What Is PEOPLE Tested — and How Do Products Get Our Seal of Approval?

Recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase

We all have that favorite lipstick that instantly pulls together an outfit, the can't-live-without vacuum that inhales everything in its path, or that yoga mat that holds us accountable to our fitness routine. But when it comes to searching for something new to love, it can be a challenge — just thinking about all of the options available for something as simple as a curling iron is enough to make our heads spin. At the end of the day, we all want to know that we're making the right choice when we open our wallets, right?

Luckily, that's where PEOPLE comes in. For nearly 50 years, you've trusted us to deliver you celebrity exclusives, real-life stories, and beauty and style news. And now, you can trust us with your shopping carts, too: If an all-star product stands up to our rigorous testing process, we'll recommend it to you with our PEOPLE Tested seal of approval.

PEOPLE Tested reviews products in three labs across the country, working with various experts depending on the product category — including medical professionals, interior designers, makeup artists, professional chefs and more. We devise unique methodologies to evaluate these products and rate them based on performance. Once we know how they perform in the lab, we send them out to our home testers, who help us determine how the products hold up during everyday use. Only then will we let you know which products live up to the hype (and which don't).

In short, the PEOPLE Tested seal stands for recommendations that you can trust — every day, every purchase.

Tfal Encounter Iron Product Testing
People/Dera Burreson

How Does PEOPLE Tested Rate and Review Products?

First, we figure out what to test.

Of the millions of products out there, how do we decide what to test in the first place? We research products by scouring the market, interviewing industry experts, and evaluating user reviews and manufacturer data. We marry this information with current search trends to understand what kinds of questions people are asking about these products and how they're using them.

As part of our commitment to diversity we make a point to include BIPOC-owned (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) brands in our testing whenever the category allows, and we commit to having diversity (of age, race, gender identity and more) in our testers.

Once we find products worth testing, we purchase them. On occasion, we receive press samples and we disclose this in the copy, but we never exchange positive reviews for free products, and whenever possible, will return them to the companies once we are done testing them.

Pack n Play Product Testing
People/Letícia Almeida

Then we craft a set of rigorous testing standards.

Based on our research, we create proprietary testing methods to guide our tests. We determine the key features we need to know about from each product category (like how long that celeb-loved lipstick really lasts) and evaluate the qualities we all care about, including comfort, usability, value, and design. We also set up a scoring rubric for every facet that a product is judged on.

After that, we're ready to get to work in the lab.

Once we set our testing methods, it's go time! Our lab experts test thousands of products side-by-side every month, from flat irons and mattresses to toaster ovens and comfortable shoes. Together, our three labs span over 100,000 square feet and include more than 50 test kitchens!

In the lab, we get clever with testing, using out-of-the-box techniques to determine whether these products deliver what they promise. For example, when we tested flat irons for hair, we used a meat thermometer to ensure that each reached its displayed temperatures; and when we evaluated mattress pads, we hid kids' toys underneath them to see how effective their cushioning was.

We also pressure-test how things perform across different situations so that we can make several recommendations in a given category — because what works best for one person may not be the right fit for another. So whether you're a dog lover whose rugs are covered in pet hair or a parent who's constantly stepping on spilled Cheerios, we'll be able to recommend a vacuum cleaner based on our reader's specific needs.

Bissell Vacuum Product Testing
People/Tamara Staples

We follow up with testing at home.

Testing products at home is an important part of our process. It's how we determine how delivery and setup happen in real life, not to mention how well products hold up over time. We work with hundreds of home testers to capture the full life cycle of a product. Just like in the lab, we employ rigorous standards and focus on traits we know are important to you, like durability, ease of use, and long-term value.

For example, those sheets might feel soft now, but how do they hold up after 25 washes? Does that handheld vacuum still hold a charge after 100 charging cycles? And how many passes does it take to achieve a perfect cat-eye with that drugstore eyeliner — oh, and how long does it last, and how easy is it to remove at the end of the day?

Finally, we deliver our findings to you.

Once testing is complete, we combine results and scores from the lab and home testers to narrow down our recommendations to the best of the best. Since everyone's circumstances are different, you'll also find products beyond the "best overall": Depending on the category, we'll include things like our favorites for shoppers on a budget, or for those with small apartments, or pets, or children.

Last but not least, we spell out everything for you and share detailed reasons why we think these products deserve the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — and what flaws you may expect as well.

Lotion Product Testing
People/Letícia Almeida

We aim to make online shopping a positive, successful experience.

We want to make sure that your money and time are well-spent. That's why we'll always tell you what we like and don't like about the products we test, showing our work along the way with photos, videos, and insights from our team of testers. We also regularly re-review the categories in which we've awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow.

And while our primary focus is on products, we evaluate things like customer service and the delivery experience for hundreds of online merchants, too. Because getting the right product to you in a timely manner and in working condition is also important!

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.

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