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Opinion: Can We Really Trust Beauty Product Reviews?

Updated: Jan 11

online reviews

As the UK government moves to shut down fake review factories, now is a good time to consider how much we trust beauty product reviews in general and what they really tell us.

With honest reviews often hard to spot among the millions of fakes, it should come as no surprise that confidence in online buyer feedback is at an all-time low.

If you take reviews with a pinch of salt, it is worth reminding yourself that major platforms invest serious cash in tech that can spot and take down fakes quickly.

Legislation, announced in April this year, makes writing, commissioning, hosting or facilitating fake reviews an offence. So it is in every brand's interest to keep websites free of manipulated scoring and commentary.

New laws were deemed necessary to increase consumer confidence in product ratings. After all, who wants to be persuaded to buy something that an honest reviewer would pan?

Currently, it is estimated that good reviews (fake or otherwise) convince us to part with, on average, £900 a year.

Consumer champion Which? has welcomed the introduction of new legislation. Its director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha said: "It's very positive to see action to tackle the avalanche of fake reviews that undermine confidence in online shopping and tougher powers for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to protect consumers from rogue companies that consistently flout the law - including the ability to fine firms directly.

"The impact of these rip-off practices is enormous. It is currently a far too complicated and lengthy process for the CMA to hold businesses to account."

beauty product reviews

Beauty Reviews

Let's face it, beauty products aren't cheap. A simple moisturiser from a premium skincare brand can set you back up to £120. So, you want to know it is going to deliver noticeable benefits before you splash the cash.

I recommend carefully checking reviews for all skincare goods and especially eye creams, dark spot correctors and serums. That is because these lines should sell more than just a promise. You are not going to follow the crowd, I hope, if they are saying 'This product doesn't work' or 'It irritated my skin'.

I always check reviews for a product on more than one platform before I make a purchase decision. That is because I don't always trust reviews on brands' own websites. Devotees of a certain make can be fanatical in their support for all products, even if some are better than others. I know this because I am a fan of a particular brand myself and, in my eyes, it can't do any wrong. I am in love with their next new product already - and I don't even know what it is. Get the gist?

Beauty brands can offer customers loyalty points for reviews, too. While there is no stipulation that reviews have to be good, my favourite brand has very few ratings below five stars on its website. Something to bear in mind.

When it comes to beauty products, you have to remember that all reviews are subjective. This is especially true when it comes to reviews for products like foundation - because choosing the right shade and coverage is 99 per cent of the battle. Purchase errors are a leading cause of poor reviews. In this case, brands suffer because of their customers' mind-boggling stupidity.

With fragrances, you have to remember that it is all about chemistry and scents can smell different from person to person.

I am always prepared to take a punt on something that isn't going to set me back too much. If I'm in the market for a new face cream and there is one on offer for £7.99 with a good rating, why not? If it isn't quite as good as some of the ratings led me to believe and doesn't bring me out in hives, I'm not going to have a meltdown. And, of course, it could be fantastic.

Even genuine reviews can be influenced. Think of things like:

  • Marketing

  • What other people are saying about a product, including influencers

  • Price - if a product previously sold at £29.99 is offered for £9.99 for a limited time, is that going to make consumers happier with a purchase?

  • Postage and packaging - speedy delivery in fancy packaging with a personalised 'Thank you' card always goes down well

  • Loyalty points (as previously mentioned)

beauty influencer

Types of Reviewers

I've read enough reviews to be able to spot 'types'.

There are reviewers like me, who mostly know they are going to like a product before they purchase it because they have done their research.

Then there are the moaners - people who want something for nothing or have to pick fault with everything they buy. 'OK, I suppose, but not worth £2.99.' You know the type.

A real nightmare for brands are the ratings killers who just can't bring themselves to rate anything above three stars. If you've ever seen a two-star rating with a review that simply says 'Really good' you will know what I mean. Hopeless for anyone trying to get a real feel for a product before buying.

And then there is my least favourite type - men who review non-gift-worthy products they have bought for their partners. If a simple statement like 'You look better with no make-up' is a form of coercive control then foisting beauty products on an unsuspecting recipient (presumably for the buyer's benefit) is another form of abuse.

There are several things I don't like about these reviews. One is that they imply the man is in control of the purse strings. Another is that they suggest the buyer is unhappy with their partner's appearance and wants to change it. Lastly, by writing a review, the men are inadvertently comparing their wives and girlfriends to other women.

I've studied the phenomenon of men reviewing beauty products they have bought for someone else in some depth. The reason why I find most of them quite sinister is based on the type of products they buy. In addition to face lifting and anti-wrinkle creams, they are buying things that would seriously offend me - if received as a gift.

Think of chin straps (truly unsexy contraptions that purport to reduce double chins and are worn around the head and jaw). Imagine your partner instructing you to put that on and wear it for hours at a time - all because they think your profile needs slimming and toning? Isn't that abuse?

And what if a product purchased by a man for a woman is deemed not to work? Who does he take his disappointment out on? The brand, in a review? The partner? Both?

Some beauty tools are very uncomfortable to use, like micro-needling derma rollers. Frightening to think some women could be being forced to use them.

I don't take any notice of a review written by a man for a beauty product they have bought for a woman. The 'performance' could be based on their fantasy of what the 'ideal woman' looks like.

beauty vloggers

Final Word

So, can we trust reviews? The simple answer is that we can get a fairly accurate overall perception of how a product will perform by taking into consideration ratings from more than one platform and by recognising reviewer types.

I never pay any attention to vloggers' reviews or social media posts by 'influencers'.

If a product you are interested in has hundreds or thousands of reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars, you are most likely not going to be disappointed.


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5 commenti

23 ago 2022

Love reading your post. As someone who loves beauty products, I also do my own research and check reviews from various platforms.

Mi piace

22 ago 2022

Reviews can be pretty helpful, specially when considering the photos.

I usually buy cosmetics in the shop so check it manually..

Mi piace

22 ago 2022

Great post on how to assess reviews. Since I don't buy a lot of cosmetics, I did use your tips and information for other reviews that I read. Especially checking it on different platforms. And understanding the different reviewing types. Thanks for sharing this. Benny - The Stoic Pa

Mi piace

21 ago 2022

Such an interesting post and really great points to make. I usually check at least 2 or 3 reviews before purchasing a new beauty item.

Mi piace

21 ago 2022

It’s always annoying when you see all 5 star reviews then that one person that gives 1 star because of something stupid 👎 great post!

Mi piace
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