January 2018

Beauty Review: My December Ipsy Bag

Beauty Review: My December Ipsy Bag | Writing Between Pauses

This is my 4th ipsy bag and if I'm being absolutely, positively honest... I still really love it.

Ah, gotcha! Right? 

(If you'd like to read my past reviews, click here.) 

This month was really exciting. I was hoping to get some amazing products that I'd never tried before. I feel like each month, ipsy gets a little bit better as I review things, ask them to stop sending certain things, and share these reviews. 

Without further ado, let's talk about what I got in my bag! 

1. Promise Organic Nourishing Coconut Milk Daily Facial Scrub, $9.99

This product has sugar crystals, walnut shell powder, honey, coconut milk, aloe, and more in it, promising to be "pH balanced and gentle." It smells really good (like coconut--sort of that fake coconut smell I associate with sunscreen). Despite claiming to be a gentle daily scrub, it is definitely a rough feeling scrub. I like that it has ingredients that are natural and biodegradable (no more microbeads!), but it is definitely something I would say to not use daily. It did leave my skin feeling quite soft though. I've only used it once since receiving it because I only exfoliate once a week. This brand is available at CVS, as well as from online retailers. 

2. Smashbox Cosmetics Legendary Lipstick in Legendary, $21

Smashbox Legendary | Writing Between Pauses

I love getting lipsticks in my Ipsy bags and this was no exception. At first, I was a little nervous about this color. It's more a bright red than I usually go for (I definitely prefer my reds to be more blue or purple, as opposed to pink or orange). This is what I would call a race car red. However, it goes on absolutely smooth and feels so good on that it's hard to argue--plus, for the Christmas season, it's such a nice color! This is a sample size, so while a full size is valued at $21, I am valuing the size in my bag at around $11. 

3. Pixi by Petra Mesmerizing Mineral Duo in Orchid Ornament, approx. $4 value

This eyeshadow due had a lot of promise, but unfortunately fell absolutely flat. One of the shadows is a beautiful, shimmery champagne color that I absolutely love. The other color is supposed to be a shimmery, deep plum shade. 

A little bit of information about purple eyeshadows: they are notoriously difficult to formulate. For whatever reason, purple is just a color that is difficult to make work. If you've ever had a drugstore eyeshadow in a purple shade, you've experienced this before: it looks great in the pan, but it goes on gray or absolutely sheer. That's the issue with this eyeshadow. The plum shade goes on a dark gray color that blends into nothing. To get any color pay off, I have to put on so much eyeshadow, it starts to feel cakey... and it fades fast. Needless to say, I was very disappointed by this item. It's just not good, which is unfortunate because I love most of Pixi's makeup and skincare. This was just a bit of a dud. 

As well, these eyeshadow duos don't appear to be available off of the Ipsy website. Pixi does make whole palettes out of these shadows: the Mesmerizing Mineral Palettes for $12. Based on that price, I estimated this eyeshadow duo at about $4 ($2 per shadow). 

4. Luxie Beauty Precision Shader Onyx Brush 239, $14

I love getting brushes! I've loved nearly every brush I've received from Ipsy and this one is probably my favorite. I love using shader brushes to place shadow before I start to blend; I find it helps me get a better color payoff, as well as more even color on both eyes. This brush is really wonderful to use and works perfectly. 

5. Feel Brilliant Bamboo Charcoal Facial Sheet Masks, $17.50


You know how I feel about masks. (You can read about my favorite masks here; as well, you can read a review of some expensive masks here.) These masks are absolutely lovely; they have activated charcoal, which works to purify your skin. (I am never 100% on that claim; I don't love the idea of it. However, that's what the mask claims, so I'm repeating it here just to make sure I include what the brand promises!) It also has hyaluronic acid, which, despite the name, is actually a moisturizer and helps lock in moisture, so perfect for winter.

I found these masks really soothing to put on and they definitely helped with some difficult patches I've been dealing with lately, including some dry patches on my cheeks and chin. I really like using charcoal products, but I'm still not sold on their claims of "detoxifying"! These masks are $35 for a pack of 4; since I received 2, I priced them at a $17.50 value. 


Final Thoughts

The final value of this ipsy bag is roughly $56.49. This is less than last month's value of $69.64. I feel like I got more sample size products than last month, specifically the lipstick and eyeshadow duo. As well, there was one major dud this month; in a $4 eyeshadow duo, I really don't expect a lot... but coming from ipsy, I expect at least somewhat of a decent product. However, I love 4 out of 5 of these products, so I definitely can't complain! A $56 value is still pretty good, considering I only pay $10. 

Did you receive an Ipsy bag this month? What did you receive? Did you like it? 

If you don't have ipsy yet, why not give it a shot? Sign up for $10 a month and get 5 items picked just for you every single month. You can sign up using my referral link here

All My Goals for January 2018

All My Goals for January 2018 | Writing Between Pauses

This year, I decided not to write a list of resolutions. As I've written before (like in my post about setting goals), I find it is easiest for me to break things down into easy, digestible pieces. And often that means focusing on small, week-to-week or month-to-month goals versus a large, overarching goal.

1. Meal Prep 

When I say "meal prep," I definitely don't mean making 400 prepackaged meals. Nothing turns me off food more than it being old and soggy. Also I got food poisoning in October from a banana muffin, so I'm not forever suspicious of leftovers of any kind. However, a few years ago, I would often cook up a big thing of brown rice and a bunch of protein, and just add veggies and condiments throughout the week. That way, I'm not just microwaving a little plate and having to look at the same meal over and over and over again. I want to start having ingredients prepped (rice cooked, chicken ready, veggies trimmed, washed, and cut up) so I can more easily make dinner and not have to do a complicated tango with Forrest in the kitchen every time I try to make dinner. 

Danny and I have a shared goal of cutting out junk food (mainly fast food, because it's so easy to stop and get a Dutch Bros or a sandwich instead of making something at home), so this is definitely part of that larger goal. 

2. Rededicate myself to working out 

Danny and I joined (well, I rejoined) the gym in April and for about 4 months, I was extremely dedicated. Then I just got really tired. I can't really explain what happened, but I think a lot of it was burn out: by the time October rolled around, I had been working part-time, running my blog's new content strategy, and working out. I was tired a lot and often ended up accidentally napping on the couch--and worse, I was half-assing it at the gym. The past few weeks, I've actually taken a break from the gym (Danny, a rockstar, is still going) and just been focusing on eating healthy. In January, I want to really want to go to the gym again and dedicate myself to a system that I know works (lifting weights). 

3. Write blog strategy for 2018 

Recently, I mentioned that around August, I gave myself an ultimatum: I had 1 year to make this blog work or I wasn't doing it anymore. I've been blogging for nearly 10 years and while I've never reached any kind of success, I feel like I have at least muddled through with a following and decent numbers. However, just in terms of effort-I'm-putting-in versus what-I'm-getting-out, I definitely was putting in almost no effort and getting none in return. In short, I wasn't happy, but I didn't exactly want to quit blogging. I realized that I needed to actually make an effort, do all the things I'd read about for years, and just deal with it. Just get on with it! So in August, I wrote a short, 3-step blog strategy that I've been following. It's not perfect. This month, I'm planning to write a more complete strategy for really making this blog work. Wish me luck! 

(Click here to read my post about achieving goals for your blog!

4. Redesign blog graphics

I currently use Canva for my blog graphics and, while I love it, there is definitely an element of "nearly every blogger uses this font"! The fonts I selected as my design moving forward happen to be some of the best Canva offer under the free plan. Moving forward, I want to do a redesign of my font aesthetic and start using photoshop to create my graphics, if only so I can differentiate my look from others! 

(Click here to read my blog post about Canva & how I use it for my blog.)

5. Write for 20 minutes a day

This is one that is really difficult for me, but I want to write 20 minutes a day. Michelle, you're probably thinking, you work as a writer, with a side hustle as a blogger. You write already

Well, this goal is actually about journaling. I love journaling. I've been doing it since I was 12 or 13. But in the past few years, it's definitely fallen to the wayside. So this month, I really want to try to hand write in my journal for 20 minutes at least every day. 

(Click here to read my blog post about how I refuse to force myself to be productive.)