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What Makes a Beauty Product Better Than Another Beauty Product?

Posted Apr 22 2010 4:51am

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Steph says…Hi I live in Australia and am currently buying a brand of products called “Sukin” They are organically derived and vegan. Are they any better than other Australian products such as Australis or Face of Australia?

Left Brain loquates
Although this might sound like a simple question, it really isn’t. That’s because the answer is highly dependent on what you mean by the phrase “better than.” And this is true of ANY beauty product for which you might have this question.

What makes one beauty product better than another?

There are a number of things that could make one product better than another including

This is related to how well a product does what it says it will do. From a big picture standpoint, most cosmetic and personal care products perform well. Skin moisturizers moisturize, body washes clean your body, nail polish colors your nails. For most of these big picture claims, there is practically no difference between the cheapest products and the most expensive ones.

You start to see differences when there are more specific claims. For example, when a shampoo claims to be a “2 in 1” shampoo you can compare and find differences between it and another shampoo. When a moisturizing product makes a numerical claim like “lasts for 24 hours” you could specifically test whether that product moisturizes longer than some standard cream.

When it comes to product performance you can objectively answer the question “Which product is better?” The questions we answer on the Beauty Brains are usually about objective performance. Our conclusion is that if one product performs better than another, then we say it is better.

Another important characteristic in determining whether something is better is price. The assumption is that if one product performs the same as another product but is less expensive, then it is better. However, some people don’t care about price and actually think less expensive products are less appealing no matter how they perform. This is why people will buy more $20 bottles of wine than $2 bottles of wine even when they taste identical.

This is related to how the product looks, feels, smells, etc. Whether one product’s aesthetics are superior to another product’s is strictly up to you. We here at the Beauty Brains can tell you what we like but that doesn’t mean that you will like it too. Sarah LOVES margaritas but I can’t stand the taste of Tequila. Neither opinion is more or less valid than the other.

This is an intangible characteristic of beauty products which affects whether you think one product is better than another. Whenever you use a product it can affect your mood. This might be a result of the fragrance, the color, the aesthetics, or simply a good childhood memory. Again, only your opinion counts when using this characteristic to determine if a product is better or not.

There are people who just don’t like certain chemicals just because they don’t. They might be vegan and wish to avoid animal products. They might believe scare stories in the media and avoid ingredients like parabens, petrolatum, sulfates, propylene glycol, etc. They might be allergic to an ingredient that is fine for most people. Personal preference is yours and yours alone. If you prefer one product over the other, then it’s better.

Finally, the ethics of a company can also be an important part of the decision about which product is better than another. Many people dislike L’Oreal and P&G because they think they test on animals. They might dislike companies that don’t use fair trade or don’t support organic farmers or whatever other ethical proposition they think is important. To them, the product isn’t as important as the people who make it. This too is a matter of personal opinion. No answer is more right than another.

You see, for all these characteristics except the performance question (and maybe the cost) it’s really just a personal opinion as to which is the better product. Only you can decide which factor is most important to you.

So, is Sukin better than Australis or Face of Australia? We couldn’t find any comparable product ingredient lists but the Sukin moisturizing product uses standard cosmetic ingredients which will provide an average benefit. From a performance standpoint, there is no reason to think Sukin is better (or worse). We didn’t see any costs to compare but I suspect based on Sukin’s prices, Face of Australia is about the same. And on the other things, only you can answer.

What characteristics are important to you when deciding whether one product is better than another?  Leave a comment below.

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