How much do product reviews on retailers’ websites influence your purchasing decision?

I used to rely on them more, but I haven’t in the last few years as I find them harder and harder to trust blindly – there are absolutely good, honest, and useful reviews to be found on brand/retailer websites, but often it requires time to really sift through the pile. This has been true across industries, not just in beauty, as we hear more and more about brands/companies gaming the review systems.

— Christine
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23 Comments

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I usually scan the negative reviews. They will often give me better info. For example, I’m dry and a person who isn’t will often give a low score because the product isn’t suitable for them. Or, they’re dry and the product isn’t great for dry skin. That’s good info. I also look for repeated criticisms. If it doesn’t work for them, it probably won’t work for me. For example, disappears after limited wear time. Too much fallout, no pigmentation, etc.
As for the glowing reviews, too many people praise their shiny new toys based on limited usage. So you can get a lot of first impressions that may or may not hold up over time.

You said it perfectly. I do read the low scores to see if there’s a common theme. There is more honesty when it doesn’t work. I find it so annoying when people will criticize a product that isn’t meant for them. Like no duh you hated that super mattifying product if you are super dry but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone who is oily etc

Tbh I don’t really read reviews. Given that Sephora deletes negative reviews and writes fake positive reviews, I don’t rely on them. I also find many reviews on these sites in general to not be very constructive and that people don’t have the same concerns I do.

Somewhat. I pay more attention to ones where the author indicates they have similar issues (sensitive skin, rosacea, oily, etc…) and the product did or didn’t work for them for reasons related to the issue(s). I tend to ignore the ones that sound like they’re written by paid reviewers or company employees. I also ignore the ones where the reviewer sounds dumb as rocks, incoherent, or where they rag on something ridiculous (I recently saw a 1-star review where the reviewer’s only complaint was that the item came in capsule form rather than a dropper bottle for a product that *clearly stated* — and even showed photos — that it was in capsule form!). I generally look for reviews in the 3.5 to 4-star range and read approx. the first 100. Sometimes I’ll start by reading the lowest and highest, then I’ll read a random selection of the mid-range reviews. I’ve purchased a small handful of products that had low ratings after reading review after review where the authors just didn’t seem to “get it” (i.e. they were rating low for missing qualities that the product didn’t claim to possess, or they were clearly not using it as intended). I haven’t regretted them yet.

Reviews can be helpful if there a decent number of them (I like at least 100), and if you actually read what people are saying to see if it even makes sense, but it doesn’t make sense to take an overall star rating at face value without actually reading what people have to say.

Okay, I have to add — I’m right now looking at an item on Amazon with a 3.5-star review (which a lot of people would skip over for the star rating) and some of the reviews make one of my points above really, really well: the product is a set of ferrous metal stickers designed to be used with palettes that have built-in magnets. There are so few reviews that the two 1-star reviews heavily skew the star rating. Those two 1-star reviews complain that the stickers are not *themselves* magnets. I’m seriously in the mood to say something rude about this (my father had a great phrase for just such an occasion), but I’ll refrain as I don’t want to drag down the tone of Christine’s site.

I’ll read reviews from people with my skin type-dry to see if I need to research the product more. It’s harder to decide whether or not to but anything on an opinion- positive or negative because that reviewer could have differing preferences and priorities. I personally like dewy foundations and don’t think shine needs to be toned down but I know there’s people that would view the shine negatively.

Tbh where skincare is concerned I tend to look at the ingredient list since people who review skincare tend to only pay attention to marketing claims over what should or should not be included in an ingredient list. I cannot say how many rave about products that are in jar packaging, have synthetic and natural fragrance or SD Alcohol which have no benefit to the skin other than to irritate it imo. I know whether product will work or not based on what is included or not in the ingredients so I find most reviews in this regard to be useless

A bloody men. Esp with s/c, one’s knowledge of ingredients and their function is infinitely more important than reviews. Currently, I have far more no-nos than wows. If the product has fragrance, denatured alcohol, chem sunscreen or Benzyl salicylate, aloe, fragrance (limonene, eugenol, geraniol, linalool, etc) oh, forget it, this would take all night….I never bother to read the reviews of the product. I confess to reading some reviews simply for the amusement factor. It’s remarkable how non-analytical, off-topic, and agrammatical people can be.

I read them by sorting with lowest first, if possible, although I’ll also re-sort with most recent to ensure that there aren’t any recent issues. The more details, the better, especially when someone brings up something that I hadn’t thought of or has an issue that I know in my case wouldn’t be an issue.

I also use Fakespot website for all Amazon product pages, since Amazon is rife with fake reviews. Using Fakespot takes less than a minute and makes me more comfortable in diving down in reviews if need be and in not buying products propped up with fake reviews.

Not much anymore. Not since many a retailer or brand began taking down any negative or “bad” reviews, but leaving up all the 4’s and 5’s usually with only a smattering of 3’s. This practice makes it terribly difficult to trust what’s left behind. Worst cases I know of: Sunday Riley scandal, and from personal experience, Too Faced.

I always read the negative reviews first. People tend to put things like how scented a product is, or if the product gives them a reaction in the negative reviews.

I skim reviews to see if any complaints apply to my skin type or rate of makeup usage. A lot seem to criticize the lack of color variety and such within the makeup industry as a whole at any given time. Which is totally valid, but as a newbie who keeps their collection small, a lot of critiques on retailer sites just aren’t relevant.

I read the lowest rating reviews first. The information I get from them is usually more helpful and diverse than the five star reviews. I may find out a rating was due to a one off shipping issue, someone who didn’t use the product (or the star rating system) as intended or I may find a consistent theme that applies to me and will cause me to rethink a purchase.
It seems that most 5 star ratings are “I love it” gushes and since I’m already wanting the product enough to look up ratings I don’t need anymore convincing.
I do appreciate sites that have places to ask questions about products. I have been influenced by answers I’ve received much more than by site ratings.

Sephora’s site seems to have honest reviews. I definitely read the reviews on a retailers site before buying. But I don’t rely singularly on their site reviews . I tend to research any product I buy with as many sources as possible. As I hate to waste and return items unless they are pretty bad.

None – absolutely no influence whatsoever. The only opinions I trust are yours and Isabella Muse. There are a couple of British bloggers I read for their product reviews on British makeup, but mostly I only get what’s reviewed here.

As with make up purchases I pretty much just buy on impulse I like it I’ll get it but with skin care i tend to be more choosy and first of all will ask my daughter, sisters in law or close friends who share same skin condition or even different. I sometines check Reddit for reviews but don’t trust any YouTube guru as t don’t find them honest and are all trying to sell you something either honestly or disguised. Thanks for mentioning FakeSpot I’ll be giving it a try. If product is more expensive I’d like to check a few bad/good reviews on their pages I guess to get a better picture but don’t necessarily trust them much.

I only put any weight on the review if it is all bad or all good. Usually you will find a few people that the product doesn’t work for and that is to be expected but when you have even say 50 reviews and 46 are bad or good then it holds more weight for me. I sort of look at it as finding the mean number and if that is good or bad then I go with that. You know throw out the high and the low!! Ultimately though, I have purchased products that are universally loved and I hate them and vice versa so I think researching the ingredients, who the product is targeted for and what the claims are is a better indicator to me.

Good point about across industries. I was going to say that I really don’t rely on reviews for my makeup choices. I more often read them after I use the product myself to see if others have similar experiences to mine. It’s generally something I either love or hate that I would bother to do this for.

But…when yo mentioned other industries, yes, I do look at them for other items. Electronics, always. I have been scared off of those purchases by multiple consumers’ bad experiences. Also clothing, I look to see if people think it runs big, true, or small and how they describe the fit.

But for makeup, the thing we love here, I don’t even think about reviews. I try what I want to try and then go back to see if others agree.

There are a few I trust if I’ve seen them around a long while or know their handles on blogs. I really only trust people like yourself and a few select others for makeup.

Recently it came to light that many retailers pay reviewers to rate their products in a positive way, so I’m wary if a product is consistently given the green light with very little explanation as to why, especially if there’s a ‘cluster’ of them within a very short time frame. Maybe I’m becoming more cynical as I grow older, but I’m no longer prepared to take things at face value. Instead, I turn to trusted reviewers such as yourself, Christine, or Isabella Muse, to see how something really fares.

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