How To Review A Product

I get asked a fair bit about what is it I look for in a product, how do I know it’s good and when do I know it’s bad. The answer is, long… I look for a whole number of things and a product ideally has to tick most of, if not all the boxes. Sometimes there are exceptions, for example if one criteria is so outstanding that it allows the overlooking of the others. Anyway, here is what, how and why I look what I look for.

Price Point

A low price isn’t always cheap and an expensive price isn’t always luxury, it’s about if the price is justified. Products such as Hairbond for example, have a comparatively low price, but they are some of the most outstanding products I’ve used based on their good performance in other criteria. Products with a low price are sometimes ‘let off the hook’ if some corners have been ever so slightly cut, at the end of the day, if it ends up in the bin, even though it’s a waste, you’ve not really lost anything. Products with a high price tag always receive a higher level of scrutiny as I feel they need to justify themselves for being marketed at such a high price. I need to know that there is something about it that sets it above its £1.50 counterpart.

Also how long does the product last, this really is linked in with the price point. It may cost £18 but if it lasts 6 months compared to a product available for £6 that might only last me 30 days, is it economical in the long run?


Ingredients are a huge part of how I analyse a product. Shortcuts, time savers and money scrimping never go undetected when looking at an ingredients listing. My biggest bug-bear is fragrance, I find it an almost completely unnecessary ingredient and will judge a product for using it. Why? Well, what are they trying to cover up? What cheap and fowl smelling ingredient are they trying to mask the scent of? This is also a very powerfully known irritant that makes many products unusable to a lot of people. I can and will react to a lot of fragrance, but sometimes not.

As well as fragrances, are artificial parabens used? These are again, another set of known nasties. Preservatives are then something else to consider and come in a whole variety of shapes and forms, from ‘good’ preservatives to ‘bad’ preservatives. Making sure you know your ingredients is key, otherwise you can’t accurately recommend a skincare product to a wider audience without taking into account the fact they may react to common irritants or have a general disagreement with their skin.


Not hugely important in the grand scheme of things, but I like something that’s going to look good in my Bathroom and a product that I’d be happy to whip out in public. Is it well thought through? Does it hinder or help the product inside? How long does it wear before the packaging looks rough or breaks?


Does it do what is says on the tin? For me a product has to give me both short term and long term benefits. If there are no real short term benefits, so for example it has been designed to correct a problem over a period of time, the product has to at least not cause a short term hinderance. How well does it deliver its promises? Also just because it didn’t give me the desired effect, does this mean it won’t for someone else? If I can’t test a product myself, for instance if it doesn’t suit my skin type, then I will always find a willing Guinea pig (an actual human being, don’t worry) to test it on and monitor the progress and outcomes.

I look for phrases such as “Gives shinier, healthier LOOKING hair” or “Improves the APPEARANCE of wrinkles” and my favourite “Skin FEELS younger” – these cleverly worded marketing strap-lines do not in fact promise anything of real value. “Shinier, healthier LOOKING hair” often means that a shampoo and conditioner is laden with silicone that coats the hair leaving it shinier and healthier in appearance but in the long run causing damage to the integrity of your hair. “Improves the APPEARANCE of wrinkles” often denotes light-reflecting particles that when hit with light, make wrinkles look visibly smaller, but without actually making an ounce of difference to the size and depth of them. “Skin FEELS younger” means that moisture is bonded to your skin cells making it feel smoother to the touch when compared to not using a moisturiser, any moisturiser will do this, it’s really nothing special. “9 out of 10 women said they’d recommend this” is all about how a survey is worded. If I was asked “If you had a choice, would you either recommend this moisturiser, or, shove a badger up your bum”, I know what my answer would be!


Is it from a new brand that still have a lot of growing up to do or is it from a brand that really should know better? New brands don’t always get it right first time around, and even though you shouldn’t let them off the hook, there should be a little room for you to mention this. If the product has come from one of the giants who have the time, resources and money to invest in the highest level or R&D, they really shouldn’t be cutting unnecessary corners and releasing a product to market that hasn’t received the benefit of all their years of work and experience.

Posted at 16:12 November 19, 2012

This could also be titled “How To Buy A Product”. Concise and insightful Thom.

Posted at 12:39 November 19, 2012
Phil (@Mirror_Reality)

Haha for the badger ;)

Posted at 12:35 November 19, 2012
Geoff Lewis-Hallett

As a new Subscriber really enjoying your posts Thom. Really hoping you can suggest a good anti-ageing moisturiser for those of us with oily skin. Every one I have tried so far is too rich and leads to high shine and breakout. HELP! Thanks

    Posted at 03:40 December 6, 2012
    Thom Watson

    Let me get back to you on that, stay tuned.

Posted at 11:19 November 19, 2012
Helen Gray

“If you had a choice, would you either recommend this moisturiser, or, shove a badger up your bum”, I know what my answer would be!” My favourite quote from the whole thing. Brilliantly written, thank you x

Posted at 11:13 November 19, 2012
Jenny Bacon

Hi Thom, love your ‘HOW TO REVIEW A PRODUCT’ very refreshing to read, once you have cleared out your stock room if you would like to review any of the Metique range I would be delighted to send you something Kind Regards Jenny – Metique Tea Tree Oil Products

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