A Beauty Blogger Explains How She Reviews Skincare Products
At Sweety High, we have a hard enough time managing new beauty product launches and items we get sent our way to test and review. But we can't imagine what that process must be like for actual beauty bloggers.
While beauty is one of many prime topics we cover on our site, beauty bloggers eat, sleep and breathe all things makeup and skincare. Keeping up with ingredients, skin sensitivities and more requires a great deal of patience and knowledge. Being a go-to for the latest and greatest in this space is also a lot of pressure. You want to appease brands, but you also have to be totally honest with your readers as well.
We wanted to get to the bottom of how beauty bloggers determine which products are worth reviewing, and how they go through a process of deciding whether or not a product works or brings anything innovative to the table. We reached out to longtime, Los Angeles-based beauty blogger Jamie Stone of HonestlyJamie. Keep reading for what she had to say!
Sweety High: Let's talk about your background with beauty. How long have you had your blog and what made you decide to choose this career path?
Jamie Stone: I started out working in beauty PR for a few agencies in New York City that represented big beauty brands and, since I always loved to write, I decided to start a beauty blog on the side for fun. It was in 2006 right when blogs were becoming a "thing," and I was lucky enough to make friends with a lot of the other bloggers who were rising up. This allowed me to network a ton, which also helped my blog grow.
SH: Approximately how many product reviews do you post on your blog per month?
JS: I don't always do straight "product reviews" as much as I do themed blog posts but, in general, I typically do 12 to 15 a month.
SH: How many products do you receive per week?
JS: Before coronavirus, I typically got about 10 packages a week, and now it's more like maybe three or four. I think it's smart that brands aren't sending as much unsolicited product out now. With so many people losing their jobs I think it's better to focus their efforts elsewhere. Plus, the delivery people are already so bogged down due to the surge in online shopping.
SH: How does your review process work? Take us from start to finish.
JS: It really depends on the specific product but, typically, I go through mailings (or products I called in) to see what I want to test. Then I test them either once (for makeup, etc.) or a few times (sometimes weeks) for skincare, etc. If I decide I like a product, it goes in a special "to blog about" drawer that I have, and I pull from that drawer when I'm planning my blog editorial calendar.
SH: How do you determine which products you'd like to review when reached out to by a publicist?
JS: At this point, I feel like I've seen it all when it comes to beauty, so I only request products that really pique my interest. Typically, products that are unique, have a new cutting edge ingredient, solve a problem in a new way, etc.
SH: Do you keep most of the products you review? If not, where do they go?
JS: If I review it then that means I opened and tried it, so yes. Anything I decide that I don't want to test I donate to the Vietnam Veterans of America. My dad was a Vietnam veteran so this is especially meaningful to me.
SH: Do you ever have trouble getting a brand to send you product samples?
JS: No. If you email them in a professional manner and show examples of your work, most brands will be happy to send you a few things to review (but don't ask for too much!). Also, definitely don't ever send DMs or emails like, "Would love to collab!" and nothing else. You want to demonstrate that you are credible and aren't just in this for free stuff—which a lot of people are, sadly.
SH: Are there any products in particular that you've had to purchase and you're glad you did?
JS: I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Kylie Jenner's lip kit [laughs]. I got the "Koko" shade and I was sad when the gloss ran out!
SH: What do you do if you reach out about reviewing a product and you don't end up liking it? Do you still feel compelled to include it on your blog since it was your idea to review it?
JS: Absolutely not. When a brand sends product, it doesn't guarantee any kind of inclusion on my blog or Instagram. I only feature products that I love because otherwise, I'd lose all my credibility. That said, I try not to publicly bash products that I don't like because I feel that even though I don't particularly like it, someone else might. A good example would be Maybelline Great Lash mascara. It's a makeup artist favorite and cult classic, but I think it's awful. That's the example I always use because this mascara has been around for decades, so clearly people like it even if I don't!
SH: Tell us about your bathroom/beauty cabinet. We have too many products as it is. We can't imagine what your space looks like.
JS: My bathroom counter can get a little rough, but I worked with a professional organizer a few years ago to streamline my "beauty closet," and I've kept it up since!
SH: What are some DOs and DON'Ts you can share with aspiring beauty bloggers reading this right now?
JS: • Find your niche and think about what you bring to the table and what makes you different from other beauty bloggers.
• Have a unique voice.
• Don't start because you want free stuff or just to make money. You might get some free stuff, but you definitely won't make money for a long time unless you go viral or some rare thing happens.
Curious for more insight into the life of a beauty blogger? Click HERE to read our informative interview with Coucoujolie's Loreen Hwang!