Background Story of an Unapologetically Research-Obsessed Shopper
Hey, it’s Sabira,
So, I came to learn the need to always research before shopping the hard way. It was when I decided to go on a massive shopping spree after receiving my first ever pay cheque at the age of 17. It was about £700, which to me felt like I had won the lottery! Straight after work I literally ran to the shopping centre and splurged on anything and everything I wanted. A brand new foundation that had just come out, a high-end luxury moisturiser that smelt like flowers and some new medium/firm pillows, which I thought would be the saving grace to my neck pain.
These were a few of the more expensive items I bought (and then a bunch of clothes and shoes too) but basically by the end of that shopping trip I was left with about £70 in my bank account, which I wasn’t really fussed about as I was just too excited about all my new goodies!
The stress finally kicked in when I came to learn that I had just bought the worst foundation ever that oxidised within minutes of application, my new pillows actually exacerbated my neck pain as they flattened like a pancake the moment I laid my head down (and despite them saying medium/firm on the packaging!!) and this fancy high-end moisturiser broke me out so bad as it was just drowning in perfume and harsh chemicals and just wasn’t the right match for my teenage skin. I knew that I couldn’t return the foundation after opening it and I assumed the same would apply with the moisturiser (not realising that you can in fact return any beauty/skincare items at most retailers if they give you any sort of reaction) and I just gave the pillows to my dad who preferred softer pillows.
So I essentially wasted a grand total of just under £150, on three useless products and I vowed to never let this happen again.
Lesson Learnt, Research Begins
Fast forward to my next pay cheque, I was now in need of replacement items for the major fails I purchased the month before. I spent a good 3 days researching all over the internet, starting with simple Google searches of ‘the best foundation for combination skin’, ‘the best moisturiser for combination skin’ and ‘the best medium firm pillows for neck pain’.
I then established a religious routine and methodical approach that I stuck to before purchasing anything. This approach then became more extensive as the years went on and as I started subscribing to major review sites e.g. which.com when my paycheque got bigger (after qualifying as a Corporate lawyer) and after buying a house, having a baby and therefore having to purchase much larger, more expensive (‘grown up’) items.
Despite the significant increase in my bank balance, I actually became more frugal than ever, as saving money for investments, holidays and rainy days was more my priority.
However, this didn’t mean that I was always looking for the cheapest products. Instead, I’d look for products that gave me the most value for money and longevity too (even if it came at a hefty price tag) and basically a product that actually worked effectively. So for instance i’d purchase a moisturiser that may have cost more than its cheaper counterparts but actually required a lot less product to do the job and therefore would last much longer, resulting in less money spent overall on moisturisers. I’d also look for something that is multifunctional i.e. not just to provide moisture and hydration, but something tailored for my own needs and requirements e.g. containing SPF, anti-aging (reducing fine lines and wrinkles) and brightening (to improve the overall appearance of my skin and lighten any pigmentation/scarring over time).
BUT I should note that I’m also a huge advocate of finding and using incredible dupes (i.e. products that perform exactly the same (if not better) than their high-end counterparts but cost a fraction of the price) and if notable, you’ll see them featured in Haul of Fame’s Top 5 shortlists!
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The Haul of Fame Research Process
To give you an idea of exactly how thorough and extensive the Haul of Fame research process is, I’ve listed out the steps we take below and follow religiously ahead of every single purchase made and ahead of every single recommendation too:
- Open up major department stores websites including John Lewis, Debenhams, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Harrods (and popular sites like Lookfantastic, SpaceNK and Cultbeauty for beauty related products). Find the relevant category and sub-category that we’re researching, organise by best sellers/popularity (where applicable) and then find the products that seem to be ranking highly and with the highest number of reviews and ratings across all the sites.
- The same process as above is also done across sites like Boots and Superdrug, especially with beauty related products (which include skincare, hair care and toiletries etc.) but also healthcare items and mother and baby products too.
Once we’ve established the most popular products, we make a note of these and then move on to phase 2.
- Browse major beauty/home/parenting related magazines and blogs and carry out a search of the best ‘x’ (i.e. whatever the sub-category being researched is). These sources have so far included; Cosmopolitan, Elle, Vogue, MarieClaire, Glamour, Goodhousekeeping, Byrdie, HarpersBazaar, Allure, Independent, EmmasDiary, MotherandBaby, MadeforMums and MumsNet, to name a few of our favourites. Here we begin to notice a lot of the popular items from phase 1 appear again but also discover many other popular products that commonly appear across all these sites.
Once we’ve established the most popular products in phase two, we add them to the list and begin phase 3.
- Reviews & Elimination – We then browse well known review sites, reading through a whole load of very extensive reviews and analysing the rankings for all our listed products to the extent that they appear. As a member of Which.com, we heavily rely on this site as our major go to for big ticket items mainly within the home and parenting industries and we love discovering the ‘Which Best Buy’ items, which to date have never failed us.
- Expertreviews is another site that we regularly use to determine our overall product rankings and for our elimination process.
- Influenster has been another major go-to when determining our ranking of beauty related products and to the extent that they apply for products available on the UK market.
It is at phase 3 where our list gets shorter and shorter and this is where we aim to narrow it down to our top 10 shortlist.
- The final phase involves us doing a general search on Google of each product contained in our top 10 shortlist and then analysing the reviews of all the consumers who have bought and used the products personally to see what their experiences have been like. The volume of reviews available also acts as a great indicator as to the products’ popularity in the market. This phase also involves watching a lot of youtube videos too.
After determining the top 5 most popular products from phase 4 and confidently eliminating the rest, we finally have our Top 5 Haul of Fame shortlist, with our no.1 favourite being crowned with the Haul of Fame gold seal of approval (which you’ll see dotted around the site) and which can all be seen and bought directly on a dedicated Haul of Fame area on our shop page here.
So there you have it. A LOT of time and effort goes into our research, discovery and elimination process and as a self confessed research-obsessed shopper, I feel the need to get it as right as I possibly can before publishing any of my recommendations, as I am WAY too passionate about minimising product regrets and money wasted for myself and for others too. This process has quite literally become second nature to me now and what used to take me days and sometimes weeks now takes me a day at the most!
Time is So Valuable and Convenience Is Therefore Key
So say goodbye to all those hours spent browsing and replace them with your daily dose of Haul of Fame, to discover the crème de la crème of the beauty, home and parenting industries, brought to you by your very own, very dedicated research-obsessed shopper!
If there’s anything you’re currently on the hunt for and would like to see featured on Haul of Fame, get in touch by filling out our form and we’ll get straight to work so you can invest in the best, always!
I can’t wait to hear all your thoughts on the site, our objective and most importantly your Haul of Fame purchases!
Happy shopping lovelies!