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published 22/01/2005 | purplelynne
Member since : 19/08/2001
Reviews : 96
Members who trust : 222
About me :
Pro Free beauty products
Cons Don't know what brand you are testing
very helpful

"Become a volunteer: Free make up!"

Ayton Moon logo

Ayton Moon logo

I joined cosmetic research online a few months ago, after reading a review here on Ciao about they way it gives its members’ free make up to try and then comment on. I am addicted to sites where they give out freebies, surveys for cash or anything else which benefits me for not actually doing that much, so I signed up straight away.

Sue Ayrton Moon, who is a beauty therapist and a college lecturer, established the site in 1995 to encourage volunteers to try out specific products before they are unleashed on the general public. The company went national in 2003 and now has over 7,000 volunteers who try out different products from such companies as Next, Accessorize, Boots and Superdrug.

The range of products which are tested include bath and facial products, skin care, toothpaste and cosmetics.

The purple toned website for cosmeticresearchonline is attractive if a little hard to navigate at first. I took me a while and a few missed trials to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing, but I soon got the hang of it.

Initially once you have signed up and given your details you are asked to fill in specific details about your hair, face, body, feet & legs, hands & arms and lifestyle which enables the site to select whether you are suitable for the trial in question. Therefore you are only selected if the product being tested fits in with the profile that you gave. Questions such as the condition, colour and style of your hair allow the site to determine whether a particular product will be suitable for you to trial.

The checklist of questions is not exhaustive and are easy to understand, giving you different options to tick rather than to write specific details down. However, the initial time it takes to complete each section does take a fair amount of time, but you do not have to complete them all in one visit as the site remembers which profile you have completed and which ones you need to finish. It is best to complete all of the six profiles as soon as possible as you are more likely to receive a trial if the information about you is complete.

I check in to the site about once a week to have a look at my profiles, as sometimes there are new questions added to coincide with a new trial about to take place. However, you do not need to do this as the site sends out emails to you telling you to complete the specific profile as there may be a trial coming up.

The advantage of the site is that is allows you to profile not only yourself, but also other members of your family. I’ve recently signed my ten-year-old son as a member but as yet, have not received any trials for him.

When you sign in and view your family profiles you will see a status key with different icons. These provide you with information about your level of punctuality as a member. When I first joined and became confused with the outlay, I was a blue star which indicated that my punctuality was adequate. However, once I got the hang of the site and signed up for more trials, I eventually became a green five star which tells me that my punctuality is excellent and that I will definitely be selected for more trials.

The tab at the top of the page highlights areas such as My Trials, Family Profiles and Information. The tab My Trials allows you to look at trials, which you were selected for, trials which you have completed, and trials which are already full. Icons such as coloured ticks and crosses indicate if trials are ongoing, have been cancelled or are no longer available. This is the particular section where I first went wrong: I was sent details of a trial via an email link, but even after I had filled in the particular profile it was asking for, I didn’t receive any products. I found out through trial and error that I had to click in the white box next to the trial in order to join it. I thought once I had been sent the email link I would automatically be entered into that trial, but I had to actually physically click the button to be accepted.

So far I have had three trials in total all for different products. One of which was a cleansing lotion, one a lipstick and one a concealer. However, I have no idea which company these products are made by, as these details are not always known to volunteers. I believe that sometimes details are made public, but this is not always the case, and the trials that I have completed in have all been confidential.

Once you have successfully signed up to a trial the product is sent to you within two to three days. It comes with information about the product and the start and end date of the trial. The letter enclosed also tells you how to apply the product/s and for how long. In all of my trials I have received two samples of each product for comparison purposes.

The samples themselves are quite large and are impressive. Each of the cleansers that I trialed was about 100mls worth of product and the concealers will probably last me a good six months before showing signs of wearing out. This is a sure-fire advantage of this site as it is so different from other free samples you sometimes receive online.

So once you have received the products in the post you use them as per the instructions until the end of the trial date. As soon as the trial date ends you should log on to the site and complete the questionnaire about the specific product you have tested. The sooner you do this the more trust or punctuality you will receive. Ayton Moon do send out emails to remind you to fill out the questionnaire, but this will ultimately decrease your status, which means less trials, so it’s important to complete the details as soon as possible.

At the end of the trial you can keep the products sent to you, but you are not allowed to sell them on or give them away. Luckily I really liked both the concealer and the cleansers so I kept them; however, the lipstick was not a colour I would usually go for so I threw them away.

My messages

This is an area of the site, which tells you about forthcoming trials. If the statement applies to you then you follow the instructions included in the information and complete the specific profile it indicates. You can delete these messages once you have read them or if they no longer apply.

Who can join?

Anyone, male or female over the age of 16 – under this age you will need parental consent.

Animal testing

Ayton-Moon Consultancy is opposed to animal testing and all of their suppliers which provide the products are not involved in animal testing of any kind.

Is it safe though?

All of the products which are sent out to volunteers have already been screened and tested and have had a toxicological assessment. The company is looking for opinions and effectiveness of the products rather than seeing if they cause an allergic reaction in members of the public.


The site provides an interactive training to new users, which will help them gain an insight into what is expected of them by being a member of the volunteer panel. You are not obliged to complete this easy training, but by doing so you may be invited to more trials in the future as it upgrades your membership. I became a five star instead of a four star after I had completed this questionnaire.

The questions are all found on the website, but are easy enough and most are self-explanatory. However, you cannot easily fail this questionnaire as if you highlight an incorrect answer, you just go back to that question and start again. The training is supposed to take between 10 to 15 minutes, but I completed mine in about 5 minutes, it’s that simple.

What else?

 Unfortunately you don’t get paid to trial these products but you are allowed to keep them in most cases.
 On the other hand you won’t have to pay for the trial products you undertake
 Sometimes you have to give back the product, but the site will pay for post and packaging
 You don’t have to complete in every trial
 A list of ingredients is always available to see if the product contains something that you are allergic to
 If you do experience an allergy as a result of using the product then you will be asked about this on the questionnaire. It is important to stop using the product if an allergic reaction occurs.
  • Free products
  • Not time consuming
  • Navigating trials is hard at first and will need practice to ensure optimum trials are sent to you
  • Not knowing what brand of product you are testing - I have found a brilliant concealer which makes my skin flawless, it’s big enough to last me a while, but unfortunately I won’t be able to replace it, as I don’t know what brand it is.

Overall opinion

I’m really pleased that I joined this site, and since I joined a few months ago I have completed three trials. However, I would probably have participated in more if I had practised using the site buttons.

This site will not make you rich, but you may receive some decent beauty products to try. If you can spare five minutes to complete a trial questionnaire and use the products as specified then you will be pleased with the result.

Thanks for reading

purplelynne 2005 ©

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Comments on this review

  • Sweetfreak published 21/02/2006
    I think I might give this a go, I'm a sucker for a freebie
  • e.j.kingham published 19/06/2005
    I'm a new volunteer with this site and part way through my first trial.I was surprised how quickly I was asked to participate .
  • joe1976 published 19/05/2005
    will have to sign up for this, excellent review could not think of anthing else i would have liked to know..all bases covered
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Research Services

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Listed on Ciao since: 10/01/2004