My followers on Twitter are a smart self confident, sassy, sometimes sarky bunch of well informed with-it hipsters who know what they want and aren’t short of an opinion or two. Its a bit of shame really. I was hoping for a bunch of adoring fans who doted on my every word. I suppose my idea of ‘followers’ is a bit old fashioned. But it does mean that I get some good ideas from them.
One such came from a follower who described herself on her bio as an unapologetic product tart. What a great thing to be I thought. Are you one? I think you should be. Here’s why.
It isn’t obvious from the huge diversity of packaging and even the ingredient lists, but in a given category of product there isn’t a huge difference between what they are all made of. All shampoos for instance a basically a blend of a couple of fairly similar detergents. The cheapest ingredients, thanks to economies of scale, tend to be the ones that are used most. The ones that are used most tend to be the ones that do the job best. The formulations vary but the ingredients are pretty similar.
By contrast, humans are quite diverse. We all have different genes and come out in all different shapes and shades. When you are picking a skin cream for example, what you are actually looking for is a product that restores your skin’s barrier function to its optimum level – though I doubt many people think of it in precisely those terms. So you want to find one that matches your particular skin needs. This is very much a question of the precise way the blend is made up. And it varies over time. I find that I need more oil nowadays than I used to when I was younger.
So I think tartiness pays off when it comes to personal care products. I cannot think of one good reason to be loyal to a particular brand. Try out loads, and try them across the range. There are plenty of very good cheap products. And expensive ones aren’t going to break the bank either. If you work out what a small proportion of your budget you spend on personal care it is hardly going to make the difference between a comfortable old age and being thrown out on the streets. Even a Creme de la Mer habit will set you back less than smoking 20 fags a day. (Fags= cigarettes for American readers. Apologies for any misunderstanding there.)
The only caveats I would add are that there are a few things I would avoid. Party plan style selling can be an expensive way to buy your products. The big exception is Avon, but that is because they are so big they make their stuff in very large quantities so the prices are reasonable. The Avon ladies I have spoken to have all been very knowledgeable and quite impressive. I don’t know if I have just been lucky or if Avon have a good training programme in place. Other companies operating the same basic model that I have observed have seemed to be overpriced and represented by idiots. I admit that I haven’t spent a huge amount of time participating in this kind of thing, but I do have an idea of the economics and they aren’t stacked in your favour.
Small companies make some great products and on the whole companies you have never heard of are worth giving a try. Most of the well known brands are well known primarily because they advertise rather than because they have any great formulation secrets. But I would be very wary of any company – regardless of the size – that uses any kind of scaremongering. In particular avoid the ‘my daughter had a rash and when I investigated I found that all the products in the shops were full of toxins so I had to start this company to do something about it’ format. The stories are bogus and the companies are run by people who out to make a quick buck. The ones to look for are the ones who show some genuine passion for what they are doing.
If you are buying a small company’s products, if possible buy them directly from their own website. The sites that collect lots of brands together and sell them take a very big cut, and I am not sure what they bring to the party. Dealing direct makes a lot more sense. I also like to see an individual looking website. It shows that there is a real person behind it. I don’t mind if it doesn’t look slick. In fact I prefer it if it doesn’t.
The tartier you are the more likely you are to find a product that suits you. No need to be apologetic at all.
[hana-code-insert name=’General Interest’ /]
If you want to follow that tart that got me going on this post, this is her blog.