Beauty

Beauty Review: L'Oreal Paris Rapid Reviver Conditioner*

Beauty Review: L'Oreal Paris Rapid Reviver Conditioner | Writing Between Pauses

My relationship with my hair is complicated.

For the last 12 years of my life, I’ve gone through a series of cut-into-pixie-and-grow-as-long-as-possible periods. I got my hair cut into a pixie just weeks before I had Forrest, then didn’t get a haircut for 3 years. (My hairdresser, as you can imagine, was as shocked as me. It really didn’t feel like 3 years, in my defense.)

In the last year and a half as well, I’ve developed an intensely dry scalp, that can be flaky, but mostly just deeply annoying. Sometimes, it’s tied to my cycle. Sometimes, it’s made worse or better by what I use in my hair. But the baseline for my scalp seems to be dry as hell, with a side of flakiness, and that’s just… my normal as an adult. It goes without saying: of all the terrible genetic traits to inherit, why this one (and my slow as heck metabolism)?

Whenever I look for products for my hair and scalp now, I have to be really clear about what I’m looking for: my hair itself isn’t necessarily dry, but my scalp is; my hair handles sulfate-free shampoos well, but not sulfate-free conditioners; harsh dandruff ingredients irritate my scalp worse; I need moisturizing, but not too much or it weighs down my hair… the list goes on.

When I received this conditioner for review, I was convinced I was going to hate it. The L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner has the longest product name in the world (I struggled to shorten it for this blog post) and promises to “provide 2X more nourishment than any leading conditioner” and to be “lightweight, hydrating and moisturizing.” Two of those words mean the same thing, so… we’ll see.

Extraordinary Oil sounds way, way too heavy, doesn’t it? However, despite being called “Extraordinary Oil” and “a hair treatment” in various places both on the L’Oreal website and the tube, it also says it’s for daily use. Now, I subscribe to the idea that you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) wash your hair every single day. So using a heavy conditioner every day seems like a lot.

How good is L'Oreal Paris conditioner

I use a lot of hair masks, so I was fully prepared for this conditioner to have the texture of a hair mask. However, it doesn’t. It’s a fairly standard conditioner when you get down to it; it doesn’t feel heavy and it gives your hair that slippy feeling when you apply it. I’ll admit to being fairly addicted to conditioner; I never don’t use it, because my hair can be unmanageable without it. I love the slippy, smooth feeling and even though I know that’s sulfates, and the internet tells me that sulfates are bad for my hair, I also don’t like not using it… because then my hair turns into a single tangle that I can’t get out! Give me sulfates in my conditioner or give me death!

Did I like this conditioner? Yes! I did. It was hydrating for my scalp and didn’t weigh down my hair as much as I thought it would. However, do I think it is anything special? Not necessarily. Despite all the fancy names, it doesn’t really promise to be anything besides a hydrating conditioner—which is what all conditioners do. Whenever I’m testing a hair product, I have to ask myself, over and over again, if I’m noticing a difference in my scalp (better or worse); preferably, it’s actually best that a product has no effect on my scalp. This product is one of those where it didn’t make my scalp better or worse, which is often a solid win for me.

Is this a particularly special conditioner? Not really. It didn’t necessarily wow me in terms of making my hair look any different from any other conditioner. It should be said, again: I don’t really have dry hair, just a dry scalp, and my hair isn’t damaged from heat treatment or hair dye. The bonus is this is only around $4-6 depending on which drug store you go to. (The downside is that L’Oreal Paris tests on animals.) If you’re looking for a good, affordable conditioner, and you struggle with hair that is dry or damaged, this is a great option.

Would I repurchase? It depends. I think if I started heat treating my hair more, I would probably look for something similar (but cruelty free) to use, as it is really hydrating. But this specific product? Probably not.

Disclaimer: As denoted by the asterisk (*) in the title of this blog post, I received this product in exchange for review. If you’d like to learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Beauty Review: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

Beauty Review: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream  | Writing Between Pauses

I love a gimmick. You guys know that. Holika Holika Piggy Nose? I’m there. I’m on it. I’m 100% for it.

I’ve been admiring the Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream from afar for years; I’d heard rumors that people either absolutely loved the smell of it… or it made them want to puke. I’m not a believer in creams that “reduce cellulite” (cellulite is just how bodies are structured and made, especially bodies with estrogen, so you can’t really effect your body at that level with a cream), however, so I wasn’t really interested in buying it.

I did, however, receive a tube of Bum Bum Cream in my most recent Ipsy. (Yes, I’ve signed back up. No, I won’t be reviewing them for a while.) Which gave me the opportunity to use it and decide if it really is worth how gosh dang expensive it is.

Here’s what the Bum Bum Cream promises:

Our award-winning, cult favorite Brazilian Bum Bum Cream is a luxurious all-over body cream that absorbs quickly to help visibly tighten the appearance of skin. Infused with all-powerful caffeine-rich Guaraná extract and a cocktail of Cupuaçu Butter, Açaí Oil, and Coconut Oil, this fast-absorbing cream with our addictive Pistachio and Salted Caramel fragrance will bring out your most radiant skin ever. Try it and see what the “Bum Bum” effect is all about.

Let’s break that down.

“All-over body cream that absorbs quickly to help visibly tighten the appearance of skin”: (emphasis mine, obviously). “Visibly tighten” your skin? I’m not sure about that one, although I did spend a stupid amount of time asking Danny, “does any part of my skin look tighter?” (Danny: “What does that even mean? No? Are you ok?”)

“This fast-absorbing cream with our addictive Pistachio and Salted Caramel fragrance will bring out your most radiant skin ever”: I skipped the part with the ingredients, because that often means nothing to me. (Although I do have a note about it!) Is this fast-absorbing? Yes, actually it is. That’s one of the things I really liked about it. It’s kind of the perfect hand lotion to keep by my computer so I can still type without feeling like I’m making a mess. However, I want to talk about the fragrance.

Every time I put this lotion on in the past week or so, I’ve said, “I love this old school coconut smell!” And Danny agreed with me; it smells like old school sunscreen without the chemical sunscreen component. It is pure coconut.

So… Salted Caramel and Pistachio?! I don’t see that, although i guess it smells sweet and nutty. But I swear, I was more surprised reading this scent description than anything else. I’m usually pretty good with smells, but maybe not. I will die on this hill though; I’m 90% sure this is coconut-scented and they just don’t want to admit it!

Does Bum Bum Cream Work?

I liked a lot of things about Bum Bum Cream: the scent, the fast-drying aspect. I’m unconvinced that it does anything to your skin other than moisturize it (which is does quite well).

However, there are a few things I don’t like. The name, of course, sounds really stupid to say out loud, but as I said, I love a gimmick. Is it any worse than “Piggy Nose Peeling Gel”? Nah.

I also don’t like that if you use it on certain areas of your body, it doesn’t just tingle: it burns.

The first time I put it on, I just put it on my hands and I noticed it had a slight warming effect; I’ve noticed that with lots of lotions that use caffeine in them, so I wasn’t concerned. However, the first time I put it on my legs—and specifically, my thighs—it wasn’t just warming. It was like a burning tingle. Not entirely unpleasant—it didn’t hurt at all and didn’t turn me red or give me a rash—but kind of shocking if you aren’t expecting it. I have relatively sensitive skin and the tingling went away within 15-20 minutes… but if you’re skin is highly sensitive, this might be a huge issue.

That’s really the only big downside to me: that tingle can sometimes be light, but sometimes, it’s like a freight train. It just totally depends on where you apply it. And the thing is, I think it’s totally worthless; I don’t think it changes how my skin looks whatsoever, so it’s just needless pain!

Will I buy a whole tub of this? Maybe. I don’t think I’ll ever use it as a full-body lotion, but I do like it for my hands while I’m working or just around the house. I might buy a small travel size tube similar to the size I have for my purse.

Have you ever used Bum Bum Cream? What did you think?

Beauty Review: Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection*

Beauty Review: Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection | Writing Between Pauses

I love trying new skincare products. In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts about having my blog; getting the opportunity to try new things and see what works for my skin is just one of the many perks of blogging.

As an example: a few weeks ago, I received the Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection to review. (I received this product from Influenster, not Peter Thomas Roth directly.*) Peter Thomas Roth is a brand I would never actually buy myself—even though I’ve heard great things about them—because it’s just a little out of my price range.

So, we’ve come to the downside of being sent products to review: sometimes you find stuff you really, really love that is way more money than you would ever spend on a product.

Here is what’s special about the Peptide 21 Collection:

Peptide 21™ proves there is strength in numbers—and diversity! An unprecedented amount and array of 21 Peptides and Neuropeptides allows the multi-action serum and moisturizer to effectively treat every area of the face and neck. Enhanced by cutting-edge Gamma Proteins, these formulas help improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles, elasticity, radiance, uneven skin tone and texture. Peptide-building Amino Acid peel pads complete the collection, providing powerful exfoliation while optimizing results.

I received all three products from the collection to review: the Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Serum; the Peptide 21 Lift & Firm Moisturizer; and the Peptide 21 Amino Acid Exfoliating Peel Pads. All three products focus on the main task of anti-aging using peptides. Funny enough, I think they are using “peptides” as a clever stand-in for “collagen.” As most of us know, topically applying collagen isn’t super effective when it comes to skincare; our skin can’t absorb it in a way it can be used for anti-aging. They claim these peptides “support” collagen proteins that already exist in our skin, but I’m not too sure on all that. (Science is not my strong suit!)

However, I will say this to start this review: I like every single one of these products. However, there is something a little gimmicky about the peptides stuff—I don’t know enough about it to know for sure, but I know enough about marketing to know when a gimmick is a gimmick.

That being said, again, I really like all these products. Do I think the peptides do anything? Not really.

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection

What I Like

My favorite part of the collection are the Exfoliating Peel Pads; they are a quick, easy swipe part of a routine and I’ve noticed the biggest difference in my skin just from them. (When trying new products, I usually add just one at a time.) They really are the stand out product from the collection, as they contain more than “peptides”. Here’s what they promise: “Packed with peptide-building Amino Acids, these exfoliating peel pads help reduce the look of pores, uneven skin tone, texture, fine lines and wrinkles while prepping skin for peptide treatment products.” It goes without saying, they don’t only contain peptides, but also Phytic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Sodium Lactate, as well as vitamins A and E.

I noticed a huge difference in my skin’s texture just from these pads alone. Usually, I try not to use anything that makes garbage pile up, however, and using a peel pad every single day (or twice a day) creates a lot of garbage at the end of the day. If this was a toner in a bottle, I’d absolutely be head-over-heels in love with it.

I did like the serum and the moisturizer as well. The moisturizer was probably my second favorite item, as I use moisturizer more than anything else (if I’m too tired to do my entire routine, a makeup wipe and moisturizer is as good as it gets). I am not big on serums generally; sometimes, I feel like they just add steps to a routine when that same thing could be added to a moisturizer. (I know there are many great serums out there. I’m just lazy, let’s be honest.)

Skincare for anti-aging

What I Don’t Like

It took so much self control not to say this in the above section, but: the serum feels gross. It makes my skin feel so sticky and slimy, no matter how long I let it sink it. I’m still using it, but I cannot wait to get to the moisturizer step of my routine purely to rid myself of the feeling. However, even after moisturizer, my skin still always feels a little gross, so I find myself skipping the serum more-and-more. And to be honest, I don’t notice a huge difference without the serum.

Here’s another thing about the serum: it’s $110!!!!!! I would say it’s the worst product of the collection, and the most useless, and it costs nearly DOUBLE the price of the peel pads! That’s outrageous and I absolutely do not love that. The peel pads cost $52, which isn’t a great price, but also isn’t bad as I really do like them. The moisturizer is $78, which is another yikes; I like it, but it’s not any better than a Pacifica moisturizer, which you can get for less than $15 at Target.

As always, for most skincare products, what it comes down to is price for me. You can find lots of things that give you the same or similar results to these products. Is this a nice collection? Sure. Is it way out of my price range? Yes. Will I be repurchasing anything from it? I may repurchase the peel pads if I can’t find a good dupe, but it’s definitely a long shot.

Good serum for anti-aging and acne

Final Thoughts

I’m glad I got to try this new collection; the peel pads, honestly, are the best part of it. But as I said, the price point is just a little high for products that I don’t feel deliver (at least on my skin). A lot of that price is clearly the name, which is all well and good—but who wants to spend $200+ for products that don’t make a $200 difference to your skin?

Disclaimer: As noted by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, I received these products free in exchange for review. However, all opinions remain my own! Click here to read more about my disclosure policy.

Beauty Review: Maple Holistics Silk18 Shampoo*

Beauty Review: Maple Holistics Silk18 Shampoo* | Writing Between Pauses

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a review of Maple Holistic’s Tea Tree Shampoo (one of my favorites). You can read that here.

As you all surely know by now, shampoo is one of my bugbears. I have a very sensitive, dry scalp; shampoos will work for a little while to relieve the dryness, then stop. I have reviewed so many shampoos and while they all worked for a while, eventually, my scalp went back to its usual: dry, flaky, itchy, sensitive.

When Maple Holistics reached out to me about reviewing their Silk18 Shampoo*, I was excited… but aware that like most shampoos, my dry scalp will probably acclimate to it. I’ve started to realize that I need to focus more on nourishing my scalp between washes, instead of expecting the shampoo to do all of the world.

My review of this was slightly complicated by the power outage at the end of February. I wasn’t able to shower for the first 4 days, by which time I was on day 7 with no washing. My scalp felt great and I realized I needed to start giving myself more time between washes. I used the Silk18 Shampoo for that first shower and oh my gosh… it felt amazing.

I really like Maple Holistics for a lot of reasons; the first one is that all of their products are cruelty free and ethically sourced. This helps me feel a lot better about the products I use, even if I can’t guarantee it for everything that works me & my hair! I also like that their products contain natural, soothing ingredients that are low on a toxicity scale, which helps keep our waterways clean.

Maple Holistics shampoo

The Silk18 Shampoo from Maple Holistics promises the following:

Achieve stronger, smoother, more luscious hair with silk18 shampoo. Infused with a rejuvenating blend of 18 silk amino acids which help fortify hair follicles and strengthen strands to protect hair from dryness, breakage, damage, split ends, and hair fall. The nourishing formula gently cleanses dandruff, excess sebum, and impurities to leave your hair and scalp feeling fresh but not stripped. Enriched with argan and jojoba oil to add supreme softness and a luminous shine. Our shampoo is sulfate and paraben-free making it great for all hair types, color treated hair, and sensitive skin.

All of those things are definitely true. I have slightly drier-than-average hair (although not bad compared to my scalp) that can get slightly frizzy and ugly after a few days (usually if I wear it in a bun too much). However, this shampoo definitely gave my hair most luster and shine than any other shampoo I’ve used recently, which is a definite plus. I used it in combination with my Formulate conditioner, which was really, really lovely.

Good shampoo for oily scalps

You might be wondering, what about your scalp? Well, it didn’t help my dry scalp as much as I would like—but it didn’t make it worse. When it comes to shampoo, that’s really all I can ask for! Some shampoos definitely make my scalp feel awful and this isn’t one of them.

So what’s my final verdict?

I love this shampoo for my hair. I like it for my scalp. I have found that using it in combination with my blend of half Head & Shoulders and half my Formulate shampoo on my scalp, then this on my ends… I get the absolute best wash I’ve gotten in a while. I’m currently working on washing my hair much, much less often to see if that will help my scalp health overtime. (I’m talking… like washing my hair every 10 days here, which seems like so long!) If you have drier hair, this is a great shampoo to try for a little extra moisture here at the tail end of a very, very cold winter season.

You can try the Maple Holistics Silk 18 Shampoo yourself by purchasing here.

Disclaimer: As always, as asterisk (*) in the title of this post denotes that I received this product in exchange for review. However, all opinions remain my own! Posts like this help me keep the lights on at Writing Between Pauses. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Beauty Review: Holika Holika Piggy Nose Pore Strips

Beauty Review: Holika Holika Piggy Nose Pore Strips | Writing Between Pauses

I feel a little out of practice writing blog posts! If you’ve followed me on Instagram, you know we were out of power in the last week of February. The Willamette Valley got hit by a huge snowstorm—and by huge, I mean, I had about 16-18 inches of snow at my house, and in the town and city, it was 6-8 inches. That’s a lot for this area! We had thousands of people without power. Our Governor even declared a state of emergency!

Our power was thankfully restored on March 3, after 7 days without, but we had to have our internet repaired as well—and that didn’t happen until Friday! Talk about having a rough two weeks.

I wanted to write about these Holika Holika Piggy Nose Pore Strips. I’ve written before about the same brands, similarly named peeling gel. Which I love, of course; it leaves my skin so smooth.

I’m naturally suspicious of pore strips, because I know they don’t work. The dots we often see on our skin are actually sebaceous filaments, a natural part of our skin that we can’t get rid of; because of how common air brushing is, however, we think they are blackheads. But they’re not!

That being said… clearing that oil can help us reduce our pore size. It’s a double edged sword: it’s very cathartic to rip out those little oil plugs; but once you know that they’re always going to be there, you start feeling a bit… bad about it, for a lack of better term!

Let’s get on with the review.

Holika Holika Piggy Nose Pore Strips

I found these at TJ Maxx (of course) for $3. For 5 sheets, that actually is quite steep—it’s only 5 pore strips! However, they technically have 3 strips per sheet, that you do in a specific order, so… I’ll take it.

These are very similar to the Tony Moly 3-step pore strips as well.

Here’s the instructions as they read on the packet: “1. After cleansing, place step 1 on nose for 15-20 minutes. Remove slowly and wipe off any blackhead or impurities in pores. 2. Wet nose with water and place step 2 on nose. After 10-15 minutes, remove slowly from the edge. 3. After step 1 & 2, place step 3 on nose. Remove after 10-15 minutes and gently tap for better absorption.”

Even if you stay in the bare minimum time, these pore strips take 35 minutes total! That’s a lot!

The first step smells a lot like the Clean & Clear salicylic acid toner I used to use in high school. It also smelled slightly sweet, almost artificially, beneath the very sharp, chemical smell. I’m not sure what to make of that. It seemed to be designed to “bring up” the oil in your pores and open your pores a bit more. Without knowing based on the instructions, that’s my best guess. It didn’t burn my skin or feel any which way in particular.

Step 2 is the step where you actually “cleanse” the pores: aka, you rip that shit out. This step is so reminiscent of other pore strips; you wet your nose and apply the dry strip, adhering it to your skin; it dries; and then you peel it up, revealing a little teeny, tiny forest of oil plugs. This strip worked… I would say better than the Tony Moly strips and not as good as the tried-and-true Biore Pore Strips.

The third step seems to be a toner; I think it’s designed to further cleanse your pores, as the packet mentions “absorption”. This one smelled very similar to the first one, but was very dry. Step 1 is a very wet packet (almost like a face mask with a serum), Step 2 is dry, obviously, and Step 3 was, surprise, also dry.

Do pore strips work

So, did I like these pore strips? They’re a K-beauty brand, so I really like them as an alternative to Biore Pore Strips. I know I shouldn’t, but I really do love using pore strips every few weeks to help with my pore size (and congestion). Since they work about the same (if slightly less well) as Biore, I’m willing to make the switch to them.

My one concern really is with the amount. In a box, you only get 5 sets… which may last a while, but since they are $14 on Amazon for a box of 5, that is quite expensive, comparative to other brands. However, I did really like them and you really can’t beat cute packaging.

If you’re a pore strip user, this is a definitely a great, fun option to try. If not, I wouldn’t say, you need to go buy this; it’s definitely a novelty, purely for people who already love a good, guilty pore strip.

the 3 Beauty Basics Everyone Should Have

The 3 Beauty Basics Everyone Should Have | Writing Between Pauses

One of the criticisms I hear most about the beauty community—from Instagrams to YouTubers to bloggers—is: no one posts any beginners tutorials anymore.

We all share our favorite foundations with the knowledge that everyone reading probably knows how to apply foundation.

We review products with the understanding that everyone has a grasp of the basics.

That leaves a sizable gap in information; those who might be interested in reading beauty reviews are left out. What if they don’t know how to apply foundation? Or they don’t know how to use setting powder?

One blog post isn’t going to totally fill that gap. And it’s hard to tell the beauty community to take 20 steps back and explain the beginning. But starting to open up the beauty community to not just amateur artists, but those who want to learn, will help make it a better place.

For that reason, I thought I would share what I consider to be 3 beauty products everyone needs—regardless of their skill level, makeup level preference, and more. For me, this serves as starting a basis for getting into beauty; if you’ve never worn makeup before, but want to start, or you’ve never had a skincare routine before, but want to start, these are a good place to start in establishing your own routine.

1. SPF

I go on about this a lot, but it is worth restating over and over and over again: you have to wear SPF every day.

Back up, rewind, read it again: you have to wear SPF every single day.

This is pure protection for your skin. Using a daily SPF on your face, neck, and shoulders (and if you want to be truly dedicated, your entire body) is a great way to protect your skin and keep it looking amazing. Not only is moisturizer one of the best ways to prevent aging, SPF only helps in that regard. Take it from someone with melasma on their face: please, please, please wear your SPF every single day.

How do you choose the best SPF? For me, I try to find a non-greast facial SPF in as high of a rating as possible. Right now, my preferred one is Aveena, which is only 15 SPF, but it doesn’t make me break out. I also use an SPF spray (watch for sales of this at Ulta) throughout the day during the summer to keep my makeup set and to reapply. (Remember, if you’re outside in the sun, you have to reapply SPF every 45-60 minutes. An entire day in the sun should use at least an entire bottle of sunscreen!)

For more about choosing a good SPF, here are two blog posts I have written previously: Summer Skincare and Protecting Your Skin. And don’t forget to protect your eyes too.

2. A good brush set

Some people prefer makeup sponges. Some people swear by beautyblenders. But everyone uses brushes, in one way or another. If you’re just starting to wear makeup, the power of a good brush set cannot be overstated. Brushes can help you be more refined in your makeup application. You learn to blend and handle makeup. And, honestly, brushes just look pretty on your vanity.

Lots of people have different preferences for brushes. Personally, I’ve only ever bought ELF and Wet’n’Wild brushes (I’ve received others in my ipsy bags). If you want to build a brush collection, I highly recommend signing up for ipsy or checking for brush sets at Ulta. The brushes you should definitely have in your collection are:

  • A fluffy face brush

  • A smaller, denser blush brush

  • A large, fluffy eyeshadow brush

  • A foundation brush (kabuki-style)

  • A small eyeshadow brush

With those 5 brushes, you really can do just about anything. Obviously, you can add more to your collection as time goes on, but those really are a good place to start.

3. A good concealer

If you’ve never worn makeup before, it can be challenging to jump right into foundation. Foundation can be challenging to match correctly to your skin tone and skin type. Concealer is a little bit easier; it’s like taking a baby step into foundation, without having to fully commit. If you’ve never worn foundation before, and aren’t sure if you need it, then you might end up not wanting to wear foundation. Some beauty gurus famously don’t wear foundation (like JKissa).

Concealer is perfect; you can use it on your under eyes to brighten, cover any small blemishes, and tone down any redness. But without the cakiness that can happen with foundation. I personally love Tarte Shape Tape; it took me a while to love it, but now I do. I also love the ColourPop concealer.

Finding one that suits you and your skill level, as well as your specific skin type, can take a little trial and error. I love Paula’s Choice’s tips for finding a good concealer.

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.

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!