“Bare branches of each tree / on this chilly January morn / look so cold so forlorn. / Gray skies dip ever so low / left from yesterday’s dusting of snow.” – Nelda Hartmann
This is a new-type of post for me. If you’ve been here before (thank you), you might have read one of my round-ups at the end of the month. I like doing round-ups, because it’s my chance to review my to-do list and catch up with you. And I really enjoyed making those lists. Which is why at the beginning of every month I would post a to-do list and share my expectations of what the month would bring. Just a way to keep myself accountable–and to share in general.
But, this year I’ve decided to make some changes to my blog. I’m trying to streamline my content to reflect the direction I want my blog to take in the next year. And posting twice a month about my to-do lists is a little too much. That’s 24 “off-topic” posts per year. And I just don’t think my blog can afford that. haha. So for the sake of clarity, simplification, and staying on track, I’m cutting back my rants to one per month.
Hence, my new series. Months in Review. No particular theme, just a central purpose: summarizing my month and affording me the opportunity to announce/discuss things that might otherwise be considered “off-topic” for my corner of the internet. Essentially, this is my series for automatic writing. <-favorite style hehe
Without further adieu: January 2018
This month was FULL of surprises. There is no other way to put it. Deadlines moved up significantly, training calendars changed…everything changed. But for some reason, I was able to find peace in the chaos. Thank you, to Jesus. Because I wasn’t ready for my head to fall off this early in the year!
Book of the month: “The Little Book of Letting Go” by Hugh Prather and let me tell you–it’s amazing. I’m not above saying that I love a good self-help book. ha! And this one is excellent. It has a spiritual aspect to it, which I like. But it’s not a purely theological book. It’s definitely a book that teaches your mind to become stronger. I like books like that because I do believe that the mind is a muscle of sorts. It needs to be exercised in order for change to happen. Sometimes reading a book that convinces you to be happy, or tells you that you should let go, is motivating but insubstantial. I like this book because it goes beyond advising happiness or freedom. It shows you how to obtain them.
Worst Movie of the Month: Christmas Belle. I don’t think I can rant enough about this one. HAVE you watched it? I rarely call things cringe-worthy. I think its a fairly disrespectful term for anything artistic. Also, it sounds a little bit pompous to call something cringe-worthy. And it doesn’t really describe or explain the issues with something. You guys, Christmas Belle is cringe-worthy. That’s what I get for watching a Christmas movie in late January. But really, I think even if I had watched this Christmas Day I still wouldn’t have gotten the feels. It is that bad. I feel like if the plot arch doesn’t happen until the last 12 minutes of the movie, it should be gutted all-together. If the movie survived that long without anything substantial happening in the plot, why ruin it at the end with a moving storyline? Only kind of kidding.
Music of the Month: I’m happy for Bruno Mars that his 24K won like, everything. He totally deserved it–as did his boys. They are great artists and true entertainers. But my music of the month is Taylor Swift’s Reputation album. I’m not trying to pull a Kanye, but Taylor’ Swift has one of the best albums of all time.
Blog notes: My blog has spiked recently. I’m not sure as to why this is, except that January is an extremely busy training month. I’m really grateful for the attention and don’t plan to squander it. If you came here looking for Army lifestyle information, thank you! Please leave a comment below letting me know what you were specifically looking for. I like writing in general, but I really enjoy writing for others. So I’m here to write for you! Let me know what I can do!
Announcements: I’ve been working on catching up with 2 ipsy unboxings that I never published. I’m planning to release those next month, under the “appropriate” date that they ought to have. So if you get a flurry of ipsy-related notifications, I promise it’s not a new obsession of mine. It’s just my way of making up for my winter slacking. Sorry about all that.
Goals to take into next month: This month, I developed a plan to get more done. So original for January…haha. But really, it’s a plan to help foster creativity and to eliminate time-draining apps (Instagram, I’m looking at you). Hopefully, my blog will come across as more productive in February, as a result of this plan. We shall see. 🙂
That’s all I’ve got for now. If you’ve made it this far–wow. You’re really nice. I hope this post didn’t scare you away and that you’ll come back soon for some of the posts I’ve been planning. And by the way, how was your January 2018? Thanks for stopping by!
I’ve been on the quest for the perfect skincare routine for a long time. Months actually. Mostly ever since I went on a skincare-focus-kick (addiction) in May of 2016–but even before that. I was hoping to find a miracle product along the way, and actually have found a few. But I was never able to fully establish THE routine, which combined the miracle products, and still left my face flawless. I haven’t achieved “flawless” yet, but I have discovered some amazing products that have gotten my skin in some of the best condition it’s ever been in.
Enter: The Body Shop.
I had heard about The Body Shop long before I actually purchased one of their products. It was always positive reviews. So one day when I ran out of my go-to toner (actually I was rotating between two), I decided to try a new one altogether. I bought the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner at my local Post Exchange, since I had had success with tea tree oil in my blemish treatments previously. GAME CHANGER. More than a game changer actually–skin changer. I was shocked at how cleansing this one was. Even after throughly removing my makeup at night and washing my face, this tea tree toner was able to give me the deepest cleansing that any toner had provided (without that awful menthol-stinging feel that harsh toners give).
Months passed and repurchases of the same toner happened. But I always wondered what other products, ones other than the “Tea Tree” line, from The Body Shop could do for my skin. Unfortunately, I ran out of my beloved Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask at the same time that my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion was running low. I looked into doing a Clinique haul to replenish my supply. But then I decided to take a rebellious leap and order substitute products from The Body Shop instead! So, without further adieu, here is the low-down on what I bought:
I basically already reviewed this above. But since I have the space and time to keep going, I think I will. 🙂 This is THE best (hands-down) toner I have ever used. I can’t say that there is absolutely no tingling sensation when it is used, but I CAN say that it has a very natural and pure finish that contradicts the burning sensation that many harsh toners give. I can also say that it doesn’t strip my pores of their natural oils. It DOES clean them, and well. I even use this twice a day. And I know if I washed my face twice a day, I would have dry and blemished skin within a week. With this product, that just doesn’t happen. It deeply cleanses my pores, leaving them feeling refreshed and ready to absorb the lotion I am about to apply. Can’t say enough good things about it!
I got this to replace my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (basically my daytime moisturizer). I wanted something that would give follow-up treatment to my pores, because I was experiencing clogged pores from my makeup. What I needed was a lotion that sealed out the clogginess (not a word?) of my makeup, but still moisturized my skin well. This product accomplishes both! While it is definitely a lotion, it has a sheer quality about it that reminds me of a gel-cream. It wears well under my makeup, and most importantly, over my pores. It dries very fast, which kind of took me by surprise and made me wonder if it truly moisturized my skin enough. But then again, mattifying is all about a smooth and flawless finish, and goopy lotion prevents that from happening. I really like this product!
I know this is a serum, not a moisturizer. But I have SO many random, sample-sized tubes of moisturizer (thanks to my ipsy subscription…YAY!) that I didn’t want to purchase a new nighttime moisturizer. I just wanted to turn those random moisturizers into nighttime ones. So I got this serum (because of the intensity level) to go beneath my nighttime moisturizer, no matter what brand it might be. I know a serum can’t magically transform a day lotion into a night cream, but it can certainly help. It can intensify the moisturizing properties of my nighttime facial routine. And the added vitamin E can go a long way in the fine-line prevention and skin-cell repairing methods that I like to employ in my nighttime routine. This serum has a pleasant smell and makes my skin very happy. I’m enjoying it and so far have loved the results!
I only paid $1 for this teeny sample. But I wanted to give it a try because I haven’t used anything from their “Oils of Life” line yet. I know this is not an eye cream, although they have an Oils of Life eye cream, but I still wanted to try it for my eye area. If I like it, I will try the actual eye cream next! While I don’t think anything will ever be able to replace my ride-or-die Clinique All About Eyes eye cream, I still am interested in finding a runner-up product. I take my eye cream game pretty seriously, and don’t want to run the risk of being completely out of a product.
This one is obviously a sample too (but it was free!) I got it as an alternative to the Vitamin E Intense Moisture Serum that I planned to use at night. I hadn’t tried anything from their “Drops of Youth” line, and so thought this would be a good place to start. Plus who turns down a free sample?
I have wanted something like this for years….like since I was 8 years old. (Well, back then I wanted a crank kind). But this little tool totally fit the bill for what I was looking for, and I think I’ll get a LOT of use out of it. Or at least, a lot of lotion out of it. ha! It was super on sale (like $1.50). So I decided to do a mini-bitty-splurge and buy this. I’m really glad that I did!
And that pretty much sums up my The Body Shop haul and review! Have you tried any of these products? I’m curious what you thought of them. And if you are a regular The Body Shop customer, what do you like and recommend? Please share below! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll come back soon!
I can’t believe this day finally came! I’ve been talking about getting Maskcara Beauty foundation for over a year. I feel silly that it took me so long, especially considering how innovative, beautiful, and reasonably priced it is. Two years ago, I tried one of their products and loved it, but never got around to purchasing the full foundation palette. This year’s birthday, I finally took the plunge and couldn’t be happier with the results!
How Maskcara Beauty Came into my Life
I began following the beauty blog Maskcara in 2015. I was really drawn to how kind, honest, and down-to-earth the blogger, Cara, was and still is today. At the time, she had a very small line of beauty products going. They were a couple cream foundations and a tube or two of liquid highlight. I was drawn to the concept of “enhancing” your natural beauty, which is Maskcara’s ultimate goal. Her blog, and makeup line, is a total reflection of that creed.
The Maskcara Beauty foundation (called IIID foundation) is innovative because it is designed to limit the amount of product needed to do a full coverage face with contour and highlight. It was right in the middle of the contouring boom that she created the IIID foundation. At the time (and still now), most makeup lines were advocating the same uniform system. It goes something like this: using concealer to hide imperfections, then creating a “blank” canvas with a single-toned foundation, then setting it with powder, then chiseling out features with a contour product, then accentuating other features with a highlight, and then adding warmth to the face with blush, etc. It’s not a bad system, but it can take forever and requires layers of products (which add up on your skin and your wallet!)
The IIID system, dubbed as HACing, focuses on accentuating features without requiring product layering, setting powders, etc. Cara’s own explanation of the process can be found on this page of her blog. In short though, the contour and highlight are both foundation consistency. That means the part of the face meant to be contoured is covered with the contour cream, and the part of the face that is meant to be bright is covered with highlight cream. There is no “basic foundation tone” in the HAC system. And a few squirts of setting spray takes the place of setting powders and translucent powders.
What intimidated me most about purchasing the IIID foundation was the process of creating my own custom palette. There are a few starter palettes for people who don’t know their skin color needs, but I was DETERMINED that if I was going to spend $48, then the palette had to be perfectly tailored to my skin. I hemmed and hawed over my colors for a year. A YEAR. Really silly, I know.
Then, early this year, Maskcara launched an “artists” program, meaning that her makeup line became an MLM company. I started connecting with artists over Instagram, checking out their own color-matched clients. Eventually, I found Amanda Earnest (@ocbeautymom) and she was fabulous. And I mean fabulous. We talked over the phone and she helped me build my palette based on two pictures of my face in natural light. Before I knew it, my dreams had come true and a custom palette arrived on my doorstep (among other things!)
And now for the final reveal…
My Long-Awaited Maskcara Beauty Haul!
I knew I wanted a full-set of foundation, which is at least one contour, one highlight, one dual lip-cheek color, and one illuminator. Each palette holds 4 of these color pans, and comes in two colors: sea glass and marble. I went with marble, because, duh. The last item I put in my cart was the “30-second HAC brush” which is a dual-ended brush specially designed to speed up the HACing process. The IIID system recommends a blending sponge and a setting spray, but I have both of those already (though in different brands).
The IIID Foundation Singles
My singles, in order from top left to bottom right:
Pearl- the fairest of the IIID illuminators. Its used in all the normal illumination places: tip of nose, bridge, etc.
Moonlight- the palest highlight of the IIID system. Meant for the fairest complexions (I use under my eyes)
White Peach- my main IIID highlight shade (aka foundation). Intended for light skin without a lot of redness.
Nude- this is the least “colorful” IIID blush because I don’t love blush but HACing kinda requires a healthy color.
Ash- my contour cream. I got this darker than what my skin “calls for” because I like a defined contour.
Shadow- I already had this. Its very ashy/grey for realistic shadowing–perfect for brows and severe nose HAC. It’s not pictured because it doesn’t have pretty packaging haha. It’s old.
The consistency varies a bit depending on the product’s purpose. For instance, while both the highlight and contour are “foundation” quality, the highlight is a bit denser for better concealment. <–simply because the highlight is put under the eyes and on the forehead which are two serious points of concealment for many skin types. The contour is ever so slightly less dense, though it still provides plenty of coverage. The blush/lip color is even lighter in its consistency, which makes it blend better atop of the other products. It also makes it comfortable as a lip product (nobody likes goopy lipstick). The illuminator is the sheerest of all, and works perfectly when dabbed at the “highlight” points we all love in the world of slaying.
The 30-Second HAC Brush
Allow me to introduce you to the only facial brush I need now. What I love about this brush is how intensely dense it is. The tapered end behaves just like my Eco Tools foundation brush (but thicker), while the shorter end reminds me of my Real Techniques contour brush. Whenever I see a “specialty” brush sold with products, I’m always slightly concerned that the brush isn’t really that necessary. It feels like those are often being sold as a “necessity” for more profit. I will say, however, that the 30-second HAC brush is legitimately necessary (at least for me) in evenly, quickly, and properly distributing the cream products on my face.
Once all the products are distributed, then they are to be blended with a beauty sponge of any kind. I’m not picturing mine because it’s not part of my Maskcara Beauty Haul, but it is part of my IIID routine now! Once the final look has been achieved, simply spritz with a finishing primer spray (I have found my MAC+ works best) and the makeup is set. I have been told that really oily girls can dab powder where needed, but it’s nice that layers of powder is not required for this makeup!
My Favorite Qualities About Maskcara Beauty
I think this entire IIID system has a lot going for it. While I wasn’t particularly desperate to find “that ONE foundation for the rest of my life,” I have really enjoyed adding Maskcara cosmetics to my collection. And I definitely plan to repurchase, so maybe I really have found “it” or at least a strong contender for the “it” category. I could make an entire post about why I like Maskcara Beauty (and I think I will) but for now here is my basic list of favorite qualities:
the packaging is gorgeous–not a solid reason to spend $48, but it makes it stand out from a lot of my products
the HACing system gives me a contoured face in about 3 minutes–which is SUCH a difference from the norm
the makeup is genuinely enjoyable to put on, and to wear–lightweight and comfortable on my skin
it’s build able–you can go from light/natural coverage to severe glam in a matter of minutes (and layers)
the colors are complimentary with each other and my skin–I’ve mixed highlight shades (like others have) and had a lot of success with that. I don’t feel like the makeup line has any weird colors or shade issues. All their options are beautiful and natural looking.
A Few Minor Drawbacks to the IIID Foundation
I call these “minor” drawbacks because they aren’t enough to make me stop using the products. And with the huge industry that makeup is, I find it easy to just dispose of a product when I find one or two flaws in it. There are always other options. However, because IIID is so revolutionary, I can’t just go grab a Maskcara dupe at Target. And I don’t mind that, because having a custom-built palette is just what I was looking for. Anyway, since I’m trying to make this review as well-rounded as possible, I thought I’d mention the few flaws I have found in the products so far:
cream-based foundations and contours take time to get used to–at least for me. I’m in that process now.
the coverage is good for any color correction, but it doesn’t hide bumps on the skin (I’m pretty sure most foundations can’t). Like, it won’t make your skin look plastic-smooth if you have some raised skin.
these first two weeks of wearing it, the makeup lasts for 4-6 hours. When I first put it on, it only lasted for 2. I attributed that to my lack of “piling it on” but it didn’t change the fact I was disappointed. I talked to my Maskcara artist though and she said that it takes about two weeks for many clients’ skin to adjust to the new product. The skin kind of goes through a “drinking” phase where it absorbs the makeup before the day is over. I noticed it gradually stayed on longer and longer, as each day passed, so I think she was definitely onto something about my skin! She also said some clients have ditched primer and found that helped a lot. I don’t know if I can do that because I LOVE the spf 30 in my primer, but I might use my MAC+ spray before and after makeup application.
Would I Recommend Maskcara Beauty to Others
In one word: YES. I think this makeup is beautiful. I think the IIID system is brilliant. And, I think Maskcara Beauty is a wonderful company. Did I mention they have eyeshadows, a brush collection, and innovative 2-STORY PALETTES?? I would highly recommend going through an artist to purchase, because getting color-matched is key to the IIID foundation working properly. (However, if you’re adverse to working with an artist, just get online and order it on your own the way you would order any other makeup online). Follow (or stalk) their Instagram page and see if their work is something you are planning to achieve. You might find a more seasoned makeup artist, or someone who really perfects the IIID look you are hoping for.
Also, I would recommend knowing what you’re looking for in the makeup– do you want an extremely natural look, or a chiseled, “glam” look? Telling the artist your preferences will help decide if you should go with a contour and highlight that are close in shading, or a contour and highlight that a remarkably different. Personally, I wanted a dramatic difference between my two shades, but many, many clients don’t. Your artist will be able to tell you which highlights and contours will work on your skin tone, and often there is more than one shade that you can go with.
But to recap, I would absolutely buy it. Having a palette custom-colored to meet your complexion’s exact needs is a huge step in making sure your makeup is “naturally” flawless. And being able to accomplish a contoured/highlighted face in under 5 minutes is a really big achievement to me–especially as a busy mama. So, if you’re on the fence about trying this, I say take the plunge! I’m really glad that I did.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking around! I hope that my Maskcara Beauty Haul helped you decide whether or not you should try some IIID yourself! Or, if you’ve never heard of Maskcara Beauty before, hopefully now you’ll be interested to try it. I think this company has a lot more in store for its clients, so I’m looking forward to their next product launch! I know yesterday they produced a new silver-mauve eyeshadow called the “Bend and Snap” which everyone is raving about on Instagram. Let me know if you check it out, or if you’ve tried Maskcara Beauty before! I love reading beauty reviews in the comment section. Thanks for stopping by!
~~Tiny but important note: I was not in ANY way paid or influenced to endorse, recommend, or review my Maskcara Beauty Haul. Similarly, finding an artist to work with is an extremely optional and personal decision, and I was not marketed or pressured in any way to make a purchase I didn’t already want to make. I really enjoyed my customer experience with Maskcara Beauty and plan to remain a client!~~
If you read my last post, then you know I kind of wanted to write a yearly round-up post. I covered my yearly blog round-up in my blogiversary post, and I covered my monthly round-up in my December post, but as a blogger I couldn’t NOT write a year-in-review-post. It just didn’t seem right to leave it out.
This year held a lot for me. I think everybody says that. Because I thinks it’s true for everyone. A lot can happen in 365 days. A lot did happen. The Army threw a lot of curveballs at us, most of which were really good. Life threw a lot of curveballs at us. Some of those were not-so-good. We got in a huge car wreck and lost both our cars. A dearly beloved fur baby passed away. But in the wake of those difficulties were some very beautiful and happy moments. We built an even stronger bond with our remaining fur baby and grew in our appreciation for enjoying the life’s little moments with him. We also upgraded to better cars, and my confidence in driving has slowly been increasing. Very slowly. Slower than pond water. But progress is progress!
2016 might have been my favorite year yet. If you read my final post of 2015, I didn’t believe any year could top it! But maybe 2016 did. It’s hard to say, because every year is so different that I really can’t compare them. I couldn’t trade the year I was married for the year we spent with our baby, or the year my husband and I met for the year we met our daughter. Every year is incomparable, and completely irreplaceable. 2016 was no exception. I can’t imagine not having this year as part of my life. There are so many moments I will never forget, so many steps we took together as a family, so many accomplishments and surprises, just so many memories.
I could go on and on for paragraphs about every single moment, and not even scratch the surface of what happened this year. So instead I’ll just cloud together a blurry paragraph of the feelings and takeaways from 2016. I learned that the power of a hug is unmatchable. When my baby runs to my arms, or when my family hugs after Army separation, my heart literally floats into the clouds. I experienced there is nothing better than just talking over a cup of coffee– nothing. I felt the importance of having a fur baby around at all times, and the emptiness of losing one. I finally realized that there is no point to buying a kitchen item that is normal or convenient if I can have a special or one-of-a-kind one. I began trusting the skills of a hairdresser, and learned so much more about my own head of hair. I reevaluated makeup and skincare, and discovered new products that I needed in my life. I experienced first hand the absolute majestic power of God, and how no prayer ever goes unanswered. I felt love even more, which I didn’t think was possible, and that was my favorite feeling of the year.
2017, if you are even half of the year that 2016 was, then I can’t wait to meet you. Even if you aren’t, I’m going to spend every day using what I learned from 2016 to make you the year I am hoping for! This new year is going to be a special one, I can just tell. Just as this one really was.
I can’t believe I got one! It was almost a year ago when the beauty Youtuber Carli Bybel announced she teamed up with BHCosmetics to create an eyeshadow and highlight palette. She posted an entire video showcasing the new palette and giving the world a first look. I thought it looked amazing. But I also thought, like so many guru-collaborations, that it would be a hard-to-get palette that was sold from a single website with astronomical shipping charges. In other words, I didn’t feel very hopeful that I was going to land one for myself. Then a few days ago (Friday) I was looking at Ulta’s website and saw that the Carli Bybel palette had hit their stores. I died.
The very next day, we zoomed out to Ulta so that I could purchase one. I braced myself for the realistic possibility that my local Ulta had already sold out of the palette. When I got to the store and couldn’t find it, things started to look bleak. Then…low and behold, I spotted a shelf of them. And there was one sitting out, just waiting for me to take it. I definitely purchased it. Important side note: I also bought another L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara, which this time was not the Carbon one. That was probably a bad move, considering the Carbon version is my go-to mascara. But every single time I repurchase the Carbon one, I always wonder what the original is like. And now I guess I get to find out! But I digress.
If I could choose one color to describe the Carli Bybel palette, I would say rose gold. There are many shades (ten shadows and four highlights to be exact), but they all hover around the gold, rose, and bronze hues. Since those are my favorite makeup colors, this palette is such a winner for me. Some have complained that the eyeshadow colors are too similar. But personally, I think their similarity helps with flawless blending and natural-looking color gradation. As a collection, I think the ten colors work perfectly together and compose a great eyeshadow palette. And of course, they work well with the highlighters.
Out of the ten eyeshadows, half are matte and half are shimmery. The darker shades tend to be matte, and the light shades tend to be shimmery. But the ten are still a fair mix of pigment finishes overall. They are smooth to put on…dare I use the word “buttery?” I’m not sure how I feel when people describe eyeshadows like that. But this palette is what they mean when they say that. Having never tried BH Cosmetics before, I was impressed with the quality (and quality) of the shadows for their low price point.
The four highlighters have a much steeper color-change amongst themselves than the eyeshadows. Needless to say, all four are “shimmery” because, um: highlighters. These also have good pigmentation, which I appreciate. If you know anything about my feelings on highlighters, then you know I like them to be as transparent as possible. I have had bad experiences with chalky and thick highlighters. Nothing to fear here, though! These highlighters leave a shimmer without any trace of powdery residue. And if you use one of the darker shades for a highlighted bronzing effect, it leaves the pigment with the shimmer, but that is all!
Overall, I am very pleased with the Carli Bybel palette. Part of me was excited to have it simply because it was one of those highly anticipated celebrity-influenced palettes. But truthfully, even if this palette hadn’t been a collaboration, I still would have wanted it. The colors are my favorite color family–soooo beautiful! The highlights are amazing quality, and come in a variety of beautiful shades. Matte or shimmery, all the eyeshadows have nice pigmentation. I am so surprised that with all the quality, quantity, and fame going on, this palette still cost under $20! It was only a few dollars more than my mascara. Oops.
Leave a comment below and tell me if you’ve tried the Carli Bybel palette, and what you think of it! BH Cosmetics’ latest big collaboration is Illuminate with Ashley Tisdale. I can’t wait to give those a try. Hopefully they will be as lovely as the Carli Bybel palette turned out to be!
You can find the palette here, and it’s new BIG SISTER (the extended palette) here. These are affiliate links.