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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. I’ll talk about this a bit more in a minute, but Hungryroot has really moved beyond meal delivery and is now more about providing high-quality, plant-based grocery items for delivery.

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 the items they offer. As well, they’ve recently added proteins available—their smoked salmon is so good!

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 items they offered—as well as any new recipes to give us ideas for the future!

One of the great things about Hungryroot’s recent rebrand has been that they are less a meal subscription now, and more like a grocery delivery service. Instead of providing just meals, they allow you to choose piecemeal what you want. One week, you might choose some of the suggested meals and a few treats; and the next week, you might choose all pre-cut veggies and a few oatmeal cups! It just depends on what you want to do. I love the idea of this, as grocery delivery isn’t available in my area, and being so busy (working 3 jobs, taking care of a toddler!), it is a huge help to get groceries delivered to my house.

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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!) If you struggle with buying proteins, this is a great option. Danny and I don’t like to purchase meat products that come from most stores, instead choosing to buy locally; this can be more expensive for sure. The salmon and chicken sausage, however, are really delicious and perfect for using in tons of dishes.

Other items 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, alongside a variety of granolas and other meal replacement options. If you’re like me and grabbing breakfast often means hitting up a Starbucks (let’s be real, that Bacon & Gouda sandwich is delicious, but not very good for me!), then these grab-and-go options are really great to have around.

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... because it’s not really what they’re about anymore. Think of Hungryroot less as a meal delivery service and more as a way to easily supplement your groceries.

But it is a great way to explore some things you’ve never tried before, try out some side dishes, have groceries available when you’re too busy, and learn how to cook things that are plant-based and delicious. In that sense, it is absolutely worth it.

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! And lastly, if you’re super busy and feel like you’re hitting the drive thru more often than you’re turning on your stove, Hungryroot gives you the option to have something healthy waiting for you in the fridge, even if you only have energy to cook some butternut squash noodles and add some jarred marinara sauce. (Honestly, it’s delicious though! Highly recommend.)

The best thing about having Hungryroot really is being able to make something on the fly. 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. It is so convenient to have a box of veggies and grab-and-go options dropped on my doorstep when I need it!

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.

I Tried Personalized Shampoo from Formulate & It Changed My Life*

I Tried Personalized Shampoo from Formulate & It Changed My Life | Writing Between Pauses

When I first received an email from Formulate several weeks ago, I was immediately excited. I had been looking into the myriad of personalized shampoos available—I knew that my scalp issues meant I needed something personalized, but I was put off initially by the cost of other brands I found, as well as their often wishy-washy stance about being cruelty-free.

But from the moment Caroline from Formulate emailed me, Formulate felt different. Firstly, they’re very upfront about their cruelty-free and vegan stance, as well as being paraben free, sulfate free, dye free, and preservative free. I was really excited to try Formulate and I especially couldn’t wait to start washing my hair with the shampoo they sent me.

The process of creating my shampoo (and conditioner, of course) was really easy. I actually filmed it on Instagram (you can watch it in the Formulate highlight!). I love a good quiz, so walking through picking what I wanted from shampoo, telling them about my hair and scalp, and more was not only fun, but helped me think about what I want from a shampoo.

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I get so caught up in wanting my hair to look a certain way that I forget other things—like nourishing my scalp, preventing split ends, and preventing breakage. It was nice to be able to pick 5 things for my shampoo and conditioner to really target. The quiz and sign up process took me maybe 15-20 minutes.

The most interesting part of the quiz was when it asked for my zip code. This was so they could pinpoint where I live and adjust my formulation to the humidity, average temperature, and climate of where I live.

You know what else was nice? Being able to pick from a bunch of beautiful scents—as well as the strength of the scent. How a shampoo smells is really important to me, but I always find myself disappointed when I use a shampoo that smells great, but it doesn’t make my hair smell like that later.

I picked the Verdant scent for my shampoo from Formulate; Verdant is a combination of lilies, grass, and Eucalyptus. It’s flowery and herby at the same time. I also picked Strong scent—hoping that it would make my hair smell 24/7 like lilies. (Spoiler alert: it totally does!)

It took about two weeks for my shampoo and conditioner to arrive from Formulate. In the age of Amazon 2-day shipping, that feels like a long time. However, it gives the scientists at Formulate time to look over your quiz, analyze where you live, and make the best possible shampoo and conditioner for you.

The box my shampoo arrived in was beautiful. The shampoo bottles themselves look really cute. There is something so shallow about aesthetic packaging, but I think we all prefer things that look good, right? They also came with two pumps to use, which is good, because I am not good at pouring shampoo! Another cool thing about the bottle design is that both shampoo and conditioner have Braille on the side. You so rarely see this in beauty products, so it is nice to see packaging being adjusted for those who require Braille in their daily lives.

From the first use, the thing I noticed the most was the smell! I’m so glad I went with Verdant; I absolutely love the smell of it. And the smell sticks around for a very long time. (I did, of course, pick Strong for a reason!)

The second thing I noticed was that this isn’t a shampoo that foams up. Like most sulfate free shampoos, it feels more like a thin conditioner. I’ll be sharing some tips next week about washing your hair with sulfate free shampoo, because, trust me, there is a small learning curve! If you’re used to standard shampoos, there is a period of time with sulfate free shampoos where your hair has to adjust to a new formula. I’ll talk about that in my blog post next week, so stay tuned!

(Don’t forget to sign up to win your own formulation! Click here to enter.)

Formulate shampoo review

The Benefits to My (Poor, Sensitive, Abused) Scalp

If you’ve read my blog for a long time, you know that I’ve really struggled with my scalp for the last year or so. It’s been a hell of a journey: I’ve tried just about every shampoo and conditioner under the sun. I spend more money on oils for my scalp than skincare. I’ve tried hyaluronic acid serums on my scalp (helped!), I’ve spent a small fortune on medicated shampoos, and my dermatologist is honestly really sick of looking at my scalp and saying, “I think it’s just dry.”

When I tell you that my shampoo from Formulate has fixed my scalp, it feels a little bit like an exaggeration, but it’s not. One of the big factors I selected for my shampoo was scalp health; I have a very sensitive, dry scalp that has gone through some trauma the last year and it needs healed. So Formulate chose vitamin E oil, along with other soothing ingredients, to help heal my scalp. And it did! From the very first wash, my scalp felt less tight and itchy. After about two weeks, my scalp wasn’t flaky anymore. I’ve had a few flairs, probably from dry weather and me deciding to use a hair mask that I knew would probably make my scalp itch, but nothing like the past. I can honestly say that that is life changing. Not having an itchy, flaky scalp all the time is a huge deal.

Aside from my beautiful scalp (prettiest scalp on the block, if you will!), I’ve also noticed a huge change in my hair texture. I’ve always had very silky, fine straight hair. It has a little bit of a wave to it in some spots; my hairdressers have always described this as “straight-relaxed” hair, meaning it basically conforms to the shape of my head. (A nice description, I think.)

Since I started using my shampoo from Formulate, I’ve noticed a major change in my hair texture. I’ve always had a lot of hair—like an absurd amount, despite how fine it is—but it was pretty lank and took a lot of effort for it to have volume. I’ve had a ton of volume since I started using Formulate and my hair feels a little more wavier—less pin straight and more relaxed, and it doesn’t conform to my head so much. (I know that’s a weird way to phrase that, but how else do I describe that!?) I can only speak for people who have straight hair, but this is a huge improvement for me.

Is Formulate Shampoo Good

Wash Less, With Better Hair

Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to reduce the number of times I wash my hair per week. I know it’s drilled into us that maximum cleanliness means showering (and washing your hair) every single day. However, that can often cause, or make worse, scalp problems, as well as dry out our hair. (And it goes without saying: this all totally depends on your hair type!) I have managed to get down to 3 washes a week, but I’d like to reduce to about 2 washes a week because I find that’s when my scalp and hair feels best.

The great thing about Formulate is I feel like it helps me stretch the time between washes. My hair stays shiny and clean feeling for a lot longer, because I don’t have that residue build up caused by sulfates in shampoo. My hair is generally less oily, but still moisturized and pretty for several days in a row. No oily hair days!

As I mentioned, there are definitely some growing pains associated with going sulfate-free. I read a lot of articles as I started using Formulate and I will share more about this in a follow up blog post, but the number one thing I learned is that it will take several washes (about 3-4 weeks worth) for your hair to feel “normal” again. Using sulfate-free shampoo isn’t like using regular shampoo, but it does leave your hair just as clean (promise).

I can honestly say that the improvement to my scalp has made me want to never switch from Formulate! That alone is enough, but the scent, the way my hair looks and feels, the vegan and cruelty-free stance… it all makes me want to support a great company like Formulate.

The Second Formulation

I loved my Formulate shampoo and conditioner from that first use (honestly, the scalp benefits alone! I know I keep mentioning it, but it really is so huge for me). However, there were a few things I wanted tweaked.

That’s what is so great about Formulate. They work with you really closely in the first few weeks to help ensure that the shampoo and conditioner you use is perfect for you. The more you pay for a shampoo, the better your results often are; as someone who loves saving money, I’ve realized over time that… you pay for what you get, especially if you have a sensitive scalp or difficult hair! Formulate really makes your money go far though.

My initial feedback for Formulate was that I felt like my conditioner weighed my hair down a little bit and left a residue, specifically on the back of my head, that was hard to rinse. I also felt like my shampoo was just a little too drying on my hair. I sent my feedback in and a few days later, a second set of shampoo and conditioner was on its way to me. And the changes were HUGE! No more residue from my conditioner and the shampoo left my hair feeling silky and hydrated again. I’m so happy with my results from Formulate. And I know that if i start noticing any other issues, I can send them a note and get my shampoo and conditioner tweaked to improve.

Personalized shampoo review

This all leads me to the most exciting part of this collaboration with Formulate: I have a giveaway going!

You can enter to win your own formulation by clicking the button below. You’ll be able to personalize your own shampoo and conditioner and get the hair you’ve always dreamed of!

Have you ever tried customized shampoo and conditioner? What did you think?

Disclaimer: As indicated by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, this post is a collaboration between Formulate and myself. I received product free in exchange for an honest review and promotion on social media. However, all opinions remain my own! Posts like these help me keep the lights on here at Writing Between Pauses. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays in the Winter

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays in the Winter | Writing Between Pauses

I recently partnered with Visionworks to promote the new location at the Valley River Mall in Eugene, Oregon. That’s my hometown mall! I’ve been going to Valley River Center for as long as I can remember and having a handy place for all my vision care needs, alongside all my other favorite places to shop, is a huge bonus.

I’ve needed glasses since I was about 12. When I first got them, I refused to wear them for nearly two years—until I started driving and my mom agreed I could wear contacts. I wore contacts until around 2015, when my eyes became more sensitive while I was pregnant. I wear glasses all the time now, so keeping my prescription up to date and my eyes healthy is really important to me. As well, as a chronic migraine sufferer, keeping an eye on my, well, eyes is also hugely importance; how my glasses fit, how the lenses reflect light from my computer, and how tight they are can have a huge impact on my migraines!

One important aspect of eye health that we often forget is protecting our eyes from UV rays. We tend to think of sunglasses purely in terms of fashion or helping us see. I always wear sunglasses when I’m driving in the summer, but during the winter, I definitely lapse in that habit. The days can be so dark, we forget that UV rays can still damage our eyes and our skin. (Which is why you should wear SPF every day!)

I wanted to share a few tips for protecting your eyes from UV rays in the winter!

  • Even on cloudy or hazy days, UV rays can damage your eyes. If you’re going to be outside, wear UV blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats (as well as SPF on your face and any visible skin).

  • Don’t forget your kids when wearing sunglasses and hats!

  • Snow and ice can reflect UV rays—which is why sometimes, even on cloudy days, it can still feel really bright! As well, these reflected UV rays can be even more harsh than usual. Wearing polarized sunglasses while driving in snowy & icy conditions, or while skiing or playing outside in the snow, can feel dangerous, but will help you protect your eyes and see more clearly.

You might be asking: why do my eyes need protection from UV rays? UV rays cause damage to your eye—just like your skin. This can cause cataracts to develop, as well as other degeneration issues.

And in terms of vanity, frequent squinting can contribute to both headaches and wrinkles. All that eye cream, just to squint while outside in the snow?!

Thankfully, there are lots of options for stylish and functional eyewear to protect your eyes. Different activities call for different protection. If you ski, a pair of polarized ski goggles can protect your eyes. If you travel frequently, a great pair of sunglasses fit the bill. Visit Visionworks to check out their selection—and visit your nearest location for an eye exam and to try on glasses and sunglasses!

Disclaimer: as indicated by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, this is a sponsored post with Visionworks. All opinions, however, remain my own. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Beauty Review: Mériance Anti-Aging Skin Care Kit*

Beauty Review: Mériance Anti-Aging Skin Care Kit | Writing Between Pauses

When I received an email a few weeks ago from Mériance asking if I would like to review their full anti-aging skin care kit, well, I couldn’t say no.

As you all probably know, I turned 30 in October. And while I’m not showing any signs of aging (at least in my skin), I’m a big believer in taking care of my skin to keep it looking good. For me, that has meant double cleansing, wearing my SPF every single day, and keeping moisturized. I tend to shy away from longer, more complicated routines. The Mériance Anti-Aging Kit seemed right up my alley!

I received my kit a few weeks ago. Here’s everything that’s in it:

  • Rejuvenating Serum

  • Native Collagen Serum

  • Anti-Aging Collagen Cream

  • Night Repair Cream

  • Eye Contour Cream

And here’s what the kit, and all the products, promises:

Meriance bio-active collagen derived from marine origin replenishes the skin with properties that enhance the supply of collagen fibers. Meriance collagen is not modified or synthesized! It regenerates the connective tissues that support the skin’s structure. This ingredient helps to deeply hydrate mature and dry skin in order to maintain healthy and resilient cells.

My favorite thing about this kit is that you get just about everything you need for a routine. So while the cost upfront might be a little shocking, these are full sizes, you don’t use that much every single day, and you get everything you need. The order to apply everything is really basic too. Here’s what I do:

  1. Double cleanse with jojoba oil, then the Body Shop’s Tea Tree facial cleanser.

  2. Apply the Rejuvenating Serum, which contains peptides. It helps to enhance the other products in the kit. It has hyaularonic acid, which helps plump skin.

  3. Apply the Native Collagen Serum. It has a high concentration of collagen.

  4. At this point, I use the Eye Contour Cream mixed with a tiny amount of my favorite vitamin C cream (right now, I’m using Revlon’s). I only use this around my eyes to help with my melasma and moisturize the skin underneath my eyes. I let that sink and dry for about 5 minutes.

  5. Apply the Anti-Aging Collagen Cream. This is a thick, lovely moisturizer that smells really good and feels even better! I’ve been struggling with dry patches since Thanksgiving and this really clears them up within a few days.

  6. Apply the Repair Night Cream. This is a double dose of moisture that I use after the Collagen Cream. It contains antioxidants that can help adjust repair your skin.

Meriance Anti-Aging

Results

How quickly did I start seeing results? As I said, I struggle with dry patches once late Fall and early Winter hits; usually my nose and cheeks are where I struggle the most, but this year, my under eyes have decided to join in on the dry skin party.

I haven’t used everything enough to speak to the anti-aging effects quite yet, but I have noticed that my skin has been much softer, much less textured, and much more “supple” feeling (for lack of a better word). My dry patches have been much less severe and as long as I’m good about applying both the Collagen Cream and the Night Repair Cream, they are much less noticeable, and even not there at all, throughout the day!

As someone who is acne prone, I’m always really worried about trying new products. However, acne-prone skin is dehydrated skin and these products have been helping so much! I’m getting less oily throughout the day now that my skin is being better moisturized every morning and night.

If you have dry skin or are beginning to worry about aging, this is definitely a kit you want to pick up! I have a special coupon code just for my readers for $100 off your first kit. Just click the image below, or click here, and use code MichelleLocke100 at check out!

Disclaimer: As always, an asterisk (*) in the title of this post indicates that I received this product in exchange for review. However, my views remain my own! Posts like these help me keep the lights on here at Writing Between Pauses. For more information about my disclosure policy, click here.

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

Why I Made the Switch to An Electric Toothbrush*

Why I Made the Switch to an Electric Toothbrush* | Writing Between Pauses

Back in April, I shared my experience with Smile Brilliant’s teeth whitening kit. As someone with sensitive teeth, whitening always seemed a little out of reach for me! Most whitening kits just made my teeth more sensitive, but I loved how Smile Brilliant helped whiten my teeth and didn’t make my teeth more sensitive.

There are so many ways my sensitive teeth kept me from trying new things when it came to my routine. One thing I’ve been slacking on for years is brushing my teeth. I was a dedicated user of standard, cheap toothbrushes. I knew electric toothbrushes were more beneficial, especially for someone like me, who struggled with prenatal and postpartum gingivitis, but they were too much for my teeth and I worried about making all my sensitivity issues worse.

So when Smile Brilliant asked me to try out their new electric toothbrush, the cariPRO**, I was a little hesitant. But Smile Brilliant had given me a whiter smile with their sensitive tooth whitening kit--so I trusted them!

Using the cariPRO

Using the cariPRO* toothbrush from Smile Brilliant

The first thing I did when I received my cariPRO was test it out! I was so excited to try it out and see if it would actually work for my sensitive teeth.

The cariPRO has 5 different settings: Clean, White, Massage, Gum Care, and Sensitive. They all have different vibration speeds and patterns.

The Clean setting is a standard setting; White bumps up the vibration to help really get rid of surface stains; Massage and Gum Care are designed to massage your gums and teeth as you brush, getting rid of plaque and stimulating your gums; and Sensitive is like the Clean setting, but dialed down.

Over the first few days of using the cariPRO, I tried all these settings. The best part about the cariPRO is that it pauses every 30 seconds--which reminds me to switch from the four “corners” of my mouth. Isn’t that genius!? Not only is the cariPRO better for your teeth and gums, it helps you brush your teeth for the amount of time recommended by dentists.

My favorite routine was to start on the Sensitive setting and brush for 2 minutes that way, then switch to White and brush the fronts of my teeth for 1 minute. It really helped give me that sparkling, clean feeling and alongside my ongoing whitening with Smile Brilliant, I’ve noticed my teeth are much whiter and cleaner feeling. Once a week, I also spend 2-3 minutes using the Gum Care setting to massage my gums. (And of course, every day when I’m done brushing, I follow up with flossing and mouthwash!)

What’s it come with?

the cariPRO electric toothbrush from Smile Brilliant*

I received the Individual Package of the cariPRO from Smile Brilliant**; this came with the toothbrush, two heads, and the charging dock. At only $119, that’s a great deal! You can also order extra heads for the cariPRO really affordably; a set of 2 is only $13**.  All the packages come with a 2 year limited warranty; that means they’re committed to getting you whiter, healthier teeth.

Right now, my readers can get 20% off their cariPRO order using the code writingbetweenpauses-20. That’s 20% off on top of the already amazing price; if you order the individual package, it will only be $95.20!

Just visit Smile Brilliant** and enter writingbetweenpauses-20 at checkout!

We all want to be our best possible selves. A beautiful smile is often the first thing we notice about other people--and we all want our smiles to be bright. And even better, we want our dentists to be impressed by our tooth health. I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my teeth since starting to use the cariPRO in July and I know you’ll love it too!

If you have any questions about the cariPRO and Smile Brilliant, check out their FAQ here**; it answers all their most common questions. And don’t forget to use writingbetweenpauses-20 at check out!

Disclaimer: As always, the asterisk (*) in this blog post indicates that I received the cariPRO toothbrush from Smile Brilliant for free in exchange for review! All opinions, however, remain my own. As well, any links marked with a double asterisk (**) are affiliate links; that means, I get a small percentage for every sale that occurs through those links. If you want to try the cariPRO or the tooth whitening kit, both of which I absolutely love, please consider using my affiliate link and discount code! It helps me keep the lights on here at Writing Between Pauses. 

Beauty Review: Maybelline Shine Compulsion*

Beauty Review: Maybelline Shine Compulsion | Writing Between Pauses

There are few things as exciting as a new lipstick. I suspect that if you're reading this blog post, you can absolutely relate. New lipsticks are full of possibilities. Even if you, like me, tend to buy the same color over and over (shout out to dusty rose shades), there is always a question of whether it's going to look as good as you hope it will. 

When I received this Mabelline Shine Compulsion lipstick (and ColorSational Lip Liner) in the mail from Influenster, I was so excited to try it. I love lipstick. It's probably the thing I most look forward to picking out in terms of my makeup (especially as I've been rocking neutral eyes & winged liner lately). I received the color Undressed Pink, as well as the lip liner Pink Wink. Here's what Maybelline has to say about these new lipsticks: 

Shine Compulsion Lipstick is Maybelline’s most brilliant lip color - get loads of hydration, vibrant color, and an ultra-shiny finish.

Well, color me intrigued!

Recently, the trend has been shifting from matte lips to a more glossy finish. Having lived through the gloss-soaked 2000s, I can't say I'm exactly excited. There was nothing worse than getting your hair stuck in your super glossy lips--then having both ruined your lip gloss and coated part of your hair in it too! Plus, gloss requires more application and honestly, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to lipsticks. 

Let's dive in to my thoughts about this lipstick though, shall we? 

Maybelline Shine Compulsion in Undressed Pink

I'll be completely honest: the moment I opened this lipstick and looked at the shade I'd received, I was pretty disappointed. I quite like pink lipsticks, but this one struck me as a bit too... baby pink. The first time I applied it, I stood in the mirror and grimaced. My husband walked in and asked me if everything was ok. 

"Do you like this lipstick?" I asked. 

He paused, tilted his head, and then said, "It looks a bit like the one your grandma wears." 

Yes, that's it exactly: I swear it's the exact shade my grandmother has been wearing for 40+ years. It is frosted and extremely shiny. The formula is lovely, very smooth and hydrating. I don't know if it is just this color, but there is a slightly frosty, almost metallic tint. I vowed to try to make it work, though. 

I will say, if your lips are chapped, just like with liquid lips, this lipstick won't look great on the first application. It can be a bit streaky and uneven from the amount of oil in the lipstick, so moisturizing and exfoliating beforehand is important. 

In this photo: Shine Compulsion Lipstick in Undressed Pink over Colorsational Liner in Pink Wink.

In this photo: Shine Compulsion Lipstick in Undressed Pink over Colorsational Liner in Pink Wink.

In this photo, Colorsational Lip Liner in Pink Wink topped with Wet'n'Wild Liquid Catsuit in Coral Corruption. 

In this photo, Colorsational Lip Liner in Pink Wink topped with Wet'n'Wild Liquid Catsuit in Coral Corruption. 

The lip liner I received is actually darker than the lipstick itself. Pink Wink is an almost mauve-pink liner. I decided to line my lips with this and fill in about 2/3 of my lips, then applied the lipstick just directly in the center. I have to say: I much prefer the lipliner to the lipstick! It's creamy and smooth, applies like a dream, and has major staying power. I'll probably wear it on its own, to be honest! I preferred this look to just the lipstick; it toned down the frosted nature of the lipstick and gave me the most staying power (though I still had to reapply after eating or drinking anything). You can see this look on the left. 

I decided to experiment with the liner and see if it would tone down some of my brighter lipsticks. I lined my lips and filled in the outer 1/3 with Pink Wink, then applied Wet'n'Wild Liquid Catsuit in Coral Corruption, one of my favorite liquid lips, but this shade is a bit too orange-toned for me. However, the lip liner gave it a bit more pink and I loved the result! I'd wear this look again in a heartbeat. This look is on the right. (And I promise, I do wear more things than a gray sweatshirt. I just happened to be wearing the same sweatshirt on both days!) 

Undressed Pink
Maybelline Shine Compulsion in Undressed Pink Swatch

Is this my absolute favorite lipstick? No. But are there ways to make it work? Absolutely! I'm a bigger fan of the lip liner I was sent than the lipstick itself, but I'm going to experiment with blending it into some darker lip liners to see if that can allow me some different looks. As well, I'm very excited to keep experimenting with the lip liner to even out some of my more difficult lipsticks.

Disclaimer: As mentioned, I received this product in exchange for an honest review from Influenster. However, all opinions remain my own. Taking sponsored posts and complimentary products like these help me keep Writing Between Pauses going! To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here

Beauty Review: Chic Voxbox*

Beauty Review: Chic Voxbox* | Writing Between Pauses

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

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

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

Here's everything I received in the Chic voxbox: 

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

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

eos Sensitive Skin Shave Cream

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

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

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

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

NYX Worth the Hype Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara

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

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

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

KORRES Pomegranate AHAs and Enzymes Resurfacing Mask

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hair Food Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner Infused with Honey Apricot Fragrances

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

Let's look at what they have to say: 

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

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


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

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