Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cosmetics Contemplations: When the people speak

I've always been a bit of a consumer watchdog: in my student days I loved such televisual output as Don't Get Done, Get Dom, and (of course) Watchdog, and as I've got older and web users have become more vocal, I've enjoyed participating in fora such as those on the MoneySavingExpert website and reading reviews of products and services. In fact, it's surprising that I've never taken out a subscription to Which? (although I did apply for a job with them recently, so you never know - my love for what they do could soon manifest itself in other ways...). In fact, my passion for making sure the consumer was making an informed choice based on honest opinions rather than just company spiel was one of the main motivations behind me beginning to review products in the first place. The main website for reviews, although perhaps less so now with the rise and rise of the blogosphere, was and probably still is Ciao. Although it is an extremely comprehensive and detailed website which I still visit from time to time, it has less use for me since the advent of the glorious price comparison engine that is Google Shopping and there were reasons why I went over from reviewing on Ciao to blogging here which remain unchanged.

However, it still being an extremely popular website, it is always interesting to see just how far the views of its users reflect the views and habits of the general population (and, dare I say it, "experts" like myself who write about beauty regularly and are equally regularly lucky enough to have free stuff thrown in their general direction for testing). 
My first impression upon looking at the list of the best cleansers and exfoliators (as per five star rating) is that the list probably doesn't reflect the whims of the population at large - contrary to my expectations. I say this because a good half of the brands featured are, to put it bluntly, expensive. Of the remaining half the list, one of the brands (Burts Bees) is what I would call of limited availability: for the widest choice you are definitely best off looking online rather than popping to your local chemist. For Ciao users, this is perhaps not unreasonable: however, most people are not willing to trawl the net looking for a product from a less widely available brand. Of the four remaining cheaper brands, two bring us back down to earth with a bump, perhaps showing how easily conned the British public is by advertisting (as they are not brands that I would ever recommend). Olay and Ponds are of course much-beloved British high street classics, and so it is hardly any great surprise that they appear on the list as well. Another interesting feature of the list is its diversity, with all ten of the listed products being from different brands: this openmindedness, or lack of brand loyalty, is refreshing, but arguably also a trademark of the internet shopper: those of us who shop around and go through price comparison sites with a fine tooth comb are probably more likely to be curious about lots of different brands than the UK shopper who throws their moisturiser into their supermarket basket as part of the normal weekly shop. It is this diversity which also reflects the "beauty experts" quite accurately, with lots of different brands from different budgets being included, but with the list ultimately leaning towards higher-quality products.

So would the 'best face creams and treatments' list fare any better in representing the average UK consumer? The answer is perhaps yes. Only three of the ten products featured are not widely available on the high street and of these three there was only one product that I had not heard of at all - and yet even this one product is perhaps indicative of people's shopping habits, since a little digging around online revealed it to be available via a popular UK shopping channel as well as via a few web outlets. At hundreds of pounds for a pot I would expect the Freeze 24-7 Anti-Wrinkle Cream to have classier packaging, but as I previously mentioned, there are a multitude of ways in which the British public can be duped, especially if this is via the frankly superliminal means of the television shopping channel. In addition, for a cream that reportedly glows under UV light (not so good if you are a seasoned clubber), you could say it represents the buying population's slightly more eccentric side. It's comforting that the rest of the list, though, ranges from a mere £2 right up to the dizzy heights charged by Decleor, Elemis, Estee Lauder and Freeze, meaning that there really is something for everyone there - which I think is what everyone would expect and want.

The only 'mistake' in that list, in my view, is the Simple moisturiser, but hey - I suppose even the legions of web shoppers can't get it right all the time...

The lists
Best cleansers and exfoliators 
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel
Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
Simple Soothing Toner
Philosophy Purity
Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Splash Away Foaming Cleanser
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3 (Oily Skin)
Clearasil StayClear Skin Perfecting Wash
Olay Regenerist Cleanser Daily Thermal Skin Polisher
Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser

Best face creams and treatments
Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Clearing Moisturiser
Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream
Simple Hydrating Light Moisturiser
Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Beauty Serum
Clinique Superdefense Moisturiser
Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream
Decleor Face Treat Aromessence Ylang Ylang Purifying Concentrate (Oily and Combination Skin)
Estee Lauder Idealist Pore Minimising Skin Refinisher
Olay Definity
Freeze 24-7 Anti Wrinkle Cream

1 comment:

kathcake said...

Hi Bianca,
I like the way you write, you seem to put a lot of effort into your blogs and really give it your all to give a expert opinion :)

i also do something similar as in i review makeup in my spare time, check it out x