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Guide towards better product reviews

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dollbird
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Tue Aug 22, 2006 3:37 pm      Reply with quote
While there are so many great and detailed reviews here that have been helpful in deciding on my next purchases, I think some reviews warrant a raised eyebrow. I hope the following tips will help in maintaining our objectivity whenever we review. Please feel free to disagree/add to the thread and happy reviewing!!

1) Don’t be swayed by marketing/packaging. I guess this is a no-brainer, but many of us still fall for it. For example, Amore Pacific (www.amorepacific.com). I’m not disputing the efficacy of their products, I haven’t even tried them, but their packaging is so gorgeous, I just want to buy them to decorate my vanity. Another example is Benefit cosmetics, another line known for beautiful packaging. Not a lot of people are crazy about their Ooh La Lift eye treatment, or their Dr.Feelgood foundation primer (see MUA). My aunt chucked her Ooh La Lift after 2 days, which IMHO, is enough time to give a product that claims to give instantaneous results. On the other hand, PSF’s packaging is very plain, and yet their O2 serum, Green Tea Cleanser, Phyto-lift Cranberry Eye Gel, among others, are heavyweights in this forum. The take-home point: If a product is known for packaging first, and actual product second, that’s a red flag.
2) Myth: if it costs a lot, it works great. I was lured into this trap. Many of us try to justify spending so much on something that we will it to work. We expect something spectacular from the price. Crème de la Mer was such a huge let-down for me. For awhile there I tricked myself into believing that clogged pores and breakouts were just part and parcel of the purging process. Yeah sure. It was painful to admit that 1) it was money down the drain, and 2) Crème de la Mer (petroleum jelly + mineral oil) is merely very expensive Vaseline.
3) Passage of time. This point is very important especially when it comes to reviewing acne products. Whenever I read “I applied it and my skin cleared up in a week!”, an eyebrow goes up. It is common for pimples to resolve by themselves in about a week, so maybe it could be because of the passage of time, rather than the product, that skin improves. This point also pertains to scars. As our skin naturally sheds and renews itself over time, the reason you’re seeing an improvement may be because of the passage of time, not because of the masque/peel/scrub/exfoliator you’re using. It’s hard to be objective about this one, but this is a valid point when you’re surprised about why a product has stopped working for you (cos’ it never worked in the first place).
4) Confounding variables. I recently added a Vit. C serum to my routine, and lo and behold my skin glows! Then again, it could be due to the fact that I’ve also upped my intake of Omega-3-6-9 and other supplements, and started exercising more. We should think twice before attributing the improvement to the product. That’s why I think a review is more credible when the reviewer says she has not changed anything else in her routine.
5) The miracle ingredient. How exciting it is to read about a new revolutionary product, one that carries this potent ingredient, harvested from Planet Wrinkle-Free. Oooh even better when it says it has been clinically tested. But wait, tested where? A lot of products claim to be clinically tested, but most tests are done and validated in the company’s own lab (hence experimenter bias), or a research team paid by the company. I always exercise extra caution when faced with these products.
6) The placebo effect. This is where we have a pre-conceived bias about a product, created when we are aware of the expected results. We are all susceptible to this in this forum, as we read about so many people raving about product X, that we buy product X expecting it to work just as well for us. Product X arrives, you try it, and you just don’t see any difference. You’re dumbfounded, and you attribute it to getting the bad batch, or the postman exposed it to sunlight on route to delivery. No. It simply did not work for you. Especially when the thread is full of raves about product X, it is pretty intimidating to go on there and say it didn’t work. Well, to each her own. We all want to be part of the Product X party, but don’t let the placebo effect get you.
TAMgirl99
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Tue Aug 22, 2006 4:24 pm      Reply with quote
Great summary dollbird! I think this should be added to the EDS content management thread. Very Happy
Moonstarr
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Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:53 pm      Reply with quote
I agree, great post. I think in the past I have been too hasty to mention if I liked a product or not. It takes a bit of time to see if a product is infact working for you. Sometimes we get so excited after we've tried something a few times that we want to tell the world! Very Happy From now on I am going to wait and give it a while so I can truly judge how something is working for me. I think it's helpful too if people say what kind type they have (dry, oil, combo, etc.) so it makes it easier for others with the same type to judge if a product might work well for them.
Tosca
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Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:50 pm      Reply with quote
Great job, dollbird!!
tiger_tim
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Tue Aug 22, 2006 10:02 pm      Reply with quote
Excellent guideline. Really.

As an addition, if I am reviewing something after using a sample (lets face it, we need reviews by people who use a sample too) I like to head my review as a "sample review".

Obviously for many products a sample gives no idea to long-term benefit, but they are great for giving reviews on texture, smell and immediate effect (ie taughtness, hydrating, etc.) - these are always the initial things that go towards making the decision on whether to bother to give a product a go for the long term (well, for me anyway)

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jlrobatzek
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Wed Aug 23, 2006 5:25 am      Reply with quote
This is a great thread. Thanks Dollbird. I too am also skeptial of reviews that start "I put this on last night". However, I know I'm probably guilty of it too. I do love reviews that follow someone's experience using the product for a while, then they sum up their review. It lets you know what you might except if you use the product.
TheresaL
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Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:39 am      Reply with quote
Great job dollbird!!

Here's some more:
Our biases affect what we see. Everyone on EDS is experiencing great benefits from product X. I sure could use something that will reduce my wrinkles....I am going to try product X! $120 dollars spent and product X arrives in the mail. I try it and lo and behold great results. Wait just one minute, maybe not. It is amazing how we see what we want to see especially if we have something invested in it (money or otherwise). Just being aware of this bias can help. It also helps to have someone else take a look and give an objective opinion.
All studies are NOT created equal. Oftentimes in posts members will reference studies, this is a good thing. However, we need to realize that some studies are better done than others. Questions to ask. Is the study double blinded? Who did the assesment of participants skin-An objective observer or the participant themselves? What was the product compared against and was there a control group? How many participants were in the study group? Has the study been reproduced by others with similar results? Has the study been published in a peer-rewieved journal?
Consider doing a half-face test. I realize that this is not always practical but often it is a great way to see just what a product can do. I especially think that this technique has merit when using actives or a product that makes strong claims.

Concerning dollbird's point about company sponsered studies. I do toally agree that we do need to exercise extra caution with these studies. However, the quality of some company sponsered studies varies and some of them are done very well. I don't think that we should dismiss a study just because it was company sponsered (I don't think dollbird was saying this but I do want to emphasize the point). An ever bigger red flag is when a company does a study and reports the results but will not release the study itself!!

dollbird- #6 is a valid effect (I don't know the proper name but it is some type of trying to explain away an observation that contradicts what you expect) but it is not the placebo effect. The placebo effect is when you are actually using a placebo (in skincare this would be say a cream that does not contain the active ingredient) but you think you are using something active and your mind causes you to experience the benefit. IMO probably uncommon in skincare studies but fairly common in studies such as drug studies where pain reduction is reported.
dollbird
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Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:35 pm      Reply with quote
Great tips TheresaL, and thanks for clarifying my point. For lack of a better word, I decided to call the last point The Placebo Effect as I was trying to adapt the use of skincare to drug testing in research. I guess the underlying meaning is the same: the product will not necessarily work even when we expect it to.
Olyn
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Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:45 pm      Reply with quote
Great thread! I'm glad this became a sticky! Dollbird, that was an excellent initial post and the supplemental info suggested by TheresaL was also very helpful. Smile
ahau
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Wed Aug 23, 2006 10:01 pm      Reply with quote
Thanks!
freefall2
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Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:25 am      Reply with quote
I'd also love to see follow-ups to reviews. If you are still using the product months later and still love it or if you decided later that it wasn't that great after all, it would be interesting to read.
roadbee
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Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:04 pm      Reply with quote
freefall2 wrote:
I'd also love to see follow-ups to reviews. If you are still using the product months later and still love it or if you decided later that it wasn't that great after all, it would be interesting to read.


Great point. Sometimes people intend to follow up but get sidetracked three months or six months later. I don't remember my breakfast from two days ago. Perhaps if there was some way for a reminder by EDS to be attached to a person's review asking if they'd like to write a follow-up. Don't know if this is possible. Maybe it's space age stuff...
Tosca
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Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:13 pm      Reply with quote
Oh, that's a great idea roadbee!
appletini
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Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:52 am      Reply with quote
Some great points made by dollbird and others.

Re cosmetic company "studies", I recently saw on a certain company's website reference to a study, with the impressive results for their product in bar graph form, big bold letters.... then down the bottom the fine print reveals that it was a "12 week study of 30 participants".

I doubt any scientist would call that a "study", more like a trial.
Barbara Portno
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Sat Aug 26, 2006 2:57 pm      Reply with quote
!!!

Thank you for these reminders, they are so true.

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doodlebug
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Thu Aug 31, 2006 11:26 am      Reply with quote
Wow! Great Advice!!!

But will admit, I am a bit of sucker for pretty "fussy" or just up-scale packaging..and many times have found these brands to be well worth the extra penny....on the other hand....I also tend to be drawn to the PSF line because it looks "clean" and clinical.But I do wish the bottles looked "prettier" on my vanity. I was glad to see the Stimu-Coll-C Eye serum in the silver bottle. I hope they change over to the silver!

Never tried Benefit but boy their names are super cute! Does make you wanna "try" them!

I basically get excited over any product that after 2 weeks doesn't break me out.Sad but true! My skin is so tempermental. I am hoping that by going more natural it will improve. Hopefully I can find some ohter good products from the members here who have similiar skin to mine.

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bex
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Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:52 pm      Reply with quote
Very nice post dollbird!
marcelina
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Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:05 am      Reply with quote
You know dollbird youre really awesome for the review. You know a lot and I congratulate you for that. Keep up the good work
sissyp
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Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:15 pm      Reply with quote
Great guidelines. As I get older I appreciate quality over pretty packaging and find myself seeking out simple things just for the sake of saving resources. I hate throwing away a big box holding a tiny bottle inside. Such a waste. Follow up on samples is also a great idea. I have used many samples and often love the immediate results then find that was it. After using the product again I do not get the initial result. Maybe there is something to the mental build up of trying something new that influences the perceived result??
annynihao
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Sun Nov 05, 2006 8:48 pm      Reply with quote
wow! great post!

i really agree with you, and i have little chace to try such many "samples". so it's very important for me to "learn" other reviews in advanced.
jjvk
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Wed Nov 08, 2006 3:19 pm      Reply with quote
Excellent guideline. Thanks!
humi
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Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:44 pm      Reply with quote
exactly true
nutella
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Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:01 am      Reply with quote
Thanks. I agree with you. Smile

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Kimberleylee
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Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:06 pm      Reply with quote
This is great food for thought and this forum has made me realise this and its also saved me alot of $ on products I was about to purchase until I read the review here.

I read an arcticle the other day about how product marketing always makes women feel they need to fix themselves with their products because they're too fat, have too much cellulite or too many wrinkles etc. They stated that product marketing is starting to aim towards men so I can't wait for them to feel and understand our issues and insecurities because without all this marketing and tv ads, would these really be our insecurities?

The article also stated how cellulite was common and accepted 20 years ago ... how wonderful would that be to accept women for their natural beauty and flaws ... Dove has been doing some amazing commecials and really hitting home on this subject I hope it continues to be a focus and some things change!
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Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:09 am      Reply with quote
Thank u!

Good idea!

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