Skin Care Awards
Presentation Speech 2012
Hello – I am Michelle Berriedale Johnson, editor of the Skinsmatter website and, with Alex Gazzola, our deputy editor – I am responsible for starting the FreeFrom Skincare Awards – and we would both like to welcome you all to the very first FreeFrom Skincare Awards presentation!
We are very excited to be here – and thrilled that our initiative – developed with the Allergy & FreeFrom show after last spring’s exhibition, has proved so successful – very excited to see you all here – and delighted that Janey Lee Grace, who I am sure you all have all heard on Radio 2 and whose books I am sure you have all read, was able to stay on after her talk to present the awards for us.
Why did we start the awards? Well, through our websites and the Freefrom Food Awards that I also run, we knew that many of those who have allergy or intolerance problems with food also have problems when it comes to skincare. So we felt that the time had come to celebrate and encourage, as we do with food, those manufacturers making products that are ‘free from’ the food allergens, chemicals, fragrances and additives which can give grief to those with problem skins – and that people who are keen to use only natural and organic beauty and skincare products would choose.
The Allergy and Freefrom Show having offered to host the presentation of the awards, almost immediately, bless him, James Sutton of NATorigin stepped forward and offered to sponsor the awards – for which we are hugely grateful – thank you James…..
With my old friend, Sarah Stacey, the Health editor of YOU magazine and co author of the hugely successful Beauty Bible books, we worked out what we believe to be a rigorous judging process. Very briefly:
We drew up criteria for entry which reflected the awards’ search for products that were free of certain allergens, additives, undesirable chemicals and artificial fragrances. Each entry’s ingredients were then assessed to ensure that they met the criteria and to traffic-light them for health-giving and freefrom properties.
Accepted products were then put to a judging panel for initial assessment. The panel included Sarah from the Green Beauty Bible, now an associate of the awards, a nutritionist skin expert, a celiac with significant skin problems and the awards panel of Alex, myself and Amy, our awards administrator, to ‘benchmark’ the products against ‘normal’ products.
Being the first year of the awards, we had expected 60–70 entries, maybe 100 if we were very lucky – but in fact we got over 160, which was amazing! And we realised that a large proportion of these were excellent. We therefore decided to create a special ‘commended’ category for very good and well-made products that sat well in the natural or 'free from' skincare market, but we felt weren’t quite outstanding enough to make the final shortlist.
Shortlisted manufacturers were asked to send 10 samples of their products, to be sent to 10 experienced Beauty Bible testers either with sensitive or problem skins or with a specific interest in natural and organic skincare. They ‘road tested’ each product for four weeks then completed a comprehensive questionnaire on each one.
Finally, their questionnaires were collated and assessed by the Skinsmatter judging panel in the light of the original judges’ comments – and the winners were chosen!
OK – just a few general comments before we get onto the ‘important winning stuff’…
Firstly, allergen awareness and labelling…
During the judging process we formed the view that awareness of ‘freefrom’ is not yet very high in skincare – so that quite a few products entered which actually had excellent freefrom credentials failed to say so either on their packaging or entry forms.
The communication of food allergen information was also rarely seen, so that sources of, say, vitamin E, are rarely given but this may be important for someone with serious food sensitivities. A few of our shortlisted brands (Sophyto and NATorigin for example) do confirm their gluten-free status, and another, Raw Skin Food, state that they are free of eight of the most common food allergens, but we feel there is much room for improvement here.
Several judges also disapproved of the occasional use of the blanket term ‘chemical free’ or ‘free from chemicals’– since even ‘natural ingredients’ contain chemicals and therefore this sort of statement is never strictly correct and potentially confusing – although we do understand that good intentions lie behind it.
Judges also felt that some products used up valuable space on their packaging or containers on marketing information that could have been used to convey more valuable facts about ingredients. Also, on a few products the labelling was illegibly small or printed in white on a pale background.
But quite a few brands did very well. The labelling on Barefoot’s, Salcura’s and Sukin’s products, to name just three, was very clear, and all contained ‘free from’ or ‘does not contain’ sections or boxes, similar to those seen on foods. We are also aware that many of you put a lot of terrific and clear information about your ingredients on your websites, which we did often consult during the judging process.
We will be writing a report on this year’s awards, covering both the judging and the feedback on the products, and this will be available on the SkinsMatter site by the end of the month.
Secondly, next year…
The unexpectedly large entry presented us with the problem that, expecting 60 entries, we had only offered three ‘catch all’ categories. After much head scratching we decided that, since this is what entrants had entered we should stick with this but, for next year, we will be expanding the number of categories significantly and more details will be available on the Skinsmatter website by the end of the summer.
OK – now, finally, on to the awards themselves. As it’s Olympic year, we have awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze in each of the three categories. Those who have won silver or bronze certificates can collect them from us after the presentation, or we will send them on – but we would like the gold award winners – and the overall winner – to come forward so that Janey can present them with their award and be photographed. Alex……
There was a surprisingly modest entry to the best Free From Make-up Category, given the considerably larger entry to the two other categories, but it was quality rather than quantity that we were looking for and the top three products scored very highly.
The Bronze award went to the Bellapierre Mineral Eyeshadow. “Fantastically pure and simple ingredients”, “Smooth, easy to apply, economical, and the colour holds”, “The best eye shadow I’ve ever used” our testers said.
The Essential Care Eye and Lip Liner took silver. “Lovely colour, no drag’, ‘I loved that it was so natural and long-lasting and that it did not irritate at all” were just some of the comments.
And so to the gold…. “I was deeply sceptical about this product” wrote one tester, “but it worked surprisingly well”. “Very good at conditioning and at moisturising” remarked another.
Making a nail polish remover which actually works and which is free from chemicals such as toluene, acetones and alcohol is, we imagine, a major challenge. But one company, at least, appears to have done it. We are therefore delighted to present the first ever Gold Award in the make up category to Fresh Therapies for their Eden Natural Nail Polish Remover.
Body and Hair Care.
There were a couple of products in this category that changed lives for two of our Beauty Bible testers but despite their transformative effect they were narrowly pipped to the medals when all testers’ feedback was taken into consideration.
The first was the Salcura Topida Intimate Hygiene Spray – ‘I was so thrilled by this product’ wrote one tester. ‘A fantastic natural solution to an unpleasant problem which worked brilliantly well. Entirely stopped itching and eased soreness.’
The other was the Kadria Belly Balm. This was the first product one tester had found in 10 years which softened hard and painful scar tissue to the point that she no longer needed to use painkillers.
Right, onto the medal winners… We awarded three bronzes in this category – the first to Salcura’s Zeoderm Skin Repair Moisturiser. This was a ‘life changing’ product for one tester – ‘Love it, love it, love it! After hundreds of different creams after all these years, this little one does the job!’ – but she was not alone in her approval.
A second bronze went to the Miessence Organic Foaming Hand Soap: “light, refreshing, and gorgeous” was one comment, “left my hands feeling soft and moisturised” was another.
Also taking bronze was Gentle Green’s EczTend Soothing Cream, another life changer for one tester – ‘a miracle cream – absorbed well and totally healed my hand rash – amazing’ – and much enjoyed by several others.
We awarded two silvers. Yet another high-performing Salcura product – the Dermaspray Intensive Nourishing Spray – took one. “I’d give it 11 out of 10 if I could!” said a tester with severe problem skin. “The urge to scratch was immediately reduced. I can’t describe the radical improvement in my skin.”
The Barefoot Botanicals SOS Face and Body Rescue Cream also took silver. “Perfect texture and clean fragrance” said one tester, “Soft and protecting” said another, “Much improved skin tone – and relieved dry scaly skin” said a third.
And the Gold? All of our testers liked this product and for one it was a life-changer. “It made my itchy scar tissue look normal again” she said. But others loved the “light herbal fragrance, the fantastic organic qualities, the wonderful comforting smell…”
The winner of the Gold award for the best Body and Haircare product goes to Spiezia’s Calendula Ointment.
Onto face care, which was our largest category by number of submitted products and there was a huge diversity of excellent shortlisted entries, including an echinacea toner, a gel for rosacea, a mud mask, an acne spray and assorted serums, creams, balms, cleansers and washes.
As in the Body Care category, there were a couple of products in face care that changed the lives for two testers, but which narrowly missed out on the medals overall:
The first was the Australian Bush Flower Essences’ Replenishing Night Cream – ‘I’d give it 20 out of 10 if I could!’ raved this tester, ‘I loved the floral smell, it helped me relax before sleep and delivered stunning results.’
Second the Green People’s Sensitive Anti-aging 24 Hour Cream – ‘Fantastic’ wrote this tester, ‘it’s like giving the skin a perfect drink – an immediate effect, the best cream I’ve used in years.’
So who took home a bronze? Well, four products crossed the line in joint third:
The first was Sukin’s Moisture Restoring Night Cream, which proved as popular with our judges and SkinsMatter staff as it did with our testers! Everyone seemed to like its “light, silky texture” and “easy absorbability”.
The second was Inlight’s Ecz Easy Calendula and Plantago Soothing Balm, which many testers with problem skin found helped with cracked patches of skin and itchiness.
We also awarded a bronze to Borealis Organic Skincare’s Calendula Daily Defence Cream. Our testers loved this product – “Offers very nourishing butteryness” said one.
Our final bronze was awarded to Salcura’s Antiac Acne Clearing Spray – all four of Salcura’s shortlisted products did brilliantly well, and this was another life changer for one tester – ‘Love this, reduces blackheads and whiteheads, skin less bumpy. Where has this product been hiding? I’m a total convert!’ – and several others found it similarly helpful.
We awarded two silvers. The first to Antipodes’ Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream, deemed by all its testers to have excellent all-round moisturising properties, and the only product which one tester tried which she would actually make a point of buying.
And the second silver went to another cream, Faith in Nature’s Intensive Moisturising Cream, another life changer for one tester –‘It reduced dry patches, and delivered beyond all expectations. I have searched years for a facial moisturiser that works! I am thrilled.’
So to the gold award for Face care products….
Because the creams and balms were, as you’ve heard, doing so well in this category, we were expecting a cream or balm to lead the way at the end of judging …. and so we were surprised that it was, in fact, a gel that took the top gong.
“Easy to use – great consistency – a little goes a long way – performed far better than I expected – very hydrating and left skin feeling fresh and squeaky clean” were just some of the comments about our winner – “a unique and standout product” said one.
The winner is the Q Silica Remove Make-up and Grime Cleansing Gel.
So, which one out of our three gold medal winners – the Fresh Therapies Eden Natural Nail Polish Remover, the Spiezia Calendula Ointment or the Qsilica Remove Make up and Grime Cleansing Gel – was going to take pride of the place as the Best FreeFrom Skincare Product for 2012 – and take home our trophy?
It was a very difficult choice. These were three very different products, for use on different parts of the body, all of which excelled in their own individual ways….
In the end, judges noted that only one of the three products succeeded on both of two important counts: the first, in receiving almost exclusively positive feedback from our testers, and the second, in being a truly original product, quite unlike anything else submitted to the Awards….
With its nose just in front of the other two as it crossed the ticker tape, the overall winner of the inaugural FreeFrom Skincare Awards is …………
The Qsilica Remove Make-up and Grime Cleansing Gel
For further information please email the FreeFrom Skin Care Awards.
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