research methodology

Cupcake taste-off (inc.–yes!– chocolate)

Errrm, apologies for granny/eggs/suck but might as well start with the start.

If in doubt, or checking, or even just asking: do some searches. Research–and the collection, sorting, arrangement, analysis, and critical commentary of its results–is good for you, not least as a life of it may contribute to staving off the ageing process (brain only, no claims made for effects on the top or any other layers of the epidermis).

Caveat: research is a skill, and it is also an art.

  1. The first part of The Art is asking the right question: choosing the best search terms with which to interrogate the database, a.k.a. the sum total of human knowledge that is The Glorious Interweb.
  2. The second part of The Art is also a virtue: patience, attentiveness, care, carefulness. In reading through as much as is humanly possible of the search results.
  3. The third part of The Art is knowing which results are useful, relevant, pertinent, important, significant, and otherwise “good”; and being able to tell the good from the less- to non-good fast, from an item’s first words, thus reserving time and energy for more research and reading. This Part of The Art is a combination of instinct, intelligence (in the fuller, older sense that includes “understanding”), wisdom (including trusting oneself and one’s good judgement), and practice.
  4. The fourth part of The Art is reading: in the larger sense that includes all activities involving eyes (and/or other receptive senses) open and brain switched on.
  5. The fifth part of The Art is love: of information, of knowledge, and of research itself. For Research Is Also Enjoyable. And a marvellous virtuous thing: it’s good and it’s good for you, and it can be a happy activity and also lead to further happiness. Perfect.

A first stage in finding what a product’s ingredients are, looking for ideas on things to use / abuse / avoid:

  • Google
  • Wikipedia
  • the next post: resources: ingredients 
  • MakeupAlley: Product Review Search: with some tweaks. Many of which can be adapted to other online fora, and any other searches a.k.a. database queries and data collection therefrom, followed by sorting and analysis. Which is what any such searches are. They’re research. For more on those allied things that get called, variously, “the scientific method”–“empiricism”–“evidence” (and indeed “evidence-based science”): look up the Wikipedia. And indeed Google, library reference books, and other Usual Suspects.

But: I digress. Back to MUA searches–besides the obvious one for [sunscreens, to pick an example]–and their tweaking:

  1. use the new kind of product review search, and add in filters (your skin type, age range, number of reviews, average review score, etc.)
  2. use “find review” rather than “find product” and search for terms (ex. physical, sensitive, unscented,…)
  3. certain notepads are very very useful: read them carefully, and do some research on the [pertinent items] identified and recommended on them. This research would probably include board and product reviews searches for individual sunscreens, too; then Google search to find where they’re available, prices, other reviews elsewhere online (careful to separate out proper reviews from e-marketing…). I’ve “favourited” a number of notepads and board posts on my MUA profile; though many of my faves are my own answers to frequently-asked questions, partly so they’re easier to find again when one such frequent question is asked again, saving myself the time and trouble and general repetitive buggering around effort of researching and writing the same stuff again.
  4. board searches (ex. the Skin Care Board): sophisticated version:
  • Go through board comments and product reviews, looking for people who have what looks like similar skin to yours. One way to tell will be, in product reviews, using the new search. Search, for example, for toners used by people with very dry skin, with a rating over 3.5, and with a minimum of 3 reviews.
  • Another useful search: look in product reviews for an item that you’re using currently and love, and find who else loved it and has similar skin. I’ve done this (cos I’m a professional nerd) for much of what I use–not everything, but figured out some target products that are more “telling”–and then I figured out the intersections and networks of information: who else used at least a couple of the same products, what else they used that I hadn’t.
  • So: once you’ve found some skin-twins, do some MUA-stalking. See what else they use and have used. I find this is useful for seeing how twinny their skin is to mine–they might be able to use some things but not others, or use others I can’t–and also to get new ideas on things to try. All this already helps to rule out some possible options as unsuitable, and will help to highlight some as more possible.
  • Then go beyond cyber-stalking: PM people who seem to have very similar skin.
  • Last but not least: besides getting samples (free or else trial-size) rather than buying full versions where possible, for testing purposes–if something looks interesting but you can only buy the full size, see if anyone on MUA has it up for swap. Some MUAers have also been known to mail (for swap or not) samples of things (if in a bit more correspondence, once become more friendly, etc…).

So hopefully all of that, while it does give you more research to do, is less work than reading absolutely everything online–with the bonus of finding skin-twins, or at least skin-relatives, and making friends 🙂 Soppy but true.

Exemplary chocolate research methodology: The Simpsons, c/o “Popular Science” post on the sequencing of the cacao genome

Image at top: A Homegrown Wedding

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