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21 October 2008

The truth about beauty products

Annalisa Barbieri launches her beauty list with an explanation of how she looks at products...

By Annalisa Barbieri

The skincare industry seems to attract rabid hatred/disdain – sometimes not without reason – or slavish devotion. I’m not sure where I stand. I’ve always been into ‘products’, although I wear little make up (it looks wrong on me) but I care very much about the total crap that’s written about beauty products. The reasoning is pretty transparent when you’re in it, but as a reader you may not realise.

Beauty companies largely keep glossy magazines going. Look at the advertising. Nice isn’t it? But those lovely pictures pay for the magazine, without them few of us be able to afford the cover price of a monthly or weekly. Because of this, if you write for a magazine, you can’t really say ‘this cream is seven shades of shite’ because the manufacturer won’t advertise with you again. Newspapers don’t really suffer with this to anything like the same degree, because whilst they’re reliant on advertising, they don’t attract the same glossy, full colour advertising that magazines do. Or, at least, that’s been my experience. On the rare occasions I write for magazines if I’ve been too truthful about a product I’ve been censored; that’s never happened to me on a newspaper.

I’ve been informally testing products for fifteen years and this list is in part due to sheer laziness: I get tired of people asking me all the time “what’s a good eye cream”, so I thought I’d put it all here.

I’ve specifically done it so you can comment on what I’ve said: agree, don’t agree. The point is, there is nowhere where beauty products are reviewed where you can go and see what others think of them and add your own voice and form a picture of what may or may not be a good product based on someone’s experience of it.

How do I test products? I use them. Everything written about here has been used by me, if for any reason someone else has, I’ve made that clear. Do I test the products scientifically? No of course not. I don’t have a lab, just a bathroom and a bedroom with no bunny rabbits in cages in either. No-one tells me what to write, and at the moment I’m not even being paid to write this list. Sometimes I pay for the products tested but mostly I get them sent to me for free. Does this prejudice what I say? Not at all. I’m afraid you’ve only got my word for that but as you’ll see I love some products from certain manufacturers and not others.

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I’ve also included details such as prices (correct at time of going to press, if you find any are now out of date, please let me know); a full list of ingredients (where the manufacturer has let me have them) so you can check if something has something you want to avoid; and where to buy it.

Finally: some products are expensive. They may still be good but no skincare product is worth bankrupting yourself for, or missing the mortgage payments over. But some products can make you look and feel really good, and if you take that as a ‘price per wear’ cost, it doesn’t work out so bad.

©Annalisa Barbieri