Behind the InStyle Picks Seal of Approval

We test to find the best, so you don’t have to.

Shopping online is one of our favorite pastimes, and we know you're with us on that. But between viral flashes in the pan and dupes that don't deliver on their promises, it's a real challenge to find the best-in-class buys worth your time and money. That's where we come in.

Introducing InStyle Picks, where we curate product recommendations that will enhance your everyday routine, boost your confidence, and help you put the best version of yourself forward each and every day. Whether you're looking for a rich lipstick that will last all day or a pair of celebrity-approved yoga pants that won't slide down during your flow, you can count on InStyle Picks to steer you in the right direction.

To determine which products actually live up to their hype, we set up rigorous testing standards and processes that every item must follow (and pass!) before we recommend them to you. We rate and review products in our three labs across the country and with our network of home testers, so you can rest assured that what we call the best is exactly that. If we can't vouch for a product, it won't receive our seal of approval — plain and simple.

While we stand behind every product review or recommendation on this site, the InStyle Picks seal stands for that added layer of rigor. We don't just like it, we put it through its paces to be absolutely sure you will too.

woman testing humidifier at Dotdash Meredith testing lab
InStyle/Tamara Staples

About the InStyle Picks Team

Our team is involved in all stages of the testing and reviewing process. We are responsible for picking products to test, establishing the testing criteria, and analyzing the results. We also identify our tester pool, individuals that represent a cross section of skin types, body sizes, races, ages, and identity groups — InStyle staffers included — with an interest in the products we are testing. But before we dive into all of that, you're probably wondering who we are.

The InStyle Picks team is a small but mighty group of beauty and style editors with over 15 years of writing and editing experience combined in both print and digital media. We are passionate about what we do because we know the value it brings to not only our readers, but to our own lives as well. No surprise here, but we love a good black blazer and liquid eyeliner as much as the next person. All this to say, we feel a real responsibility to our readers to deliver the best products money can buy. We don't just want to earn your trust, we want to keep it forever.

How Are InStyle Picks Tested?

First, we figure out what to test.

In a seemingly endless sea of products to consider, it's our job to cut through the clutter. We are constantly researching the categories we cover and interviewing industry experts — like makeup artists, dermatologists, estheticians, designers, stylists, and of course InStyle's own editors — for the trends they're spotting and products they love. We also conduct deep dives on new, veteran, and under-the-radar brands alike by analyzing user reviews, testimonials, and manufacturer data. Lastly, we scour social media (TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, you name it) for the latest holy-grail products users can't stop talking about.

While we do purchase products to test on our own, we occasionally ask brands to send us press samples. When we receive complimentary samples, we make it clear that there is no guarantee for inclusion in our final list. We also never promise positive feedback on a product in exchange for a free sample, as a favor, or for any other reason; all products are tested equally against a set of guidelines. In fact, our testers are not made aware of how products are acquired, so no bias comes into play.

Because we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, we make sure to feature BIPOC-owned (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) brands in our testing whenever possible. We also seek to have equal representation for age, race, and gender identity through our testers, so there's something for everyone reflected on our pages.

InStyle Picks Product Testing
InStyle/Leticia Almeida

Next, we create a methodology.

After we decide which products to test, we put together guidelines on how to best test them. This differs depending on the category, but we always consider the key features that dictate a product's performance and value. We also keep in mind what users will appreciate the most when purchasing the product, such as comfort, usability, design, and durability. We craft a series of questions for testers to answer, as well as a scoring rubric for each attribute to be judged on.

InStyle Picks

Now it's time to test.

Dotdash Meredith has three testing labs located in Des Moines, Birmingham, and New York. Combined, they span over 100,000 square feet and allow us to test multiple products at once, side-by-side. While we do the bulk of our testing for InStyle Picks at the Manhattan lab, we may occasionally test products in other locations.

In the lab, our testers put products to use to uncover the top performers. We want to make sure the products we recommend are truly the best for everyone, so we'll test curling irons on all different hair types, leggings on different body types, and under-eye concealer on different skin types and tones. This helps us make recommendations that are specific to our readers' needs, because we know that what works best for one person likely isn't for everyone.

We like to get creative during testing and make it fun. When testing flat irons, we dropped them from vanity level onto a concrete floor to see how durable they were; when testing self-tanners, we laid on white sheets to ensure that there was no color transfer. These unique tests allow us to back a product with confidence because we know it will live up to its promises.

InStyle Picks Gisou Curling Tool Testing
InStyle/Nick Kova

Lastly, we share our findings with you.

Once testing is complete, our team collects all the insights and determines which products deserve the InStyle Picks seal. We typically award one product the category of 'Best Overall,' while making sure to include additional options that cater to different needs, concerns, and budgets.

If a product has earned a spot on our list, we get specific and explain exactly why it's there. We may call out scores the product received in the various tests we conducted, as well as quotes directly from our testers. We share the pros and the cons of each product since we don't believe in leaving out any key details — good or bad. We do our best to bring you, the reader, into the lab with us through photos, videos, and other exclusive insights. If something doesn't hold up to the testing, we won't recommend it. Period.

How Are InStyle Picks Tested At Home?

In some cases, we test entire categories at home if testing them in a lab setting won't bring forth accurate results. For example, vitamin C serums and teeth whitening products need to be tested over time to understand how well they truly perform. If we can't see immediate results, the lab is not the right setting for testing. In these instances, we set up our home testers with products and a testing methodology to follow. They submit their insights and product ratings to us after a period of time has elapsed, so we can feel comfortable making the right recommendations.

After lab tests, we often ask testers to take top-performing products home with them and continue to use them in their day-to-day routines, just to be extra certain that they're worth buying. We task our home testers with sharing feedback on how well the product performs (or doesn't perform) over time. If we discover any useful information during this long-term testing period, we will go back and update the article accordingly. We also don't shy away from conducting tests over again, especially if there's a new product launch that's worthy of consideration. We want you to have the most up-to-date information possible, so we make that a priority.

InStyle Picks GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand
InStyle/Nick Kova

Affiliate & Safety Disclosure

While we may receive a commission on some of the products you purchase through links included in our reviews, we only recommend products that we have tested and vetted among our team, without any input from the product manufacturers. We strive to provide unbiased feedback to help you find the best purchase for you. All products, including those we review and recommend, may occasionally be subject to recalls or revised use recommendations. While we try to stay on top of this and update our articles as news is released, we urge you to monitor any official announcements from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that may be related to the products you purchase.

If you have any questions about testing, please feel free to contact us at:

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