My Last Ipsy Bag…

…And Why I Gave Up On Beauty Subscriptions

2016 was my year of upping my makeup game.  I went on a quest for the most perfect, holy grail, ride or die products that would work perfectly with my skin type, harmonize with my coloring, and fit my budget.  On the daily, I am a minimalist, using high SPF BB creams, eyeliner, and tinted lip balm.

My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty and Makeup Subscriptions by Dawn Devine ~ Davina -

My belly dance makeup kit was old, tired, beat-up, and expired.  My brushes were chewed up, my makeup bag was broken, and it was time to examine my skin care regimen, cosmetic application techniques, and choice in products. I set my goals, started with a whopping (for me at least) budget of $500, and an additional $40 a month, on average. Why did I set such a big budget?  Because I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I didn’t know how many products I would buy and try, love and keep or ditch after using for a while and discovering something better.

Davina aka Dawn Devine - My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty and Makeup  Subscriptions |

I went to the source of all makeup information on the web, YouTube.  I discovered a huge community of ladies and gentlemen covering every aspect of makeup from amateur to pro, young to old, dry skin to oily, deep to pale. There is practically something for everyone!  I was so inspired I even tackled a #31DayBellyDanceMakeupChallenge and put the evidence up on YouTube.
One of the things that many of these YouTubers were suggesting to “new to makeup” viewers was signing up for a beauty subscription service or two.  When more than a dozen folks suggested the same things, I decided it would be a great idea.  So I signed up for several different services throughout the year.
My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty Subscriptions by Dawn Devine
I began with Ipsy and Birchbox at the beginning of the year.  At first, Ipsy was a ton of fun!  I got a cute little bag, lots of interesting samples from brands I hadn’t heard of, lots of indy and indy brands that I wouldn’t have experienced without their service.  Birchbox, however, seemed to send higher end products, randomly chosen, that didn’t suit my needs or lifestyle.  But worst still, in three months, I received boxes with broken items.  When I received the third box with breakage, I decided it was too much hassle to get broken things replaced, and really, in three months, there wasn’t a single Item in a box that I wanted to rebuy.

So I canceled Birchbox and joined the mailing list to get the Sephora Play Box. I also purchased a Target beauty box.  I REALLY liked the Target beauty box, but it sells out within MOMENTS of being on their website.  It’s not a subscription service, so you have to know when it’s going on sale and jump immediately.  I tried to get two more and failed both times.  Target Beauty Box, you’re just too inaccessible for me!  I still continued on with Ipsy, going to their site, answering their questions to try and steer the products towards my needs.

My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty Subscriptions by Dawn Devine
In the summer, after waiting many months, I finally got into the Sephora Play Box.  I love Sephora, it’s like a temple to the gods of makeup, and their employees are their acolytes helping people find their inner glamazon. However, after receiving the Sephora box twice, I realized that it was just a little too rich for my blood.  I loved trying the products, but I wasn’t going to be buying a $40 cleanser or $80 moisturizer! It was fun to get, but it wasn’t progressing my quest to find products that I would actually repurchase. Although Sephora Play is the same price as Ipsy, it’s geared to folks with bigger budgets!
Sephora Play Box - My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty Subscriptions by Dawn Devine
In late summer, I decided to try Boxycharm.  The appeal of this service is that you pay a little more, but then you receive full sized products. From the very beginning it was a great box for me. They sent a nice combination of products, most of which I would definitely enjoy using, even if I decided never to repurchase, I could really try a skincare or hair product long enough to know if I like it.  Most of the items are on the pricier side, so I probably won’t try most of them, but when a box is sending full-sized eyeshadow palettes, you’re getting a pretty good deal.  I pre-bought half a year, when it’s finished, I’m going to let it lapse because I’ve resorted to giving my friends these full sized makeup eyeshadow palettes!


Contents of a BoxyCharm Subscription Box | My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty Subscriptions by Dawn Devine
So here I am, it’s January 2017 and my year of makeup quest has ended.  So today I canceled my Ipsy subscription.  After a year of Ipsy, I realized that I didn’t “find” anything I want to repurchase!  I also seemed to collect an epic collection of mascara minis, hand cream samples, and eyeliners to work through!  I found myself giving way so many things I simply don’t use in my world, like nail polish and sheet masks.  I got a lot of oddly incompatible products. I wound up giving the curly hair products to my curly hair friends. The skin-care samples were too small to use for any length of time to see if they would work.

While I initially loved the little bag that comes with every Ipsy mailing, I found myself being overrun by these little bags. Some were cute, but others were not to my taste, and all of them were about the same size.  I only need a few bags in that size, so I found myself giving them away at the holidays filled with mini and full sized products I received throughout the year.

Things I'll never use | My Last Ipsy Bag - Why I Gave Up On Beauty Subscriptions by Dawn Devine
Overall, what I learned is that I would rather have that $10 – $20 cost of the subscription in my makeup budget so I can choose exactly what I want and need for my collection. The tiny thrill of opening an unknown package in the first quarter of the year, by August had turned to an overwhelm of samples and minis. I now have a bowl of samples sitting in my living room waiting for friends to visit and partake, like a calorie free candy bowl for makeup lovers!
What journey am I on this year?
I’ll let you know in a few weeks once I dial into my 2017 quest!
Here’s wishing you glamor in 2017!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
January 15, 2017

Permalink: My Last Ipsy Bag…

Instagram Challenge – #30 Days of Dance

Tackling a 30 Day Instagram Challenge

This January, I’m having a bit of fun over on my Instagram feed.  Belly dancer Faizeh (handle @faizeh_raqs) posted 30-day challenge to share with our friends, fans, and followers. Her  a more intimate peek into our dance world.  She put together this easy to follow list:

 Follow this link to see lots more on Instagram – #30DaysOfDance

Prompts Challenge you to Think Differently

I am drawn to 30-day challenges because they make me think about life in a new and different way. My goal is to use the list of prompts to make me think about my view of the world and my place in it.  When doing challenges, the prompts are sometimes optional.  For instance, during #Inktober back in 2014, I created a theme of my own, creating a paper doll with a full wardrobe over the course of 31 days.  For #inktober 2016, I followed a list of “Spooky” ideas and had a lot of fun comparing my ghosts, spider webs, and other creepy subjects with friends following the same prompt list. Every challenge is different, and you get to make the choice on how you plan to tackle it.  

For this months #30DaysOfDance, I’m using Faizeh’s curated prompt list.  I’m going through my personal photo archive with a fresh perspective and pulling images that tell the story stimulated by the prompt. It’s interesting to relive happy memories and learn interesting things about myself.  For instance, after looking at a couple of hundred pictures of myself, it became clear what is REALLY #4 (Favorite Pose.)  Not something dramatic, but pretty basic, and I’ve been doing it for years!

Davina Day #4 – Favorite Pose – Left 2016, Right 1994

Start AnyTime You Like

There always seems to be a flurry of challenges that happen around in January with the start of the year, and again in August/September with “back to school.”  But you can start challenges any time you like!  If you find one in progress that appeals to you, and a large group is at the same place, you can start there and join them for the finish.  Alternately, you can start whenever and tackle the challenge for your own personal satisfaction. Choose times when your schedule is less busy, or will facilitate your participation.  I once did a 30-day photo challenge – and scheduled it to be during a month when I was traveling abroad for 15 days. If you are participating as a group, or would like feedback from others who have taken the challenge, be sure to include the official hashtag when you post.

Davina Day #1 – You – This is the picture I selected as my introduction

Be Creative when Interpreting the Prompts

Make the prompts your own. Think about what your approach or angle will be for each particular challenge.  For instance, in this #30DaysOfDance challenge, some of the entries are self-explanatory like #19 (Business Card.)  However, you can be more creative with concepts like #16 (Inspiration) or #22 (Fuel.)  When I’m working through a challenge filled with creative and open-ended ideas like these, I try to listen to my inner voice and go with my first instinct.  Try not to overthink!  This should be fast and fun!

Davina Day #2 – Favorite Costume – Head to toe assiut from 2013

Plan in Advance

One of the strategies I use to stick to a 30-day challenge is by doing some advanced planning.  When I have made the commitment to follow through with a particular challenge, I brainstorm out the images that I want to include.  This brainstorm list helps me formulate a plan of action for achieving the goals.

Pre-Create an Archive

This is especially helpful when doing biographical challenges.  If your challenge includes “Favorite Vacation” or “Best Photo.” You can find these items in your archive and have them ready to go for that day.   If you’re working on a creativity challenge where you put up a new drawing, photo, or makeup look each day, takes some time to plan ahead.  Creating a thematic to:do list, or pre-gathering the materials and supplies so that you save time every day.  Some days are busier than others, and having a plan will take out some of the stress. 

Screen shot of my Evernote entry for the #30DaysOfDance 

Keep it in the Cloud

I like to use a cloud based storage space to house my pre-created archive.  For this #30DaysOfDance challenge, I’m using Evernote to keep a list of the prompts and copies of the images I plan on using throughout the challenge.  I collect the images and make notes about what points I want to include about the pictures and how they relate to the prompts.  Cloud-based storage means that I can easily add photos to this folder from other devices. Use the one you prefer for your best results.

All-in-all, I recommend trying a challenge at least once to see if it boosts your creativity, helps you get in touch with yourself, or with other like-minded individuals. You might connect with new friends, master new skills, or develop life-long habits beginning with a month-long challenge.

Are you on Instagram?  Let’s connect!  You can check out all the other images I choose for this challenge.  Be sure to message me if you start your own challenges, I would love to check them out!

Best of luck in 2017!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
January 4, 2017

Permalink: Instagram Challenge – #30 Days of Dance

Johara – A Belly Dance Paper Doll To Color

Happy Holidays!

This year has been tremendous and I want to thank you all for visiting my site, buying my books, and supporting my creative projects in a myriad of ways. As a thank you, I have put together this holiday gift. I would like to introduce you to Johara, a belly dance paper doll to color.  You can download her and her wardrobe as a four-page .pdf.

Johara belly dance paper doll to color

In 2016 We Published Not One, but Two books!
Becoming a Belly Dancer & Zills: Music on Your Fingertips

2016 was one of the biggest, fullest, and most productive years of my professional career.  From January of 2015 through November of 2016, I had the distinct pleasure of working with a team of belly dancers, authors, costumers, and performers on the seminal book “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage.” by Sara Shrapnell, Poppy Maya, Alisha Westerfeld, and myself.  This comprehensive guidebook for students and performers of belly dance is 402 pages filled with “learned in the trenches” tips from professional instructors and performers.

In 2016, I also joined a team of three including photographer Alisha Westerfeld and illustrator George Goncalves, we completed the book “Zills: Music on Your Fingertips.”  This book is filled with lavish photos, clear illustrations, and lots of information on the history, use, selection, playing, and care of finger cymbals. Both of these books are now available on and I’m so pleased with how well they both turned out!

Johara Belly Dancer to Color - Wardrobe - Downloadable .pdf on

Download Johara and her Wardrobe to Color

Simply download this four-page .pdf and print it out and color her in!  I suggest using colored pencils, markers, or gel pens.  And for the best results, print her out on heavier paper or card stock.  Download a .pdf

2017 Here we come!

During the upcoming months, I’ll be back at work on the second book in the assiut series, “Assiut Belly Dance Costumes in Detail,” a guide to designing and making belly dance performance costume.  This book will serve as the more hands-on, sewing manual companion to “The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut.”  This is my big main project for the year, and I look forward to designing and building a dozen new assiut costumes that I will document along the way and present in beautiful photos by Alisha Westerfeld and Michael Baxter.  If you are interested in this new book, be sure to join my mailing list for my bi-monthly updates, and follow me on YouTube for sewing vlogs or over on Facebook where I’m always sharing images, memes, and lamenting about never having enough coffee!

With all the trouble and the strife that’s happening in this world today, it’s nice to turn inwards and nurture our creative souls with music, movement, color, and life.

I wish you all a very Happy Holiday season!

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Dec. 28, 2016 

Permalink: Johara – A Belly Dance Paper Doll To Color