Skin & Tonics : A Skincare Blog

Skincare guides & product reviews for beauty enthusiasts & ingredient connoisseurs

A Sneak Peek at the Upcoming New Skin & Tonics Design and Product Rating System

Regular S&T readers may have noticed a drop in my post frequency lately, and I’m here to tell you that you aren’t imagining things. I have been posting less lately, but trust me when I tell you that it’s not for lack of interest, nor a shortage of products I’m ready to review! In fact, it’s quite the opposite – I’ve been working hard on a blog redesign to accommodate my growing needs, as well as some other major site changes, including a revamped product rating system, updated guides, and an improved categorization system.

I am so excited about these updates that I’ve decided to focus my energy for the next week or so on finalizing the changes so I can get the new design into development. If you don’t like change, don’t worry. These changes are good, and will not be like that time your parents made you move to a boring new town, or when your boyfriend grew that skeevy mustache, or the time someone secretly switched your fresh brewed coffee with dark, sparkling, Folgers crystals.

 

If you’re curious about what the changes will be, here is a sampling of what you’ll be seeing:

• More advanced searching and browsing capabilities
• Easier to read fonts
• Vastly improved mobile experience (the mobile experience for S&T is currently awful, and I am ashamed)
• A new, detailed rating system for skincare products, makeup, and beauty tools (more on this below)
• More guides
• More skincare reviews (but fewer makeup reviews, with the exception of complexion makeup such as foundations and BB creams)
• Updated Asian Skincare Guide with more details and breakdowns

 

New Design

Here’s a sneak peak of what the new site will look like:

Skin & Tonics Preview

Click to view full size. Keep in mind that this is an image, so clicking links on this preview will not actually do anything.

 

I considered many factors with the new design, including information provided by you guys in the reader survey you completed late last year (thanks, everyone!).   Aesthetically speaking, I wanted to keep the “spirit” of Skin & Tonics intact, but make it feel cleaner and more accessible. In terms of readability, I think the typefaces I’m currently using are difficult to read in large blocks, so I made some changes to increase the readability. Being longwinded is one of this blog’s defining characteristics, so making sure people could finish reading a post without having to lay down with a cool compress was of utmost importance.

I also wanted to make browsing easier, so I made a filtering system that would allow for easier post searches. For example, if you just want to look at all the posts about serums with an “A” rating from Korea, or cleansers and lotions with a “B” rating or higher from the US, or guides that include products from the UK, you’ll be able to do that. Do I sound pleased with myself? I should, because I really am. I am ridiculously excited about this feature!

New Rating System

I’m just as excited about the new rating system as I am about the new design, if not more so. Product rating systems are something I’ve agonized over since I began blogging, and I’ve been working very hard to develop a new one that successfully balances scientific data and personal experience in the final score. Part of what has made devising a system so complicated, especially for skincare products, is not just the variation in skin types and sensitivities, but also the variation in ingredient safety and comedogenicy data available, as different sources offer different numbers on those items.

In addition to not being standardized, individual ingredient safety, comedogenicy, and irritation ratings do not take into account the context in which an ingredient is used. For example, sodium hydroxide has a high irritation and hazard score, which is 100% accurate for sodium hydroxide on its own, but when it’s used in a product formula to balance the pH of a product, it has already been reacted and is completely harmless – in fact, its chemical properties no longer resemble that of the original ingredient at all. By law, however, the ingredients in their original form are what must be listed for a product, not what the ingredient becomes once it’s been integrated into a formula.

For the new rating system, I decided to use CosDNA as my standard reference source. My reason for this is that it has a fairly complete INCI database, and pulls its numbers from a few different sources. I’ve had a few people ask me why I never mention EWG/SkinDeep as a source, and the reason is that EWG is not the reliable source it was in its infancy. These days, EWG has political ties and receives funding from sources with ulterior motives, so much so that their non-profit status has been challenged. Additionally, EWG ingredient lists are inaccurate up to 50% of the time, and they consistently misinterpret, misrepresent, and misread key ingredient data. CosDNA, on the other hand, is politically agnostic and does not have any specific corporate ties.

My new rating system has taken into account the variables surrounding ingredient safety, comedogenicy, and sensitivity into account. As for variables for different skin types – I’ll be rating those aspects based on my own experiences because that’s what I’m most informed about, but I’ll be noting in the actual review whether I believe the effects would differ for other skin types.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of how the new rating system will work:

Overall:

Each product will receive a total numeric score with 100 point cap, based on the sum of the scores from each subcategory. Additionally, each product will receive a corresponding letter grade based on the following system:

A+: 97-100
A: 93-96
A-: 90-92
B+: 87-89
B: 83-86
B-: 80-82
C+: 77-79
C: 73-76
C-: 70-72
D+: 67-69
D: 63-66
D-: 60-62
F: 0-59

Skincare Products

20 point cap for each category, for a maximum total numeric rating of 100.

Efficacy: Product results, with an emphasis on performance to claims, unexpected benefits, and damages

– 2 point deduction for every claim not fulfilled
– 2-6 point deduction for each instance of skin damage, such as irritation, scarring, decrease in skin quality, increase in acne, increase in inflammation, or long-term redness, depending on severity
– 2 point addition for unexpected/unadvertised benefits

Ingredients: Quality, safety, efficacy, sensitivity, and comedogenicy

– 2 point deduction for every ingredient with a 3 or higher CosDNA  rating as a potential acne or irritation trigger
– 2 point deduction for level 1 hazard based on CosDNA scale
– 3 point deduction for level 2 hazard based on CosDNA scale
– 3 point deduction for using a disproportionately high number of cheap or ineffective ingredients

Application: – Absorbency, spreadability

– 2 to 6 point deduction for poor absorbency relative to product expectation (depending on severity)
– 2 to 6 point deduction for spread difficulty (depending on severity)

Wear: Overall sensation, weight, finish, as well as texture compatibility with other products

– 3 point deduction for unpleasant sensation, such as unpleasant burning, stinging
– 2 point deduction for excessive feeling of heaviness
– 2 point deduction for unpleasant tactile finish relative to product expectation
– 2 point deduction for interference with application of other products due to texture or absorbency issues (does not apply to issues with incompatible ingredients)

Packaging: Preservation of product integrity, hygiene, ease-of-use, and craftsmanship

– 2 point deduction for each aspect of packaging that compromises shelf life
– 2 point deduction for each aspect of packaging that makes it difficult to dispense product
– 3 point deduction for each aspect of poorly made packaging, including packaging that is flimsy, degrades easily, or breaks due to lack of craftsmanship

Makeup Products

25 point cap for each category, for a maximum total numeric rating of 100.

Pigmentation: Product appearance on the skin

– 3 point deduction for every instance of coverage or pigmentation not performing as advertised
– 4 point deduction for each instance of skin damage, such as scarring, decrease in skin quality, increase in acne, increase in inflammation, or long-term redness
– 2 point addition for unexpected/unadvertised benefits

Ingredients: Quality, safety, efficacy, sensitivity, and comedogenicy

– 2 point deduction for every ingredient with a 3 or CosDNA higher rating as a potential acne or irritation trigger
– 2 point deduction for level 1 hazard based on CosDNA scale
– 3 point deduction for level 2 hazard based on CosDNA scale
– 3 point deduction for using a proportionally high number of cheap or ineffective ingredients
– 2 point addition for an unusually high number of skin beneficial ingredients

Application: Ease of spreading, blending, accuracy etc.

– 2 to 6 point deduction for each aspect of difficult application, relative to product expectation and depending on severity
– 2 point deduction for every application claim not fulfilled

Wear: Overall sensation, weight, finish, and longevity

– 2-6 point deduction for shorter than expected wear time, depending on severity
– 2 point deduction for every wear-related claim not fulfilled (such as moisture, skin improvement, etc.)
– 3 point deduction for unpleasant sensation, such as unpleasant burning, stinging
– 2 point deduction for excessive feeling of heaviness
– 2 point deduction for unpleasant tactile finish relative to product expectation
– 2 point deduction for interference with application of other products due to texture or absorbency issues (does not apply to issues with incompatible ingredients)

Beauty Tools

25 point cap for each category, for a maximum total numeric rating of 100.

Performance: Product results, with an emphasis on performance to claims, and damages

– 2 point deduction for every claim not fulfilled
– 2 – 6 point deduction for each instance of skin damage, such as irritation, scarring, decrease in skin quality, increase in acne, increase in inflammation, or long-term redness, depending on severity

Use: Application, handling

– 3 point deduction for every instance of awkward handling due to size, weight, or other form factors
– 3 point deduction for discomfort, relative to product expectation (e.g. a hair removal device has different expectation of comfort from a makeup brush)
– 3 point deduction for uneven or inconsistent application

Craftsmanship:  Sturdiness, quality of build, overall finish

– 3 point deduction for each aspect of poor overall finish
(e.g. uneven hair in a makeup brush)
– 3 point deduction for each instance of poor construction, including flimsy construction, and construction that breaks or degrades easily

Materials: Quality, safety, efficacy

– 2-6 point deduction for every instance of unsafe or potentially damaging materials or mechanisms, depending on severity
– 2 point deduction for use of cheap, underperforming materials
– 2 point deduction for use of environmentally or ecologically harmful materials
(e.g. hair from an endangered species)

I still have a bit of work to do before the new design and rating system are ready to go live – but I hope to have it up and running sometime in April. In the meantime, I’ll still be posting – just not quite as often as usual. Any reviews I write before the new design launches will use the existing rating system, but all reviews will receive updated ratings once the new site launches. As soon as the new design is in full swing, not only will my posting frequency return – I’ll be celebrating with my biggest giveaway ever! (Hint: the prizes are made by a company that rhymes with Shmulshmashmoo.)

If you’ve got questions or comments about the upcoming design or rating system, I’d love to hear them!

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29 comments onA Sneak Peek at the Upcoming New Skin & Tonics Design and Product Rating System

  1. Hooray! The snapshot of your new layout looks great. Good luck getting everything up and running!
    Rebecca recently posted…Indie Friday: 5 fandom-themed collections worth checking outMy Profile

    • Kerry

      Thanks, Rebecca! 🙂

    • So where do you find time to write an entire blog about nothing but product reviews? Do you not have a job and work? Do you have no other hobbies?

      • Kerry

        Hi Jessie! My first instinct when I read your comment was to ask you if you’ve ever been on the Internet before, because your comment sounds really snarky and ill-informed. But, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you’re genuinely curious.

        I work full-time, and blog on weekends and after work. As far as other hobbies go – if you’re asking if I have time to hang out with family and friends, the answer is yes. I see them all the time and do fun stuff on weekends like most people. If you’re asking if I have other “hobbies,” such as rock climbing, quilting, collecting Star Wars figurines, investigating who really shot JFK, or chasing tornados – the answer is no. I do not do any of those things. When I am not working, blogging, or hanging out with people, I’m usually reading, researching, catching up on my favorite shows, or volunteering. I wouldn’t call any of those things hobbies though.

      • I really hope this just came across incorrectly online because your comment sounded really rude to me. Bloggers work their ass off whether or not they really have time to (job or not) because we have to produce content for our readers or go back to square one in terms of gaining an audience. Kerry doesn’t put out posts every day; surely you could find at least one day in the week like her to put out one awesome, insightful post. If your comment was actually aimed at Rebecca, she also works hard and I’m pretty sure she’s a boss of time management.

        We have cosmetic blogs for a reason; that’s what we want to talk about. Does it matter if that’s all we want to write about? Maybe our hobbies are too weird or boring or gross for people to want to know. Maybe we don’t want people to know what they are.

        For those of us who tend to buy Korean products, these kind of review-only blogs are helpful when we need to make a purchase decision. I couldn’t care less what most bloggers do when they’re not talking about makeup.

  2. Amazing! I’m so excited to see the roll out! <3 <3 <3
    Coco recently posted…TO COOL FOR SCHOOL AFTER SCHOOL BB FOUNDATION LUNCH BOX REVIEWMy Profile

  3. WOW! Sounds amazing! Looking forward to the new and improved S&T…but do try to get some sleep at some point 😉

  4. Looking good, no pink ribbons and fancy cursive writing. I love it! I’ll be sure to help support by clicking the ads for you.

    • Kerry

      Hahaha! Thanks, Anne! No pink ribbons for me! And thanks for the ad clicking offer – though, I’m 99% sure I only get paid for impressions and don’t get anything extra for clicks. Either way, ad revenue isn’t much – if I get to retire early, it probably won’t be thanks to this blog! 😉

  5. omggg you’re going to be like temptalia of the korean skincare world! yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Such exciting news. The new design looks super fab!
    Sheryll recently posted…Seoul SnapshotsMy Profile

    • Kerry

      Thanks, Sheryll! I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve Temptalia status – that woman is amazing! But when I was debating whether or not to do letter grades, one of my thoughts was definitely, “Is this too Temptalia-y?” In the end, I couldn’t come up with a better way score products based on a 1-100 rating that would also be categorizable. Incidentally, in the process of researching ways to grade products, I ended up researching grading systems all over the world. If I’m ever on a quiz show and get asked a question about how a specific country handles grades, I’m going to have a solid shot at the jackpot!

      I should probably also mention that although I’ll continue to review a lot of Korean skin care products, I’ll also be reviewing some French, Japanese, UK, and US products this year. I’m always down for discovering skin care from other countries as well – I hear Finland has some good stuff. Maybe Vietnam will too – you’ll have to let me know!

  6. I’m really looking forward to your new layout Kerry! It looks great. I especially like how you can filter detailed searches based on your own needs. The product rating system looks very nice as well.

    Good luck on getting everything done! 😀
    Gloria recently posted…Review: Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion (W13)My Profile

  7. Wow Kerry!!! You’re pulling out the big guns now. 😀 It’s going to be so much work for you isn’t it? I’ve actually been thinking the exact same thing about my blog in regards to this:

    “In terms of readability, I think the typefaces I’m currently using are difficult to read in large blocks, so I made some changes to increase the readability. Being longwinded is one of this blog’s defining characteristics, so making sure people could finish reading a post without having to lay down with a cool compress was of utmost importance.”

    Seriously, I know my font sucks and I am trying to figure out a better way to break up my posts with relevant image blocks or something else…I really don’t know at this point. I love being long-winded though LOL, and I love that your posts are too because I get EVERYTHING I need to know from your posts…that’s really what I appreciate most. 🙂 I’d rather read about your experience than try to discern 3 months use from a swatch of a clear gel or white cream.

    Good luck implementing your new rating system! I started my blog out trying to do a scale of ten and I just found it too difficult. I like the idea of being able to filter by rating too!

    Your blog is only gonna get better and better now. =)
    Samplehime recently posted…Boyfriend Tag: Brian Does My MakeupMy Profile

    • Kerry

      Thanks, Tiffany! It’s true – it has been and will be a lot of work – up front. But I think it will actually make scoring easier for me in the long run. Having a defined system in place means I can rate products without agonizing over my objectivity or wondering about consistency.

      I’m also a fan of a long-winded post – especially when it comes to product reviews, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. For what it’s worth, even though your posts are very detailed, I don’t find them difficult to read at all. I think the shorter width of your content area and the placement of your images offsets the text volume really well!

  8. wow!Extremely detailed, I’m impressed 🙂
    I will be waiting for the new rating system !
    meishenme recently posted…:: Unexpectedly Cheeky ; Sungkyunkwan K-Drama ::My Profile

  9. OMG, I can’t wait for all these awesome changes! This new rating system sounds simply perfect (and I’ll look especially forward to the comedogenicy category).
    Your blog’s font is for me personally absolutely no challenge in terms of readability but I’m curious though.

    Also, I guess I’ll have to create a facebook account for that insane / crazy / magical giveaway, won’t I?

    • Kerry

      Hey, Jennifer! You won’t have to create a Facebook account if you don’t want to – a Facebook Like will be worth 2 entries though, so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the trouble. I totally understand the inclination not to have a Facebook account, though! I’ll have an email update subscription option on the new site, and subscribing to that will be worth the most points. None of the options will be mandatory, so you can pick and choose which ones you feel like participating in. 🙂

  10. I went on a super splurge at iamlove shop (ebay) and bought Mizon Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser, Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel and Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream. The package only took about a week and a half to reach me, and I got lots of samples, so I’m glad I followed the shop recommendation from your excellent web site.

    I’m very excited to try an Asian skin care routine, and it’ll be interesting to see how my skin reacts it and to the Benton products.

  11. I already loved your current design. Cannot wait to see the new site! 🙂

  12. Hi,

    I’ve only recently stumbled upon your blog, but I must say I am very impressed with what you’re doing so far and even more impressed with the scientific approach you are taking now, all I can say is keep it up!
    Also I don’t know if you’ve heard of thebeautybrains.com (I am not afilliated with them) their approach is quite similar to yours, but even though they are cosmetics scientists, are not half as thorough as you 🙂

    • Kerry

      Thanks, ichem! I love thebeautybrains! I’m hoping to have an interview with Perry from thebeautybrains up soon, as a matter of fact. 🙂

      • Amazing! Its great to see websites like these, prompting people to think about the products and their efficacy rather than just buy in the latest media hype. I’m a biologist, and I remember being at a Lancome counter whilst the sales assistant started talking about how their new serum actually gets absorbed by your cells and then repairs your DNA – major facepalm moment…

        • Kerry

          Hahaha! You know, I’m sure that poor SA really believed what she was telling you was true. I think a lot of companies feed their SAs bad information, which is truly unfortunate. It’s a missed opportunity to really educate people about their skin!