Please, Skins, can we have some more … niceness?

We won’t beat about the bush on this one: last week, we were pretty shocked to be asked by a natural skincare company whether negative feedback was ‘filtered’ out before we publish reviews submitted to us by our team of testers.

Taken aback, we said no – that our reviewers are encouraged to provide both positive and (constructive) negative feedback on all products that we submit to them for testing – just like we do our Beauty Bible testers in our Awards. We only edit lightly for reasons of space, and without altering the overall sense of the report.

The company, who had initially been interested in submitting a product for an upcoming themed ‘tried and tested’ feature article which we have been planning for a while, withdrew their interest and declined to submit a product.

Actually, on reflection – it was the withdrawal that perhaps shocked us more than the question.

What we do – and why we do it

We are in the skincare game, and we are hugely supportive of ‘free from’ skincare – and well labelled skincare – as we know how much it can help those who need or want to avoid certain ingredients, for any number of specific and personal reasons.

Awards judges judging - fairly and constructively!

Awards judges judging – fairly and constructively!

But that doesn’t mean we are here to do that blindly. We are here to be fair, not to be nice, per se. We are here to give fair assessments on skincare products which we review (we ask our testers to test for around a month), so that readers can get a good idea of their qualities, any shortcomings, and whether they may like to try them out, assuming they are suitable for them.

We are also here to give honest feedback to the manufacturers, where we can, in order to help them, and perhaps improve their products or their labelling, as they see fit. They are as free to ‘take or leave’ our thoughts as we are free to give our honest feelings about them. We try to be constructive.

It’s hugely disappointing to be asked whether we deceive our readers by not giving them a complete assessment of what we think of a product.

We can’t help asking ourselves why this might have happened. Do some other skincare sites and bloggers give good reviews as favours, and ‘spoil’ some cosmetic companies? Do a few natural skincare manufacturers believe that they are deserving of preferential treatment, in some way?

Writers, reviewers and natural cosmetic companies – do let us have your thoughts. Are we missing the obvious?


  1. Michelle Sutton

    Hi Alex

    We believe that honesty is the best policy to maintain integrity. Beauty buyers will base their decision on both the good and not so good comments and will be suspicious of a site only showing glowing reviews. As a brand, it can be hard to read and publish negative comments but beauty opinions vary widely between testers, bloggers and customers. We use Feefo to independently publish our customer’s reviews, good or bad and ultimately we believe this allows our prospective customers to make an informed decision before purchasing. It’s an interesting area to cover!

    1. Alex (Post author)

      ‘beauty opinions vary widely between testers, bloggers and customers’ – exactly right. We notice it in the Awards too. Plenty of products with one or two negative reviews win awards; it’s extremely rare that a product is liked by everyone. Feefo is an interesting one – we’d not come across it – but sounds as if it’s a trustworthy mechanism for transparent reviewing. Thanks for commenting, Michelle.

  2. Olga Rumble

    Hi Alex,
    It is an interesting point – and I am not that surprised by your experience. Certainly at The Rose Tree, the whole point of garnering feedback from our customers is to get a real picture of their likes and dislikes. Of course we love it when customers love what we do, but that is never the whole picture and often it is the less positive feedback that is the most constructive. That is what drives us onwards to deliver new products to market and better products. I don’t think that view is always shared though – and often reviews and product write ups are treated as another marketing activity where the truth becomes blurred and which falls victim to the desire for more sales.

    1. Alex (Post author)

      Hi Olga – re: less positive feedback being the most constructive – we’re obviously not formulators or manufacturers, but putting ourselves in your shoes, that’s exactly how we would think, which is why we try to do this as much as possible. It’s a real shame that reviews are, as you say, ‘treated as another marketing activity where the truth becomes blurred’, but other responses we have received to this post suggest that this is, sadly, the case for too many …
      Thanks for commenting – Alex.

  3. Helen Neuenhaus

    Wow ! What a terrible attitude. Either this company has no faith in Skinsmatter and its testers (which is rather insulting) or it has no faith in its own products (both shocking and worrying!)

    What are they so scared of, one wonders? I guess we’ll never know. And wouldn’t we all just love to know which company and product was withdrawn although, Alex and Michelle, I know you will play fair and not name and shame them, even though they deserve it!

    1. Alex (Post author)

      Or maybe it’s lack of faith in ‘testing’ as a whole? There are so many testers and reviewers these days, standards obviously vary, and perhaps some bad experiences have made the company sceptical? It’s difficult to know without asking specifically, but yes, it’s difficult not to be disappointed with the attitude. Thanks for commenting, Helen!


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