ELLE Lab: Everything You Need To Know

elle lab explained
ELLE Lab: Everything You Need To KnowHearst Owned

If you’re a regular reader of our beauty pages, you may be wondering what ‘ELLE Lab’ is all about. Is it as scientific as it sounds? Is it a real lab? Spoiler alert, that’s a ‘yes’ to both, but there’s a lot more to fill you in on, so keep reading.

In short, our ELLE Lab edits feature products that have been rigorously tested by our expert testing team, both in real-world and lab conditions. This means that you can trust our unbiased, in-depth product reviews, and buy with confidence.

Below, we explain everything you need to know about the team, including how we test.

What is the ELLE Lab?

The ELLE Lab – located in Feltham, West London – is where our expert testers dedicate their days to trialling a range of products and services.

Our experts mainly work across beauty – testing thousands of products every year to find the very best on the market – but they also sample the finest wines and spirits (somebody has to right?)

The team use their own mixture of scientific knowledge and industry experience to put brands’ claims to the test. They use specialised equipment in our lab to check everything from the grease-fighting power of a clarifying shampoo to whether that hi-tech electric toothbrush actually works.

Every product is judged against a strict set of protocols devised by the ELLE Lab team, which are split into three main areas: ease of use, performance and design (instructions are also considered if included). Following a thorough assessment by one of our experts, each product is awarded a final score.

But we don’t stop there; we also send products to a panel of consumers to try at home, taking care to ensure that they reflect ELLE's diverse readership. The panel will then complete a detailed feedback survey, which also counts towards a product’s final score.

If products do not meet or exceed our pre-set pass rate, they are deemed to have failed our testing and we do not recommend them to you. To help signpost you to the products you can trust, only those that have been tested in this way will feature in ELLE Lab edits.

The only exception is if you spot ‘Editor’s Pick’ next to a product. This means it has been personally recommended by one of our ELLE editors, based on years of industry experience and insider know-how on the latest consumer trends.

How does the ELLE Lab differ from other product recommendations?

The ELLE Lab tends to focus on products that make measurable (rather than subjective) claims that we can test to strict protocols in a lab environment. This sets us apart from the overwhelming number of product reviews available today, especially as we then go one step further by working with hundreds of consumers and experts to gain the most in-depth feedback possible.

How the ELLE Lab tests


From IPL devices to hair growth serums, our team of experts test the latest beauty products using a combination of lab tests and consumer feedback. The team, including cosmetic scientists, use a variety of equipment in the ELLE Lab to find out if a product’s claim matches up in real life. In the lab we use:

The Diastron – this machine analyses hair swatches to test how smooth and hydrated that shampoo for dry hair really leaves parched strands.

The Sebumeter – this machine measures sebum levels to judge how effective a shampoo for oily hair is at lifting grease.

The Bossa Nova Shuffle – this machine assesses a product’s frizz-fighting powers when hair is introduced to humidity, which is useful when testing hair dryers, hair straighteners and hot brushes.

The EV Standard – this machine records the heat-up time, temperature and accuracy of a styling tool’s heat settings.

The Multi Skin Test Centre – this machine assesses hydration, skin barrier function and oil control when testing skincare and haircare products. This means we can find out how hydrating that hyaluronic acid serum actually is, or how well a primer moisturises dry skin.

The VISIA Complexion Analyser – this machine tests anti-ageing skincare by measuring skin characteristics such as number of wrinkles, texture and pore size; it can even work out your skin age versus your real age.

Noise Meter – this machine measures the sound levels of electricals, helping you choose the products that won’t wake up your flatmates.

To judge how products fare in real life, we also ask our trusted panel of consumers to try them out at home over a set period of time. Products are blinded (to avoid brand bias) before being sent to our panel, who then feed back on everything from design to performance.

We analyse the results of both our lab and consumer testing before recommending our top products to you.

Food and drink

Looking to add a delicious orange wine or celebratory English sparkler to your dinner party menu, or perhaps sip and shake your way through some luxury vodkas and tequilas? The ELLE Lab wine and spirits experts – all WSET trained – test hundreds of bottles a year to find the crème de la crème.

Our tasting panel, consisting of consumers and our experts, try the latest bar cart beverages – all blinded to avoid brand bias – and report back on their appearance, aroma, flavour and mouthfeel. Drinks that score above our pre-set pass rate can be featured in ELLE Lab edits.

How to join our consumer panel

If you’d like to join one of our consumer panels and test the latest products for ELLE Lab, please click on the relevant links below and fill out our survey.

Join our beauty product testing panel here

Join our food and drink product testing panel here

Does ELLE receive a commission if you buy through a link on an ELLE Lab product?

In our online articles, we provide links to buy from ELLE Lab-approved products so that you can easily find where to purchase them, or read more information. We try to keep these links as up to date as possible so products are always in stock when you need them.

We may earn a commission if you buy through one of these links, but this does not influence our experts’ opinions.

Our team of experts test products separately from any of our commercial or editorial teams, and will only recommend products that pass our tough testing protocols. Products that fail are never recommended to you by the ELLE Lab team.

Who do I contact if I have a question about ELLE Lab?

If you’d like to know more about our endorsement, or would like to recommend a product to test, please email HIrequests@hearst.co.uk.

Note: ELLE Lab is a subsidiary of the Hearst Institute.

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