In my past, I have been a professional product review writer and editor, and I adhere to those same standards on my blog. Reviews are meaningless without trustworthy reviewers. If you can’t trust my opinion, it has zero value to you.
I believe in adhering to a policy of transparency and publishing ethically-written product reviews. What this means is:
1. Unless noted in the review, all products I review are purchased by me or provided by a service I purchase (such as a subscription box). If I receive a product gratis, or as a gift with purchase, or in some other way that does not involve me actually buying it, I will say so in the review.
2. A freebie does not guarantee a positive review. Every company of a decent size has a budget for promotion, and a team of PR people to place products with reviewers. It’s part of the cost of doing business. I feel no need to ‘pay them back’ for a process that is part of operating costs. If someone provides me with a product to review, it will be treated in the same manner as a product I purchased myself. If it sucks, I will say so.
3. I will not accept payment from a company to review their products, and ‘gifts’ beyond a certain point will be either refused, returned, or given away. I have no interest in bribery. If a company sends a standard PR ‘package’ to reviewers with small tchotchkes inside like t-shirts or that sort of thing, I’ll note it in the review. I used to get a lot of small freebies in my prior days as a reviewer, and it has never affected how I review a product, but I believe that larger gifts can affect how someone sees a company.
4. If I get to a point of receiving regular PR bundles, a majority of the products will be donated to a charity or included in a reader giveaway. I won’t need to test all 50 shades of a foundation to tell if it works for me. The other 49 will be rehomed with people who need or want them. I loathe waste, and I’m not going to be devoting an entire room to products that are going to just go bad and be useless. That’s a very wasteful thing to do, and I don’t want to create more waste.
5. If I do ever accept a sponsorship, it will only be from a company I can support comfortably, and it will be disclosed fully. I do not intend to include an actual review of a product in sponsored content. I might ‘unbox’ or discuss, but I won’t evaluate. Evaluations have to be independent of sponsorship to have any weight, ethically. Sometimes the line between talking about products and reviewing products is blurred, especially by bloggers or vloggers, and that is a line that I believe needs to be very clear.
6. Any giveaways or contests I do will include recycled packaging. It may not look as fancy, but I want to reuse and reduce where I can. If a product I include has been swatched, I will say so and explain how it was done. I will not include used products that are impossible to keep from contamination (liquid lips and gloss, mascara).
7. Often, reviews will include a sidebar with specifics of the methodology of the review. This is provided so you can compare my approach to how I used the product to your own.
8. If a brand is lying, or promoting problematic things, or donating to organizations that are antithetical to the overall content of this blog, please share screen caps, links, or whatever proof you have with me and I’ll look into it. If I can verify it, I won’t be supporting that brand moving forward. I don’t believe in jumping to conclusions, but if there’s proof, I want to know it.
9. If you purchase based on my reviews, or use my affiliate links/codes, and wind up having a major issue with a product or service that doesn’t get resolved, please let me know. I would rather end my involvement with a brand than find myself supporting a company that isn’t giving the buyer what I said they would get. I won’t remove existing reviews, but if a company is problematic, I will note it at the top of the review that I no longer recommend or support them, and explain why.
Side note to this: Merely not liking a product for personal reasons (as opposed to quality and service issues) isn’t necessarily going to make me end a relationship. We all have different tastes and preferences, and if I recommend an eyeshadow palette, for example, and you buy it and find that the texture or formula isn’t to your liking (while not being bad quality — lots of good quality companies have very different formulas!), or the color story doesn’t suit you, I’d recommend returning it for a refund.
I hope this is clear, and gives you some sense of my professional practices and standards as a product reviewer. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts about it!