What you should really be looking at when reading a product review…

So you’re on the hunt for a new beauty product and you like to see what others are saying about the item first, before you potentially turn it into another dust collector on the bathroom shelf. Using beauty reviews and forums are a great way to see what people are saying about the latest product or service, and you might even be lucky enough to find out where to get the lowest price or obtain a sample. But have you ever read a review only to discover that the item of your desire is being cast in a dim light, leaving you completely undecided, or worse, having you suss out a completely different product because “Beauty Guru” said it was disappointing, made her skin break out and that she thinks it was a complete waste of money? Well, before you wallow in confusion and waste another moment reading why you should or shouldn’t purchase the latest beauty must-have, keep reading to find out what to pay attention to when reading reviews.

It really all comes down to three things. Whether you’re reading a product review, or at the shop reading the product label, the three main factors to consider are always going to be your skin type, the ingredients and how to apply the product.

Skin type: Knowing whether your skin is dry, combination, mature or normal can sound complicated, but with a bit of knowledge and having a good look in the mirror, you can work it out in a few steps. Stay tuned for another article where I will take you step by step through figuring out your own skin type, and how to care for it properly.

  • What will look, feel and work well for one skin type, may be a complete disaster for another. Even if the reviewer has mentioned her skin type, she may have an allergy to something that you don’t, or she may not have disclosed her skin type correctly.

Ingredients: Knowing what ingredients to look for and which ones to avoid will save you much valued time, money and disappointments when shopping for new products. As I’ve said in past articles, you must become label savvy!

  • Natural ingredients are still chemicals – Everything is made up of chemicals, including the human body! There is no such thing as chemical free; however a product can be void of harmful chemicals. Having said that, just because a product is natural does not mean it can’t harm your skin. Certain essential oils, for example some citrus varieties, peppermint, lemongrass & tea tree, can irritate some skin types.
  • Less is better – The more ingredients a product contains, the more likely your chances will be that something might irritate your skin. Unless you know all the ingredients well enough to know they are suited to your skin type, try with caution by doing a patch test first. Trying a sample size of the product can be good for some things, such as testing a shade or feeling the texture, but for skincare you may need to be using the product for a few days or longer to get a good indication of whether it suits your needs. Also, when it comes to essential oils, the more that are combined together, the higher the synergy and therefore the stronger their potency. With a larger combination of blends, comes a larger risk that the synergy can cause you to have a reaction, because you are changing the chemical composition of the oils. Your safest bet is a product with a low combination of oils, and a low quantity, so it’s best to check that the oils are listed toward the end of the product ingredient listing.
  • Less fragrance is better – all fragrances, no matter whether they are synthetic or natural, have the potential to cause irritation in skin. Some aromatherapy oils are very strong and shouldn’t be applied to the skin at all. Others may suit some skin types, while making another react severely. Some skin types are also prone to a reaction known as photo-sensitivity, meaning that when they go into the sun, their skin will develop a pigment-like rash where they have been exposed to certain fragrances and essential oils. For this reason, I recommend applying your perfume somewhere skin won’t be exposed, and always wear a sunscreen on your face and body.

Application instructions: There is no point in forking out for a product if you’re not going to learn how to use it correctly, and this is another reason why reviews can give you a misleading impression of a product. Following the directions and applying products in the correct manner can make all the difference to how it will look on you, or how it will affect your skin. A great example of this is with my mineral range. I was reading through some forums when I found a reader who had tried my products, but had obviously not applied them correctly or read my blog instructing how to apply them (she described how she had applied them in the same way you would apply traditional make-up). She proceeded to say she didn’t think much of the minerals after that, possibly altering other readers’ mindsets at the same time. Those who are more familiar with mineral products will know that they do require a different application in order to get the maximum benefit from them, but others who are yet to learn might read a review and be turned off before they even try it for themselves.

To conclude, I wouldn’t say don’t bother with reviews, they can be great for finding out about general things such as a products ingredients, texture and smell. The point is that you really need to be informed when shopping for a new product and when researching brands.  Know your skin, know how to apply the product and be label savvy. Knowledge is power! And overall, when it comes to skincare, it really does pay to just try it for yourself, as no two skins are ever really alike!

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