A lot of research… 😀
*Ingredients: I always look at the list of ingredients first, not only for skincare/bodycare/haircare, but for makeup as well. I might only just look at the product page, but I most times research on beautypedia as well. I completely avoid irritants (denatured alcohols, fragrance, most essential oils, etc.) and based on my previous experience I know what ingredients work or don’t work for me.
If the ingredients don’t work with me, I don’t continue the research.
*Product description, pictures: Then I look at what is the product supposed to do and how it’s supposed to be used. I know I won’t like a dewy foundation, a shimmery highlighter, a brow gel with a big or odd shaped wand, a creamy lipstick. I know I prefer a tear drop brow pencil to a skinny tip one. I know I won’t use a product that requires special techniques or tools, or a lot of time to use.
For some aspects I try to correlate ingredients with claims. I know I love a mattifying primer, but I also know what silicones play well with my skin and which not, for example.
*Reviews: I try to read as many reviews as possible, starting with `official` sites like beautypedia for skincare and temptalia for make-up. I look for swatches for regular users, youtube videos; although I love temptalia for pictures, I also want to see less `editorial` pictures of the make-up, from normal users like me. I try to look on the websites of all retailers that sell the product and usually avoid the website of the actual company selling that product (to many brands feature only 4 and 5 stars reviews).
I have gotten to the point where I don’t take reviews as they are, I have learned to ignore the ratings and to search the longer reviews with more in-depth explanation. I know how to interpret information, such that I might buy a product even if the reviews are bad (like a person with dry skin complaining about a matte foundation being too dry, but stating it didn’t creased or emphasize dry patches… well that one might be perfect for me).
*In-store swatches (not possible right now): For some make-up items I just want to see the color or the texture in person. Our computer screens have a limit on how accurate they show colors, some things look different in natural light, and sometimes texture is hard to tell from a photo or video.
But I also know how to take swatches with a grain of salt. A eyebrow pencil or lipstick tester in store might be dryer (because of constant air exposure) than a fresh one. An eyeshadow softened by the greasy hands of shoppers might apply better from the tester than a fresh pan.