The Pros & Cons of Testing Beauty Products

Going behind the scenes of the biz!

estee lauder products on desk with aerin candle

Because I cover beauty products as part of the content on this site, a lot of beauty companies send me their products to try. Let me be clear before we get into this post — it’s amazing to always have a bunch of nice beauty products around, and I am in no way complaining about it! The pros far outweigh the cons for me, but there are definitely pros and cons. So I thought I’d take you behind the scenes a little (since many of you asked for more behind the scenes types of posts!) to see what it’s like to receive, have, and test a lot of beauty products.

First of all, I probably only receive a fraction of what beauty bloggers and vloggers with larger audiences receive (and there are definitely some brands that I’d love to get on their list!). But even with the amount products I do receive, it can be overwhelming to truly test them all! I’m sure people in all industries who are sent products to try out feel the similarly.

What you should know is that beauty companies send out their products to people in the industry, magazine editors, and influencers to try out. Most reviews — and I’m mostly speaking about bloggers & influencers — will test the products out a few times and give each product a fair shot before reviewing it good or bad.

Sometimes if they don’t like a product they just won’t cover it at all, versus saying they don’t like it. At the same time a lot of beauty vloggers are really good about explaining a product and saying something to the effect of this product didn’t work for my dry skin, but if you have more oily skin you might like this product. You don’t want to go around saying terrible things about products all the time, but you also want to be honest. And trust me — your audience will keep you honest! Or they will leave you (don’t leave me!).

The thing is, everyone has different skin, skin problems, skin colors, hair types, hair colors, nail problems, etc. So different products work for different people. Just because one person doesn’t like a product, or loves a product, doesn’t necessarily mean you will either way.

Personally I usually don’t say if I don’t like a product, exactly for that reason — because it might work wonders for someone else so I don’t want to discourage someone from trying something. But I will cover it if I like it. So for every one product you see covered on my site or Instagram, there’s probably 20 I didn’t mention that I tested as well. I do try to at least show what I’m trying out in my Instagram story, so watch there if you are a product junkie or just curious.

Another thing to note is that just because I like/use a product doesn’t mean I’m on that brand’s mailing list. I still buy a lot of my own beauty products. A lot of the ones I use daily I purchase myself.

Let’s get to the PROS and CONS. I’ll start with the PROS first.

glossier boy brow and balm

PROS OF TESTING BEAUTY PRODUCTS

+ I get to try products I never would have bought or thought to try otherwise.

+ A lot of beauty companies have candles and perfume. I love both. I want all the candles!

+ I get to share the products I think are awesome with you! I like sharing and I like helping people wade through the sea that is the beauty product industry.

+ The products I don’t end up using I get to send to my sister, niece, mom, or give them out to my friends. That’s fun and makes me happy to give them out. They like it too!

+ I know what’s new in the beauty market.

+ I get to test beauty technology.

estee lauder foundation sticks

CONS OF TESTING BEAUTY PRODUCTS

+ The amount of beauty products I have goes against my desire for a level of minimalism I’d like to have in my life. I have my products very organized but they take up every available inch of my bathroom vanity and linen closet and spill over into other parts of my place.

+ I have sensitive skin so when trying every new product I run the risk of being allergic to it or irritated by it and breaking out in a rash. On my face. This has happened multiple times, and has even on my arms and legs. Not fun. So I’m always trying to schedule when I test new products around when I have photo shoots just in case a product gives me a rash. I never test a new skin product a day or two before a shoot!

+ Always balancing being honest in my coverage with not being unnecessarily mean/hurtful to a brand/product.

+ Managing the expectations of the people who send you products is ongoing. Most big companies get it — they know you’ll cover the product if you like it and don’t email you 12 times to ask about it. But then you get some smaller companies or eager PR people who follow up a little too quickly and too often (I realize this is their job). But getting 3+ emails about the same product you never asked for is annoying and just adds to my already unmanageable inbox. Sometimes I might take up to a month or two to cover a product because I have a backlog of products to try and I like to test them multiple times before saying yay or nay on a product. However, if it’s a product I’m super excited about, it gets a fast pass and I’ll test it more quickly.

+ I basically have a constant stream of boxes coming in the mail. Having to break them down, take them down to the trash room in my building, and filling up my trash can with shipping trash is annoying (but totally worth it). This is a first world problem I know, just stating the cons here. I live in an apartment — not a lot of room for empty boxes! But I also order almost everything off the Internet, so I get tons of boxes regardless.

+ The guilty feeling of having to try every product that is sent to you (even if you didn’t ask for it or didn’t approve it to be sent to you). So if someone sends me something I didn’t ask for or want, I still feel a pang of guilt about trying it out and potentially covering it. Some unexpected packages are totally welcome and I love the product. Sometimes I just feel bad if it’s something I don’t like or won’t use and I try to either pass it on to another influencer that might like it (so the brand’s marketing dollars don’t go to waste) or to a friend or someone that would actually like it. I really do seek out someone who will like a product to give it to! I hate the thought of a new product going to waste. I know the money that goes behind marketing beauty products, and I always think of the people who put the marketing strategy together and I totally respect them, which is why I do my best to pass products on to people who would really like them.

+ Giving products a fair shot can take a while. It’s easier with products like makeup or perfume, but skincare products you have to give time to see how they work. This is especially hard with skincare when you have products you already like, use, and that don’t break you out or give you a rash in my case, but you feel guilty about not trying what is sent to you. I really think you should give products at least two weeks of continual use before you really know how well they work, but I don’t always want to take two weeks off the products I already love to find out.

+ I mentioned before that I still buy a bunch of beauty products. The con is that you don’t necessarily get what you actually want from a brand or the products you use daily. Usually brands want help getting the word out about about their new products, not the same old moisturizer they’ve had for years, even though that might be your particular favorite.

marc jacobs makeup brushes

So even though the cons list is longer than the pros, for me the pros outweigh the cons by far. If you watch my Instagram stories, you might have seen that I talked about writing this post and asked if you all were interested in it. A lot of you said yes and said you couldn’t imagine what the cons would be. I think there are always pros and cons to a lot of things that we wouldn’t think about unless we have that experience.

I’m curious to hear how other bloggers and people in the industry feel about this. Also those of you go get Birchbox or Glossybox or a lot of free samples. How do you all test products? Do you have a system? How do you keep them organized? What do you do with them if you don’t like them? Do you feel like you have to try everything that is sent to you or have that guilty feeling even if you didn’t ask for the product? Does trying new skincare products scare you or mess up your skin? 

I just wanted to give you a little behind the scenes, again, I’m not complaining, just explaining how it works!

Good news about all the products shown in this post is that none of them gave me issues as far as my sensitive skin goes! Links to them below.

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Photos by Emma Weiss

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