Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mathmatical Navelgazing: 2013 In Blogging


As a part of my "Oh my god, it's not 2013 anymore, what the hell" review,  I decided to go through and determine what it is I've felt compelled to write about all year by categorizing and graphing the content from this blog. 

To do this, I divided my posts into fourteen general categories. The categories included:

Beauty Bullshit posts: These posts explained the lack of science behind inflated product claims.
Example post- Beauty Bullshit: Fat Girl Slim

Beauty Myths posts: These posts were similar to Beauty Bullshit posts, but they looked at claims that were not being promoted by specific products or companies. Rather, they were simply crappy claims being passed around as fact.
Example post- Beauty Myths: Should You Be Worried About Mineral Oil?

Comparisons: These posts put products to the test, determining their efficacy in head-to-head comparisons. 
Example post- Mega-Comparison: Eyeshadow Primers

Drugstore Dupes to the Test: These posts looked at alleged "dupes", comparing them to their more expensive counterparts.
Example post- Drugstore Dupes to the Test: Smashbox Photo-Finish Primer vs. Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel

History Posts: These posts looked at the history of cosmetics.
Example post- Chic Antique: the Braids of the Vestal Virgins

How Does it Work? Posts: These posts looked at products that actually do work and explained the mechanism.
Example post- How Does it Work? Deodorant and Anti-Antiperspirant

Math Posts: These included calculations of value.
Example post- Birchbox vs. Ipsy: A One-Year Analysis by the Numbers

Miscellaneous Posts: If I couldn't categorize it elsewhere, I stuck it here.
Example post- Why I Don't Plan on Buying Anything from Michelle Phan's Em Cosmetics

My Experiments: These included my various empirical-esque projects.
Example post- What Is Living on Robyn's Makeup Brushes: A Horror Story

Random Sample Grab Bag Posts: My perfume reviews.
Example post- Random Sample Grab Bag: Perfume Reviews Part 4

Reviews: Self-explanatory.
Example post- Review: Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eyeshadow in Dusty Rose, Metallic Emerald, and Comex Gold

Science (Misc.) Posts: Any science-related post that didn't get stuck elsewhere was categorized here.
Example post- The Environmental Ominousness of Polyethylene Cleansers

Subscription Box Reviews: Reviews of Birchbox, Ipsy, Wantable, and Julep.
Example post- Wantable December 2013 Review

Tutorials: Also self-explanatory
Example post- Terrible Tutorials: How to Cover Your Acne and Scarring

Obviously, some of these categories overlap, but I went ahead and used my best judgement in categorization.

Sorted by month, my data looks like this:





Amalgamated and put into graph form, you get this:



I can also further consolidate this data by adding together Beauty Bullshits + Beauty Myths + How Does It Work? Posts + Math + My Experiments + Miscellaneous Science into one big category called "Empiricism". Comparisons + Drugstore Dupes to the Test can become "Comparisons (all)". Random Sample Grab Bags + Reviews + Subscription Box Reviews becomes "Reviews (all)". Finally, History + Miscellaneous + Tutorials becomes "Misc. (all)" After that, you get something like this:


With 267 total posts in 2013, I averaged a post every 1.37 days, which isn't awful, even if it falls short of my "one post per day" goal.

Cheers to 2014!


P.S. Although you are always welcome to leave content suggestions in the comment section, this post would be a particularly relevant time to do so. 

P.P.S. One of my 2014 blogging resolutions is to set up an email account associated with this blog so that y'all have more ways to contact me.

61 comments:

  1. Happy New Years Robin! I love this blog to death, and I would love to see more product reviews from you. I have bought so many products after reading your reviews, and if I am looking to buy something I see if you have reviewed it first. I really trust your judgement!

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    1. I'm glad that they are helpful for you! Sometimes I feel guilty writing product reviews because they are so much easier to write, haha.

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    2. Your product reviews are amazing. I always check here before buying anything new, because I want a no bullshit opinion of whatever it is I'm looking at.

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  2. Happy New Year!

    I love your empiricism and comparison type posts, and I quite enjoy the history ones, too.

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    1. Thank you and happy new year to you as well!

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  3. You post so often that it's hard to ask for more. That being said, I often will read your new post in the morning, and then check back in the afternoon, forgetting that I'd already read the new post.

    And then again in a few hours, just in case.

    I haven't read a single post of yours that wasn't interesting and thoughtful (and generally quite humorous), and I've read 'em all. Keep on keeping on.

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    1. Oh! One thing I'd really love to see is a big comparison test of different face primers, both the more expensive labels, and the drugstore brands.

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    2. Not a lot of drugstore brands, but there is this: http://www.brightestbulbinthebox.com/2013/07/mega-comparison-face-primers.html

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    3. Heh. Yes. Did I mention that I read most of your blog in about 2 days of marathoning?

      I'd love to see something like that, but with drug store brands. :-D

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  4. I'd love a post on what beauty blogs/youtube channels/whatever else you like. I'd like more smart, science-y, funny takes on makeup so I have something to read/watch when I've read all your posts, and I figure you might be the one who knows about this.

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    1. I am not in the loop as much as everyone things I am!

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  5. Hi Robin! I really love your blog, especially your Beauty Myths posts (I discovered this blog when Skepchick linked your Revlon post.)

    I don't know if you've heard of Caroline Hirons, but she's a facialist and blogger and it seems like ever since she appeared in this video with the Pixiwoo girls (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3tRjufnWr8) all of the UK beauty bloggers/vloggers have been taking her word as gospel. She makes two claims a lot that I've been curious about, namely 1) that cream/balm facewash is preferable to foam facewash because foam face wash "alkalizes" the skin and 2) that you will get better results paying more for skincare. I realize that this is sort of vague but people keep repeating her adage that "you only get one face" and it seems detrimental to me to promote the idea that you're not taking good enough care of your face if you're not using a $200 Estee Lauder night cream.

    Just some ideas. Thanks for posting and I look forward to reading in 2014!

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  6. Yeah you already got to the big one - give us an email contact for you! I also endorse Amanda's one about the Hirons followers - you've already (along with FutureDerm) taken on the anti-mineral oil thing, so well done there; she has a LOT of other things that smell like bullshit to me. Her reviews tend to be "bringing science into beauty!" and I can't help but think, no not really, just a lot of brand talk delivered sternly.

    I was also recently thinking that some longevity tests for face primers, foundations, and concealers would be AMAZING since I often work like hell trying to conceal my zits and then find that either my carefully applied foundation looks like a disaster in the afternoon, or that my concealer has magically vanished and my clear-skin-confident face is blaring zits at the world.

    Speaking of primers and foundation, what about that claim that you should use SPF every day? I keep hearing WEAR SPF! and then I do, but like, ffs - with the two-hour reapplication, we'd be spending SO MUCH TIME reapplying makeup all the time. (Quick calculation - if I estimate 15 minutes spent on making my skin look un-scary, plus an extra 5 minutes of the gentle cleaning I would like to do if I were to actually reapply something ever 2 hours, that's 20 minutes of my life out of every 2 hours - so 10 min/hour is tied up with makeup. In a work day of 9 hours, that's an hour and a half spent looking like a weird bathroom-obsessed makeup nerd. Um, no.)

    Other fun questions:

    Why do pink liquid pigments have longer staying power than brown liquid pigments? (Actually, is this true or just my perception?)

    How should you adjust your base and blush routine if you know you're going to be drinking and therefore getting alcohol cheeks?

    What drugstore brands and products are most reliably ethical in terms of avoiding use of products like palm oil?

    Why does matte eyeshadow typically have poorer pigmentation than shimmer or satin? And, is the fact that there are way fewer affordable matte shadows because of trends, or because of the difficulty in manufacturing good ones?

    Finally, now that you have a following of geeks like yourself reading this blog (YAY FOR GEEKS), I wonder if you'd like to have a guest author feature from time to time. I know there have been a lot of questions or tests that I've always wanted to do with my makeup, but have never bothered to do rigorously because if the audience is just me, who gives a shit? And I'm too busy, lazy, and occupied with other hobbies to have a beauty blog that could be even vaguely regular. I bet there are a lot of similar of us in this position. If that sounds fun, I volunteer as tribute.

    Anyway, keep up the good work; I love coming to this blog and seeing all the hyped stuff get put to a real test instead of typical blogosphere gushing. Thanks for what you do.

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    1. I WOULD LOVE GUEST POSTS. I keep trying to convince my friends who have expertise on various subjects to guest post, haha. And thank you for all the ideas!

      (Also: SPF EVERY DAY. Unless you're not going outside. Then you're fine.)

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    2. Oh, I wear it... I just always assume, with a frustrated shrug, that if I leave my office at 3 p.m. to walk down the street for a coffee, my morning SPF has become moot. Then again, this is Scotland and winter, so that's basically sunset. Fuck it.

      As for guest posts, I still volunteer as tribute. (Specialty marine biology, but you know, whatever.)

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  7. Oh yeah. And searchable categories - so like, a link with all the Beauty Bullshit posts listed, etc.

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    1. Maybe I'll add a tab.

      Well... maybe I'll learn how to add tabs.

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    2. and maybe i'll learn how to post with one goddamn google account! curse you, grad school, for deciding to autocreate a google account WHEN I ALREADY HAVE ONE, and having no meshing web apps. (by which i mean to say, sorry for posting as two different people when i'm clearly just the one, and for multiple sign-ins being unable to sort this out.)

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  8. I'm with Anna above-- I wish it were easier to find/search past content on your blog. I'm a relatively new reader and LOOOOVE your blog-- but it's hard to search out information. The search box widget isn't working (on any Blogger blogs, not just yours...but it's been for a few weeks-- ANNOYING!!!) and without labels, it's hard to easily discern whether you've, say, mentioned Benefit's They're Real! mascara before, if I were thinking about purchasing it (which I am). I would love to see some category labels and/or a new search widget (or the old ones to start working again, Blogger- that'd be great!) I would also love to know your personal background and/or story-- like, are you a chemist? Or just a science enthusiast? I love how reading your blog makes me feel SMARTER...you can't say that about many fashion/beauty blogs! Anyway-- absolutely love what you're doing, can't wait to keep following along. Thank you so much for educating us and making us smarter (and more beautiful) shoppers!!

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    1. It's not an ideal solution, but all my posts do show up on google if you search "Brightest bulb in the box benefit they're real" or whatever you want. I know that's not an ideal solution, but it might help in the meantime!

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    2. I constantly google your blog name + search term, but it's a bit tedious. You could add a "word cloud" to your sidebar - something like this: http://www.theblogwidgets.com/2009/06/blogger-tag-cloud-widget-by-categories.html

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  9. So many graphs...it's...it's so beautiful! 0_o

    Thanks for a year of amusement, education and aweosme eyeshadow looks! All the best for 2014 :-)

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  10. It would also be nice if you had some sort of social media account for the blog, to contact you/other readers and also to be updated about new posts in these post-Google reader days.

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    1. Social media is so hard. AHHH. Maybe facebook.

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    2. Yes! Facebook!! There must be a Facebook group!!

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  11. Yay, can't wait for the email! Except I don't really have anything to contact you about. Hmm. . .

    Anyway, my favorite posts are usually reviews, especially when they include pictures of a look you've created. (What can I say--I like the eye candy/inspiration.) Beauty Bullshit smackdowns are also awesome.

    In general, learning about the efficacy of various ingredients is really helpful. I don't have to science chops to figure it out on my own, and it can be hard to find trustworthy sources.

    Also it'd be cool if you removed captchas from the comment section. Unless you actually have a problem with spam, they aren't really necessary, right?

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    1. Agreed. It takes a lot of work to leave a comment here, which is why I don't comment more often.

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    2. Hm. I'll see if I can figure out how to do that! I do get spam right now, but only maybe one spammy comment a week, and I just remove it ASAP. I'd be okay with removing the feature and seeing if it really makes a difference at all.

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  12. Happy New Year! I can't wait to see what you come up with this year :) I always look forward to your posts, and you do it very often, so thanks for that!

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  13. I really enjoy all your posts! My favorites are the reviews and the comparisons. I think its almost rare to see a blog post real opinions for items. I love the sciencey/math bits, even though I am terrible at those subjects. They're fun. One thing I would really like is to have options to these categories you mentioned. You must already have them all tagged, so it might be easy to put links up for these categories. But maybe less categories than you have listed in this post. Oh, and I don't know if you have this up anywhere, but maybe a small "About Me" bit! Definitely understandable if you are just a private person, but I think it'd be fun to learn a bit more about you.

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    1. I thought of another idea.. perhaps a big comparison test of eyeliners? Like the one you did for primers? This probably won't apply to everyone, but I've used eyeliners longer than any other make up product and I still haven't found my holy grail eyeliner. I just buy one after another, different brands, different types (felt tip/kohl/gel/liquid) and I can't seem to find one that I really love. Personally, I always reach for my pencil or felt tip, and I do love gel- it's just that sometimes I have no time in the morning and it takes a bit longer with a brush is all. Just a suggestion! :)

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    2. I've considered doing an eyeliner mega-comparison in the past! Next time I get to a city and can visit Sephora?

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  14. I'm new to your blog and find it so refreshing and original. Instead of gushing with bubbly exuberance over every single product, even the fuggly ones, you cut out all the B.S. and tell it like it is. Too funny. And you do a good job on your make up.

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  15. Thanks for ranting about crappy cosmetics for our reading pleasure and in general making the topic of beauty more fun and less vapid. I got hooked on your beauty bullshit posts but also just like how you express your thoughts, whether they be no nonsense or quite silly. I look forward to a new year full of more reviews, more rants, and more science (a subject which I confess I have only average grasp of, thank you for feeding my poor, atrophied science muscles).

    One topic I find myself wondering about is the presence of formaldehyde in eyelash glue. I understand that its very minimal and a few uses shouldn't irritate your lids unless you are allergic, but would there be any effect from prolonged exposure if you were to use eyelash glue say everyday for years on end? What is your opinion of the use of formaldehyde as a preservative and its efficacy?

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    1. I can definitely write a post about that!

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  16. One of the MANY things I've always appreciated about this blog is that while you are young, white, slim, and pale, you have a real awareness that not everyone in the world is all (or any!) of those things, with a corresponding history of calling out companies and materials that exclude or shame anyone who falls outside that narrow standard of beauty. That's really . . . thank you for that. A lot.

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    1. Seconding this hardcore. It's so important and so often lacking. I also remember specific instances of you (Robyn) speaking up about transphobia and racism. Like Kathryn said, thank you!

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    2. I do my very best. Wooo feminism!

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  17. I think the content on your blog is great, keep it up! It might be helpful navigation-wise to include a list of categories (tags) in the sidebar so people can find certain types of posts easily. I think you can even do it as a drop-down menu if you don't want visual clutter. Happy new year!

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  18. I would like to see a "How does it work?" or potentially a Beauty Myth post on both washing your hair with baking soda (the "no 'poo" method) and washing your face with oil (OCM). Every post I read about either method promises such amazing results (You'll never get another zit again! Your hair will grow uber fast! You hair will be shinier than a unicorn's! etc.) that I have to be a bit skeptical.

    I would not mind some (more) tutorials, because I haven't found many sites with tutorials I actually like. Or you can list your favorite tutorials/how you learned; that'll suffice as well.

    I'd like your thoughts on cruelty free makeup, simply because it's something I'm currently interested in. Also, your makeup progression story because I've seen them on Reddit lately, and they're really fun.

    Other than that, just keep doing what you're doing. :) Happy New Year!

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    1. My makeup progression story is boring as fuck! But I can do it if you really want.

      I've been considering taking stats on the OCM using /r/skincareaddiction subscribers, but I'm worried about potential ethical issues. I would LOVE to do a randomized sample, but I'm worried that would be too... medical. I am considering just talking to acne-prone people about to start the OCM and comparing it to acne-prone people who haven't tried the OCM and just have 'em count their zits...

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    2. I am acne-prone and started using oil cleanser about a month ago, but only at night. I still get some zits (at age 45 dammit) but I can certainly do some counting, particularly to see if there is correlation between "I don't want to rub oil all over my face tonight, let's use wipes and call it good" and "well crud, another breakout" (my gut says there is, but it isn't very rigorous).

      I do think the quantity and severity have decreased, and the rest of my skin looks fantastic. But, you know. Anecdote is not the singular of data.

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    3. How about an unblinded paired t-test study of a group of volunteering blog readers? Half-face OCM, half-face foaming cleanser, all zits counted for 30 days?

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    4. I have acne. I switched to the OCM in January 2012. At first I noticed a change, but after a few months I was right back to normal. I kept doing it because it was hailed as the answer to every skin problem ever. I finally stopped about 3 months ago and my skin is much, much better already. I tried switching up my recipe and trying different oils, but nothing really worked. Now I just cleanse and moisturize with Simple products and then use a retinol treatment at night for acne and wrinkles (salicylic acid does nothing for my pimples, so I stick with retinol products.

      I am sure it is different for every person, but I would encourage anyone with serious acne to do think long and hard about using this method.

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    5. It took me a long time to realize that salicylic made my acne WORSE. Which means I can stop buying all the super-fancy acne products at Sephora, at least. ;-)

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  19. Love your blog - really the only one that I check daily (thank you for your frequent posts!). Variable reinforcement works - I never know if/when a new post will happen.

    I appreciate your honesty. What percentage of your review posts were positive vs. negative? I think I wandered over here and stayed due to fatigue w/ blogs that give a positive review to every product (I mean - Elf eyeshadow - come on!). I like all the posts - reviews and others. I think the ratio is excellent.

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    1. That would be hard to say since a lot (most?) of my reviews are mixed negative and positive!

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  20. Hi Robyn, I just found your blog over my Christmas vacation and it has quickly become a favorite! I've never found a beauty blog that I felt was truly genuine and honest and bullshit-free. I want negative reviews for products that deserve them! And I love comparisons of different brands so I can see what the best options are without investing a small fortune on 10 different products (thank you so much for doing that for us!). I tend to end up at Wal-Greens knowing I need a new blush, spend long enough in the beauty aisle that the employees start eye-balling me like a criminal, and then leave in frustration because I just cannot decide what to get. In the past I have spent a lot of money experimenting but these days I would rather keep using a so-so product so I don't have to spend $100 trying to find a slightly better so-so product.

    Also, just want to add that I love that you are applying scientific and mathematical principles to your analyses from the viewpoint of the consumer. We all know that there are a million scientists working behind the scenes making these products. But by the time they get to us, the science is gone and we are left with this ridiculous woo-woo crap that has nothing to do with real science. And when they do try to look "scientific," it's with stupid charts that don't make sense or by quoting studies without explaining the science behind them. It just frustrates me because I feel like they are dumbing it down for us girls because clearly, science is too much for our feeble minds! Sorry for the rant but it is so refreshing to see you rip apart that crap. Thank you for doing that!

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  21. I ADORE the Beauty Bullshit and your style of perfume reviews. And I have lost track of how many times Kathryn T. and I have said to each other "Robyn says X about Y" (followed by "should we try it" if X is positive or "so you might not want to buy it." I would love a concealer mega-comparison if/when you have a chance?

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  22. I am seconding, thirding, nthing, etc. many points others have already made, e.g., yay Beauty Bullshit/Beauty Myths/History, yay intersectional feminism, yes it would be awesome to hear more about you, more word cloud/tag/searchability/findability would be nice, and hmm guest posts?

    I'd love for you to release the data you collect in your Empiricism posts under some kind of open data license.

    I'm a tomboyish vegetarian Indian-American woman who may just now for the first time be dipping her toes into the word of cosmetics play, and it's mostly because of you. Thanks for demystifying it. (My blog entry about you: http://www.harihareswara.net/sumana/2013/11/27/0 ) Happy New Year!

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  23. I don't know whether it's been mentioned yet but I'd love more reviews of indie products! You've already blogged quite a few of them but I do love hearing about awesome new brands/products/wacky shades that you don't normally come across in-stores.

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  24. I love your comparison reviews. They are my go-to when deciding on performance based products like primers. More of these would be lovely (lip primer test off please?) but I'll continue reading all your posts. Happy New Year!

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  25. This was fun to read. I really like comparisons, your experiments, your subscription box reviews ( I only get Ipsy, but for some reason they're all really fun to read), the big math-based post; I also really like beauty bullshit and science stuff.

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  26. All the graphics are attractive also. i think You have spend a lot of time to make. cosmetics, eyelashes

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