For the past four or five months, I've been helping out my friends at RealSelf.com by writing blog posts about beauty products and treatments. I blog under the pseudonym "A Natural Beauty," the somewhat inappropriate name I inherited from a predecessor who must have been a lot younger than I am.
Well, for the first time today I met the founder of RealSelf face-to-face: I flew up to its offices in Seattle for a meeting.
And there I learned the bigger picture. Although I am writing a small daily blog, the site itself is becoming gi-normous. Tom and his team have built a database of more than 150 different anti-aging beauty treatments, 6000 products, 10,000 providers, and 150 different topics. Users come to the site and find out information, and then they can review treatments and products. The main question a reviewer has to answer is "was it worth it?" and the treatments are evaluated for cost, pain and benefit.
I got involved with this company because I loved the idea of dispensing good information in a market so saturated with product hype and emotional overlays. I love what Tom is doing. Disclosure: I get paid to blog for the site. But there's no chance I would do it if I didn't believe in the cause. I think of RealSelf as a valuable consumer service, especially since many of these products and services are very costly, prey on someone's fear of getting old, and may not be as effective as the marketing materials say they are.