How to Evaluate Skincare Products Sold Online
The internet is becoming people’s go-to marketplace for items of all kinds, including cosmetic and skincare products. Traditionally these are items people will first purchase in person, as they need to see, smell, or try the product itself before they are willing to buy it.
When purchasing items online for the first time, you must wait for them to arrive before you try them and if you decide you don’t like them for whatever reason, you often must follow very specific and time sensitive return processes in order to get your money back.
With this in mind, there are helpful tips and tricks to evaluating these companies and their products before purchasing, to ensure you have the best chance at receiving a quality product from a reliable company:
- Brand Recognition
- Clinical Trials and the FDA
- Purchasing Policies
- Return Policies
In general when purchasing things online, it is always safest to go with established brands whose name you recognize and whose brand you trust. Perhaps you’ve heard of a new Estee Lauder product which isn’t yet in your local store. Ordering this new product online from an Estee Lauder website or from a store affiliated with them, like Macy’s, is a very low risk option.
But that doesn’t mean that you should write off products whose brand name you aren’t familiar with. Philosophy, now a well known skincare brand with a loyal following, started not that long ago as a small brand carried in only a few specialty cosmetics stores and online. Just because they were not well known and not carried by large department stores certainly didn’t mean that they weren’t a quality product.
The idea here is that there are a million well established brands who sell their products online if you want the safest option. However, if you are willing to go outside the box to newer, smaller, relatively unknown brands, then you should continue to evaluate their website and product to determine if it is a good buy.
When it comes to skin care products, there are certain ingredients which are tried-and-true and celebrated throughout the dermatological and cosmetics industries as being trustworthy and effective. These ingredients include retinol, or topical forms of Vitamin A, alpha hydroxy acids, niacin, Vitamin C, hyaluronic acids, Vitamin E, and much more.
However, when some of these ingredients are used together, they cancel each other’s effectiveness. Or, in the worst case scenario, they can cause a bad reaction in your skin due to harmful interactions. It always important to know the ingredients of the existing skin care products you use when ordering new products that you will use in combination.
Many skin care products found online boast of the “new” ingredient in their product that isn’t carried by other skin care brands and the amazing properties it has either for anti-aging or aging prevention. Claims regarding new ingredients must be evaluated in a different way.
Here is a list of skincare companies who have good brand recognition but a different approach to product ingredients:
Clinical Trials and the FDA
Almost every single website selling skincare products will cite their effectiveness results, like “82% of users saw improvement in fine lines and wrinkles in 28 days.” It is important to figure out where these claims are coming from. Many websites will just say “As reported by users,” which has no scientific backing and is essentially an opinion poll with no documentation of how many users were actually sampled.
Then there are websites who say that their claims are back by “clinical trials,” “scientific studies,” or “university studies.” You should always strive to find the source of these claims – who performed these trials and studies? How many people participated? How long did the study last?
A study performed on 100 people over the course of six weeks conducted by Johns Hopkins University is very different than a study performed on 10 people over the course of four weeks by the same lab that created this particular skincare product.
Also, you may see websites which explain that their product is not “FDA Approved” because the FDA does not evaluate and approve skincare products. While this is true, the FDA does evaluate individual ingredients included in the products themselves. In addition, the FDA has strict laws dictating that the claims made on product labels must be evaluated and cannot be “misleading.” These laws do not currently apply to claims made in advertisements or on websites, unfortunately.
After you have investigated the product and its claims and decided that you would like to purchase this product, it is now time to evaluate the company itself. The easiest way to do this is through their purchasing policies.
Many online cosmetics companies will offer “Free Trials” for new customers. For just the cost of Shipping & Handling, you can use the product for a specified period of time to see whether or not you like it, or if you would like to return it.
More often than not, these free trials come hand in hand with an automatic enrollment into an “autoship” program. These programs will automatically charge your credit card each month and then ship you another month’s supply of the product.
Some companies make it very easy to get out of t hese enrollment programs, by simply calling or emailing Customer Service. Other companies can make it nearly impossible to get out of these programs. It is important to fully understand all the Terms & Conditions of a particular autoship enrollment before agreeing to partake in it.