Thursday, 22 September 2016

K-Beauty Files II - Jennifer of Barely There Beauty

Hey hey hey! Here we are with the second part of my K-Beauty Files series, a series of interviews with those that fall into the Korean Beauty niche in the blogging world! Today we have Jennifer from Barely There Beauty. Jennifer is actually one of my favourite bloggers and I love her mix of Korean products and Western products she features, particularly the high end ones so I can lust over some things I couldn't afford on the regular! She is genuinely blog photography goals and you can check her instagram out for even more proof of that! Now onto the questions!

First off, tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog!

Hi! I'm Jennifer and I blog over at Barely There An Anglo-Korean lover of food, travel, expensive skin, a good flat lay and fresh flowers in abundance, you'll find a lot of high end makeup, skincare talk and Korean beauty over on BTB, aswell as lifestyle and dabblings into one of my favourite hobbies, photography - would love you to pop by!

When did you gain an interest in K-beauty and how did this interest come about?

This is a bit of an easy one as my mother is South Korean, born and raised in Seoul, so I've been exposed to Korean beauty since, well, birth?! I also have family in the skincare industry in Seoul so I've really been lucky enough to grow up with it and get to know what's what.

Which brands would you say are your favourites?

This is a tough one for me, especially with skincare, as there are, and I've tried, so many!
Makeup: I think the higher end department-store-equivalent brands win out here for bases, for example Hera. I really like Korean drugstore or 'roadshop' brands for colour though, Innisfree for example is a favourite, and the new-ish Chiffon lipsticks from Etude House are beautiful!
Skincare: I by no means mean the collections in their entirety, because I judge each individual product on the formula/ingredients, but off the top of my head, I like a lot of Cosrx, Neogen, Blossom Jeju, Blithe and Whamisa products. I love Innisfree sheet masks too.

Are there any products from these brands you absolutely couldn't live without?

I think the Cosrx AHA BHA Treatment Toner is special. I did a review with Before & After's here and I don't think there's really anything else like it. I also think their gel cleanser, which I talked about it in this post, is pretty amazing - it has a low pH so doesn't damage the skin's acid mantle, which protects your skin against bacteria.
Etude House are a huge brand with a vast array of products that I find a bit hit or miss but I am completely in love with their Real Powder Cushion, review + try on here. Hera do one of my favourite cushions too, review + try on here, it's pricier than the Etude House but the formula is just exquisiteWhamisa's fermented sheet masks are pretty delicious too, but almost unnecessarily expensive! The Blossom Jeju Petal sheet masks are amazing, they're a bit more affordable and just make my skin feel delicious.

How have you gone about discovering the brands you currently use?

Again, I'm lucky enough to gain a lot of insight from my Korean family in the industry, and it helps immeasurably that I read and speak the language! I do research heavily though, especially when it comes to skincare and ingredients, as I'm really picky with what goes on my face and just because it's Korean, doesn't mean that it's good!

Do you feel like your make up style is influenced at all by the styles popular in Korea? or do you mix and match Western and Eastern trends to create your own look?

I'd definitely say it's a mix of the two. I have an unusual eye shape that most definitely does not work well with more Western favoured looks like cut creases, or in fact any crease work! I'm completely embracing the 'chok chok' or 'gwang' type skin (which just means really dewy, healthy, baby skin - I've done a bit of a tutorial here about it. And the 'dangers of sun exposure' have been instilled in me for yonks so I tend to shy away from tanning etc now, favouring the Korean-style, clearer, fairer complexion - I mean, I want eternal youth!

What is your skin type and skin troubles? What products are you currently using regularly?

My skin tends to be normal, although it definitely fluctuates. Now that it's summer, I'm definitely more towards combo and I'm getting a lot of blackheads on my nose! My main concerns at the moment are hydration, hydration, hydration, and brightness/hyperpigmentation. I love gel creams or hydrating gels, especially in this weather, and have been using some from Aromatica, Scinic, IOPE, The Saem, Yuripibu - it's a long list! I really like oil essences at the minute too for night time as they're nourishing but not too overwhelming. For makeup, it's mainly cushions (the ones I mentioned above) and Etude House's Face Blur primer - I love that!

Would you say your make up collection primarily contains Korean products? Or do the Korean products stand in your collection as a smaller addition?

I'd definitely say the bulk of my makeup is western, although I have around 8 or 9 cushion foundations, and I wear those on a daily basis! Korea also does amazing and amazingly affordable brow products too - they do such great ashen shades. I think I'm a bit of a sucker for luxury makeup and aesthetics - I find it hard to resist metal, rose gold packaging for example! - and it's also nice to be able to try makeup in person so see if colours match/suit you etc, which is why I have a lot of western makeup.

Do you have any favourite Kbeauty focused bloggers or YouTubers?

Gothamista is a Youtuber I enjoy, and Hey It's Feii's videos are hilarious. Joan's blog (aka Fiddy snails) is a really good resource for reviews, she's done so many individual and indepth product reviews. I really like seeing hauls etc from Jasmine, Lona and Sairah at I think finding good Kbeauty advice isn't easy. There are people like those mentioned above that have a genuine interest and passion for the subject and either know a lot or research a lot, but there are also those that don't have much clue what they're talking about and are jumping on the bandwagon for the wrong reasons. There are quite a few posts and articles I've read that give uninformed-bordering-false information - I definitely don't hold much regard for Kbeauty articles from western magazines etc for example. Oh and I like Tracy (Fanserviced) and Christina! (Christina Hello)

Are there any products or brands you have been keen to try but haven't gotten round to?

New products are being churned out all the time so my wishlist is forever growing! I'd love to try the Lyanature snow cleanser, as well as Blithe Abalone masks - and something that really works for blackheads! (So Jasmine if you, or anyone else, has recommendations, let me know!) I want to try the J One Hana cream too, if only for the skintertainment value!

You recently set up your own store on your blog, selling Korean skincare products to others in the UK. When you came about with this idea, did you find this process easier or more difficult than you expected? Is this the start of something much larger for yourself do you think?

Definitely way more difficult! Thankfully sourcing the products wasn't bad as I could speak the language but I designed and coded the website pages myself and that was an absolute nightmare - endless hours faffing away with html! I'm proud of myself though, as it's a new skill I've learnt. I'm not sure how it'll go if I'm honest, it's quite small at the moment but I've picked some of my favourite things that I can really get behind and recommend - if you'd like to take a look around, here's a shameless plug for you!

Any final words?

A big thank you to Jasmine for having me on her blog, go take a look at her Korean haul whilst you're here, if you haven't already, I really love the photos on that one! If you're a Kbeauty lover, yay! Make sure you come and find me either via my blog or Twitter @jnnfrch and let's talk Kbeauty all day! I'll leave you all with some links of some of my other Kbeauty posts you might like, and of course if you have any Kbeauty favourites and recommendations, be sure to let us know!

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Thursday, 1 September 2016

My Birth Story - A Failed Induction & A C-Section

As you will know, I gave birth to my daughter on the 6th of June. Today I wanted to share with you my rather emotionally and physically draining experience of getting her with us safely. This post is going to be a bit on the longer side so go get yourself a cuppa, coffee or even a wee glass of wine to keep you going while reading this. I wanted to share my experience for me to be able to look back on it and for those who may want to read up on other people's experiences of their childbirth to put into perspective some of the things that can happen. 

On the 1st of June I found out I was going to have my labour induced as my baby's growth had tailed off and I had fewer movements than I normally did, so to be on the safe side, I was taken in. We were originally supposed to go in at 9am, but they delayed it for 12 hours to do it overnight. This was the longest day ever for me and it just seemed to drag and drag waiting to be able to finally go up to the hospital and get things started. I had spoken to a few of my friends who had been induced for their babies and most of them had theirs within 24 hours, so I was feeling hopeful that I would find myself in the same position.  

Going to the hospital that night I was nervous, I didn't know what to expect and for me, the anxiety of it finally happening had hit. For the whole of my pregnancy I wasn't worried about childbirth, the baby has to come out one way or another! But I knew that when it came to it actually happening, I was going to worry a lot more. Which I did. We got to the ward and I was given a bed, there were two other ladies in getting induced and as it was the time for the handover, there was quite a wait in us getting seen to. I remember sitting on the bed talking to Stuart and hearing someone who was getting her first pessary put in moaning in pain, not the best thing to hear when that is exactly what is going to be done to you! When it came to my turn to get things started, I was so nervous that this stage was going to hurt based on the reaction of the other woman. However, while pretty uncomfortable, it wasn't sore. 

Putting the pessary in should have just taken the one attempt but it took two. The first time I had bled a fair bit and they wanted to get a check by the doctor that it was okay to proceed with it as the bleeding was more than expected. It was fine so the doctor put it in himself (the difference between a female and male doing this was massive, the male doctor doing it was definitely a lot more physically uncomfortable and borderline sore! He wasn't being gentle about the whole thing!). I was dilated 1cm already so if my waters needed to be broken, it would be fine to go ahead.
Not long after the process was started, it was late and Stuart was told it was time to go home. This was my second time in my pregnancy being in hospital away from Stuart. I really hate sleeping without him and being by myself, especially when I'm in a place that isn't comfortable for me. Probably a combination of everything, him going home left me in tears and I really didn't want to be left by myself. I didn't sleep well this night. In fact I barely got 2 hours of sleep. I generally don't get much beauty sleep done in hospital but it was made worse by getting woken up early for getting a check up and the second pessary put in. 

The second time for some reason was a lot more uncomfortable. I was told by the doctor it was supposed to lessen as each one was done but this wasn't the case for me. It still wasn't sore but I didn't enjoy it! I was exhausted and just didn't know what the day was going to bring. A lot of me was hoping that I would get my baby today and at the same time I was scared as the process of getting her here was underway. The second pessary didn't take long to kick in, I started contracting regularly every minute and a half and it was agonizing. I was crying in pain and they just kept coming. 

Anytime I went to pee, I would be contracting, I couldn't stand back up and it was just so horrifically sore! I lay on the bed crying while Stuart tried to settle me, kept telling me to squeeze his hand anytime I had a contraction and this was when he kept track of how regular they were. I tried sitting on the birthing ball which eased a few of the contractions, delaying one or two to every 3 minutes instead. After spending hours and hours in pain, Stuart buzzed for a nurse to come and see me. 

Due to how regular my contractions were, they took me in for an examination to see how dilated I was, I dilated a whole centimeter more. I was just 2cm! It seemed like this was going to be a long, long process. They did say they would like to take me up to the labour suite but because I was so drained and exhausted, they said it wouldn't be good for me physically or mentally to go up. So they offered me diamorphine to ease the pain of contractions so I could get some sleep before getting taken up. So, a wee injection in my butt and 10 minutes later and I was, to put it quite blunty, feeling high as fuck. I then proceeded to let Stuart know how amazing and perfect he was and that he was just the best person ever. I was being super duper sickeningly lovey dovey but he wasn't complaining about it! Guess that was a little bit of truth serum on the go there! 

I tried to nap, I really did, but people in the room were talking loudly and another woman in the room was screaming in pain with her contractions (some of the things women say during this is entertaining and we did get a couple of laughs!). So I was lucky to get half an hour of sleep. The woman having the contractions was then taken to the labour suite (she had her baby quite promptly after this as she saw Stuart later on and asked if I had had mine and told him she'd had hers). So I was drained, I was exhausted and I was feeling disheartened seeing other people go up and be able to have their baby. I kept crying saying "I want our baby here", I was just getting distressed about everything. Nothing was making me feel better about it. Little did I know I still had a while to go. 

So, another night of Stuart keeping me company and getting a visit from my mum, Stuart's mum and her partner, it just felt like so much waiting and nothing happening. I kept getting told I would most likely get taken up to the labour suite at about 11pm, so I waited and waited and waited. No one came. I eventually went for a walk and asked one of the doctors if anything was going to happen tonight and I was told no. I was re-examined and because my contractions had stopped, they decided to go ahead and give me the last pessary. This was also due to me still being 2cm dilated and it would be a shorter process in the labour suite if I dilated a bit more. This last one was quite painful but it actually didn't make me have any sort of contractions. Again, it came to Stuart going home, me getting upset and me attempting to get some sleep.

Very little I got once again. I was woken up at 5.30 and was told I needed to have an early breakfast as I would be taken up to the labour suite. Great! Finally it's going to happen and finally I am going to get my baby girl here. Oh how my hopes were brought up to be shot down once again. I phoned Stuart and told him to come up to the hospital and when he got there he found me sitting with all of my bags sitting waiting. I did what I was told and got prepared to go. We waited. Waited. Waited. After a few hours one of the midwives said she had bad news. I wouldn't be taken up just yet and it was a case of having to wait until whenever a space pops up. This constant promise being made that I would go and being shot down broke me so much. I hated thinking I would be getting closer to my baby being here. I mentally prepared myself everytime as I was so nervous about the process and the unknown. I had to do this every single time and it was draining. I had had enough and I broke down once again to Stuart. This whole day was wasted, just sat waiting, we went for a little walk on the hospital grounds just to get me outside for a little while since I had been stuck in for days. There's only so much you can do sitting down on a hospital bed. 

There was a couple across from us that was making a big fuss that they had been in for hours and hours and not had anything done yet to which Stuart said pretty loudly "Some of us having been in here for three fucking days" and the whole room went silent. The couple across from us ended up getting taken up to the labour suite. Yet again, more people before me, more waiting for me. I wanted things to happen. I wanted to stop waiting. I wanted the promises to stop. I was hoping the next day it would finally be the day. Luckily for me, it was. 

Woken up at 5.30am again, I was told I was definitely going, that no one else was getting in front of me and I would be able to go and have my baby. I was so excited and phoned Stuart immediately, he headed out straight away but before he even got to the hospital they were taking me up to the labour suite, luckily as I was taken out of the door, Stuart appeared and came up with me. I got changed into a gown and was sat down and told the details of what was going to be happening for the induction of my labour. This was it and I was terrified! They began by putting a canulla in my left hand, this was so they could put the hormones into my blood stream to get labour kicked off. They also broke my waters which was an incredibly weird sensation, it does feel like you're peeing yourself! The little hook actually ended up leaving a small mark on Rinoa's head after she was born, which can happen! I was attached to the monitor to see how the wee one was doing. She was kicking away as per usual, after a little while the contractions started but weren't happening quick enough. So they upped the hormones until I was having one every 10 minutes. I kept for hours without taking any pain relief, but anyone that has had their labour induced will know how painful it is. According to a lot of people, the pain is a lot more intense as your body is being forced into doing something it isn't wanting to do naturally. 

Eventually, after me being as stubborn as I am, I gave in and started taking the gas and air. It took 5 inhales and exhales to get the gas working and my god when it did it was the best thing ever! Everytime I stopped, I started giggling like mad and I mean a proper Peter Griffin style laugh, no joke! For an hour or so my mum came to visit me and quite frankly, the stuff makes you feel high so I have no idea what I was talking about and I was sending my friends messages that make no sense to look back on. I was on the gas and air for a few hours before it wasn't having any effect on me. So it was time for diamorphine. Again, this just increased how dazed out I was feeling but it took the pain away. Because I was attached to the machine and because I had the pain relief, any time I needed to pee I had to use a catheter which really, isn't glamorous and is a strange sensation. 

Eventually though, that didn't have as much effect and I had said to them if necessary I would take the epidural. Their advice was to get it in now rather than when it's too late and it won't have the same effect. I agreed and the anesthetist was fantastic, kept me calm and said if it helped me to just take the gas and air while I was getting it in. I was panicing as I'm not too used to getting injections in my spine so I did have a little cry when I got it done as it was quite painful. Once it was in, it was fine though! I had a little button to press that I could only press every 20 minutes so I didn't take too much of it in, 
It came to about 10.30pm and they came to do a check up to see how I was getting on with my labour. At my last check 5 hours prior, I had dilated up to 5cm, but at this check as well I was still sitting at 5cm. My baby girl was sitting funny and her heart rate was going fast one minute then slower the next so they said it would be advised if I went ahead and got an emergency c-section. This terrified me. I started crying out of pure fear of going through the operation. I have had operations when I was younger but I was always put to sleep, but I knew I would be awake during this. I was paranoid that I would be able to feel them cutting into me and the lot. It took me about 20 minutes to come round to it and I said to them I would go for it. However, I did end up having to wait an hour to get taken as there was a more urgent emergency c-section happening first.

I knew myself it was what would be best for myself and for my baby. I knew I didn't have the energy to push her out if I was to go into labour naturally. I had already been in labour for 15 long and painful hours, I knew this was the inevitable for my situation. But it was finally time to get taken down to theatre to get my c-section underway. Stuart had gotten changed into scrubs (which, admittedly he looked really great  in despite having to wear crocs...) and they injected more anesthetic into my epidrual. They test to see if you can feel this ice cold spray being sprayed on you and I could a tiny bit so asked for some more relief, I was so paranoid I wanted as much as they would give me. I was behind a screen and Stuart was sat next to me holding my hand. Because I had so much drugs pumped through me all day, I was shaking constantly, that combined with my nerves. 

As I lay there one of the doctors said to me "You may not know this but they have already made the incision" to which I responded "DON'T TELL ME THAT" because that's all I could think about. After about 10 minutes they started pushing on the top of my bump which was a horrible feeling, I felt a "crack" and soon after my little girl was born. She started crying instantly and that was Stuart and I in tears. She was finally here with us. They did come up to us and showed us her before they cleaned her all "your girl is definitely a girl!". They cleaned her up and let her lie next to me for a couple of minutes, I went to stroke her face and she instantly took my finger which was one of the most incredible moments of my life. I just kept crying and crying with joy. They gave her to Stuart to hold while they finished off the operation. This seemed to take forever (well, it took about 45 minutes) and I just wanted to hold her again. She kept turning towards me while Stuart was holding her and we just looked at her in amazement with how gorgeous she was. She was here, we did it. 
This was an incredibly long post, if you read all of it, then props to you! I just really wanted to share with you my experience of giving birth and to keep a note of it for myself. It may not have been the birth I expected and for a while I did admittedly hate that I had a birth that didn't go to plan but I have come to terms with it and seeing my baby girl reminds me that it was all worth it. 

If you would like to share your birth story or have a post on it, feel free to share it with me, I love hearing other people's stories. 

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