Beauty Review: Alba Botanica Acne Patches

Beauty Review: Alba Botanica Acne Patches | Writing Between Pauses

Back when I was in middle school, Clearasil came out with these acne patches—little clear, round patches that you could put over zits and pimples with the intention to help them heal faster. They definitely worked, because I used them somewhat religiously for at least 2 years. But then they stopped making them, I stopped looking for them, and I never thought of it again.

However, in the past few years, tons of brands have come out with things that are very similar. And as it turns out, you have been able to buy essentially what Clearasil marketed for years in the pharmacy—it just wasn’t marketed to teenagers. Cool!

Sometimes, physically covering a pimple is the best way to keep yourself from picking on it—I know that’s true for me. I really wanted to try some of these “new” (to me) patches, but often found the cost prohibitive on the ones my friends said really worked. I asked tons of beauty groups and they all recommended K-beauty brands—which is fine and good, but so expensive to order sometimes.

Alba Botanica is a drugstore brand—you can find it at Target—and they sell “Acnedote Pimple Patches”. I looked at them in Target, then backed off at the price. $10, for a set of 40 patches. That felt like quite a bit. (I just looked at the Target website and they are $6 on there—but recently Target has made clear that there are things that are more expensive in store than on their website. So make sure to scan everything with the Target app and get price matches done!) I decided to pass.

10 minutes later, I found the exact same thing in TJ Maxx. For $4. Score.

So, here’s the real question: are acne patches worth it? Do they still work as well as I remember them working in middle school?

The answer is, yes and no.

I had two larger pimples on my chin that I wanted gone, so I slapped a patch on them and left it on overnight. In the morning, both pimples had large whiteheads. I remember this happening when I was younger; if nothing else, the patch would make the pimple get a head so you could pop it. However, I’m at an age where i know that’s not a good thing to do. However, when I peeled off the patches, it peeled the thin skin off and popped them for me.

So I was left with two big scabs.

Yeah, not sure that’s an improvement.

Do Acne Patches Work?

The two scabs did heal pretty fast after that, as I babied them. I decided to try these patches with some smaller whiteheads that popped up around my temples (thanks to my glasses rubbing) and they were much better at getting rid of those overnight, without a damaging scab in its place.

Basically, I think there are two really good ways to use these patches:

  1. To stop yourself from worrying a large pimple (such as a cyst)

  2. To get rid of small comedones

However, my big warning is: these patches do help make zits more “poppable”, which is debatably a good thing. If you have a big cyst, sometimes you just want to be able to pop it so it will stop hurting. In that situation, these are miracle workers; they help drain the inflammation and create a head, so you can get rid of the cyst faster. For comedones, they really do get rid of them overnight.

Are these worth it? Yes. I’m going to keep testing them out throughout the next few months, and try to find other brands to test alongside, but I do like them—even though my first experience was a little negative. I think, as with any beauty product, you have to keep your expectations realistic, especially in terms of what it achievable and what isn’t.

3 Quick and Easy Valentine's Day Crafts for Kids

3 Quick and Easy Valentine's Day Crafts for Kids | Writing Between Pauses

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and if you’re like me, you kind of forget Valentine’s Day exists until it’s, well, a day away. You, like me, are probably racing to the Dollar Store for whatever Valentine’s you can find for your kids, or yourself.

I love doing holiday crafts with Forrest. It’s a great way to use up a little time during long days. Plus, it’s a little more heartfelt than a store bought Valentine. I’ve collected a few of my favorite crafts from Pinterest—as well as one we’ve done ourselves recently!

1. Love Canvas

kids valentine's day love canvas

Supplies needed:

  • 1 small-to-medium sized canvas (I found them for $1 at the Dollar Store!)

  • Acrylic paint in the colors of your choice

  • Paintbrushes

  • Masking tape

  • Sharpie

I made these with Forrest for his grandparents a few weeks ago (hopefully, his grandparents in Idaho have received theirs and this is not a spoiler!) I found canvas at the Dollar Store, as well as some acrylic paint; so the cost for making 4 of these was only about $10. That’s pretty good!

I started by making a heart out of masking tape on the canvas, then I let Forrest go to town painting. We used red, pink, and white paint on both paintbrushes and round sponge dabbers. He really liked using the sponges. Next time, I want to do heart-shaped sponges and see if that helps him a little more! I wished I had a little bit of blue paint, because he kept asking for purple. But they turned out beautiful!

When they were dry, i peeled off the masking tape, then drew phrases on (Love You! or just Love) in pencil, before tracing in black Sharpie. They turned out so cute!

2. Paper Plate Unicorns

These are from one of my favorite craft blogs. Paper plate unicorns! I have about 1,000 leftover paper plates from parties over the years and honestly, I’m trying to get rid of them in a mindful way. This is a genius craft. It would be particularly good for playdates or preschool classes. Perhaps minus the glitter!

3. Fingerprint Heart Trees

This is another great craft for sending to grandparents or family who live far away, because it is a small piece of your toddler or child. I love how these fingerprint trees look and they use just paint and probably a lot of patience. They would look beautiful framed in a gallery wall as well. The best part is that you could really switch up the color scheme for any holiday.

Should My Toddler Watch TV?

Should My Toddler Watch TV? | Writing Between Pauses

When I took Forrest to the pediatrician back in October for his 3-year well check, this is the question his doctor asked me, more than once: “does he watch a lot of TV?”

My pediatrician, bless her, is an advocate for reduced screen time. She probably asks this of every single parent she encounters every single day and, most likely, it gets very annoying after a while. And she probably also knows that most parents fudge the answer a bit.

Are you curious about what I said?

My answer was this: “He watches some.”

Ok, you’re right, I danced around the answer.

She gave me a knowing look and a nod and then asked if I had any concerns I wanted to talk about. Right back into the appointment.

But I knew it, she had me pegged. I was a parent who let my kid watch TV—and probably too much TV. Is there anything worse?

TV time is a controversial subject among pediatricians and mom groups. There are lots of differing opinions on whether or not TV is a good or bad thing—or even perhaps just a neutral thing. On one side, you have people saying that screen time can effect children’s vision (I agree), can cause ADHD (um, maybe a bit less), and just shows plain laziness on the parents part (hm, definitely disagree there). And then, on the other side, you have the “I watched TV my whole childhood and I’m fine” group (but… are you fine?).

And in between, you have me. And probably you, if you’re reading this.

If you’re like me and buy arguments on both sides, you might still find yourself overwhelmed by what to decide to do. Should I let my toddler watch TV? Or should I be a one woman show every single day? (Ok, that’s an exaggeration.)

I am by no means whatsoever an expert when it comes to children and screen time. But I wanted to write down some of my very own beliefs and thoughts about TV and my toddler—in the hopes that it helps other parents. Because I think when we learn from actual parents (and not just experts, not just data), we’re more likely to find an answer that is more nuanced than just yes or no.

What’s the Harm in a Little TV?

Do you want to know what else happened at my son’s 3-year well-check? After my pediatrician asked about screen time, she asked if I had any concerns.

And I did!

Here’s what I asked: “I have noticed that my son sometimes feels the need to fix when other people are upset. He wants everyone to be happy and gets quite upset if he feels others are sad, mad, or just having a bad day.”

Our pediatrician thought on this for a few minutes (as she took his temperature, checked his reflexes, and had him do an eye test). Then she told me something really important: “Did you know most children don’t show empathy until around the age of 8? They understand when other people are sad before that, most of the time, but what your son is showing is empathy. Which is very developmentally advanced.”

So, on one hand, I felt I’d been outed as a screen time monster. And the, 5 minutes later, she was bringing me paperwork about raising a gifted child.

Then, I told her about his drawings.

Forrest has been drawing people since he was about 2 and a few months. He started drawing circles, with rudimentary dots for eyes and a jagged mouth. Then, he started adding arms and legs, ears, hair, and smiles. I took pictures on my phone and showed them to his pediatrician.

She was, again, impressed. Drawing people, especially with properly placed facial features and arms and legs, is developmentally something that happens closer to the age of 5. I got more pamphlets; I got told to definitely limit screen time and have him listen to music or foreign language tapes instead.

This isn’t my way of saying, “He totally watches TV and he’s a genius!”

Instead, this is my way of saying that maybe the answer isn’t totally black and white. There is lots of evidence to show that too much screen time can cause shortened attention spans, as well as damaged eyesight—especially as studies have started to expand to include toddlers who use tablets specifically.

So, About Tablets

Forrest has never used a tablet. Really, never. Well, my mom might let him play on her iPad once and a while. But he’s held my iPhone maybe 7 times in his life (and usually when we were somewhere and he was very tired) and we don’t even own tablets ourselves. He sometimes plays on my computer, when I’m trying to work and get up for a moment, only to turn around to him pretending to type.

By and large, Forrest’s screen time is primarily our actual TV. And we’re one of the few people left in the world, it seems, who pay for cable (or in our case, satellite).

Here’s my opinion (and again, this is just my opinion, just my method as one parent out of millions trying to make sense of all the information out there): TV time is fine, but tablet time is not fine.

Many parenting experts actually say they prefer that toddlers use tablets because it is more interactive screen time, versus TV, which is a form of passive screen time. While I’m not a parenting expert (again), I can’t help by disagree. I’ve seen my son’s friends use tablets in grocery stores, in restaurants, at playdates: they stare at it passively, watching YouTube videos, skipping video after video. Kids are smart and they learn negative behaviors really fast. As well, using a tablet can effect your posture bad: I mean, I only use my cell phone and I’ve noticed a definitely change in my posture that I have to actively correct. Tablet use has also been linked to poor eyesight; the blue light, especially on young, developing eyes, can be particularly damaging.

I don’t think tablets are the worst, but from what I’ve read, I find them the most scary. Did you know that it was only recently that Apple started insisting that apps alert you when they are recording the screen as you’re using it? I mean, as in, within the past few days. That means, some apps have been recording our usage in terms of video recording. Sorry, but that is wild! Some apps seem fun for kids, but are just dangerous. And don’t get me started on how much messed up stuff is on YouTube Kids! There are graphically violent videos on YouTube Kids pretending to be Peppa PIg. At least when I turn on the TV and put on Sesame Street, I know it’s Sesame Street, you know? And also I know Forrest isn’t going to buy $30 worth of apps because he’s smarter than me.

How to Keep TV Interactive

This leads me back to why I prefer TV. Even though parenting experts say that TV time can be too passive (that is, just sitting and watching versus learning, writing, and drawing), again, I disagree. I think it really depends on the shows.

Forrest watches about 3 hours of TV a day. I try to keep it less that that, but truthfully, some days he definitely gets more (depending on how much work I need to get done). And I heavily control what those 3 hours consist of. I fought hard against letting him watch Paw Patrol, for example but one day last summer, Danny let him watch it. I don’t think Paw Patrol is a highly educational show and it doesn’t invite interaction.

What shows do invite interaction? We like Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street (of course), Team Umi Zoomi, and Little Einsteins. Two of those shows aren’t even on anymore, so we primarily watch them on DVD. All of those shows are educational, teach valuable lessons, and invite kids to interact as they watch—and learn. One channel that we watched a lot when Forrest was little was Baby Connect, a channel I found in the 800s on our TV; I don’t know how common it is, but if you can find it on your TV, I highly recommend. It has some foreign language shows that have been dubbed (like a Welsh show about a tractor), as well as lots of singing, counting, and color naming. I always joke that Forrest knew all his colors, numbers, and letters by 18 months because of Baby Connect.

Is This the End All Be All?

Obviously, no. I’m not a parenting expert. I’m just sharing the decision I’ve made for our family to help us survive. I think if you can get by without TV, more power to you! That’s amazing! Forrest plays while he watches TV; I’d say he actively pays attention to TV maybe 50% of the time. But he often needs a higher level of interaction than I can provide, especially in the middle of the day when I’m working, and so, TV becomes a lifesaver. But if you’re like me and just trying to make the best decision, this is the best advice I can give you: if you feel like it isn’t working, or you notice things happening in your child’s behavior, then there is no shame in seeing if less TV will help.

In December, I started noticing Forrest whining, crying, and throwing tantrums way more than usual. I dialed back his TV watching a lot—and I mean, a lot—during Christmas break and it made a huge difference. We started listening to music instead and he loved that.

Here’s a rundown of my tips:

  • As many hours as their age: Forrest is 3, so I try to limit him to 3 hours of TV per day. Usually, we listen to music until Daniel Tiger comes on (which is an hour), then nap, then in the afternoon, he gets to pick a movie or TV show to watch.

  • Interact with them: As they watch TV, ask questions. “What is Daniel doing?” “Does he look sad?” I have found that it works best for me to watch at least part of it with him.

  • Give them other activities to do: I make sure that Forrest has lots of activities to do throughout the day when I need to work. Stickers, lots of crayons and paper, and lots of books. I also try to stop what I’m doing and play with him a few times a day.

So, I turn it over to you: do you let your toddler or preschooler watch TV? What works for your family?

Monthly Wrap Up: January 2019

Monthly Wrap Up: January 2019 | Writing Between Pauses

Another month gone by, another wrap up post, another “can you believe how long/busy/exhausting this month was?” question. Sometimes, it is hard to sum up adult life in things other than cliches. What else can I say for myself other than, “I was very busy in January, and it was a very long month, and I’m desperately trying to be the best version of myself”?

Yeah, I guess that’s pretty good.

January always feels like a very long month. The joy of the holidays is officially over—and it’s not coming back. Everyone is a little burnt out. We all are trying to make up for all that time we took off for holiday traveling, or just revelry, and we might have some interesting credit cards bills from gift giving (or drinks out with coworkers or friends). It’s a lot of “adulting,” to use a word I hate. Plus, the sun is officially behind the clouds 90% of the time, like 75% of the country is current behind an actual ice wall (we’re just gonna call the Midwest the North know and they are all white walkers). We’re all vitamin D deficient and doing our best.

So, January is hard. But actually, January was kind of fun this year. Let’s get into the post and I’ll stop writing quips that I think are funny.

Monthly Empties

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I’ve been trying to use up my shockingly large mask collection. I have so many, guys. This month, I finished up the Body Shop Tea Tree Clay Mask (which I reviewed here), the Jejuien You Can’t Handle This Sheet volcanic ash sheet mask, and the YesTo Cucumbers Calming Mud Mask (from one of the clearance gift sets I bought at Target after Christmas).

Not a lot of empties this month and here’s why: I feel like I’ve barely worn make up or done anything to my face. I’ve been in kind of a rut, probably partly caused by SAD and needing some sun exposure, regarding my skincare and makeup. It’s just been… not as high of a priority for me, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I really love taking care of my appearance and when I stop having the patience for it, I know I’m either 1) burnt out or 2) depressed. So, that’s been something I’m working on. However, I did rediscover my Wet’n’Wild Cushion Foundation again this month, so here’s to two months of cushion empties. Cheers!

Best Moments

January was full of lots of good moments, really. But here are a few:

  • Forrest going back to school

  • Having good enough weather to play outside at least once

  • Making plans for our summer vacation and spring break

  • Getting back into bullet journaling

  • Sharing photos of myself for the first time in 3-4 years

  • Mary Oliver’s passing bringing out the poetry lover in everyone

  • Watching “Sex Education” with Danny

  • Going to my work’s Christmas party for the first time… ever

I have been trying to keep track of my “good” versus “bad” days in my bullet journal. And something about writing it down, and keeping track of it, helps me to think more about whether I really had a bad day—or whether things were just difficult. It’s really helped me to see more “fun” moments.

What I Learned

This is related to recording my bad days, but again: I feel like the biggest lesson I learned in January was that I get to choose how I feel about each day. Having a rough day with Forrest doesn’t mean the day was bad; there were still hugs and kisses and funny moments in between the meltdowns! Keeping track of that, and journaling every day, has been a huge help in contextualizing everything.

And doing that has also made me realize all the ways I need to improve as a parent. I think sometimes I focus too much on just surviving and getting through each day—and I end up spending most of my time on my phone, or watching TV, while Fo plays. That’s not super active. I could be working, or cleaning, or taking him to the library, but being exhausted makes me choose the easiest option. One of my big goals for February is to just plain be more active: spend more time moving, playing with Forrest, and not just sitting on the couch on Instagram or Twitter.

Is It Time for NaNoWriMo Editing?

Is It Time for NaNoWriMo Editing? | Writing Between Pauses

I write about NaNoWriMo a lot. It’s no secret that I really love doing NaNoWriMo every November, even though it often leaves me a bit burnt out. And also that I never plan to publish anything professionally, at least right now. For me, NaNoWriMo is more about having fun and really writing for 30 days—and less about producing something I think people want to read. (This might be the imposter syndrome talking!)

However, I’ve never really touched on what comes after NaNoWriMo. You know, the part where you let your novel sit for a little while then you go back to it. And edit it. And keep writing on it.

I’ve done that. (I promise! I probably reread all my NaNoWriMo novels at least twice a year.) But I never really talk about doing it or write about doing it. (Oof, writing about writing, am I right?) It’s just something I do, piece by piece, for several months, until it’s time for the next NaNoWriMo novel.

And just like NaNoWriMo, I have my own specific process for editing my NaNoWriMo novels. Obviously, I come from the unique place of not intending to publish anything, but just wanting to write something really good that I personally enjoy reading. I thought I would share my process in case it is helpful for others.

1. Find a beta

Betas are, in the writing world, people who edit your work for you. The term popularly comes from fanfiction—and I have a group of people I’ve known for years who beta stories for people nearly every single weekend. It’s just something they enjoy doing and they are very good at it. So if you are a writing hobbyist, and you really want to improve, and you don’t just want someone to read your work and tell you its awesome, look for a beta. There are so many great ones out there and you can get great plot and grammar feedback. Many betas have their areas of expertise, so even having 2 or 3 people read over your NaNoWriMo novel and make notes can make a huge difference.

2. Write a list of scenes

One thing I usually do a few months after November is going through what I’ve written and making a list of each scene. I can then use that list to guide me as I do my big reread and note where I want to rewrite a scene, move it around, or take it out completely. I can take notes on that list about what I want to change, and how, and why.

3. Reread, reorder, & rewrite

Once I have a lot of notes about what I want to do (as well as feedback from my betas of what worked and what didn’t), I start the often rather difficult process of doing those things. For me, this part is really tedious—it’s what I hate most about editing. But having a list of the original order of scenes allows me to know what I moved and where and why, so I can keep better track of what I’m doing without getting confused. Usually during the process, I start doing way more than I originally intended, then make myself tired. I tend to cap editing at about 2 hours a week, because otherwise I will absolutely get burnt out.

4. Print it out

If you read that last sentence, you’re probably like, “hold on… you only edit for 2 hours a week?” Yeah. Alongside all the writing I do, for this blog, for my freelance work, and for my job, doing too much makes me go bonkers pretty fast. And there is nothing worse than being absolutely frozen on a deadline for a job that pays, you know? Steps 2 and 3 usually take me a good 3-4 months (I haven’t even started them yet for my most recent NaNoWriMo novel, I’m not ready!). But, once I get that first round done, I will print out my NaNoWriMo novel and read through it with a pen. At this point, I will start noting what I want to add to it, if anything. Sometimes, I want to add in scenes I had originally removed, but have them rewritten and in a totally new place. Or written a totally new way. This step is one of the most fun parts for me, but can also be quite tedious—like when I randomly decide to change the voice about halfway through.

Once I finish this step, I start writing again—compiling my notes from my printed copy. Then, I start the editing process over again: betas, the list, and more writing. I recently thought about restarting this process for my NaNoWriMo novel from 2014—it’s one of my favorites, but needs the most work, as well as a load of research to fix some major errors.

What’s your NaNoWriMo editing process like?

Revisiting Hungryroot: Is It Worth It?*

Revisiting Hungry Root: Is It Worth It? | Writing Between Pauses

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about Hungryroot that has quickly become one of my most popular posts ever. And it goes without saying, it’s for good reason. Meal subscriptions are super popular (I’ve tried several myself), and having one that is plant-based and able to take into account various allergies and diet requirements is pretty exciting.

When I first tried Hungryroot, something that something that stuck in my craw was their note that all their meals are under 500 calories; why 500 calories!? Well, the truth is most of these meals are intended to be altered or have additional elements. For example, their Veggie Chili is 200 calories for the entire container—but you should eat it alongside a salad and maybe some crackers. They’re not telling anyone to eat just 500 calories for an entire meal. This isn’t a main point of the Hungryroot brand anymore and I’m loving their encouragement to modify and add to their meals. As well, they’ve recently added proteins available (their salmon dishes are amazing).

Here’s what Hungryroot has to say about their new rebrand:

Hungryroot is a brand of nutrient-dense, clean-ingredient grocery staples that make it easy to eat healthy. We send you a variety of foods, from fresh-cut vegetables and versatile sauces to delicious proteins and wholesome desserts all tailored to you. We deliver on auto-pilot to your home, and since everything we send is based on your preferences, Hungryroot gets better as we get to know you.

I was excited to revisit Hungryroot and even more excited to find out they have an advocate program. Danny and I have been trying to eat primarily plant-based in 2019; not for any reason other than we know it is better for our bodies in terms of nutrition and we know it is better for the planet. We decided to try Hungryroot again because we were curious about the new dishes they offered—as well as any new recipes to give us ideas for the future!

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What I Liked

My first box arrived in the middle of January—the perfect time, really, because Danny and I were feeling really tired of everything I usually cook that’s more plant-based and healthy. The first dish I made was the kohlrabi noodles with pesto and salmon. It was so good—even Forrest ate some of it, and getting him to try new things is always a challenge. The salmon in particular was really delicious.

I think that’s one of the most exciting things about Hungryroot now, is the option to add protein sources. They offer salmon and chicken sausage right now. Both are delicious! (I actually went and bought some local chicken sausage after seeing some of the available recipes!)

Other dishes that we’ve loved have been the veggie chili (Danny in particular loves this) and the Spicy Black Bean Butternut Noodles. I also really love their dessert options too! The Black Bean Brownie Batter remains my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever eaten from a meal subscription box. In our most recent box, we got the Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodle dough and, oh my goodness! I decided to bake it into cookie form with Forrest—I let him put some chocolate chips on top—and they are so good. And it’s nice to have a sweet snack that is also giving me some nutrients.

We also really loved their grab-and-go breakfast options—the Maple Raisin Pumpkin Pie oatmeal was so good. Even Forrest liked that one. I ordered two of those in our first box and it was worth it. If I could buy a whole palette of it, I would. They have other oatmeal options as well.

I’m really excited to try some of the other meals—such as their new wraps and flatbread options, because they look really delicious.

So, Is It Worth It?

Originally, in my first blog post, I concluded that Hungryroot wasn’t worth it—because I felt like the recipes weren’t totally worth it. However, this time, I think my conclusion is different: I think if you’re looking for Hungryroot to send you everything you need to make big meals, that’s just not realistic. But it is a great way to explore some dishes you’ve never had before, try out some side dishes, and learn how to cook things that are plant-based and delicious. In that sense, it is absolutely worth it. I just think it’s about having a different mindset when it comes to what a “meal subscription” means!

I think if you’re a really practiced cook, and just need some new ideas, this is also a great way to give you some options. As well, if you’re just learning to cook and aren’t sure how to cook, say, brussel sprouts… this is a great way to learn, see what you like, and gain some experience cooking!

The best thing about having Hungryroot really is being able to make something on the fly. Sometimes, I don’t even make the meals I technically ordered. As an example, Danny and I both love their salad blend (it has kale, cabbage, and a bunch of other stuff); so I used that to make a Mexican salad with our own dressing. I would never buy all the pieces for that salad to make on my own—with only two of us, it would just be too much waste! But having Hungryroot gave me the option and it was delicious.

I’m really excited to be able to offer my readers a discount for their first two boxes. Use the code 25OFF2PAUSES for $25 off your first two boxes (that’s $25 each, $50 total) when you sign up at Hungryroot.

Hungryroot promo code

*Disclaimer: While this post is not sponsored by Hungryroot, I am a part of the Hungryroot advocate program. That means, I receive a small referral for each person who uses my code. However, all opinions remain my own! Posts like this, and programs like this, help me keep Writing Between Pauses running. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Help! My Foundation Looks Terrible

Help! My Foundation Looks Terrible | Writing Between Pauses

Very rarely do I answer individual “reader” questions on my blog. It’s not because I don’t want to, but because very rarely are the questions people ask me something that I think can apply to most people. When it comes to blogging, I try to keep things applicable across the board so that as many people can find answers as possible.

But sometimes, I get a question that is so universal, I realize I’ve been neglecting writing about it.

Probably the number one question I get—from family and friends, in Twitter DMs, on Instagram, and in blog comments—is this: my foundation looks terrible sometimes. What am I doing wrong?

If you’re someone who wears foundation, you’ve undoubtedly had a moment where you’ve glanced in a mirror and thought, holy shit, what have I done to my face?

For me, it’s always in the tiny mirror in my car. Suddenly in natural light, I’ll notice how orange I look, or how splotchy, or how dry. It’s not flattering and often hard to fix on the fly while out-and-about.

So this question is about those moments: what’s gone wrong and how can you keep it from happening?

Potential Issue #1: Tools

Oftentimes, foundation that goes bad (in terms of: being splotchy, looking like a mask, or being oddly textured on the skin) is a matter of the tool that was used to apply it. Using the right tool for the right type of foundation is key and often requires a little bit of trial and error, what you prefer, and your skin’s texture. (That is: I’m not going to prescribe a specific tool for a specific type of foundation because it can be really variable.)

However, one really key aspect of any foundation tool is this: it has to be clean. So wash your foundation brush or sponge often (at least once a week) and let it dry completely. Always used a beauty blender-like sponge damp (not wet, not dry).

Play around with the tools you use to see what is causing the problem. I have found that using a foundation brush, then a damp make up sponge gives me the best texture, as well as easier application—that’s just what works best for me.

Potential Issue #2: Foundation Formula

Some foundations just don’t work on certain skin types. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the foundation or your skin. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles, after all. A prime example: a lot of people with dry skin simply can’t use the Fenty Beauty foundation. It doesn’t mean that it is a bad foundation or that no one should use it; it’s just a matter of being incompatible skin types and formulas.

If you find that your foundation separates, disappears, or oxidizes, it’s just a bad formula for your skin type.

If you find that your foundation makes you look drier than the Sahara, makes your skin feel and look tight, and is more like a mask than anything else, it’s just a bad formula for your skin type.

Finding a foundation that matches your skin (both in tone, texture, and type) can be a long and somewhat arduous process. But here’s my advice: take a skin quiz on Sephora or Ulta, go in to the store, and ask for some samples. It’s the only way to really test a lot of foundations and see how they wear on your sin. That’s what I did for this blog post on foundation matching and it helped me find my perfect match: Too Faced Peach Perfect Foundation.

Potential Issue #3: Incompatible Products

If your foundation separates, disappears, oxidizes, or otherwise looks like trash really soon after applying, there might be another culprit: your baking powder or your primer. Or both.

When wearing foundation, I often recommend wearing it once without primer and just powder. Once with primer and no powder. Once without anything. And then, once with both. (You can do this, obviously, on days when you’re just at home.) This will help give you an idea of whether your products are even compatible.

Some primers just don’t play nice with certain foundations, depending on their chemical make up. This is beyond my skill level; if you’re better at science than me, you can totally research this further. But some primers don’t work with every foundation (and they, like foundations, don’t work on every skin type). So testing everything separately to see how it plays with your foundation can help you figure out if it’s the foundation itself that doesn’t fit your skin type or if your primer is causing your foundation go bad.

With powder, some are too heavy for certain foundations and can either whisk the foundation away when you brush or pat it on. Or, they turn grayish. Again, this is just a matter of the chemical compounds not playing nice together. It’s funny to think that every time we put on make up, we’re working with chemistry in a small way: we’re layering our skin (which has its own oils, of course) with multiple different chemical make ups, and sometimes they just don’t work together.

Potential Issue #4: Expired Products

If you use foundation really slowly, you might notice that after a while, it starts to look different.

When I was in college, I went through a phase of leaving my foundation bottle open. It dried it out and made it more mattifying. (This was back when I was using basic Covergirl foundation. Not my best moment, surely.) This was not great for the product itself, but I liked how it looked on. However, after a while, it also started to smell really bad. Why? Because my foundation had expired from being left out in the open and from just being kind of old.

I write the date I first open and use something on every make up product I own. (Or, I write it on a list if it’s a smaller package.) Then, I really try to keep to expiration dates on the packaging. You know the little compact looking mark on packages that has a 6m or 12m inside of it? That’s how long you are meant to keep it. For some things, it doesn’t matter—like mascaras—but for foundation, I do try to stick to it.

Expired foundation can be the culprit behind foundation that is separating or oxidizing really bad.

Potential Issue #5: Skincare Issues

Remember how I said when we do our makeup, we are kind of being chemists? This is another example.

I started using a glycolic acid serum that I really like—but I noticed that if I used it before I put on foundation, my foundation would pill. That’s right: instead of laying on my face, it would ball up as I used my brush. No bother, I thought; I’ll just use a sponge. Nope, my foundation was coming off in layers then!

As it turns out, that product just didn’t play nice with my moisturizer or foundation. I had to stop using it if I wanted any of my other products to work.

If you’re noticing problems with your foundation, certain items of your skincare may be the culprit. This is another case where you’re have to test with and without each product to see how it plays with your foundation. If you’ve narrowed down every other factor, this is probably the one—you’ll just have to see what product is making your foundation go off!

My Top 3 Favorite Liquid Lip Formulas

My Top 3 Favorite Liquid Lip Formulas | Writing Between Pauses

Liquid lipsticks are here to stay, it seems. Even as we transition to the trend of glossier lips, I still find most beauty gurus and influencers are using liquid lipsticks as a base—them using gloss on top.

I’m still not a fan of lip gloss. I lived through the early 2000s as a teenager, thank you very much, with my hair nearly semi-permanently attached to my lips thanks to thick, sloppy Victoria’s Secret glosses. I’m not ready to revisit that era, just as I will never revisit low-waisted jeans, peasant tops, or skirts over jeans.

I am, as you probably know, a big fan of a liquid lipstick. Liquid lipstick has all the things I love about lipstick (color payoff, looking put together even when I’ve just rolled out of bed) and corrects all the things I don’t like about lipstick (having to reapply 4000 times before and after eating, risking having it all over my face at any moment).

When it comes to formulas, we all have our favorites. Some people hate a really powedery feeling formula and some people love it. Some people don’t like super drying formulas. And if you’re like me, and you’re getting older, and you find liquid lipsticks feather, you start to get incredibly frustrated by the options out there.

I’ve done the legwork, the research, everything. I’ve tried all the liquid lipsticks I can find and I’m here to tell you my 3 absolute favorite formulas.

But first, let’s talk a bit about my criteria for my favorites.

1) I like a quick drying formula. I don’t like waiting around for my lipstick to dry before I move on.

2) I like long lasting formulas. I should be able to drink coffee and 1) not get it everywhere and 2) not have to reapply afterwards.

3) I like somewhat comfortable formulas. That is, it doesn’t feel like I’ve put a clay mask on my lips.

best liquid lipstick formula

Favorite Formula #1: Wet’n’Wild Liquid Catsuit

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that Wet’n’Wild Liquid Catsuit is one of the best liquid lip formulas… at least in my book. Fast drying? Check. Comfortable? Absolutely. Staying power? Yes. And even better? They cost $5. $5!!! For one of the best liquid lips out there. I’ve written about them a lot before, so I don’t need to say much more except that… if you want the most bang for your buck, get to your nearest Target, Walgreens, or Walmart, and buy at least the shade Rebel Rose.

Favorite Formula #2: Anastasia Beverly Hills

I buy ABH Liquid Lips exclusively at TJ Maxx or Marshalls, because they alway shave a ton. So while I can’t speak to the price range (they’re $20 normally), I can say with confidence that they are one of my favorite formulas. They dry down really fast and are very comfortable. I would actually say the ABH formula is the most comfortable formula of the 3 I’m writing about today. It feels like you don’t even have lipstick on—that’s how comfortable it is. They have great color pay off, of course, and are incredibly long lasting. Plus, the fact that you can often find them for a discount is a huge bonus to me; I’m never one to spend $20 on a lipstick unless it is the holy grail… and these kind of are holy grail liquid lipsticks.

Favorite Formula #3: Too Faced Melted Mattes

When I bought the Christmas set of liquid lipsticks from Too Faced, I didn’t have super high hopes for them. I just really liked the theme. However, they have quickly become some of my favorite liquid lipsticks and the shade Sugar Cookie is actually one of my daily go tos. It’s the perfect pale pink nude. Melted Mattes check all the boxes, of course: they are fast drying; they are long lasting; and they feel relatively comfortable. I do have issues with darker shades, like the Cinnamon Bear shade, feathering—so I make sure to use a liner. However, at $21 a pop, they aren’t something I buy a lot of. However, if you can find gift sets, you often get deluxe sample size (which are plenty big) for a pretty affordable price. I always keep my eyes peeled for them!