Without wishing to harp back to the Becca Jaclyn Hill episode where some of the eyeshadows in the now withdrawn palette were of a differing quality, it has made me think to take a longer look at how consumers can do their own homework on their favourite products. If it wasn’t for blogger/vlogger testing putting the eyeshadow palette to use, it’s possible no discrepancies would have come to light.

So, one of my readers, with a science background, @declairelegenou, who is very well researched on the subject has given me a few pointers and examples on how to Google beauty ingredients for like or same products across brands. This is not a post about naming names, but more to enable you as the consumer to learn if you wish to do so. For many, many people, it doesn’t matter at all, but I know that BBB readers are hot on ingredients, so thought it was worth flagging up.

To explain a bit – a product’s ingredient listing will list from the highest quantity ingredient in the product all the way through to the lowest. So, on many skincare products, you will see Aqua (water) listed as the ingredient there is most of within a certain product. The exception to this is Asian beauty – those products are not required to list in highest to lowest order. I think we have to understand that most beauty products have a similar basic recipe – ingredient quality might change, but it’s the same principle a baking a cake..it all starts with eggs, flour and sugar. It’s what happens after that that will decide whether it’s a chocolate cake or a Victoria sponge.

Claire’s method of research is to copy and paste the ingredients in the order they are listed (important) right up to preservatives (which makes up about 1% of any product, so anything following that is likely to be negligible) into Google search, and see which products crop up. From there, you may well see further similarities down the line to the point of the product being the same.

In this example, pulled from Google search, you’ll see that the product ingredients for both eye pencils are identical up to small colourant difference and yet one brand charges double the other.

  • Isododecane, Sythetic Wax, Hydrogenated Polydicyclopentadiene, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Polybutene, Glyceryl Tribehenate/Isostearate/Eicosandioate, Nylon-12, Polyethylene, Perfluorononyl Dimethicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Diisostearate/Polyhydroxystearate/Sebacate, Synthetic Beeswax, Pearl Powder (Margarita Powder), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax (Copernicia Cerifera Cera), Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Mica (CI 77019) [May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)]
  • ISODODECANE, SYNTHETIC WAX, HYDROGENATED POLYDICYCLOPENTADIENE, PEG/PPG-18/18 DIMETHICONE, POLYBUTENE, GLYCERYL TRIBEHENATE/ISOSTEARATE/EICOSANDIOATE, NYLON-12, POLYETHYLENE, PERFLUORONONYL DIMETHICONE, POLYGLYCERYL-4 DIISOSTEARATE/POLYHYDROXYSTEARATE/SEBACATE, SYNTHETIC BEESWAX, PENTAERTHRITYL TETRA-DI-T-BUTYL, HYDROXYCINNAMATE, COPERNICIA CERIFERA (CARNAUBA) WAX +/-: MICA, (CI 77019), TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), IRON OXIDES (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), FERRIC FERROCYANIDE (CI 77510)

Knowing this allows you to make choices – for example, one of the big areas of similarity is eye and lip pencils. The formulas are incredibly similar across many brands, if not all. So, you can make your purchasing choice by spending less on an eye pencil, for example, knowing it’s more or less the same thing whatever brand you buy from, and have more to spend on something else. Beauty economics at play here!

BUT… and there is a huge but coming along: even if the ingredient list is exactly, to the letter the same, there is no guarantee that the ingredient quality is the same. In some cases it will be the same and in others, it won’t. You will only ever know through physical trial and error – higher grade ingredients will often just ‘feel’ better. Ingredient grading differs for a number of reasons – brands may choose the ingredient with the least contaminants, or the longest shelf life, for example or may go down the costing route, where other factors aren’t as important as keeping prices down. I’ve spoken with several formulators and they all agree that different brands use different quality ingredients which can have a direct result of the efficacy and texture of the product.

Being your own beauty super sleuth is down to meticulous research – it’s not really a quick thing – but with sites like Sephora listing full ingredients now, it is at least a bit easier to tackle that research if you want to. It’s definitely worth doing if you have a couple of make up products fom differing brands that ‘feel’ the same – a quick check can tell you if they are.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.