we didn't have walls up. 

We go about our daily lives into the world anyway. We might as well make the most of every day, every opportunity, every moment. Look up when you walk and say hi to people! Say hello when you enter a room. Say hello if you see someone looking at you. 

Go out alone...and just meet people! 
They may change your life in such surprising and wonderful ways, just like what happened to me when I went to the Maven Meetup. It's so empowering!
Cheers to braving pretty!
I showed up to this relaxed and chic event alone but left with future Iceland-trip plans with a new friend who feels like a soul sister and her husband who seems to share some Norwegian qualities with Ryan (Susie, if you're reading this hahaha)! Who would have thought the same day where I tearfully wished Ryan a safe flight back would have ended on such a stellar note?

Live boldly, proudly, and don't let others make you feel bad for putting yourself out there and trying.

Julep's company message is "Brave Pretty!" and after meeting Jane at the Meetup, it's obvious that she means that on every level. 

Braving pretty isn't just about wanting to look pretty; it's about embracing the unknown and being open to limitless possibilities by taking your self-doubt away.

Braving pretty isn't superficial--
it's self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance.

Ready to give it a go? :)
Sign up for your own box!
You're gonna LOVE it! Or whoever you send Julep to is going to LOVE IT + YOU (even more)! ;)
If you'd like to try the Maven way for yourself and see how amazing it is (they unveiled some REALLY amazing products coming out in future boxes at the event)...use my link to sign up and enter one of the codes below to get your Welcome Box free! :D

AHEM...Mother's Day gift idea, perhaps? 
If you need any further reasoning to sign up, you can think of it like this:

Sign up. Send 1 or all months to your Mama. Send a month to yourself. Send 1 or all months to a girlfriend for her Birthday or graduation or life achievement! It's really up to you, but it's WORTH IT! Trust me! :)

This is what you can expect. If you'd rather get this GORGEOUS shadow palette, you won't be disappointed, either! It's one of the BEST palette's I've ever owned! You'll realize how HUGE it is when you get it. Plus, EVERY color is usable!

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