Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ask Kaylin: Negative Reviews

Photo: striatic via Flickr
I get all kinds of questions from readers, from product recommendation requests to random questions about vegan lifestyles. I recently got a letter from a reader who was wondering about the credibility of my reviews. It was an excellent question, so I wanted to share it:

I enjoy reading about green products on your blog, but I was wondering why I've never seen a really negative review. Anyone who has tried natural products knows there are some real duds out there. So why haven't I seen any on your site?

That is a great question! I've thought long and hard about this, so I developed my ratings system with careful consideration. I created Kaylin's Kit as a way for those looking for eco-friendly and vegan products to find out what is truly great on the market. I believe so strongly in buying green that I want to encourage everyone to try it. I would hate to post a scathing review of a dud product by an otherwise stellar green company, only to turn business away from them forever.

In other words, I want to support eco-friendly and ethical businesses by highlighting their best products. This way, I not only encourage people to buy green, but I also show them that many green products are just as good, if not better, than the conventional alternatives.

Rest assured, I've tested hundreds and hundreds of products since I was a teenager and I'm well aware that there are some real stinkers. Sometimes literally! I've tried shampoos that smell awful, makeup that disappears in less than an hour, lip gloss that tastes like sunscreen, and mascara that flakes like crazy. Yet these experiences are by far the exception, and I'd hate for people to have one bad experience turn them off of green products forever. Some of the awful products I've tried were the conventional products (before I knew about animal testing). As you might expect, there are duds in all types of markets.

However, I also believe that I can also help support green companies by being honest if there's something I don't like. If I buy a product or am sent one for review and I find something I really hate, I write to the company and explain what I believe are its benefits and drawbacks. This way, the company gets the feedback they may need to make the product better. And if they ever do improve that product to correct the issue(s), I am more than happy to write a glowing review.

I work closely with many companies, particularly with the marketing departments. Large corporations with huge advertising budgets can handle some negative PR, but small eco-friendly businesses can spend years recovering from negative reviews. When a company is truly making an effort to make products that are better for the environment, I want to do everything in my power to support them, which sometimes means providing constructive criticism in closed discussions.

One last note: When it comes to products tested on animals, you won't find any on this site! I never want to give them publicity or business, as even negative reviews are still a form of marketing. It may seem cheaper and easier to buy conventional products, but there is a cost, but ethically and often to our health. Just say no.

Do you have any thoughts on the issue of negative reviews? If so, leave a comment below!

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