Some basic standards I use when testing products include the following:
If it is a makeup product, I use it the same way I would use a product of that type normally. I test all new makeup products that I’m not outright sure I’ll keep with a clean brush or other sampling tool, in order to not contaminate the bulk of the product. This allows me to pass on things I don’t like or want to keep. If it’s something that’s impossible to test properly without contamination (e.g. mascara), I won’t be passing it on to anyone.
If I review a product using my own usual technique and it differs from common applications, I will place a note in a sidebar about how and why I do it a little differently. I use products I test the same way I use the products I own, because to do otherwise means that my comparison won’t be a one-to-one equivalent to how I use that type of product normally.
If it’s a skincare product meant to be part of a routine, I will use it for at least a month before deciding if it works, unless it produces irritation or other problems, or has ingredients that I know cause reactions in me. If it’s a single-use product, I’ll just test it normally and report results.
When I review a subscription box, I will be rating it on the overall value of the contents to me. I tend to have a somewhat different view on ‘box value’ than many, and I will value it based on one basic question: If someone offered me this box of things tomorrow for the cost of the subscription, would I buy it and be happy with it? The dollar values of items have some bearing on this, but they are by no means the most important criterion.
For other product types, my reviews will be based on criteria important to the product type. For clothing, for example, I’ll be looking at how well made it is, what kind of care it needs, and the quality of fabric and cut.
Reviews will always be a subjective thing, but they should be based on experience and knowledge. I won’t tell you a product is crap if I don’t like the color of the label. Aesthetics do come into it, to some degree, but those will always be called out as a personal preference and not necessarily a problem with the product.