Women's Health Lab: How we put products to the test in real-world and lab conditions

·8-min read
Photo credit: hearst
Photo credit: hearst

You’ll see the Women's Health Lab Approved logo on some of the products we recommend both online and in our magazine. This logo represents hours of rigorous testing by our Women's Health Lab team, who put products to the test in both real-world and lab conditions.

The Women's Health Lab team works to provide unbiased, in-depth product reviews you can trust, recommending the best products on the market so you can buy with confidence.

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

What is the Women's Health Lab?

The Women's Health Lab – located in Soho, London and Feltham, West London – is where our team of experts dedicate their days to testing a variety of products and services.

Our experts work across four categories – health and fitness, beauty, homes, and food and drink – and test thousands of products every year to find the very best on the market.

The team use a mixture of their own scientific knowledge and industry experience to put brands’ claims to the test. They use specialised equipment in our lab to check everything from the water resistance of a running jacket (no rain-based excuses now, sorry!) to whether that anti-ageing eye cream actually works.

Every product is assessed against a strict set of protocols devised by the WH 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.

Where relevant – for example with sports apparel and beauty products – we will also send products to a panel of consumers to try at home, taking care to ensure that it reflects Women's Health'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 have failed our testing and we do not recommend them to you. To help signpost you to the products you can trust, our Women's Health Lab Approved logo will only appear on products that have been tested in this way.

How does Women's Health Lab Approved differ from other product recommendations?

The Women's Health Lab Approved logo is a simple way to let you know where more rigorous testing has taken place, often focusing on products that make measurable (rather than subjective) claims.

This sets us apart from the overwhelming number of product reviews available today, as we go the extra mile (often literally, such as when testing hiking boots) by working with thousands of consumers and experts to gain the most in-depth feedback out there.

You won’t see this endorsement against all of the products that we feature, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth buying. The Women's Health editors also recommend their favourite products and services online and in print, based on years of industry experience and insider know-how on the latest consumer trends.

How the Women's Health Lab test

Health and fitness

Buying gym equipment or sports gear can be expensive, so you’ll want to know you’re getting decent value for money before parting with your cash. Using our in-house gym and state-of-the-art lab equipment, our team of health and fitness experts test everything from adjustable dumbbells and rowing machines to base layers and wetsuits.

For certain products, we also ask our consumer panel of fitness fanatics their opinion, sending them exercise underwear, yoga leggings and more to try in real-world conditions. After doing a full analysis of the feedback, products are awarded a final score, with only the highest-scoring earning the Women's Health Lab Approved logo.

Beauty

From sulphate-free shampoos to shaving subscription boxes, our team of experts test the latest beauty products using a combination of lab tests and consumer feedback. The team, who are all cosmetic scientists, use a variety of equipment in the Women's Health 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 effective grooming products are, from how nourishing a shampoo for dry hair really is to how smooth a shampoo bar leaves strands.

The Multi Skin Test Centre – this machine assesses hydration, skin barrier function and oil/sebum control when testing skin and hair care products. This means we can find out how effective a LED face mask is at brightening skin, or how well a cleanser combats acne.

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 such as electric toothbrushes and hair dryers, helping you choose the products that won’t wake up your flatmates.

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

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

Homes

Whether you’re looking for a coffee machine to get you going pre-HIIT or a new mattress to help you sleep better and recover faster, our experts test the latest home products to find the best on the market.

They’ll create a robust set of testing protocols that will push each product to its limits. For example, when testing smoothie makers and air fryers, we’ll use multiple recipes and ingredients to ensure the most consistent results whatever your choice of post-fitness fuel.

We always test in a controlled environment to ensure fairness. Some products, such as pillows and weighted blankets, are also sent to our panel of consumers to try at home, so we can get real-world data on how they perform.

Every product is given a final score, with those that score over a certain number (pre-set by our testing team) earning the Women's Health Lab stamp of approval.

Food and drink

Looking for a fun new gin to try for summer, or a trendy organic wine to serve your dinner guests? The Women's Health Lab wine and spirits experts – all WSET trained – test hundreds of bottles a year to find the best on the market.

Our tasting panel, consisting of consumers and our experts, try the latest wines and spirits – all blinded to avoid brand bias – and give us feedback on appearance, aroma, flavour and mouthfeel.

Our panel also blind taste test a variety of foods every year, from nut butters and nutritious recipe boxes to healthy (ish!) Easter eggs, assessing them on aroma, taste and texture before an overall score is awarded. Any food or drink product that scores above our pre-set pass rate will be featured with the Women's Health Lab Approved logo.

How to join our consumer panel

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

Join our health and fitness product testing panel here

Join our beauty product testing panel here

Join our homes product testing panel here

Join our food and drink product testing panel here

Does Women's Health receive a commission if you buy through a link on a Women's Health Lab Approved product?

In our online articles, we provide links to buy from Women’s Health 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 that 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 strict testing protocols. Any products that fail are not eligible for our endorsement and are therefore not recommended to you by the Women’s Health Lab team.

Can brands purchase the Women's Health Lab Approved endorsement?

Yes, we do allow brands to purchase the Women's Health Lab Approved logo but only after their product has passed our rigorous tests. Brands have no say in how we test products, as all testing is completed independently from commercial or editorial teams. Brands whose products fail are not allowed to purchase our endorsement.

Is your brand interested in our endorsement? Contact accreditations@hearst.co.uk for more information.

Who do I contact if I have a question about Women's Health Lab Approved?

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: Women's Health Lab is a subsidiary of the Hearst Institute.

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