4 Face Masks to Try This Autumn

4 Face Masks to Try This Autumn | Writing Between Pauses

Face masks are one thing that I started doing just a year or so ago… and I’m not sure I can ever go back to not doing them. There is something so soothing about a face mask. It might help your skin. But many people say it’s not really enough to make any difference in your skin, that you need to use product semi-regularly to see a big difference. And while I enjoy the potential skin benefits, that’s actually not why I do masks: I just find them really fun and I spend a lot of time looking at different face masks.

I put together this post of my 4 dream face masks for Autumn. I’ve tried two of them, but the other 2 are on my wish list.

1. Watermelon Glow Jelly Mask from Glow Recipe

Relive the glory days of summer with this delicious, jelly watermelon mask from Glow Recipe. (Is that too salesy? I swear, I’m not trying to be salesy.) This mask is perfect for anyone struggling with dryness (the heating goes on and suddenly, we’re all very dry), uneven skin tone, or dullness and texture issues. It also comes in two pieces, which makes it much easier to cover your entire face and have it actually fit, so you can mask while doing housework or other tasks.

2. Pumpkin & Honey Glycolic Mask from Andalou Naturals

This mask is perfect for the season. It contains vitamin C, which helps with surface pigmentation, uneven tone, and dark spots, as well as helps with cell turnover. Pumpkin puree provides natural enzymes which remove dehydrated cells to brighten up your skin. Manuka honey is soothing and helps to heal any blemishes (very nice). Glycolic acid helps to dissolve and exfoliate dead skin cells to get a lovely, smooth complexion. This mask smells amazing (just like pumpkin with a hint of sweet honey) and feels great on.

3. Cold Plunge Pore Mask from Ole Henriksen

Hit the slopes with this Cold Plunge Pore mask. Ole Henriksen makes some of the best products for those with oily, acne-prone skin and this mask is no different. Here’s what this mask promises:

Take the plunge for smaller-looking pores—instantly. Deeply purify and diminish pores with an exhilarating chill. Inspired by the “cold plunge” part of a Scandinavian sauna cycle, this cooling clay mask detoxifies, controls oil, and reduces the look of pores. The innovative formula harnesses the power of alpine willow herb and snow lotus—antioxidant-rich botanicals that have adapted to thrive in extreme cold—to soothe, mattify, and refine pores. Add cool water, and the turquoise clay mask thaws into a luxurious lather that sweeps away excess oil and impurities.

It’s absolutely perfect for anyone who wants to cleanse and shrink their pores, improve their skin’s texture and appearance, and control oiliness.

4. Pumpkin 24K Gold Sheet Mask from Too Cool for School

I’ve been getting targeted ads for this mask for weeks and, I have to say, it intrigued me so much I went in and bought one. It was just so cute! I immediately loved it: it smells amazing, feels amazing, and left my skin feeling super soft. I’ve been very dry lately (probably a combination of the change in season and turning on the heat in my house) and it helped a lot with that. Here’s what this mask promises:

This environmentally conscious, and skin-friendly bio-cellulose mask provides the optimal base for holding active ingredients. Holding up to 100 times its dry weight in fluid, it fits like a second skin and delivers intensive benefits. Superfood pumpkin’s soothing nutrients relieve dry and flaky skin, beta carotene adds a natural dewiness, and vitamin A supports natural elasticity.

It’s a lovely mask and absolutely perfect for Fall!

Product Review: Starbucks Cold Brew at Home!

Product Review: Starbucks Cold Brew at Home! | Writing Between Pauses

Over the summer, I developed a serious cold brew problem. The Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew at Starbucks is one of my favorite drinks of all time: it is really coffee-flavored, lightly sweet, and perfect for a cold day. It's also not super calorie heavy; 110 calories for a tall is actually pretty decent. And compared to other drinks at Starbucks, it has 14g of sugar--which is still a lot (about 3.5 teaspoons). Hence, why it's not an every day treat! 

While cruising Target, I noticed that Starbucks now sells packs to make cold brew at home. They come in a variety of flavors, but for around $8 for a box that makes one pitcher, I decided to just get the regular version. 

Cold brew at Home
Making cold brew at home
Is Starbucks cold brew at home good

The instructions are quite easy. However, it does take 24 hours from start to finish. You fill a pitcher with 4 cups of water, add the two giant tea bags of coffee grounds, and pop it in the fridge for 24 hours. Yep, 24 hours. When it's ready, you add another 4 cups of water, remove the big packs of coffee (carefully, I accidentally broke one), and your cold brew is ready to enjoy. 

Minus the fact that it took 24 hours (I don't know why I thought it would be 4-5 hours max!), the cold brew it produced was delicious. It tasted just like the cold brew you would get at Starbucks; with a packet of Truvia, a tablespoon of salted caramel creamer, and a tablespoon or so of almond milk, you have a lower-sugar Sweet Cream Vanilla Cold brew at home. 

The pitcher made about 8-10 servings of cold brew for me. At $8 for a single pitcher, that evens out to $1 or less per serving, which was pretty good considering a drink at Starbucks is $3 or more. Ultimately, it saves money and you can control the calories and amount of sugar in your drinks more effectively. 

Fall is fast approaching, so I've been experimenting with cold brew and pumpkin spice. Let me tell you: it's just as delicious with a little Pumpkin Spice creamer and almond milk! If you love cold brew, but are tired of spending so much money at coffee shops, these are a great option. 

Product Review: Maxwell USB Floor Lamp from Brightech*

Product Review: Maxwell USB Floor Lamp from Brightech* | Writing Between Pauses

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Brightech** asking if I'd like to test out one of their lamps.

Home decor is one of those areas I really love, but with a toddler, is one of the areas of my life where I feel everything is severely lacking. We still have a combination of college leftovers (the two bookshelves in my photos are both hand-me-downs that I had in my apartment in college!), hand-me-downs, and things purchased purely out of need, rather than aesthetic design. 

We have recently been trying to clean up our house and get rid of our mish-mashed furniture. Our dining room table finally matches our china cabinet, for example; our entertainment center in the living room is finally a functional piece of furniture, rather than something that was falling apart. It has been a slow and steady process, mainly because we don't really have the money to buy all new furniture! 

One thing we needed in our living room was some kind of additional lighting--which is why that email from Brightech felt very serendipitous! 

With a toddler, we don't like to have table lamps, as they can be easily pulled down (and the more cords we have, the more problems). We wanted to get a floor lamp that we could eventually transition to another part of our house or repurpose later on. 

So, that's what led me to pick the Maxwell USB Floor Lamp** in white from Brightech. 

I haven't mentioned this much, but Danny and I are going to be moving in about a year's time to a new house. I know, I know... it's very overwhelming. So everything we have right now isn't forever. We chose the Maxwell USB Floor Lamp with the intention of having it in our living room for a bit of extra light in the mornings; Forrest wakes up at 5:30 or so every day and our overhead lights are very bright. Not a gentle wake up for anyone! The Maxwell gives us a good bit of light while also being very functional. 

In the new house next year, I plan to put the Maxwell lamp in my office; I already have a vision for what I want my new office to look like (yes, I'll get my own dedicated office!) and the Maxwell fits in perfectly. I like that it can be both incredibly functional and part of the design of a room itself. 

Right now, I don't love where I have it in our house; however, again, with a toddler who is running at top speed with little foresight to something like cords, we didn't want to have it beside our couch (where I originally wanted). I knew that Forrest would trip on it!

Brightech Maxwell lamp
Lamp with USB Charger

However, my favorite part about is the USB charging ports on the top. There is a plug in, which means I can use it for some Christmas lights in the next few months; there are also USB ports for cell phone chargers. This makes it super handy to listen to podcasts or books while folding laundry, cleaning the living room, or just playing with Forrest. 

Brightech has lots of great lamps that are just as beautiful and functional as the Maxwell; they eve have a great selection of string lights**. When we move into our house next week, we have some big plans for a backyard and I'm really excited to get some Edison lights**. 

Even better, shipping from Brightech was fast (like, really fast) and assembling the lamp went really easy as well. Putting together furniture is always a test of a marriage and we didn't fight once while putting together the Maxwell. If that's not a testament to good instructions, I don't know what is! 

If you're looking for great, functional and beautiful lighting, I can't recommend Brightech** enough! 

Disclaimer: As usual, an asterisk (*) in the title of this post indicates a sponsored post. I received the Maxwell USB Floor Lamp from Brightech in exchange for review. However, all opinions remain my own! As well, links marked with a double asterisk (**) throughout this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for any purchases through that light. This helps me keep the lights on here at Writing Between Pauses! For more information about my disclosure policy, click here

How to Find the Right Hair Mask for Your Hair Type

How to Find the Right Hair Mask for Your Hair Type | Writing Between Pauses

I do a lot of hair care. Like, a lot. I've written reviews about all the shampoos and hair masks I've tried over the last year. 

If you read my hair care posts, you know I've been struggling with a dry scalp that gets very bad, then gets better, then gets worse... no matter what I do. I'm excited to tell you guys I found the culprit: it's hormonal. Yeah, chalk that up to another unfortunate side effect of being female, I guess; some people struggle with a dry scalp at the same point in their cycle every single month. Once I started tracking my scalp problems in my cycle-tracking app, I noticed that my scalp got much drier between when I ovulate and when I start my period. Every. Single. Month. 

Hair masks for thin hair

So, that's exciting! At least I've found an answer, after a year of struggling. I use hair masks and heavy conditioning on my scalp just before when I know it's going to start getting bad and I've noticed a huge improvement. 

However, I get asked by almost everyone I know: how do you know what hair mask to pick for your hair type? 

A lot of hair masks are designed for hair that is not like mine. And I'll admit right now that I have a very basic, easy hair type. There is nothing special about my hair! There seems to be gaps at both ends of the spectrum for hair: most masks are designed for people with straight-to-wavy hair that is thick and not too curly. A lot of people are left out that way, but don't worry, hope isn't lost! I've still found some great hair masks. 

Regardless of your hair type, I have a few tips for picking the right hair mask for you. 

1. Read the entire packet. 

This goes without saying, but read the entire packet that you're looking at! I've make the mistake (one too many times) of tossing a few hair masks into my basket and then when I get home, realizing they are way too heavy for my hair type. 

There are some types of oil that work better for different types of hair. If you have very curly, coarse hair then your hair can withstand using things like shea and coconut oil. But for finer hair, those oils can be too heavy and cause build up; fine hair works best with jojoba and other light seed oils. Paying attention to ingredients is a big step towards finding the right mask for you. 

2. Know what your hair needs.

Is your hair dry? Or does it get easily tangled? Do you need to add shine back to your hair? Or are you trying to grow it out? 

Depending on what you need, that will determine your mask type. Because my hair is quite long and my scalp needs extra conditioning, I often buy masks that are designed for dry hair; I use them on both my scalp and my hair. However, I will often also buy masks that advertise themselves as sealing (to help with preventing split ends). Again: read the packet fully and know what you're looking for. 

Here are a few recommendations I have for different hair needs!

For Damaged Hair

For Dry Hair

For Hair Growth

3. You don't have to use the entire packet. 

Many hair masks come in packets that seem to suggest they are a single use. (If you're using from a tub, this doesn't apply! But we will get to how much mask to use). If you have very dry, damaged hair, you might need to use a lot of a hair mask; however, just because it comes in a packet doesn't mean you can't use half and get an extra conditioning. This also helps you avoid waxy build up if you have fine hair. (Oh and it saves money, of course!) 

Most people don't need to condition their scalps. In fact, most masks say to avoid your scalp (as this can make your hair greasier). I don't subscribe to that logic because my scalp is the part of my hair that needs moisturizing! However, most people can get by with masking just the bottom 50-75% of their hair. Really! So if you want to try a hair mask that is perhaps heavier than what you would typically use for your hair type, remember: you can only use half! 

4. Don't be afraid to try a few things. 

I love hair masks and I've used a ton... but I've also found myself thinking, this mask didn't do anything. And that's ok! Not every mask is going to be a miracle worker. But when you find the mask that works for you, it will be worth all the duds you found along the way. And one person's dud (Pacifica's Banana Love mask, for me) could be someone else's holy grail! 

This is why I recommend buying packets of hair masks (or getting samples) first, then splurging on a tube or tub! That way you aren't stuck with a lot of something that you just won't use. As well, when it comes to repairing damage or rehydrating dry hair, it won't be an overnight or single use shift; it will require a lot of change on your part. For example, if you have split ends, a keratin-based hair mask can help--but you'll have to use it regularly, alongside avoiding additional head damage and stress damage, at the same time! Hair masks are great, but they aren't miracle workers. 

Do you use hair masks? What are your favorites? 

Beauty Review: Makeup Revolution Concealer

Beauty Review: Makeup Revolution Concealer | Writing Between Pauses

Every once and a while, a product comes along and gets hyped up. It might be a perfectly good product--like this one, the Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define concealer--but with all the hype, it's hard to live up to expectations. 

A few months ago, I watched multiple videos singing the praises of this concealer. It's just like Shape Tape! The color selection is amazing! The wear is great! And even better, many beauty bloggers also said it was amazing. Considering it is only $7, I thought, "If I can replace that tube of Shape Tape that I don't really love, it will be worth it." 

Friends, sometimes when we hype things up as the greatest thing ever... there will only be disappointment. 

I purchased this concealer in the shade C1 (for fair skin tone with neutral undertones) at Ulta for $7. I was so excited to try it! I have a tube of Shape Tape that I've been diligently trying to use up for actual ages, because I don't really love it, but I spent $25 on it, so I feel obligated to finish it. 

The biggest question for me about this concealer was this: is this a dupe for Shape Tape? 

The answer frankly is no. And considering I don't like Shape Tape, you might think, well, isn't that a good thing? 

Well, no. Not if this is worse. 

Shape Tape is too drying for me. But this concealer from Makeup Revolution doesn't really do anything. The first time I put it on, I felt like it blended to nothing; the second time, I let it dry a little and then blended... but still, nothing. It didn't seem to cover anything. And worse, the tone of it was almost grey-beige. I found myself wondering if I had gotten a tube that was somehow different from everyone else. 

It's definitely not the worst concealer I've ever used... but I can't even count it as passable. Just like Shape Tape, I'm trying to use the tube up as quickly as I can! And thankfully, it's a rather small tube of product; I've already had to pull out the wand plunger so I can get the bits at the bottom. I find it works well enough that I can use it on my no foundation days, but it doesn't have the coverage I want and the tone of it is way, way off. 

Have you tried this concealer? Were you as disappointed as I was? Or did you love it? 

Monthly Wrap Up & Empties: August 2018

Monthly Wrap Up & Empties: August 2018

After lots of hemming and hawing, yes, I'm combining my monthly wrap ups and my monthly empties posts! I feel like it just makes sense, as often I end up talking about very similar things.

August felt like an absolute blur. We've been busy the entire summer (with way more social obligations and other things than usual), but August felt like a lot. A good a lot. Usually by the time September arrives and Danny goes back to work, I'm excited for him to get back into a routine so that I can get back into a routine. But for the first time ever, I got very sad about him going back to work. Because, at the same time, Forrest will be starting preschool 2 days a week and honestly, I just can't handle it! What am I going to do with all my time? 

Probably stuff it full of more hobbies and obligations, let's be real. 

August 1
August 2
August 3

3 Good Things from August:

1. I finally got my hair cut. I try to keep this quiet, but I didn't get my hair cut for nearly 3 years. Forrest had just been born and my mom took me to get my pixie cut trimmed. And that was it, the last hair cut I got was December 2015. 2015! 3 years! My ends were wrecked, at least to me, but my hairstylist was extremely proud to see they were not bad at all. In fact, she said I could have gone another 3 years and not lost much more length. Don't tempt me. 

2. The leaves started to change. Fall seems to start a little earlier every single year. I started noticing some yellow-tinged leaves around the end of the month. The tree outside my house is maybe 10% yellow today. I get so excited for the beautiful Fall colors... I have to remind myself to be patient! We'll be raking leaves soon enough. 

3. I started collecting Fall candles. Uh, sorry to rush the end of summer (except I am not sorry!!), but in August, I started nabbing up cheap Fall candles wherever I could. My local Wal-mart had one of my favorite Yankee Candle scents, Sage & Citrus, on clearance, which of course meant I bought 3 of them! My local TJ Maxx has also had some amazing Yankee Candles and off brands with amazing scents. I need my house to smell like cinnamon and caramel for about 4 months straight, so I'm happy. 

Empties 2
Empties 1

My Empties

1. Everyday Aromatherapy Calming, Lavender Chamomile: I got this body wash/bubble bath at TJ Maxx for around $6. It's one of my favorites; I really love the smell of lavender, I know it's "old lady-ish" or can be, but gosh, it's relaxing! Danny and I finally used this one up so we could start a eucalyptus and mint scented one we got at the same time. 

2. Bath & Body Works Fresh Sea Salt Mango Body Spray: I rarely ever use up body sprays, because I tend to accrue them faster than I can ever use them. However, I've made it my mission to start using up the things I have lying around. This was the first to go and I wanted it done by the end of summer. I am starting on last year's winter scents now, so wish me luck! 

3. Pores Be Pure Mud Mask: This is one of my favorite masks, but by the end of the tube, I was tired of it. I used it exclusively the last two weeks. Can you tell I'm clearing out clutter!? This mask smells amazing though--like strawberries--and really does give a good pore cleaning. Highly recommend.

4. Hey Honey Copper Peel Off Mask: The next 3 bits are from my August Ipsy bag. I managed 3 uses out of this little tube, which is perfectly acceptable. I just didn't feel like this mask did anything. It is very pretty though! 

5. VenEffect Pore Minimizing Face Wash: My bonus item from my Ipsy bag, I got maybe 6 face washes out of this tube. I liked the smell of it, but didn't notice it doing much as I didn't receive a large enough amount to really get to use it much. 

6. Caudalie Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence: Listen, here's the thing: I talked some shit on this essence in my Ipsy bag review and I take it back. I only got maybe 4 uses out of this little tube, but 4 uses was enough to know that this improved my skin texture and redness by leaps and bounds. Leaps! And! Bounds! I hate that it's $80 for a full ounce.  

7. Wet'n'Wild Cushion Foundation: My favorite foundation of all time and I've used my 3rd compact of it. Sorry, not sorry. It's so good! 

August 4
August 5
August 6

3 Things I Read, Watched, or Listened To:

1. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: I read this book a while ago, but I've been catching Danny up on the Raven Cycle via audiobooks. So this is something I listened to this month. I forgot how lovely this book is (and yet, how annoying I find all the car stuff) and I'm glad Danny is finally experiencing it!

2. Overdue Podcast: Overdue is a book podcast that I started listening to. I listened to one episode about a book I like, then started listening to all of them. I've been bouncing between episodes; I listened to the Twilight episode, then all their 50 Shades episodes, now I'm only some more serious ones. If you like listening to podcasts about books, this is a good one. 

3. Enchanted Falls Trilogy: One of my favorite authors (Emma Prince) who writes exclusively Scottish romances released the first in a trilogy at the end of July; then 2 other authors released the 2nd and 3rd books through August. The 3rd book is written by my least favorite author ever (I won't go into it, but trust me: it's bad). However, the first 2 in this series were amazing. I'm still working on the 3rd because it's a slog. 

I hope you all had a lovely August. What were your 3 favorite things about the month?

Beauty Review: Makeup Revolution Luxury Baking Powder

Beauty Review: Revolution Makeup Luxury Baking Powder | Writing Between Pauses

If you've read my blog before, you know that I love my IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores powder; it features heavily in my preferred foundation routine

However, the It Cosmetics powder is $32 for a jar and it's not very much in terms of weight. It works like a dream but for $32, I felt like I needed to test out some other options. 

Enter Makeup Revolution's Ghost Luxury Baking Powder. While buying some new concealer, I spotted this powder. For $9, it seemed like an absolute steal. After using it almost every day for about a month, I have some thoughts. 

How I Use It

As you probably know from my foundation routine, I wear powder underneath my foundation; it's my first step after moisturizer. I use this powder first, then apply foundation, then more powder. 

There are a few things I look for when it comes to using powder under my foundation: it doesn't make my foundation pill or look cakey; and it doesn't leave white patches. I found that this powder wasn't as dry as the IT Cosmetics; it reminds me more of elf's HD powder, but heavier. It didn't pill underneath my foundation.

How It Wears

As I said, this powder isn't as dry feeling as IT Cosmetic's. It doesn't have that instantaneous dry and matte feeling. It's not bad, but I was really hoping it would be a good, affordable dupe. 

It did set my makeup relatively well, but it did not extend the light of my foundation at all; within a few hours, I was getting breakdown around my nose and on my forehead, my two big problem areas. Even on my "no foundation days" where I just wear concealer, it ended up making my concealer look very cakey and it broke down a lot faster than usual. 

As well, I noticed that if I wasn't careful, it made me look so cakey! As well, if you don't brush it right away, it leaves large white patches. It is supposed to be a baking powder, which means you do leave it on for a while. However, if I brushed right away, I didn't get white patches. 

It's not the worst powder I've ever used, but it doesn't perform the way I would expect a baking powder to. 

Final Thoughts

Would I repurchase this powder? Absolutely not. For the same price, there are powders that don't advertise themselves as baking powders that do the exact same thing and don't look as bad. In fact, I own some of them! 

I'm still on the hunt for a good dupe for the IT Cosmetics powder. Until then, I guess I'm dropping $32 on an ounce of powder! 

Beauty Review: The Body Shop Mint Mattifying Face Mist

Beauty Review: The Body Shop Mint Mattifying Mist | Writing Between Pauses

In my on-going struggle of having oily skin, which gets dehydrated and yet, somehow even more oily in extreme heat, I have a new product The Body Shop's Mint Mattifying Face Mist. I feel like I've written this in every review recently, but I impulse bought this face mist a few weeks ago because I had seen it in a few Instagram videos and wanted to try it. It's only $10 for a bottle which has so far lasted quite a long time--which isn't too bad, especially for a product from the Body Shop. 

So what does this face mist do? Let's check what they promise: 

This mist leaves skin looking mattified and shine-free and helps reduce the appearance of excess oil. Infused with a winning combination of mint from Nicaragua, seaweed extract from Ireland and kaolin clay from the UK. Leaves skin feeling hydrated and instantly refreshed.

It is also 100% vegan and can be used both over and under makeup. That's great! I'm very into that. 

Performance

This face mist smells amazing. It smells like Lifesaver Wint-o-Green mints, which is a plus. I love those mints. I usually use this after moisturizer and applying my first layer of powder, to really get my base matte before adding foundation or concealer (depending on what method I'm following). I then usually apply again after foundation, but before doing my blush and eye makeup. 

The reason for that is that I found this makes my eye makeup run really badly if it even gets anywhere near mascara. That's not a huge issue, but just something to consider before spraying this on!

I do find it helps smooth out my skin and powder before foundation. It doesn't make my foundation separate or go white or milky like some finishing sprays do, especially when applied after setting everything. I really love how it feels on my skin. However, I haven't found that it really mattifies in the way it says it does; I think it does help make a stickier base for foundation, but I don't find it really mattifying. 

I also don't feel like it necessarily increases the longevity of my makeup. I find I do still get quite oily after a few hours, regardless of whether I use this face mist or not; it does help set my foundation as a first step, but in terms of being long-wearing, it's not there. 

Final Thoughts

Is this product worth the $10 it costs? Probably not. It's quite nice for setting your base, but it doesn't help with the longevity of your makeup; it also doesn't appear to mattify in the way it claims (at least from my perspective). However, it is really refreshing and smells amazing, so it might be better suited to an on-the-go spray if you find yourself oily. I haven't tested it for that, but it would be worth a shot! (Just remember what I said about the mascara.)

Have you tried this face mist? What did you think?