Beauty Review: My May Ipsy Bag

Beauty Review: My May Ipsy Bag | Writing Between Pauses

You may notice something a little different about this Ipsy bag: I have 6 items here. Well, this month, I redeemed some of my points for a bonus item: a tube of Cake Beauty's Delectable Body Lotion. I've been needing a new hand lotion to keep at my desk and this was a perfect opportunity. 

The theme of this month's bag is travel--and surprisingly, the makeup bag is much roomier than past Ipsy bags! I'm excited to cover everything I received this month, so let's jump in. 

You can read my past Ipsy bag reviews here. And as always, you can sign up for Ipsy using my referral link here

Mermaid Teal Elizabeth Mott Eyeshadow

1. Elizabeth Mott Shimmer Eyeshadow Single in Mermaid Teal, $13

You know what's funny? I received a half-size Elizabeth Mott eyeshadow in my very first Ipsy bag; I received the shade Toasted then and while I quite liked it, I'll be honest when I say I haven't used it since probably October. However, unlike the past eyeshadows I've received, this is not a bronze, warm brown, or copper. It's teal! I was really excited I got this color. 

I am not a blue eyeshadow person, but I know I need to challenge myself when it comes to my eye makeup! This is a really beautiful teal-blue; it's super buttery and blendable. I've been experimenting with ways to use it and I quite like it blended into a more wearable, everyday color like gray. 

2. TonyMoly Painting Therapy Pack, $6.50 for 30ml ($2.17 value)

You all know I love a mask and I love TonyMoly products. This mask "contains bamboo charcoal which helps to extract impurities and break down dead skin cells so skin is cleansed from the inside out. Perfect for controlling sebum and oil." Oh, girl! That sounds awesome! I tried this mask out the first time I got it. I saw some reviews that said this sample tube only gave them two uses. It has 10 ml (and a full size is 30 ml); I would say I could get probably 4-5 uses out of this tube! That's pretty good value. It made my skin feel quite soft, but not tight and dry like some clay masks can. 

SLMISSGLAM Beauty Sponge

3. SLMISSGLAM Sparkle Everyday Glam Beauty Sponge, $17.50

I love a sponge and I was excited to receive this one... but it's so small! It's retail price is $17.50, which actually made me gasp. I even checked, several times, that I'd searched for the right sponge. $17.50 for this little thing? But the thing I hate the most is that I absolutely love it. I love this expensive sponge! It's way better than my Real Techniques sponge! I'm spoiled now. I'm spoiled by this $17.50 sponge. 

4. Taste Cosmetics Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder, $33 for 8.5g (~$8.25 value) 

I only recently purchased the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores powder when I found out I was getting this finishing powder in my ipsy bag. I definitely grumbled--how did they know I'd just committed to a pretty big purchase!? I was excited to try a different style of powder though because you never know when you might need to buy something different. Is this powder as good as my It Cosmetics? It's a lot finer and definitely less dry, if that makes sense; it's a softer powder in general. I do find that it doesn't control my oil and set my makeup as well, but I think for those with dry skin, it's an absolutely great option. 

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cairo Swatch

5. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cairo, $6.50

You all know I love NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams... but I just received one in my Ipsy bag! What gives!? The color I received this month is Cairo, which is described as a "pure, pale nude." Pale is absolutely correct; this is very nearly my skin tone! It's not the most flattering color, but as usual I love the formula. I just wish I had gotten one of the other colors. Or better yet, one of the 10 new shades that NYX has introduced recently. This was my one big disappointment of my bag. 

BONUS: Cake Beauty Delectable Lotion, $6 value

Did I need another lotion? Not really! But enough people had signed up with my ipsy referral code that I had so many points, I just needed to redeem something! I got this lotion for 250 points if I remember right. It's vegan and cruelty free and smells super coconut-y. I don't like eating coconut, but it's one of my favorite smells ever; I love that nostalgic sunscreen smell. It dries really fast, so I keep it by my computer for quickly applying, as my hands are very often quite dry.  

Cake Beauty Delectable Body Lotion Coconut

Final Thoughts

The value of my bag this month was $47.42. If you add in my bonus item I received with redeemed points, it's $53.47. It's not the highest valued bag, but I only really didn't like one thing in this bag (the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream), so I don't mind. The sponge is my favorite item and being $17.50 (seriously), it makes the bag absolutely worth it! I also love the Delectable lotion, as it smells so good and makes me feel like summer time personified. As always, you can sign up for Ipsy using my link here.. 

How to Plan Summer Lessons for Your Preschooler

How to Plan Summer Lessons for Your Preschooler | Writing Between Pauses

A few months ago, I realized that on the days I was home all day with Forrest, he and I both got extremely bored. Like, mind-numbingly, anxiety-inducing bored. I tried to find things for us to do: trips to the park when the weather was nice, playing outside, and more, but it's hard to fill all the time in the day. 

Plus, I had things I needed to get done at home. Shoving our schedule full of classes, trips, and more kept me from doing things like cleaning and finishing up the laundry. 

One of my friends suggested I start doing lessons for Forrest while I was home. This friend happens to be a teacher, so planning lessons was second nature to her. Not so much for me! But I sat down with PInterest and my husband (also a teacher) to pick out some simple lessons to start doing with Forrest. 

I ended up settling into a pretty good routine that helped both Forrest and I get over our boredom on rainy days and spend more time having fun together. Plus, he's learned a lot! 

Since summer is rapidly approaching and I know some parents will be at home with their preschool-age children, I thought it would be handy to share my tips regarding planning simple lessons--especially if you've never planned a lesson in your life! In these tips, I'll also talk about the schedule I follow, how to decide on topics, and what supplies you need. 

1. Focus on Their Strengths & Weaknesses

Every preschooler has their strengths and their weaknesses. Forrest is very verbal; he can count to around 12, knows most of the alphabet, and draws people. However, he's not great at following directions, something I wanted to work on in lessons, or trying things on his own initially. Whether your child is a whiz at numbers or prefers spending time outside learning about nature, you should tailor your lessons to revolve around not just their interests, but they things they are best at. 

Here are a few sample lessons that I've done with Forrest: 

  • Gluing shapes to a piece of paper to create flowers
  • Identifying letters along with a word that starts with that letter
  • Counting the number of stickers on a sheet and using them to create a scene 

Typically, I like to pick a theme for lessons to revolve around during the week. It might be Spring, or Animals, or something Forrest has recently shown interest in, like flowers or plants. I think try to think of something simple he can do that combines that theme with something like identifying letters, drawing, or counting, as those are things he enjoys doing. As time goes on, I'm going to start incorporating more challenging elements, like tracing letters and numbers. 

2. Keep It Age Appropriate

Forrest will be 3 in September, so his lessons are definitely more simplistic than they would be for a 3-1/2-year-old or a 4-year-old. He's not going to be able to write letters at this point, for example; but he can count and tell me what he says, identify letters, and help glue things to paper. This was hard for me initially as I had grabbed some worksheets from online that were simply too challenging for him; he wasn't able to follow the instructions I told him and it was frustrating for both of us. 

3. Collect Special Supplies

We have a special bin of paper, stickers, and other art supplies that we use only for lessons. In this bin is also our tub of kinetic sand, which is often his treat for finishing a lesson. Having special supplies that are only for "school" has helped him separate these lessons from "playing"--while still being fun. I buy most everything we use in the Target dollar section; they always have tons of stickers, stamps, and more. Right now, they have a dinosaur book with magnetic dinosaurs that I'm going to start using soon! 

4. Keep It Less than 15 Minutes

This is the schedule that I follow with Forrest: at the start of every hour, we do a 15-minute lesson. That's about as long as I can hold his attention. Then, I get the rest of the hour to do one of my tasks (like cleaning the bathroom or folding laundry, fun!) or work. I try to keep lessons to 3 a day, spread throughout the day. Any more and I find Forrest gets frustrated by the end--and also it's a lot for me to plan!

Older children can definitely spend more time focused on a task on their own. But for Forrest's age, 15 minutes is best. 

5. Avoid Tablets

Tablets are definitely not bad. But in terms of lessons, I find that they don't do a lot to help preschoolers learn manual dexteriority, especially when it comes to things like writing, drawing, and more. Tablets have their place, but not in lessons. This helps you also keep the exercise one-on-one; working with your child personally will help you connect with them and they'll learn more this way. 

6. Stick to a Schedule

I find that the more I keep up my lesson schedule with Forrest, the more he looks forward to it. We've started talking to him about going to school and how it will be like the lessons he does with me; getting him excited to start school is very important to us (and hopefully, to you with your children as well!). Since I'm only home 2 days a week with him (plus 2 days on the weekend), we aren't doing 5-days-a-week... yet. But this summer, we will probably add 1 more day of lessons to help him get used to having more of a schedule. 

How to Get the Perfect Sun Free Summer Tan

How to Get the Perfect Sun Free Summer Tan | Writing Between Pauses

The last time I used self tanner, I was 13 years old. 

Needless to say, I didn't do a masterful job applying it. But I dedicated myself to having bronzed legs for a solid 6 months, to the detriment of all my school uniform khaki pants. I distinctly remember one of my legs being darker than the other and applying a "thin" layer to my other leg, only to end up with it being roughly the color of balsamic vinegar. It was a mess. At the time, I used the Neutrogena Sunless Tanning Foam, which was a new product at the time; my mom had been a Jergens sunless tanner user for years. 

All tanners back then smelled absolutely terrible. And honestly, they all looked so orange. But if you couldn't afford a spray tan and wanted to avoid sun damage, it was the only way to go. 

Thankfully, things have come a long way and there are a ton of great sunless tanners on the market now. 

Why Sun Free Tanning is the Way to Go

While I truly think most of us know better by now, the truth is a lot of people still aren't educated on the effects of sun damage--or what really constitutes sun damage. 

I'm in a beauty group and every few days lately, someone asks about base tanning. Base tanning is the idea that you lie in a tanning booth, get a small tan, and therefore are protected from burning on vacations. This is incredibly irresponsible and has been disproven by multiple sources. 

If your skin changes color in any way, you are damaging your skin, whether it is a burn or a tan. And starting with a tan won't stop you from burning or from getting sun damage. In fact, your skin doesn't even have to react to have sun damage. I've never been sunburned or tanned on my face, but according to my dermatologist, I have sun damage on my face. 

There is no safe tanning when it comes to laying out or lying in tanning booths. 

Sun damage can cause a multitude of skin cancers--all of which are preventable by using sun protection. As well, sun damage causes accelerated aging, wrinkles, melasma, and more. Protect your skin & go sun less when it comes to tanning. And always, always wear SPF and physical protection when spending lots of time in the sun! (I'll cover SPF later in this post as well.) 

NKD SKN Tanner

1. Invest in your tanner. 

You can purchase a tube of sunless tanner at Target for less than $8, universally. But I highly encourage you to take this opportunity to go a bit more high end. 

On Mother's Day, I popped in to Ulta to treat myself to a gift and got the NKD SKN Tinted Tan Mousse in Medium*. It's $19.99 for a tube, more than I would really ever spend on something like this, but I'd heard good things about the brand. There are many high end sunless tanners these days though; St. Tropez is a tried-and-true brand as well. 

I was very nervous to try this tanner--my experience in middle school had left some scars, clearly--but from the get go, it was so nice. It doesn't smell at all and goes on so smooth and evenly. I put on one layer to start and it dried instantly. No stained sweatpants or sheets. The next morning, I took a shower and while the top layer did rinse off, I was left with a really great, light tan look. Not super dark, not super orange. It's very natural! 

So while $20 felt like an absolute luxury, I wouldn't ever pay anything less now. 

NKD SKN also has a Gradual Tan Daily Moisturizer that i am very interested in. 

*As a note, NKD SKN is a vegan and cruelty-free brand! 

2. Use a mitt. 

The best way to apply a perfect tan? A mitt! How did I never know about mitts before!? I'm convinced these are a new invention. I bought the Double-Sided Sunless Tan Mitt from Ulta Beauty for $9.99 (they were buy one, get one 50% off) and quite like it. Funny enough, St. Tropez sells a cheaper mitt for $5.99--and it actually looks nicer! There are also some great sunless tanner kits that include mitts, like this one from Fake Bake for $30 and this one from Tarte Cosmetics Braziliance for $39.  

A mitt helps you keep your application from streaking. It also keeps your palms and fingernails from getting stained orange! If you're planning to do a full body tan as well, a mitt helps you reach all those tricky spots--especially if you have to ask for help from your partner! 

NKD Skin Tanner and Ulta Beauty Mitt

3. Exfoliate & moisturize. 

It goes without saying that the smoother and more moisturized the surface of your skin, the better self tan goes on. The instructions on NKD SKN say not to moisturize immediately before. I had exfoliated and moisturized my legs earlier that day, so I just applied some moisturizer to my knees and ankles (to prefer going too dark in those dry spots) and it worked a charm. My ankle did end up a bit blotchy that first time, but a bit more moisturizer next time will do the trick. I did the same thing with my elbows and wrists when I did a full body application. 

4. Wear SPF. 

Keep your skin safe! When you've got the perfect summer tan, you know that taking care of your skin is important. Look for a high SPF to wear all over your body, as well as a separate facial SPF. I've used Sun Bum's SPF 30 for years and love it. If you spend a significant portion of the day in the sunshine, you need to reapply sunscreen every 45-60 minutes, covering your entire body and face; you should realistically use 1/2 to an entire bottle of sunscreen every 8 hours you spend in the sun. 

For facial SPFs, my favorite of all time is Coola's Mineral Face SPF 30. (And don't forget to put sunscreen on the part of your hair!) Coola also makes an amazing SPF 30 lip balm that's perfect for sunny days; your lips are particularly vulnerable to sun damage! 

Now, what about wearing make up? Good thing for us, there are now SPF setting sprays we can carry outside with us to keep our makeup flawless and our skin protected. Using a foundation with SPF, like Wet'n'Wild's Cushion Foundation with SPF 15, can give you good base coverage alongside using an SPF moisturizer like Coola's. I really like Ulta Beauty's SPF 50 Rose Water Setting Spray and Coola's Classic SPF 30 Setting Spray with Green Tea and Aloe

Look flawlessly tanned and protect your skin! 

Beauty Review: Lottie London Eyeliner Stamp

Beauty Review: Lottie London eyeliner stamp | Writing Between Pauses

Winged eyeliner stamps have been floating around the internet for the last two or three years--ever since winged eyeliner became back in style and we all realized that to get the perfect wing every single day took a massive effort!

For years, winged eyeliner was my look. I was an extremely dedicated fan of Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner; for a long time, it was the only liquid eyeliner pen with a brush tip. I'm not a fan of felt tips; I've tried to make them work for ages and it is just... never going to happen. It's a lost cause! However, I suspect Kat Von D reformulated the Tattoo Liner within the last year or two; the last two I bought dried out really fast and went on more dark gray than black. It was super disappointing. Plus, they went up in price to $20 a pop--which was a lot for me, especially after having Forrest.

I tried other liquid eyeliners, but found it was hard to find a formula as good as Kat Von D's. Plus, with a baby, I didn't really have 15 minutes to dedicate to my eye makeup everyday. Doing eyeshadow was quicker and I could do it with Forrest playing beside me and bumping into me. 

However, I recently stumbled upon a Lottie London Wing Woman Eyeliner Stamp at Ulta. I can't find it on Ulta's website, but you can see the U.K. website of it here. It appears that Lottie London is a brand carried by Ulta primarily online here in the U.S., as well as in some Forever 21 stores (and online at Here is everything that Ulta sells online of Lottie London

I paid around $8 for the one I bought at Ulta; if you have an Ulta near you and want to check this out, it's pretty affordable and it might be in stores. (it also appears some third party sites, like Dolls Kill, sell Lottie London in the U.S. as well; just please check the security credentials before ordering!) 

I had seen other stamps that were quite expensive, which always stopped me from using them. But for $8, I was willing to try it out, especially because I miss the look of winged eyeliner! It's a much more simple, classic look. 

Lottie London Wing Stamp Eyeliner

For this eyeliner stamp, one side is the stamp and one side is a (felt tipped) eyeliner pen. I wasn't a huge fan of the eyeliner pen right off the bat; the formula is quite thin and seeps into my extremely fine lines, even on my hand (not even mentioning what it does on my eyes!) I knew I would needed to use an eyeliner alongside it.

I have had the NYX Epic Ink Liner for a long time; it's $8 and I remember not liking it way back when I bought it, about a year ago. But after reusing it with this stamp, I've changed my mind. I really love it. 

Winged Eyeliner 1
Winged Eyeliner 2

I have round, deep set eyes that are partially hooded. (I've gone back and forth on whether my eyes are "really" hooded or not; some people say yes, some people say no. All I know is sometimes my eyeliner can disappear into the crease.) Winged eyeliner can take a lot of patience, because I usually have to draw my lines looking straight ahead into a mirror, without closing or touching my eyes; that way I can make sure my wing won't get folded up into my crease! 

The stamp comes in handy here, because it's a lot easier to use than an eyeliner pen to do that. I actually found myself not using the stamp full size (it's quite a dramatic size!), but rather using about 2/3 of it (and getting eyeliner on my eyeball in the process) to get the size of wing I prefer. Once I stamped, I then used the NYX Epic Ink eyeliner pen to fully draw the wing and then line my eyes. 

Sometimes, it worked better than others; this was mostly user error on my part. However, I found that it took my winged eyeliner routine from about 15-20 minutes to closer to 5-10 minutes. In the morning, that's pretty significant! I also felt like my eyeliner was much more even. 

If you're looking for an affordable stamp for winged eyeliner, this is definitely one to try. I have thought about what I'll do once it dries out (and I'll update this post when that happens to give a time of how long it lasts), but I think you could also coat it with your eyeliner of choice and make it work that way! 

Beauty Review: Honest Beauty Younger Eye Cream

Beauty Review: Honest Beauty Younger Eye Cream | Writing Between Pauses

I wrote on Instagram last week about my experience with my Honest diaper bundle and customer service, but to reiterate: I receive Honest diaper bundles for Forrest and the past few months they've been showing up, well, absolutely destroyed. This month was no different, with my bundle arriving torn apart, diapers missing, and, worse, the free gift I had received (the Honest Beauty Younger Eye Cream) was nowhere in sight. I was extremely disappointed.

Thankfully, however, Honest Customer service sent me a package of the missing diapers and eye cream that arrived within 2 days. They really are amazing. 

I've been somewhat acutely aware that I needed to start including an eye cream in my routine for a while--I don't necessarily have dry skin, but at 29, I do want to start thinking about how to keep wrinkles as unlikely as possible. My skin has definitely gotten more crepey, especially around my eyes. It's not severe yet, but it was something I was watching.

Enter the Honest Beauty Younger Eye Cream. As I had the opportunity to add it to my bundle for free, I figured, why not!? It's free! Here's what it promises: 

You’ll love this deeply hydrating eye cream, which contains hyaluronic acid to attract moisture and hydrate skin. This botanically charged formula also features barbary fig and baobab fruit, both rich in essential fatty acids. A chamomile and calendula blend helps calm and soothe. Eyes look younger and more refreshed. With results so eye-catching, don’t blame us if you get carded.

Oh la la! At $28 for 0.5 fluid oz, it's not the most expensive product out there--but it is a bit more than I usually spend on a skincare item! However, since you don't use much of it at a time, it will last quite a while. Here are the results of a test study, according to Honest: 

In a consumer study of 106 women, after 4 weeks of use:

94% agreed eye area felt refreshed after use.
88% agreed eye area looked rejuvenated and revitalized after use.
86% agreed fine lines around eyes were less noticeable after use.
84% agreed wrinkles around eyes were less noticeable after use.
82% agreed they looked like they had a good night’s sleep after use.
82% agreed eye area looked younger after use.
81% agreed eye area was instantly plumped after use.

Oh wow! However, that's only 106 women and only 4 weeks of use. 

My Experience

I've been this for 2 weeks now. I know that's not a very long time for a review, especially of a skincare product, but here are my thoughts about that: 

  • As I don't really have wrinkles or severe signs of aging around my eyes, my visible results are going to be much more subtle. 
  • I'm adding this purely for extra moisture. 

So, do I like it? 

It took some getting used to to remember to put it on before my moisturizer at night--and it's especially difficult to remember to pat it and not blend it. (Cut to a flashback of me in high school absolutely destroying my face by rubbing it and scrubbing it. Old habits die hard.) 

I do quite like it. It doesn't feel greasy or heavy; it doesn't pill if I put it on under my make up; and I don't feel like it makes my make up wear off. I have felt like my eye makeup has applied better lately, but that might just be wishful thinking. 

One thing I don't love about it is the smell. In reviewing other Honest Beauty products, I've mentioned this as well; they smell is odd. It's not bad. But it's not good. It's not added fragrance, but it doesn't smell natural either. It smells vaguely like plastic cheese, if that makes sense. They really do need to work on the fragrance of their products, because while the smell doesn't last all day, it is very obvious when I'm applying it! 

Do you use an eye cream? What kind do you use? Once this tube is done, I'll be looking for a replacement! 

Motherhood & Remaining Passionate: Why It Is Not Selfish to Keep Your Hobbies as A Mom

Why It Is Not Selfish to Keep Your Hobbies as A Mom | Writing Between Pauses

It is often said that women lose themselves in motherhood. 

After we give birth, we start "getting our bodies back" (whatever that means). We become "dairy cows" (if you're lucky enough to breastfeed). We have a small life depending on us, so it's easy to feel like our identity becomes flattened into one idea. Many of us spend weeks, or if you're lucky, months, away from work; and some will end up quitting their jobs because it becomes more cost effective. It's more difficult to make plans with friends, especially in those early months, and we find ourselves watching more TV or listening to more podcasts to keep our minds occupied. 

Here's a quote from Mia Redrick in her piece, How Women Lose Themselves in Motherhood

I call this the “Silent War,” the process of slowly fading away from yourself, your interests and your passions without even realizing that it is happening.

At some point, all mothers face this crossroad in parenting. We come up for air and realize that we can’t answer even the most basic questions like: When is the last time you read a book and finished it? What is your favorite place to shop for clothing? What are your hobbies? When is the last time you had fun doing something that you love?

It's good to know I'm not the only one who had one of these moments. 

Before I had Forrest, I ran, I worked out, I wrote constantly, I kept meticulous journals, and I read voraciously. In the long, hard months after I had Forrest, I didn't do any of those things. I read a few books in the first year of his life--maybe 6 or 7 total--and I wrote some blog posts that I only recently went back and deleted. Mostly, I pumped. I fed him. I read about formula online. I chatted with fellow moms. And I watched a lot of TV. It took me a good two years before I started feeling like it was ok to let myself indulge in the hobbies that seemed, well, kind of frivolous. 

I've often seen the argument, not necessarily from outsiders, but from mothers themselves, that they feel selfish when they take time for themselves. I don't necessarily have this feeling, but I do struggle to plan in time alone during the week. I do a lot of work throughout the week--my day job, plus running this blog and doing freelance work--and that tends to take up the time that I would otherwise spend indulging in my hobbies. 

Yet, it can still feel very selfish. When Forrest is playing or watching TV, I start to feel a little bad that I'm sitting at the kitchen table with my headphones in, listening to a podcast. Or, when he's napping, I start to work on the short story idea I've been outlining and re-outlining in a notebook for weeks--then I realize I have laundry to do, or lunches to prep, or the living room to vacuum. I feel caught in the web of having to do things that are "productive"--or that are beneficial to the entire family, not just myself. 

You know how on airplanes, in the safety guidelines, they always say to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others? That's motherhood, at the end of the day. You have to give yourself time to be a whole person before you can effectively help anyone else become a whole person. 

It's difficult to find the balance, however. It's easy to go all or nothing in our lives. But finding a balance that works for you and your family will help you be a better mother in the long run. I know it has made me a better mother to have an hour to myself in the evening, to write, read, exercise, or sit on the couch watching the ID channel. Learning how to schedule in time for yourself is a hugely personal task; there is no right way to do it, and no single method that works for every family and situation, especially if you have a child with a disability or illness. 

I always tell people that there is more to my identity than being a mother. Yes, being Forrest's mom is the biggest part of who I am--it's definitely the most important, in a lot of ways--but it's not the only thing about me. I also love learning about makeup. I love watching trashy reality TV. I love true crime. I love German music. I love writing, about anything and everything.

If you let motherhood consume your entire identity, you're doing not just yourself a disservice, but your child a disservice. This isn't to say that your hobbies should come first (that's absolutely not the case); but it is to say that as a mother, you matter too and it's ok to take time for yourself. 

Beauty Review: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Powder

Beauty Review: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Powder | Writing Between Pauses

I know I write about this a lot, but I have oily skin. Very oily skin. Skin so oily that I have a special routine I follow to keep my foundation from breaking down after just 3 hours. (You can read about my oily skin foundation routine here.) 

Way back in October, I received a sample of It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores pressed powder in my Ipsy bag. (You can read that review here.) I really loved that pressed powder and was really devastated when I ran out. At $29 per pan, I couldn't really afford to buy a full size at the time--so I kept using my elf HD powder. 

However, after some thought, I realized: I go through a lot of that elf HD powder. At $6 a pop, it's not that expensive--but I use a lot of it. If a full size pan or pot of pressed or loose high end powder costs $29-32, but lasts 3+ months, is it worth it? 

Without having tried the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Powder, I didn't want to jump in to a $32 purchase without some reassurance. My chance came during the Ulta sale, when I received a 20% off everything coupon (including prestige). I bought a full size of the Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Powder (the loose version) and excitedly got home to use it. 

Here's what it promises: 

Instantly erase the appearance of imperfections with Bye Bye Pores™, your airbrushed perfection in a jar! Developed with plastic surgeons and infused with Bye Bye Pores Optical Blurring Technology™, this anti-aging, skin-perfecting powder utilizes real silk to make your pores disappear from view, and hydrolyzed collagen to smooth away the look of wrinkles. Loads of antioxidants, peptides and skin-loving ingredients give you a shine-free, airbrushed finish. Plus, the universal translucent shade goes on completely clear and works on all skin tones!

This powder feels so differently from the elf HD powder. It is extremely finely milled and very soft. It also doesn't come out of the little sifter as well, is slightly clumpier, and harder to pick up with a brush. Those aren't necessarily bad things, just a few details about the powder! 

I've incorporated it into my routine in place of elf HD powder. Basically, I use it on top of my moisturizer, underneath my foundation, to keep my natural oils from breaking down my makeup throughout the day. Instead of using a brush (as I do with my elf HD powder), I have found it's much easier to apply the It Cosmetics powder with a slightly damp beauty blender. 

The first day I wore this powder, I was blown away by how long my foundation lasted. However, I occasionally have a few fluke days where my skin doesn't get as oily. I knew I needed to wait before I sang its praises! However, after several days in a row of perfect make up after 6, 7, or even 8 hours... I was pretty convinced. 

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores

I'm notorious for always wanting to choose a more affordable product over a more expensive one. However, here are a few factors that have swayed me towards continuing to purchase this powder at $32 a pop: 

  • I am using less product. I don't need as much of this powder as I did of previous powders I used. Therefore, I am ultimately saving money in the long run. 
  • My makeup is lasting longer. All parts of my makeup--foundation, blush, highlight--are lasting longer, as my makeup isn't breaking down or transferring onto my clothes or hands throughout the day. This is such a relief! Less laundry is always a good thing. 
  • It really does minimize pores and my makeup goes on smoother. Since I use a somewhat unique method to put on my foundation, I do notice that this powder works the way primer does on those with different skin types. (As a note: Primer has never worked on my skin!) My pores are much less noticeable and I don't have to spend as long blending my foundation around my difficult areas, like my nose. 

Am I convert to more "expensive" (or even luxury) powders? I suppose I am! I've always argued for how good drugstore brand powders are--and truly, there is nothing wrong with my elf or Maybelline loose powder. I'm just really impressed with this powder from It Cosmetics and can't see myself going back ever again. 

If you're extremely oily like me, and want a powder that will keep your makeup set all day, this is definitely one to look for! 

Do you have a product that you've always bought affordably--but would love to try high end? 

Beauty Review: Chic Voxbox*

Beauty Review: Chic Voxbox* | Writing Between Pauses

Another month, another Voxbox! I love receiving voxboxes, but sometimes, especially the ones that include multiple products, can feel a bit random. Does anyone else feel that way? 

This month, I received the Chic voxbox. (I'm still not sure why it's called the Chic voxbox... these products are not high end. In fact, All of these items are under $10, except for the full size of the face mask. But c'est la vie, I'm not working their marketing department!) 

If you don't use Influenster, it's a great time to start! (You can view my profile here.) Influenster is a website where you can review products, answer questions about products, and take surveys to receive products to review. I've gotten a ton of products through Influenster and I've loved a lot of them. (Click here to read about my Uniquely J voxbox and click here to read my Foot Petals voxbox review.) 

Here's everything I received in the Chic voxbox: 

  • eos: evolution of smooth Sensitive Skin Shave Cream ($3,99, full size) 
  • NYX Worth the Hype Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara ($8.99, full size) 
  • KORRES Pomegranate AHAs and Enzymes Resurfacing Mask ($34 for full size) 
  • Hair Food Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner ($9.99 for full size) 

That's a lot of stuff, but most of it is sample size. I have no issue with deluxe sample sizes (like the KORRES mask). I do take issue with receiving packets of shampoo and conditioner as samples; plain and simple, using it once is not enough of an idea of how good it is. However, I'll do my best to review. Let's jump to it then! 

eos Sensitive Skin Shave Cream

This is a full size product, which is always quite exciting to receive. However, I don't typically use shaving cream; I usually use hair conditioner (multi purpose!) or just soap. What does this shave cream promise? 

Formulated especially for sensitive skin, with botanical ingredients to soothe and deeply moisturize skin and no added fragrance. A unique, skin-friendly and super-smooth Shave Cream for Sensitive Skin to moisturize and soothe with aloe and wild oats, lavender butter and no added fragrance.

 Well, that does sound nice, doesn't it? 

It's true that this shave cream doesn't have any added fragrance--an added bonus, especially if you have sensitive skin. It's not the texture of the average shaving cream, really; it's more like a very thick lotion. I found it clogged up my razor really badly, and I found it quite annoying to have to rinse so often. But it did make my legs feel quite soft and smooth. Since it's only $3.99, I could definitely see myself repurchasing--but a single tube will probably last me quite a while! 

NYX Worth the Hype Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara

I'm a huge fan of NYX products, so I was excited for this one! I'm not much of a mascara fan; I have a hard time finding mascaras that work for what I want. This mascara is really no different than the other mascaras I own, but I do like how dark black it is and the brush is my favorite kind of brush. Here's what NYX has to say about it: 

This buildable formula actually does what it promises! Get up to eight times the volume with darker, fuller lashes!

Well, it does give you darker lashes. But like most volumizing mascaras, I find that that tends to translate to "clumpy." It's not a bad mascara, but it's definitely not anything worth writing home about. But for $8, it is quite nice. 

KORRES Pomegranate AHAs and Enzymes Resurfacing Mask

We have to talk about this mask. Mainly, it's not a mask... it's a scrub! The instructions say to only leave it on for 2-3 minutes... that's not a mask. That's just forgetting to rinse your face wash. Let's look at the promises, shall we? 

A natural resurfacing face mask powered by glycolic acid and pomegranate grains and extracts to purify the skin and minimize the appearance of pores.

Those are... some promises! I had to pop over to their website to see what else they promised. Check this out: 

Customer Panel (in one use): 97% Improvement in Skin Texture. 100% Reduction in the Appearance of Pores and Balance of Sebum. 100% Improvement in Skin Smoothness and Skin Tone.

100% reduction in appearance of pores? And 100% improvement in skin smoothness and tone? Ok. Well. 

I'm here to tell you that I don't think that's true. This glorified face wash is quite nice. It smells incredibly strongly of fake pomegranate fragrance (you heard me) and it contains small shells which I can only assume are pomegranate shells. It made my skin feel soft. Did it do anything? Not really. My pores didn't look smaller. I don't scrub my face, so it did nothing to my texture. And the tone of my skin remained the same. It's a nice face wash, but it's not a mask and it's an absolute "yikes!" moment to read those promises! 

Hair Food Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner Infused with Honey Apricot Fragrances

I hate to say it, but these were my favorite items in the box! As I've written about a truly embarrassing amount, I've had a problem with an itchy, dry scalp the last 4-5 months. It's been a major struggle. I really wanted to hate this shampoo and conditioner because they are not cruelty-free products... but if this isn't the best my scalp has felt in months, I'll eat my own socks. My scalp is not itchy at all! My scalp looks great! No flakes! And my hair is silky and shiny. 

Let's look at what they have to say: 

Hair Food’s line of shampoos and conditioners is inspired by nutritionists and crafted by hair experts to nourish your hair without parabens or mineral oils.

That's absolutely fair. I feel like this shampoo and conditioner does do those things. I am actually planning to buy full sizes of these to keep testing out and see if maybe it's just a fluke that it helped my scalp so much. (I genuinely need to know!) 

Did you receive the Chic voxbox? Or have you used any of these products before? What do you think? 

*Disclaimer: as denoted by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, I received these products in exchange for review. However, thoughts remain my own! You can read more about my disclosure policy here.