Friday, May 19, 2017

Why I Continue Beauty Blogging As A Hobby

I have noticed in the past few months that a lot of my favorite blogger friends decided to say goodbye to their beauty blogs. Some of them have concluded it just wasn't fun anymore, some preferred to devote their finite free time to other pursuits, some are still writing but have changed their focus from make-up and skincare. I, too have been wondering whether it's worthwhile to keep on trucking, given how sporadic my posting is now with baby Julian on board. I figured maybe I'll share my reflections about beauty blogging as a hobby in this day and age, mostly because I'd love to hear your thoughts too. So here goes.

There's a vast difference these days between professional (as in, earning revenue: be it from ads, affiliate links or sponsored posts) and personal blogs. Obviously there's a lot of grey area - many personal blogs do make a little bit of money on the side as a bonus perk to a beloved hobby, and before anyone gets their feathers ruffled, I personally have absolutely no problem in that and have myself earned a little from writing a couple sponsored posts in the past. To me it boils down to this - are you actively motivated to blog because you're counting on that revenue to pay or contribute to your bills? If so, in my mind you are indeed a professional blogger. And you may try to convince me otherwise, but I strongly believe that most professional bloggers are going to blog differently from someone who does it just for fun. I'm not saying your blogging job can't also be a passion - I belive it is for most professional bloggers - but you're not going to write in the same way when you need the money to buy your groceries versus when you're doing it just to enjoy. It has nothing to do with honesty, disclosure etc.; it's just a matter of perspective.

If you were to ask me for advice on starting a beauty blog today, I would tell you not to do it. Or I guess, scratch that, I'd ask you a question in return - what are your expectations? What are you hoping to gain from beauty blogging? Do you want exposure, an audience, growth, free products or sponsorship deals? Then probably YouTube would be a better bet, albeit bear in mind that it's going to be VERY difficult as the beauty guru market is oversaturated as it is. Do you just want to start and see how it goes, hoping to get noticed? You'll probably end up deeply disappointed. Or lastly, do you enjoy pouring words onto the (web)page, and would like to meet like-minded beauty enthusiasts? Then yes, please, go for it. I truly think this is the only reason any of us blogging hobbists are still here today.

With one caveat though. I may be wrong, but compared to when I first started Rocaille Writes, I do see much less of a community in the beauty blogosphere these days. Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, SO MANY of us have already left the scene. I've also noticed a significant decline in commenting, and I'd be the first to blame - these days I just don't have the time to leave comments. We also don't do tags or collabs anymore. And it may be just me, but we stopped having these lengthy conversations on Twitter; I'm in fact seriously considering deleting my Twitter app, and I hardly ever check it from my desktop. The only social media outlet that still remains is Instagram, and I love our little community there, but at the same time I don't think Instagram can replace beauty blogs entirely, even now with the option of uploading multiple photos. Because while Instagram can provide all the visual content, I still think beauty blogs are primarily verbal, and it's always the writer's voice that drives me to certain blogs and not the others.

As for still feeling passionate about beauty 8 years after I clicked 'Publish' on my first post, yes, I continue to enjoy trying out and experimenting with new products. However, I often feel very ambivalent about reviewing certain brands or products. The main reason is that I don't want to be a 'beauty influencer': that is, I don't want to influence you to shop for products you don't need. I would like to think that maybe if you're already contemplating a well thought-out purchase, then my review of a product can help you make an informed decision, but I am aware that oftentimes, sharing my favorite products will entice you to spend unnecessarily in some way, and it is a form of promoting the consumerist mindset.

Secondly, the number of products I would like to share with you seems to be growing smaller and smaller. Mostly because I'm purchasing a lot less than I used to, and secondly because I'm feeling quite burnt out on reviewing PR samples (which I receive very rarely anyway). It often has nothing to do with the actual products sent for review and everything with the communication between myself and the PR company. I don't even want to say how many times my emails have gone unanswered, packages with samples ended up never being sent, how many times I was dropped by a brand for no reason - except maybe actually sharing my honest opinion, and a positive one at that? In many instances, my relationship with the PR has made me avoid a certain brand, regardless of the quality of the products. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you know?

At the end of the day though, Rocaille Writes is here to stay. Primarily because for me, beauty blogging is therapeutic, and without it, I'm just a stay-at home sleep-deprived mom with stacks of dirty dishes and mounds of unwashed laundry. Hmm, maybe that came out wrong: I'm happy to be one. But I want and I need this one small creative thing for myself that is keeping a beauty blog, and I refuse to let it go. Like I said in the past in this post, Rocaille Writes may not be about reviewing the latest limited edition collection in a snap, but I have so much more than that to say. If only the days were longer, you guys!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Month in Lipstick #2: Keep or Declutter

Did I put a 'Week in Lipstick' in the last post's title? Ha. HA. I wish. Yeah, it turns out that a MONTH is more along the lines of how much time I need to make up my mind about 5 lip products. At this rate, it will probably take me the rest of the year to go through my entire collection. Oh well.

1. Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (from Sephora 2016 Birthday Gift). DECLUTTER. Okay, so it's not that I don't like this lipstick - it's beautifully creamy and pigmented, but I do have a shade very, very similar to this (YSL Rouge Pur in Rose Stiletto, here) and I just don't wear colors like that often enough to justify keeping both. On me, this is a medium to deep pink rose shade, and for my current preferences, it's a bit much for casual day wear. I wouldn't be opposed to trying a different shade from this line though - you know, in the hypothetical future where I find myself needing another lipstick. Gah.
2. Red Apple Lipstick Gluten-Free Lipstick in Audrey* (originallly reviewed here). KEEP. I still really like both this formula and the shade - a brightening neutral pink, but I will admit that every time I wear Audrey, I'm bothered by the scent/taste. It's kinda like this soapy, old-school perfumey lipstick smell that doesn't want to go away. I'll hang on to Audrey for now, mostly because I enjoy how glossy and moisturizing the formula is, but I'll see if I get any decent wear out of it this year.
3. Givenchy Le Rouge in Rose Taffetas (reviewed here). KEEP. This isn't a very color-accurate lip swatch - sorry for that - mostly because the day was overcast and I'm also wearing it here just lightly dabbed on the lips, otherwise it's quite a bright peachy pink shade. So while I'm not hugely into bright lips at the moment, I love love love this formula. It's such an incredibly comfortable and line-smoothing satin that I WILL find a way to wear this lipstick.
4. BITE High Pigment Lip Pencil in Winterberry. KEEP. Winterberry strongly reminds me of Revlon Cherries in the Snow, which I was trying to finish in 2015, or that Inglot Gel Lipstick no. 58, which was part of my Project Make A Dent in 2016. I still think this deep berry/ reddish pink is very flattering on my fair complexion, but I don't know, I'm a bit burnt out on this kind of shade - could that possibly be related to the fact that I was using it on the regular for two years in the row? Hmmm. Keeping it for the fall/ winter season.
5. Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Audacious (reviewed here). DECLUTTER. I had such a hard time letting go of this one, but the strongest indicator that it belongs in the outgoing pile was the fact that I have kept it in my daily make-up tray for about 2 months and haven't felt inclined to wear it out even once. It's such a fun white-based neon orange shade - one of the very few orangey shades that look good on me - but I find it too difficult to wear. I guess I'm just not that audacious, you know? (Terrible pun - I'm sorry.) Also, when I was lip-swatching it for this post, I just couldn't get it to apply evenly on the lips, which you can kind of see in the close-up photo. Time to say goodbye.

Two more lip products exiting my stash this time round; not too bad, if I dare say so myself. I imagine that from this point onward, it's going to be increasingly difficult to declutter products, because my lip stash is already quite paired down compared to what it was a few years back. We shall see though - I find going through all of my products, rediscovering old favorites and experimenting with mixing shades quite enjoyable anyway. What lip colors have you been wearing recently?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recent Skincare Empties and Mini Reviews

Alright, here it goes: I'm tired of typing up long empties posts. Sigh. At the same time, I do think they're helpful and yes, it does often happen that my opinion on a product changes by the time I reach the bottom of the packaging - so it'd be nice to give you a little update on my past reviews. Therefore I've decided to continue posting facial skincare empties and to skip the rest, meaning bodycare and haircare. I generally spend the most on products for my face, so I have a feeling that skincare empties will be the most interesting to you as well.
The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil. I don't have a separate review for this on the blog, but I've been using it since October/ November of last year and have just now used it up completely. The pros: it removes most of my make-up, it's affordable (obviously when scored on a 40% off sale) and it doesn't contain mineral oil. The cons: it doesn't rinse clean (but doesn't leave a residue when removed with a warm wash cloth) and the packaging leaks, leaving oil rings everywhere. All in all: I may repurchase at some point, but I've recently tried a sample of the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, and even though the Clinique one is pricier, I thought its effectiveness would be worth the extra expense.

TATCHA Luminous Deep Hydration Eye Serum* (previously mentioned here). I did like this eye serum from Tatcha for daytime, but I wouldn't purchase another one myself. The main reason is that I don't have nearly $100 to drop on a daytime eye cream - I'm saying daytime because I don't think it's moisturizing enough for me for overnight. The other reason is the packaging: unfortunately, the lovely gold accent on the tube starts flaking off pretty quickly, leaving random specks of glitter on my face, and the soft squishy tube actually cracked on me from squeezing. Also... do I really need a separate eye cream for the day? I'd prefer to use just one really good product day and night, you know?

Nuxe Reve de Miel Nourishing Lip Balm. This was my second jar (that I bought myself) and I have another one I received from PR waiting in the wings. Still the best overnight lip balm I have found so far and the closest I've come to a Holy Grail.

Paula's Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA* (originally reviewed here). My thoughts still stand - this was my second bottle of this product and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. I'm using a different chemical exfoliant from Paula at the moment, and I honestly miss the 5% AHA. I think I really noticed a difference in the overall brightness, tone and clarity of my skin.

Paula's Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution 2% BHA (separate review here). It's a decent product, but to be honest, by the end of the bottle I was definitely ready to move onto something else. I don't know - maybe the longer I used it, the less of a result I could see? All in all, I preferred the Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA.

One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub and Masque (deluxe sample). I moved onto this enzyme powder exfoliant after finally using up my jar of TATCHA Classic Rice Enzyme Powder*.  While the One Love Organics scrub did the job, I do like the TATCHA one more, but I think I've found the fairest of them all - the Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel, which I purchased a deluxe sample of in the last Sephora Beauty Insider sale (the mini was part of a set).

Neal's Yard Remedies Deliciously Ella Rose, Lime & Cucumber Moisturizer* (reviewed here). I felt a little ambivalent about this moisturizer when I first started using it, but it actually really grew on me. Yes, it's pretty basic - but for whatever reason, it was just right for my skin: moisturizing without feeling heavy. I used it every night until the last drop, and now that I've replaced it with a face oil, I miss it.

Laneige Brightening Sparkling Water Foam Cleanser*. Oooh, a foaming cleanser, quelle horreur. In all honesty, my husband mainly used it up, with just a little bit of help from me. In short, it wasn't our favorite. Mr thought the foam texture was a gimmick to get one to finish the product faster and have to repurchase more frequently, while for me it just felt like washing my face with a shaving foam. It also felt a little too drying - no surprises there. It's probably my least favorite product I've tried from Laneige.
My skincare routine does look a bit different these days as a result of finishing so many products and replacing them with other bits I've already had squirrelled away in my back-up stash, so I'm probably due for an update (last routine can be found here). Have you already revamped your skincare for spring and summer? So far, I've mostly just added sunscreen... 

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterix (*) were press samples I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading!