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What do you look for in a product review?

What do you look for in a product review? Share!

I look for detail and cues that indicate someone actually applied/used it. A lot of things can swatch nicely or look good initially, but they may not always hold up during the day. I also look for reviews that don’t let the color dictate the overall tone of the review, because even if a color doesn’t turn out flattering (which is helpful to know), it doesn’t mean the product itself is bad. I also read a lot of press releases and marketing hoopla, so if I see that in a review as if it were the reviewer’s words, I immediately move on. I expect disclosures if there is something to disclose.

Thanks to Kimmy for today’s question! Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.


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Katherine T. Avatar

Any fragrance, ingredient list, wear time, swatches in outdoor and indoor lighting, ease of use, effect (does it work), and alternates (dupes)

Mel Avatar

Good resolution swatches (without and WITH flash – something rare) and a description of how the product performs. So far, never found a blog that is comparable to yours ๐Ÿ™‚

Isabella Avatar

Really depends on the product. Makeup in general: swatches, color comparison, texture, wear time, and feeling on the skin. Foundations: texture, feel on the skin, wear time, oxidization ingredients.
Skincare: Ingredients (very important!), texture, feel on the skin, pH if containing acids (also very important).

Kate Avatar

Aside from the basics (good swatches, consistent lighting, etc.), I look for evidence that someone has thought about a product outside of their personal preferences- what colours they like, what works on their skin type or tone, etc. It can be tricky to do that, but it’s important in giving fair reviews.

I also really appreciate good colour comparisons. When it comes to making decisions, it’s incredibly helpful to know if I might have similar items in my collection already (without having to haul all my guesses to similar products with me).

Brittany Avatar

i think the thing that I respect the most about your reviews is your honesty…”this colour didn’t work on me [because this that and the other], but if you’re XXXXXXXXX, then give it a try because it will look better on you than it does on me!” i’ve tried a fair few blushers because you’ve said that they don’t work for you but if “you’re fairer than i am, then you might like it.”

brava, Christine! keep up the incredible work!

[p.s. – i met one of your readers the other day. i went to my Urban Decay counter in Manchester UK asking about the new shadows that you watched last week and she said that she saw them on your blog and can’t wait to try them out herself!]

Nancy T Avatar

First and foremost: honesty. And then of equal importance is like you mentioned: details. I also like seeing eyeshadow swatches done both over a primer and without, too many reviewers only do it over a primer or a JEP, because even though I must always wear a primer for my oily, hooded lids does NOT mean that everyone else does. I want to know what, if any, problems there were with the products application and an average wear-time, good, bad otherwise. And lots of well executed pics are super useful and helpful! (My brain processes things best visually) I think I just described your blog, and only a small handful of others.

Lolly Avatar

Honesty. Whenever Christine gives her honest opinion about a product and says if it is really worth the money or not and can say when even a luxury brand has terrible products, I really really respect that! One of the many reasons Temptalia is the first of all my beauty blogs that I check up on ๐Ÿ™‚

Sarah Avatar

in eye shadows- silky texture, true-to-swatch application, zero fall-out.
lippies- staying power, neither too creamy or too drying, doesn’t settle in lines
blush, bronzer- ZERO glitter, sparkle, shimmer. Because I only wear creams, I prefer ones that are silky, blendable. Normally color doesn’t matter, but blushes have to either be workable in terms of layering or sheering out color, so as to get multiple uses out of them.

Lily Kelley Avatar

I love your product reviews. You give details of the product, compare them to other products, swatches.
I trust that your reviews are unbiased.

Barbara Avatar

I usually read multiple reviews on various sites and I look for consistent complaints/praise for the product. I know a lot of bloggers are paid to give positive reviews that’s why I always cross reference things like makeup alley and user reviews from Sephora or wherever the product I’m looking can be purchased.

Dustin Avatar

I would say exactly the same: some indication that the person is using it. There are a lot of people who are just vying for popularity out there and with no real method of standards, since everyone is basically a freelance reviewer who can do what they want, many bloggers and instagrammers just turn into advertisers for products. They don’t really review anything at all. That leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and I move on. The only thing I don’t pay too much attention to is wear time. I also rarely mention it in my reviews. I just think it varies too much from person to person so if something creases or looks bad right away, I share that because I would like to know that as a reader. But if it has an average/normal/expected wear time I rarely bother talking about it because it might not be the same for other people and I don’t want to be held accountable for someone’s oily face and humid climate when I have dry skin and live in a dry climate (for example).

dorit Avatar

Disclosure is extremely important! I usually stop reading if someone just rehashs the press release. I like some balance between objectivity and subjectivity – of course a review should be somewhat objective, but to see someones opinion as well is always a good thing. Plus, I like realistic pictures – don’t dig the photoshop!

Staci Avatar

I like full face shots of the product applied. Just the lips, a swatch ,or an eye can be misleading.

More than that, I look for reviewers who don’t love everything. I want honesty. Not just paid for promotions.

Raeanne Avatar

I agree with much of what has been posted already. Additionally, I’d love to see more information about what brushes and tools were used to apply the prodcuts we see in swatches and makeup looks that accompany product reviews! For those who do nail polish reviews, it’s nice to know if the swatches were photographed with base coat and top coat. For nail polish especially, I’d like to see more of resources for where we can buy certain brands of polish and nail care.

Kuรกvsui Avatar

It really depends on the product. With skincare, I want to know everything I possibly can before committing to a purchase, from ingredients to form to packaging. With all products I need to know whether it’s scented or not. For most if not all coloured cosmetics I want to know the under- and overtones, especially with foundation!

I also want to know about the reviewer and their process: what’s their skin type, tone and undertones, how they used it, did they compare the product using it with different products and if so, how did it perform best. All of this helps me extrapolate how the product might work on me. In general, I like reading product reviews from all sorts of people as long as they make some sort of an effort to talk about how the product actually works and within which parameters.

Eileen Avatar

I agree with everything you said, Christine, but I’d also like to add that the reviewer’s personal esthetic, application skills, experience with different types of products, and the willingness to try different techniques and approaches also come into play when I consider that person’s review. Some reviewers let their limited skills, personal bias, and lack of knowledge influence their reviews. For example, I once read a review for a cleansing oil. Even though the directions for the product (I happened to have it) clearly stated to apply it to dry skin, the reviewer applied it to wet skin and wondered why it got so messy. Sheesh! Not only did the reviewer not understand the basic principal behind cleansing oils, but the reviewer didn’t even bother to read the directions! And, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read reviews bemoaning a lack of pigment when the offical product description contains words like translucent, delicate, transparent, sheer, etc. Of course, there are times when a lack of pigmentation is a big fault and the reviewer is absolutely right to criticize the product for the lack of opacity, but that’s not what I’m referring to in the preceding example. I’m referring to a personal bias that interefers with an objective judgement of the product’s performance. A good reviewer can get past all that. There are many products I would never personally use, but that doesn’t mean they are bad products. Some reviewers–and some readers who comment–lose sight of that fact.

Lulle Avatar

At a minimum, good swatches, but I prefer to also see pics of the product worn.
I’m looking for details in the review so that all aspects are covered: texture, application, color, wear time, fragrance…
I don’t read reviews that repeat a brand’s marketing blurb (and avoid the blog altogether). I like to read bloggers that have a strong personality, and I stay away from reviewers that seem to love everything they ever test (I might still visit the blog for good pictures but I won’t bother to read the reviews).

Joyce Avatar

I’m not sure if it’s something I look for, but I tend to just roll over review from people who have very friendly relationships with brands (i.e., receiving gifts, attending promotional parties, being sponsored, etc.) The brands are businesses and they know what they’re doing. If a blogger has a highly favorable relationship with the brand, it’ll effect the way they perceive and review products. Their review just won’t convince me to buy a product ever.

Meghan Avatar

Good pictures/ swatches (at least one or two, doesn’t have to be a dozen). Detail about wear, finish, opacity etc. I like to see the odd negative review from someone about a really hyped product, because not everything works for everyone, and hype doesn’t mean truth!

charlotte Avatar

Drives me nuts when someone gives a negative review because something was the wrong color… or for a product that is for the opposite of their skin type. If you buy a “moisturizing, dewy foundation” it’s going to make your oily skin oily.. duh. I also hate reviews that are only on a first application, unless it’s labelled as a first impression. At least wear it for a few hours before forming an opinion. Don’t even get me started on blatant false representation… when it is obviously a mess but they rave about it anyway.

Nikki Avatar

Good swatches in good lighting are a must! I hate when I see only stock photos. I look for detailed descriptions with someone’s personal touch & comparisons with other shades/brands. Ratings are a bonus. This is why I love your site so much. You do everything that a makeup lover could ever ask for & want to see & know. Thanks for all of your amazing reviews & effort, Christine!! *muah*

Georgina Avatar

I basicly want to know how the product performs after using it a few times. I want to know what the reviewer really thinks after using it. If it performs as the brand claims it should and that kind of a thing.
That way I can make up my mind if it’s worth the money or not for ME.

miekogirlie99 Avatar

i like to see swatches of course but also applied because sometimes products swatch nice but are a nightmare on the face. And also notes of how long it lasts helps & their thoughts on how it applies or struggles if any they had applying it. if products are too fussy I stay away but if they say its easy to work with im all for it.

Gillian Avatar

Three major things, not the price, because I ve learned that money does not indicate quality or even if it look good on my with old dry pale face!

1.) how it goes on, is it easily blended or user friendly
2.) how long it lasts , it going to streak, fade off or leave crumblies on my face (caugh, Clinique mascara!!)
3.) where is it sold? Can go to a local ultra and get my hands on it…or do I have to order online and hoe for the best!

And lastly, how does it compare …especially to my favorites.

xamyx Avatar

Many bloggers/reviewers are given sample products, which aren’t labeled with the ingredients. Even with purchased/retail products often make it difficult to read/decipher them. I’ve spent a lot of time doing searches for my own benefit, and I’ll be generous to say I’ve had a 50% success rate. This includes the brands website & the sites of major, commercial retailers. What I find most interesting, it’s been easier to find ingredients for budget/DS products than HE/luxury brands… I think a lot of brands do this onpurpose, as many assume the pricier a brand, the “better” the ingredients.

Kitty Avatar

Xamyx, I know what you mean about the sample products not having the ingredient labels. But many bloggers buy the product off the shelf and have the original boxes. It’s frustrating to see photos of the box from all angles but no closeup of the ingredients section.

I agree about the luxury brands not listing ingredients. I’ve written several of them for details about specific products and one of them plans to have better exposure of ingredients online. But is frustrating to try to find the ingredient list somewhere. Some brands (like Nars and Make Up Forever) won’t even return my online contact forms to provide info about specific allergen in specific product.

Nicole Avatar

When it comes to reviews the one thing that will turn me away instantly is when the reviewer clearly is not giving details about wear-time,the actual quality of the product. I can’t stand a review that is basically saying this is here swatch, it is a pretty color, I like it..whoo hoo. I could have looked at the website and deciphered that myself. Another thing that will deter me from a blogger’s site is when they copy from another blogger. Be original or find another hobby you enjoy.

doroffee Avatar

-good quality, but not overfiltered and oversaturated photos
-when necessary, an indication of the skintone, the coloring, the skin type and other details from the reviewer (the others: like, if she is experiences or not in liquid eyeliner or whether, for example, for a shimmery lipgloss, she gave a bad mark because she doesn’t like shimmer, not the actual quality of the product)
-some words about the easiness of use, price, where it could be bought, whether it lasts long or not , whether it has a really hard to use packaging, scent, taste- I don’t necessarily need detailed grading or anything, but some information
-with perfume reviews, I like getting a bit more general ideas about the perfume, not only the notes
-clear, concise writing, no overuse of smileys and slang language
-proof that someone has used the product for a while, tried base products in different was if it first was not right
-at least some knowledge about make-up and the intended use for a product (I’m not lying, in one of the reviws of my country’s version of Makeup Alley, someone wrote about a liquid eyeliner that it was bad because she slept with this put on at night, and by morning, some of it was gone… way to encourage people not to take their make-up off :D)
-no obvious sponsorship
-decent skills at make.up

Maggie Avatar

Well, in product reviews–the person generally has to be a good writer (or good in speech, photography, video–depending on whether this is a review for an online-store, a blog, or a vlog). I say good writers bc they write for their audience/readers–whoever that may be. I like organized details. Close-up photographs and detailed descriptions about the product and how well it performs and HOW the reviewer used it. I like knowing the person’s traits (oily/dry skin type, coloring, etc. ). Is this something they’ll repurchase? Who would they recommend this for? Disclosure is important too.

xamyx Avatar

Honestly, I just care about quality photos/swatches that are truly representative of the product… Longevity is going to differ based on lifestyle and/or what products are used in conjunction. A product I wear in an air-conditioned office isn’t going to wear the same as on days I go to the park, and have a face full of sunscreen. I also believe since primers exist, they’re expected to be used, so if a product is reviewed without one, I don’t fault the product.

Susan Avatar

In for makeup, am interested in knowing if there is fragrance and does it linger; how does the product perform vs. the stated claims; really good swatches/photos; in short, I’m looking for Temptalia! I follow another blogger who reviews products, and has excellent photos, but her reviews are almost never critical of any product, and when she does have something negative to say it almost seems random. I am looking for honest reviews that are consistent, which is what I appreciate about your blog. Thanks for doing such a great job!

Nicole Avatar

Above all: honesty! It irks me when a product is overhyped because too many people jump on the bandwagon or are biased towards a brand- if a product is bad, it’s bad and it happens to even the best makeup companies. I like to see swatches, close ups of what it looks like on the area of the face it’s intended for (for example, a close up of lips for a lip product), and how it looks on the face as a whole. I like to know why it’s a good/bad product. Did it dry out or fade over time? Did it look different when applied than it did from the package? Was the texture or pigmentation exceptionally good or poor?

When reviewing foundation, concealer, and all skin care products it would be really helpful to know which skin types the product works best for. Something that works great on dry skin may not be good for oily skin, and so on. For anything dealing with complexion (especially blush and highlight/contour), I find it helpful if the reviewer also noted which skin tone the product works for.

Genevieve Avatar

First of all I look at the reviewer’s credentials in assessing beauty products. Blogs like Temptalia have a rating system that is systematic, organised and fair to review the products instead of just regurgitating the brands selling hype. So I look for an A or a B for a product that I am actually interested in.
With regard to the product, I expect it to be pigmented, easy to apply/wear, durable (maybe not to the extent that the brand says it will last – because that is never true) and that it be cruelty free.
I love the way Christine you suggest alternative dupes and discuss scents/fragrance that could be off putting. In short – this blog is absolutely perfect and it meets all the criteria any beauty loving person could wish for. Thank you so much.

Melissa Kirkman Avatar

I look for a picture of it on your face! Lol, but seriously- even when the actual review (and/or swatches) isn’t/aren’t so flattering I find that I want almost everything used in your full face looks.

Rachel R. Avatar

Lots of good pictures and swatches. Information on texture, performance, etc. Where to buy it, and cost. Disclosure whether the product was provided by the company or bought by the reviewer. I look at several reviews before I consider buying a product.

I really like the reviews on this blog, because there is a standard testing method used for everything. I also find that for the products I own, I agree with Christine’s assessment the vast majority of the time.

Joell Avatar

Details. If you’ve said the product is good I want to hear why you feel it’s good. The most frustrating reviews are ones that say, “xyz is terrible”. Tell me why. Give me some details; adjectives ๐Ÿ™‚

Candice Avatar

Christine, your reviews are *the* go-to reviews to confirm if a product is truly good quality or not and I will trust your review over what most others say because of your methodology and experience.

I also enjoy “opinion” reviews. When the person is honest about not testing in depth the product and talks about their initial impressions, I feel it gives a good idea of the ease of application, wearability, how nice the packaging is, etc. and when combined with a more objective review, it can confirm how nice and exciting the product is!

Pasheeda Morris Avatar

I only read the positive reviews as well as do my research. There are some cons I’ll look at if I think it may or may not work for me. Most of the product reviews I’ve read were in good favor. I ended up purchasing the products I wanted.

Christina Avatar

The main things I look for are high quality photography and writing. Sponsored content drives me crazy. Over time I can decide if I agree or disagree with the blogger. If I try something they recommend but end up disliking it, I will unfollow since we are not on the same page. On the other hand, I have a strong list right now of blogs and vlogs that I know I can trust and agree with. Temptalia is one of the best out there!

Elizabeth Avatar

Price and claims of performance and selection of colors intrigues me to look more at a product. I read labels as well. Certain ingredients don’t play well with my skin. Real reviews, like yours Christine, and if I am really interested, I try to go see the product in person if I can. If I have to have it, I try to order it if the store has a pretty liberal return policy. I have yet to return anything other than items that come broken in the post. I don’t usually trust celebrity endorsements, I want to know what women like me think of products. This community has sure saved me some headaches. I have to say this community isn’t biased and the best swatches are done by Christine. The opinions that are shared here really help me make my mind up when I start looking at a new product or a line I haven’t tried. There is a veritable beauty encyclopedia right here at our fingertips, and I love it.

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!