Although it’s our ‘rest’ period during the annual cycle of the Free From Skincare Awards, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy thinking, pondering, rethinking, and thinking some more about how the 2013 Awards went, and about how we can change things – hopefully for the better – for next year.
Revisiting and where necessary revising our criteria has been essential. The ingredients we do allow, don’t allow, do like, and have some concerns about, can all change according to new research, public opinion, the feeling among experts, the availability of alternatives, changing policies among cosmetic bodies, product labelling changes, and many other reasons – so it’s important we go through this process of reappraisal, and consider all options. It’s also vital that the criteria and rules are fair, attainable but nevertheless specific and demanding, though not so strict that we restrict entries to only the very purest, most virtuous or most hypoallergenic products. It’s important we consider all ‘free from’ consumers and considerations, and that we clearly set out a certain achievable and yet high standard that we expect from Award-nominated products.
Petrochemically derived ingredients are perhaps causing us the greatest current problem which we’re currently trying to iron out. There are many of them, they’re not always easy to spot on ingredients lists, and manufacturers and ingredients suppliers are, we have come to realise, sometimes puzzled too. Anyone who’s involved in the natural skincare industry and has spent any time in cyberspace – Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc – can’t have failed to notice that discussions concerning petrochemicals and petrochemical-derived ingredients can get very tense and passionate, and people carry strong feelings about them.
Last year, we really learned how complex this area can be, further complicated by the fact that many ingredients can be both petrochemically derived and naturally derived. We’ve been going over the issues with some of last year’s judges, and debate has been challenging, thought-provoking and even a bit heated – but always amicable and fascinating. We will let you know what decisions we’ve reached, when we’ve reached them, next month. Meanwhile, if you have any views on these, however strong or ‘against the grain’, we’re more than happy to hear them. We’re not afraid of a bit of drama … !
But this post is really about the two new categories we are adding to the awards in 2014.
The first is a category assembled from three of the categories we had in the 2013 Awards. Last year we had two ‘Hand and Bodycare’ categories (ie ‘Leave on’ and ‘Wash off’), and a ‘Make up and Nail Care’ category. From those, we have created a new ‘Hand, Feet and Nail Care’ category, which will incorporate hand washes, hand creams, foot creams, foot scrubs, cuticle care products, and more. The original three categories will continue, but in slightly modified forms – ‘Bodycare’ (‘Leave on’ and ‘Wash off’) and ‘Make Up’.
The second is – drumroll, if you please – ‘Hard Soaps’. We have had one or two hard soaps entered into the Awards in the past, and although we have had a shortlisted soap, none has yet won a medal. We know that there are many very small producers of hard soaps out there who may like to enter an award, but might feel that their product can’t compete fairly and squarely against scrubs and gels and perhaps some other, ‘fancier’ cleansing products that they previously might be competing with. Well, this category, hopefully, will give them a chance to come up against only of their own kind! We look forward to seeing the types of soaps entered, and testing out some interesting, speciality, niche soaps with skin-friendly qualities.