On Product Testing, Record Keeping, and Sheet Mask Collections (plus Big Project Preview)

I never bothered to develop any record-keeping or organizational skills beyond what I needed to succeed in school and at work–that is, not until I caught the skin care blogging bug. It’s too bad, because I could have made much better progress at understanding what works for me and what doesn’t if I had started sooner. In fact, I believe that keeping a skin care notebook is essential to figuring out your optimal skin care routine. And it’s both easy and (if you’re like me) fun!

Perfect your skin care routine with product notes and progress pics

In my post about why Asian skin care works, I discussed the fact that skin care is not one-size-fits-all. Now I want to talk about the fact that skin care is not objective.

When I say that skin care is not objective, what I mean is that just because a particular ingredient has been proven in clinical testing to have an effect on skin function or health, that doesn’t always mean that that ingredient will work for you, or in the specific formulation you’re trying. Other ingredients can interfere with the effectiveness of the ingredient. So can factors like concentration and pH. And all skin care is very YMMV thanks to the highly individual nature of people’s skin. Not every proven ingredient will work for every person, and something that works well for others may not do a thing for you, or may give you breakouts or other adverse effects.

What all this means is that if you’re testing out new products and trying to develop the most effective skin care routine for yourself, you’ll need a way to keep track of your progress (or lack thereof). This way, you can see at a glance what’s been working for you and what hasn’t. If you’re diligent about making note of ingredients, you’ll also develop better ingredient awareness. Ultimately, this will save you both time and money by enabling you to pick the products with the best chances of working out and to avoid the products that will cause you problems or won’t produce real effects.

The way you keep your skin care records is entirely up to you. I use Evernote for just about everything–I have notebooks in Evernote for recipes, productivity tips, my professional journal, and career advancement articles, among other topics–and find it fantastic for my testing notes.

Skincare notes in Evernote

This is what my Evernote skin care notebook looks like.

You can also use a regular old text file or Word doc if you like, though I prefer Evernote because it allows me to easily organize and search my notes. Spreadsheets are another great way to keep track of your skin care experiments. More on that below.

You can also keep notes that are as detailed or as general as you’d like. In my opinion, the bare minimum should be:

  • Full ingredient lists, in case you want to find common ingredients among several different products
  • Notes on what a product’s active or featured ingredients are supposed to do
  • The date you started the product (by the way, this is as good a time as any to suggest that you only try one new product at a time, and give it at least a month before starting any others, with the exception of sheet masks)
  • Any changes you notice in your skin after starting the product
Etude House I Need You! Vita Complex sheet mask testing notes

These are the testing notes for the Etude House I Need You! sheet mask in Vita Complex. I go on to describe how it smelled and felt on my face, how long I wore it, the effects I noticed immediately afterward and the effects I noticed the next day.

Progress pics are extremely useful for giving you an objective indication of the visible effects of the products you’re trying, too.

The next time you start a new product, keep a record of it. I think you’ll find it useful as you work towards your ideal skin care routine.

Keep track of a large product collection with spreadsheets

My skin care Evernote notebook is one of my favorite tools, but one thing it doesn’t do as well as I would like is give me an easy way of keeping track of my exploding sheet mask collection.

Sheet mask collection

This is what I have right now. A few more are on their way to me.

I currently have 101 sheet masks in my collection. How do I know that? Because I made a spreadsheet to keep track of them.

Sheet mask spreadsheet

Excel: Best software ever?

I made the spreadsheet so that I’d have an easy, at-a-glance view of what sheet masks I have and how many, what each one claims to do, and whether or not I’d repurchase them. I have too many sheet masks, and try out too many varieties, to be able to easily remember which ones I liked when it’s time to repurchase–or even to remember when it’s time to repurchase. My Excel sheet helps immensely. If you’re accumulating a big variety of sheet masks or any other skin care product, you might find Excel helpful as well. And if you’re not a big fan of narrative-style note taking, spreadsheets with a binary system of product evaluation (does it do X? Y or N) may be easier to maintain.

How my organizational mania will help you

There’s another benefit to my sheet mask spreadsheet. As you can see, I’ve got a metric buttload of different sheet masks I’ve yet to try, and I fully intend to post reviews for every one of them. Like the awesome Snow White over at Snow White and the Asian Pear, however, I don’t want to flood the blog with a million and one random sheet masks reviews.

Moving forward, I’ve got two projects in the works to prevent that from happening. The first is sheet mask showdowns. These will be compare-and-contrast sheet mask reviews focused on a single star ingredient. For example, I’m working on a Rice Showdown that will discuss the relative benefits and shortcomings of the Etude House, The Face Shop, and Innisfree rice sheet masks.

And the second, which is still very early stages but which I’m very excited about, is a searchable, sortable database of sheet masks, which I’ll be building off of my Excel sheet! Once it’s live, instead of going through a dozen full reviews to find the one sheet mask you want to try, you’ll be able to search using criteria like “brightening” or “firming,” then look through a list of sheet masks that fit that criteria, with links to their reviews. I hope you’ll find it a good resource for your sheet mask purchases.

How do you keep track of your skin care products?

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7 responses to “On Product Testing, Record Keeping, and Sheet Mask Collections (plus Big Project Preview)

  1. You’re so organised! Luckily I haven’t fallen into the sheet mask vortex yet – sticking Post-It’s on the back of my empty sachets is working OK with my small collection 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Would you please consider making a copy of that spread sheet available on Google documents or something? It is such a great idea and I would like to start one too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps a little late – I just found your blog recently (love it!) – but have you tried using Airtable? It’s a free platform for relational databases (souped-up spreadsheets) for easier searching.

    I’ve also started using Asana, which is usually for project management, for this purpose – I do love Evernote, but Asana lets you do tasks and subtasks and sub-sub tasks ad infinitum, so you can basically create your own little Wikipedia of products. (For example: I have a task labeled “foaming cleansers,” and subtasks with ones I’m using or want to use, and a description and links attached to each of those. You can also tag anything – I’m tagging by issue [hydration, for example]).

    Liked by 1 person

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