Four Years of Twenty Swans!!!!

Hi Everyone!

Another year has passed and we are at 20S’ FOURTH year! That’s insane. I know, I say this every year, but that’s really just amazing. Life for me is getting much, much busier now but I am hoping to keep up the blogging at least – I’ve realised this blog is how some people keep up with me and I think it’s important to keep in touch.

Here are some of this year’s blog stats!

Following stats:

  • 427 WordPress followers (steady as I have not been as interactive!)
  • 120 Instagram followers (give or take a few bots)
  • 304 Twitter followers (dropping as I am not really a tweeter)
  • 42 Bloglovin followers (HI.)

I’ve been much less stringent about social media promo so my views have actually dipped a bit this year. I just don’t put aside the time for it so it’s kind of a no from me. I enjoy the blogging most and the view count is a bonus, really. I’d like to post more on Instagram as a micro-blog for all the posts that don’t make the cut, too. In terms of views, I didn’t hit 20k again this year and I’m sitting at 17.5k.

I’ve posted just a little more than last year, and while my overall views have decreased, my blog engagement has been a lot higher! I got 293 comments this year (up from 85) and 728 likes (up from 342). As far as I know, though, I don’t have a system for accepting comments outside of WordPress. Maybe that’s something I can work on this year.

My top five posts overall this year are:

  1. This sheet mask post, again (2015) which now has over 10k views???
  2. My review of the Kose Suncut Aqualy UV Sunscreen (2017)
  3. My review of the Mamonde Balm Intense (2017)
  4. My review of the Canmake BB Cream (2017)
  5. A post about pH testing my cleansers (2016)

My top five posts from 2018 ONLY:

  1. Battle of the Velvet Teddy Dupes #1
  2. My review of Skinfood’s Avocado and Honey Lip Serum
  3. My review of Primark’s PS… Nudes palette
  4. My Snap review of the Primark Hydrogel mask
  5. Lipsticks in Rotation: February 2018

I’ve been a little more creative with photography this year and making use of the aperture and background blur for my photos. I’ve tried to be more flexible and more creative with my setups and develop a more airy and warm style whilst trying to remain colour-accurate for swatches.

Here are examples from throughout the year:

Check out this post on my photography process for a bit of my older photography!

I’ve just discovered Canva for title cards (including the one for this post!), although I am having a few teething problems with getting to grips with it I like all the custom options it has for my blog posts!

Update on Last Year’s Mindful Things:

  • I didn’t write a lot at all.
  • I joined the gym, so more cardio is being done.
    I think I still gained weight and got bigger, but I don’t feel ready to die after running for the bus anymore, which is very nice. Becoming healthier and losing weight are not the same thing to me and I am proud of the strides made in improving my fitness level.
  • I don’t think I spent more or less money on snacks, but overall I think I’ve been healthier which was the intent behind this.
  • I’ve become much more comfortable with being the manga/k-pop person and I think that it helped that I’ve surrounded myself with a group of friends who are the same which helps me normalise it – in short, I’ve found my crew at uni and it’s doing me a lot of good!
  • My wardrobe hasn’t changed much, really – there have been very little purchases through the year apart from some key items. But it may have to change, and more purchases made out of necessity because I’ve gotten a bit bigger in size again.

This year’s mindful things:

  • Try to be more a eco-friendly and ethical shopper in small steps, by:
    • exploring more veggie/vegan food options (that I started this year and I want to continue with that).
    • replacing my cotton rounds with reusable ones as soon as my current pack runs out (I don’t use them that often anyway). I don’t buy coffee often at all so I find I don’t need a travel cup at the moment.
    • moving towards being more and more cruelty-free with my beauty purchases, with exceptions which I hope to outline in a later post.
    • considering more small, indie and local (UK) beauty brands.
    • At the moment I don’t NEED or even WANT much of anything (kicking those consumer habits!!!) so I’ve just done a ton of research to prepare for the year.
  • Continuing to visit the gym and improving my fitness level – I’m trying not to be bothered about my size and weight, and the focus is just on being healthier. This will probably become really difficult as my placement year approaches, but the point is that I’ll TRY.
  • I want to draw more, but due to my book challenge the focus this year is on reading. I just want to do more of both, but I know I’ll be very busy.
  • Continue to blog during the summer.
    It’s my biggest weakness, blog-wise – I do next to nothing here in the summer and I always regret it afterwards. No particular reasons why, just that my life outside of blogging becomes busy or less interesting around then that even a trip to Vietnam cannot cure.
  • Use up a lipstick or cull my collection to a steady 30.
    Despite a year-long ban I still didn’t really fully finish a lipstick, and although the aim is 30, my storage rack holds 40 which doesn’t help. I am filling the other 10 with lip liners and other things that fit and I’ll aim for ‘one in, one out’. I can imagine this going haywire if I end up travelling for Placement year, though.

I feel like I should mention again that these aren’t really goals, hence the name, as I revisit this post a lot myself to remind myself of what I can do to improve myself. No point in making goals I’ll forget about, right? Plus this means less pressure on myself to achieve said goals and more gratification when things do improve over the year.

Once again, thank you for reading.

X

Review: Skinfood Avocado & Honey Lip Serum

Hi everyone!

Now that I have established a lip care routine of sorts, I am looking into exploring other options for the steps I have. One of these steps involves using a thin ‘lip serum’ type product in the morning. It has to be really quick and easy to use and play well with my lipsticks and lip liners without compromising them. So for this, tubs are a no and sticks are okay… But I really love tubes as there is no time taken to ‘melt’ any product onto the lips – lanolin products being a sort of exception.

 

By the way, lip balms were not part of my no-buy. Tinted ones… well, I didn’t realise this one was tinted… I certainly don’t wear it in lieu of a lipstick, so I wouldn’t count this particular one… I don’t normally buy/wear tinted ones at all…

 

The product I used for this step prior was Dr Organic’s Hemp Lip Serum. It’s an oily gel sort of texture, in a tube, and in a thin layer, works really well for what I need it for without being too runny. But lip ‘serums’ are a rare product category and I wanted to see what other options I had. Lip essences are interesting too and I think the two terms might be used interchangeably and of course, lip oils are not to be ignored although true oil consistencies are not what I’m looking for.

I bought this product for £3.97 for 10 ml from RoseRoseShop on ebay, a known reputable seller of Korean cosmetics and skincare. As usual, it took about two weeks to get to me here in the UK.

This appealed to me as a morning lip balm because it has a little sun protection at SPF8 and has a tube packaging. to be honest, as I pat off the lip balm later the SPF is not a deal breaker as it won’t stay on. The avocado and honey extracts are supposed to help keep the lips moist. It smells of a typical lip balm in a stick – I think it’s lypsyl that comes to mind or the classic Nivea lip balm scent. That means it also doesn’t taste very nice.

I was really surprised to see the product come out so dark – a very deep berry colour! However, once I spread it on the lips this colour all but dissipates into a not-even-noticeable tint. It doesn’t appear too glossy or too matte – just a creamy shine.

When I am only wearing this balm during the day at home, the product lasts two or three hours on the lips before I have to reapply it again. This is with drinking water and a bit of snacking in between. It won’t last a meal, but as the tint is so light you’re not going to notice, visually, that it’s gone. At the same time, the tint makes my lips look healthier and less washed out. If you have more pigmented lips, though you won’t notice a difference.

It plays well under lip products. I usually press my lips against the back of my hand to remove excess and leave a thin layer. It doesn’t cause my lipstick to go on patchy and I can use my lip products as usual.

I wasn’t sure about this lip serum at first. I’m not sure I would still call it the kind of serum I was expecting. It’s definitely more just a thin balm. However, it’s really grown on me and I do enjoy using it now, especially the healthy flush it gives to my lips even if I do pat it off later on. I don’t think I will repurchase this again, though.

Until next time,

X

A Peek at my Skincare Diary #1: Short and Sweet

Gasp! A Saturday post? Yeah, I forgot to schedule some new posts whilst I was panicking over an essay. I have some time to get some posts up and scheduled now, though, so you all have something to read while I am contemplating the inner workings of the mind for my degree!

I initially planned to start this series two months ago, around the time of year I share my skincare wardrobe. Instead of presenting it all as a giant wardrobe last year, I thought it would be interesting to keep a diary and record what I was using on a day-to-day basis. But then I suddenly stopped taking care of my skin, going nights without bothering with a moisturiser, although I could never forgo my thick layer of lip balm. But it meant I stopped keeping track of my skin using my diary, too.

So very slowly, I’ve been reintroducing my skincare routine based on what I am feeling. I’m not sure how long it will last seeing as my exams are really quite fast approaching and I habitually tend to wreck my sleeping and skincare around that time…

But anyway, here’s what I have been reaching for when I actually did bother with basic self-care.

Morning

Dr Organic Hemp Oil Lip Serum

After using this in the morning for at least a year now, I think I am finally using up the last of it! This has an oily but also gel-like texture that’s quite unusual, but I do like it as I want something thin that won’t interfere with my lipstick. It’s only £2.49 from Holland and Barratt, too. I wear it in the morning as soon as I have washed my face, and it stays on mostly until I get to the lipstick stage, when I press it off a bit with the back of my hand before applying lipstick. Of course, the smell will take some getting used to if you’ve never used hemp before – it can be a little unpleasant.

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Emulsion

I think this is actually the first emulsion type product I have tried, and I really like it. It’s most similar to the Western ‘lotion’ although not quite the same thing to me. It’s basically a light moisturiser and sinks in super well which is great in the mornings when I need to layer sunscreen and makeup on top without pilling but also don’t want my skin to be too dry.

I’ve been meaning to write a full review for ages but now I realise there’s not much to say! I’ve been using this for months and I’m only halfway through the bottle, but I will finish this up. I probably won’t repurchase it in favour of something with more ‘wow’ to it.

Kose Suncut Aqualy UV Protect Gel SPF50+ PA++++|Full Review Here

Something about this sunscreen texture is super pleasant so I never shy from reaching for this. It also works really nicely under makeup without pilling which I am very grateful for. However, if oil is a major problem for you then this might not be the best option at all. I really liked using this over the last winter (I just… accepted my oiliness haha) although admittedly I didn’t wear sunscreen every day… I’ll look at other options because I’m a blogger, after all, but this will definitely be repurchased in the future. It’s been over a year of sporadic use and I’m finally getting to the last quarter of the bottle.

Evening

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser| Review Here

A very gentle and pleasant cleanser! For days of light makeup only. It will also make a good attempt at non-waterproof mascaras without stinging the eyes at all which is a nice bonus, and the rose smell is lovely. I actually don’t have many rose-scented products – for some reason the M&S body product sets that haunted my childhood come to mind – but maybe that can change! My only gripe is the price for the amount but honestly, for this lovely of a cleanser, I would not mind repurchasing it anyway.

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream

Again, this eye cream actually isn’t anything special. But I’m twenty and only looking for a standard eye cream that isn’t too rich or too thin, and it doesn’t need to have anti-ageing ingredients at this stage. This is actually the perfect consistency – sort of buttery but not greasy at all – and the scent is actually quite minimal. All that means this is super pleasant to use for me and I’d happily buy it to use again. I’ve almost reached the bottom of my tub which means I need to stop buying new emulsions and essences and buy a new eye cream!! Any suggestions for products with a similar consistency?

COSRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid

As I often lost track of my routine I have erred on the safe side and avoided my acids. I’m trying to reintroduce it starting weekly but even that is kind of a struggle at the moment! Besides the slightly funky smell which I am sort of used to now, there’s not much to say thus far.

Lanolips 101 Ointment|Review here

Dr Pawpaw Original Balm|Review here

One of my favourite combinations recently. I like to use a thin layer of Lanolips before applying a thick layer of Dr PawPaw, which makes my lips super soft in the morning and easy to exfoliate or even just wipe away the dead skin after morning cleansing. Both are slightly pricier options for lip balm and the PawPaw I feel could easily be replaced with Vaseline or Carmex. As you can see, I currently prefer products in tubes, even over stick-type products.

Overall, this routine takes less than ten minutes out of my morning and evening, and hopefully I can build it up a bit more over the next few months without going too heavy as the summer approaches.

I hope you enjoyed this snippet of skincare and hopefully, as this project develops, we’ll be able to see how my skincare routine evolves and adapts to change to all the seasons!

Until next time,

X

Snap Review: Primark Hydrogel Mask

Hi everyone!

I picked up Primark’s attempt at a hydrogel mask a few weeks ago when browsing their beauty shelves with AT, and finally gave it a try a few nights ago. I put on a few episodes of my current-watching anime series, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and unfurled it to give it a try.

Casually sneaking a pic between action scenes.

I’m sure nobody is ever expecting miracles from a mask like this especially from Primark, but I’ve not tried a hydrogel mask before so this was interesting to me. It didn’t seem like other hydrogel masks that I had seen online, though. It seemed like a regular sheet mask but with a slight gel texture on one side and a mesh texture on the other. I placed the gel side on my face.

It had no unpleasant or sharp fragrance, and the essence was not too runny. It survived over an hour on my face and probably could’ve lasted longer as it was still quite damp.

Yeah. The fit of this mask was kind of horrendous. Normally even with chin fitting issues, the mask is flexible enough for me to fold it over my chin. This material is a bit too stiff for that. It was also a bit too small to go right to the sides of my face. It’s occurred to me now, writing this post, that I could have cut extra slits to make the fit better but at the time I’d forgotten I could do that.

Overall, for £2 it was a total dud. It would make sense if this was more £1. So this was disappointing, but I did like their lip masks!

Have you tried any Primark skincare?

Until next time,

X

Review: The Rosehip Specialists Rosehip Oil

Okay, so you want the full product name?
The Rosehip Specialists
Rosehip Plus Pure & Natural Rosehip Oil
Australian Certified, Organic, Cold Pressed.
For a long time, I have kept my distance from oil-based products in my skincare. Despite hearing about the benefits it might have for even oily skin, it just didn’t appeal to me. Why would I add more oil to my oily face? That said, there’s no doubt that the recent uprising of oils really interested me, no matter how I resisted.
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Originally, I was going to purchase rosehip oil from The Ordinary, who sell 30ml bottles for £9, but I spotted this in TK Maxx, the last box at the back of the shelf, for £6.99 (also 30ml) and grabbed it immediately. This particular oil has added vitamin E in the form of Tocopherol. It has a yellow, slightly orange colour to it.
From the packaging, Rosehip Oil contains:
Antioxidants Lycopene and Beta-carotene
Vitamins A,C and E
80% Essential Fatty Acids Omega 3, 6 and 9
Rosehip Oil is touted for a whole lot of benefits but the one that caught my eye was that it was also compatible for oily skin because the oils that are in it are at different levels to the ones that naturally occur in oily skin types, therefore it should help to balance the oils somewhat. That said, I can’t quite remember where I read this… (I know, I’m a bad academic). It’s also not occlusive, so I could layer it under masks and other stuff this winter!
Here are some of the product’s other claims as taken from its packaging:
Reduces the appearance of stretch marks and scars
Maintains skin hydration and softness
Improves appearance of dry and sensitive skin
Minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Promotes skin elasticity and texture
My first use of it was to add it to my Etude House Collagen Emulsion, just before my occlusive layer. I have also tried to mix it with Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum. On the first impression, it seemed to break up the product but as I kept mixing the two blended together fine. I really like it for adding some richness to my otherwise very light and layered routine.
Thankfully, it hasn’t broken me out, which was what I was most worried about. It has also helped to restore my skin’s odd dry winter patches, too, although it hasn’t done anything, of course, to help my skin’s oiliness level. Over more long-term use I found it helped reduce the prominence of some of my old acne scars.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my first foray into skincare oils and now squalane is on my list to try, too!
How do you use oils in your skincare routine?

Until next time,

X

Review: Lanolips 101 Ointment

My current stash of lip balms is at a count of seven, I think… not including the few duplicates I have. Needless to say that I don’t necessarily need any more but this is been on my radar for a while and if things go on sale whilst on my radar, I’m buying it… This doesn’t apply to all things of course and I figure things out on a case-by-case basis, but lip balms have been a total winner for me recently and I’m always curious to try what’s popular.

Over Black Friday, one of the other items I picked up from Boots (besides this Smashbox lip set) was the Lanolips 101 Ointment, which was on a buy-one-get-one-free offer. It’s normally £10.99 for 15g/0.52oz so a fairly pricey little tube.  Other alternatives are Glossier who offers 15ml for £10 and Dr Lipp who offers 15ml for £12. I haven’t tried the other two, and this is my first experience with a lanolin-based lip balm.

The packaging is like other hand creams or salves I’ve seen before, and is also remniscent of paint tubes. I quite like this type personally, as it’s a little more appealing than medicine style tubes and helps me to separate the cosmetic tubes to others in my head.

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When I first received the product, I was surprised to find out how stiff the product was at first and how hard it was to squeeze out of the packaging. Especially in this cold weather, it’s advisable to keep it someplace relatively warm or roll/hold the tube between your hands to warm it up and make it easier for the product to leave the tube. I imagine that wouldn’t be a problem in the summer, though. The product seems quite solid but melts onto the lips and becomes a more oily texture.

It is 100% Lanolin (the two ingredients being Lanolin and Lanolin oil), which is a natural product found in sheep’s wool. Therefore, it’s unfortunately not vegan if that is what is important to you. (This is something I have realised I have never mentioned in my reviews for you all and now I am taking more steps to include that kind of information in my posts!) As to whether it is cruelty-free, the packaging states it has not been tested on animals.

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There are two ways I like to use this so that my lips are soft in the morning or at least the dead skin is easily sloughed off. One is to slather a super thick layer on (although this is my routine for all my lip balms if I am honest). The other is to spread a thin layer and go in with a slightly thicker layer of something else. At the moment I prefer the second because I think it’s almost like it’s boosting the effect of the balm I use on top. Also, I get to use two lip balms up at once(!!).

I have always struggled to sleep on my back and not roll around which I have been trying to do for the sake of my skincare and lip balms that rub off! But recently I have found a sort of position that stops that and is also comfortable so my lip balms have actually been staying on.

Overall, I am really liking this as a lip balm and may consider buying it again!

Until next time,

X


Days since I last bought a lipstick:
Lipstick last worn:

Review: Banobagi Vita Genic Jelly Sheet Masks

I may have mentioned in my blogging process post about a draft or photo or two that was just buried in my notes and folders. Well, I dug up some photos that looked really nice and re-shot a sheet mask selfie, and boom. The pretty shots here were taken last May (!!!!!!) so for me to say that this review is overdue is a severe understatement!

The Vita Genic masks were a gift to me from a friend in Scotland who I met in October of 2016. You’d think I’d have used them all up by now, but that’s a real testament to how often I use sheet masks (i.e. not a lot). From a quick search, I can see that a pack of ten costs about £12.50 on eBay (and very overpriced on Amazon…) so they’re quite inexpensive as masks go.

The sheet mask packets are a bit big and round, so depending on how much room you have for your masks they might be a little big for your container.

I have all four varieties available:

  • Green – Calm & Balance/Relaxing, Vitamin B, containing Jeju Aloe Water
  • Red – Firming/Lifting, Vitamin A, containing Jeju Cactus/Opuntia Coccinellifera Fruit Extract
  • Yellow – Tone Up/Whitening, Vitamin C, containing ‘Jeju Halabong Fruit’ extract
  • Blue – Moisturising/Hydrating, Vitamin E, containing Jeju Oxygen Water (LOL)

The sheet is made of 100% cotton. It fits really nicely on my face. Of course the chin and nose are a bit funky but that’s always the case with me. The sheet is super comfortable and adheres well.

It’s the return of the awful sheet mask selfie!

The essence, true to the ‘jelly’ part of the name, doesn’t drip even though there is loads of essence in the packet! I’m talking 30ml! There’s enough to slather on your whole body. I used it to ‘top up’ my mask as it began to dry out, and I had enough to do it TWICE. (I probably could have managed a third time if I had another hour spare.)

Image result for twice one more time gif
TWICE.
(K-Pop gifs are SUCH FUN. Why didn’t I do this sooner???)

As for the effects? I never usually pay heed to how a mask affects my face, to be honest. I wear them as an occasional treat more than anything else, or just so I can do both my skincare and my revision in the evenings at once! I did feel very refreshed after using it although there was nothing in particular to note.

Overall, I really like using these masks and they are certainly something I could see myself rebuying in the future.

Until next time,

X


Days since last buying lipstick: 34