How the database works

We’ve analyzed 6,000+ beauty products. Let’s get to your matches.


Each product is categorized according to the properties that most influence our buying decisions. Here are explanations behind the categories.



Packaging determines how we apply a product and what tools we expect to need. So, the formulation is limited to 3 easy choices that correspond to packaging and consumer expectation. A liquid can flow. A brand may call it a “cream,” because of thick texture, but it flows when pressure is applied to its delivery method (like pressing a pump or squeezing a tube.) As a result, it is called a liquid by Pigment File. If that same product were packaged in a jar, it would be labeled a cream by Pigment File.


Coverage defines the transparency of a product upon application with the recommended tool. Transparency can change when the method of application changes, but Pigment File labels products according to the manufacturer’s intended outcome.


Manufacturers use over 100 terms to describe the way a product reflects light once it sets on the skin. Pigment File has quantified adjectives like “dewy,” “natural,” “velvet,” into four degrees of light reflection. Finish is the amount of light the product is intended to reflect on its own – without interference from additional products layered beneath or on top.

Skin type

Skin type describes the natural skin state, as it produces oil. The presence or absence of sebum on the skin can change a product’s ultimate performance and finish. Some products claim to perform the same on every skin type, and there are also products designated for “normal” skin, which has no discernable presence or absence of surface oil.

Wear Time

The amount of time before the intended finish deteriorates is sometimes declared by a brand. When a brand does not provide an exact number of hours, but uses language like “all day” or “long wearing,” Pigment File will include that formula if “8 hours” of wear time is selected. Once the search results are compiled, you can see the original language used by the brand.


The presence or absence of sunscreen can be selected. When used correctly, sunscreen is one way to reduce the risk of skin cancer and sun damage.


Hydration is the most confusing filter in the database. Skipping a selection here can dramatically increase search results because many manufacturers bypass making a claim. Instead, they make oil-controlling formulas for oily skin and moisturizing formulas for dry skin. But this category is useful for two reasons. First, those with combination skin may want a product to suit their changing needs. Second, some may seek less conventional pairs, such as a moisturizing powder or oil-controlling formulas with a reflective finish. There are even formulas that claim to moisturize and control oil, simultaneously.

Sensitive Skin

Each person’s skin responds differently to ingredients. If someone is managing a condition like acne, eczema, or rosacea, anything applied to the skin can delay healing. Determining what works and doesn’t work is a personal task.

When non-comedogenic is selected, Pigment File eliminates formulas that include common pore-clogging ingredients. The database relies solely on an independent assessment of the ingredients.

Likewise, the database independently searches each formula for fragrant chemicals and extracts before categorizing them as fragrance-free.

Ingredients to Exclude

You can choose to eliminate specific ingredients from the results.

Animal-tested Ingredients

Pigment File assigns a cruelty-free designation according to information provided by the brand.


Price is determined by at least two sources listing a non-discounted price.