I thought instead of going full steam ahead to review all of my backlogged beauty products, I’d take a step back and talk about how I review beauty products. It’s something people don’t really dissect or provide a guide when you start a beauty blog.
Everyone has their own method and here’s how I approach reviewing beauty products.
My review process:
1) Acquire new beauty item
2) Let it sit in my stash for minimum of 6 months*
3) Take photos
4) Test out product
5) Take notes (mental or actual notes – usually I start a draft blog post and add notes as I go)
6) Research information on product – sources can be from: official product page, product packaging, online reviews
* This step is optional 😄
At this moment I’d like to expand on #4: Test out product. It seems so simple, right? Just slap it on my face! I am not about to employ the Scientific Method on beauty products, but I do like to have some rigor around the trial period on the product:
- For skincare and foundation, I typically like to use the product for a minimum of 2 weeks, preferably for a month. My skin changes throughout the monthly cycle so I want to see how the product will perform through various skin conditions.
- For colour products like eye shadows, blushes, lipsticks, nail polishes – I like to try out for at least a week or two, to get a solid feel for how they perform. I might test out different primers under eye shadows, or wear blushes over different foundations to see how they interact with different products.
- Some products though, like mascaras, I can tell how they will perform after a couple of uses. Although, sometimes mascaras do perform differently after it has been allowed to dry out a bit, so I do tend to wait for a couple of weeks after opening the tube before I give the final verdict.
Given the above timelines to thoroughly test out products, this is the reason why you won’t see me provide a review too quickly after I get a new product. Also, my skin is sensitive so I do not like to introduce more than one new skincare / base makeup product at a time so I can pinpoint any potential issues clearly.
Writing the review:
The most important thing I keep in mind is: what would my readers want to know about this product? And the easiest way to make sure I capture all of their questions is to answer the classic: Five Ws: What, Who, When, Where, Why… and sometimes How. Let’s see how these apply:
• What is the official name of the product?
• What shade (along with the shade # if applicable) is being shown? Advise how many shades are in the range.
• What are the ingredients?
• What is the packaging like?
• Who makes this?
• Who is this product targeted to? Skin type, age group, etc.
• When was this product released? Is this a new product launch? Is it part of a limited edition collection?
• When did it come into my life? ie how long have I been using this?
• When do I use this? In the case of skincare – is it a daytime or nighttime product?
• Where did I buy this? Where can others outside of my country buy this? Provide the store name or online url.
• Where was this made? You all know it’s a slight obsession of mine. 😉
• Why did I get this product? Does it solve a problem I’m experiencing?
• How do I use this product? What tools and techniques are best suited for this item?
• How much did this cost?
• How was this product is made? This can be fascinating, especially in the case of unique formulations or indie brands.
Notes & Tips:
• If I attempt to answer ALL of the above questions, I do run the risk of information overload. I make decisions on what to focus on depending on the type of product. For instance, I’d likely not post the ingredient list of an eye shadow, but I would for skincare or foundations.
• A good approach to reviewing is to look at the product claims one by one, and then agree or disagree on whether the product delivered on its claims. This can help readers decide if the product is worthwhile based on more objective measures.
• A review is a mixture of objective (facts) and subjective (opinion) parts – as a guide, I aim to have a 1:1 ratio of fact and opinion in my reviews. Readers want to know detailed information, but they’re also interested to know what my experiences were using the product, and if I liked it or not. And ultimately, if I would recommend to buy the product.
• Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, so when words fail you, post photos of the product. I like to show the outer box (I have a pile of packaging in my stash, it’s quite sad actually 😛 ), the compact / bottle, actual shot of the product inside, swatches, etc. Comparisons against other products can also prove helpful to show the differences in colour / finish / consistency.
• I like to consider all my senses: we rely heavily on our sense of sight, but there are other senses that contribute to the overall experience. What does the product smell like? Does it have a taste (especially for lip products!) How does the product feel using my fingertips? Does the product sound like anything… (don’t laugh, I had a Stila palette that talked! 😄 )
• A quick note about integrity. I like to provide the same useful information to others as what I’ve found online which have helped me make informed purchasing decisions. Before I started blogging, I mainly reviewed beauty products on MakeupAlley. There was no inherent benefit from reviewing products on a beauty forum – there were no free products or website page clicks – it was just for peer to peer honest reviews. I like to extend the same mindset on my blog: would I recommend this product to my friend?
You know, I’ve never officially broken down what my “Stash Worthiness” ratings really mean. Here’s what the ratings out of 10 mean:
|10:||Holy Grail!!! Look no further. Throw out what you have and go buy this now!|
|8 – 9:||Outstanding! I fully endorse this product as long as your skin type, concerns, and expectations are similar to mine.|
|6 – 7:||It’s a decent product. Good but not great. Kind of like one of those slackers in school with potential.|
|4 – 5:||This product didn’t work for me but maybe it could work for other people who have different skin type, concerns or expectations than mine.|
|2 – 3:||I really try to find the good in some products. If the packaging is nice, or the product delivered on at least one of its many claims, I try to say something nice.|
|1:||The product did the opposite of what it claimed to do. Or it delivered on none of its claims at all.|
|0:||This product caused me physical and / or mental harm. Alert the authorities so this product can be pulled off the shelves (for the record, I’ve never rated anything a zero on the blog… yet.)|
I don’t always give a numeric rating to every item I review, especially things that were gifts.
Unofficial Beauty Review Terminology:
Here’s what I mean when I use these words to describe beauty products in reviews:
Blendable: applicable to both powder and liquid products. The product diffuses easily using a tool (brush, sponge, fingers) over the skin surface
Buttery: this gets used colloquially – I use it to mean a powder product feels like a cream product. It has a cushy feel and applies smoothly and evenly onto the skin.
Chalky: a dry and / or stiff powder product, and typically with low pigmentation.
Crease resistant: primarily with eye shadows – the ability of the product to not settle into the folds of eyelids due to oiliness.
Fallout / falldown: when powder eye shadows does not adhere well to the eyelids during application and migrates down to lower lid or cheeks – this can cause a mess during application especially with deeper shades. [Thanks to Thoughtful Pigeon for suggesting this one!]
Finely milled: powder product with particles that are very small – can be a pressed or loose powder – this makes the product more blendable and look more skin-like / natural.
Flaky: product comes off skin in little bits through the day – mostly applicable to mascara and gel / pen liners
Long wearing / Long lasting: product lasts for more than a regular working hours. This is subjective as I consider anything more than 8 hours to be considered long wearing.
MLBB: stands for “My Lips But Better” which is not a universal shade, but rather a colour that enhance one’s own natural lip colour. Some people have more pigmented lips while others have paler lip colour – an enhancement could mean the same hue but slightly darker, or lighter, or brighter. The meaning of MLBB is quite individual.
Oxidation: a change in the colour (usually deepening or turning orange) of a liquid / cream product (typically foundation and concealer) as it dries down, usually when mixed with skin surface oils and oxygen.
Patchy: product does not apply evenly onto skin, leaves bare exposed skin randomly.
Pigmentation: how much colour coverage a product provides on the skin
Pills: product balls up on skin like eraser shavings – mainly used to describe face moisturizers, primers or foundations
Powdery: a pressed powder product that kicks up dust when a brush is dipped into the pan; this is not necessarily an indication of product performance. Alternatively, it can also mean a product looks obvious, doesn’t blend into the skin, and sits on top of the skin.
Tacky: a liquid, gel or cream product that leaves the surface sticky ie. if you press your lips together, they will have a tendency to stick together
Do you know how difficult it is to write definitions to words without using the word in the definition! 😄 Let me know if there are common review terms that you’d like me to add to the list.
I hope you found this helpful! What’s your process for reviewing beauty products?
PS. Have you entered “Some of Stashy’s Favourite Things Giveaway” yet? It ends tomorrow! 🙂