I’m embarrassed to admit that I expected to find less knowledge of and interest in ‘free from’ skincare at the Liverpool-based Allergy and Free From Show last weekend.
I’m not quite sure why I felt like this. So many of the writers and bloggers who are interested in natural skincare appear to be London-based – or at least based in the South – that perhaps I naively assumed awareness of the growing sector was generally concentrated here, where we too are based. It’s not as if all ‘free from’ skincare companies are south of the Watford Gap either: Bentley Organic, Faith in Nature, Mary Jean, Eve of St Agnes and Live Native are just some of those companies who have performed well in our Awards and whose products both we and our testers have enjoyed.
It quickly became apparent as we exhibited at the BT Convention Centre on the Saturday and Sunday that the visitors to our stand at the show were well aware of skincare ingredients – the good, the maybe bad and the perhaps ugly – and wanted to know much more about them. And I was delighted to be proved quite wrong.
In Olympia, in Spring, at the London Show, visitors appeared interested in beeswax-free products (specifically, vegans – which may have had something to do with the fact that the Show was co-located with the V-Delicious Show) and skincare with multiple ‘free from’ attributes – for instance, petrochemicals, parabens, nuts, gluten and alcohol. We also had a query regarding citric acid-free skincare, which we’d not come across before.
I didn’t encounter any visitors looking specifically for vegan skincare in Liverpool (although many of the products entered into our Awards in 2013 were indeed vegan), but there were many queries about nut-free (not only peanut-free – but free of *all* nuts) products, about products free from the preservatives methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone (which we blogged about a few months back, in a post which still received dozens of hits a week) and also salicylate-free skincare products, about which we know very little, but are hoping to write about soon (salicylates are a class of food chemicals, related to aspirins, which occur in many plant-foods – to learn more about salicylates and salicylate sensitivity, check out our sister site Foods Matter’s dedicated section). Several also asked about gluten-free skincare, which we’ve covered before on the Skins Matter site.
Our experiences at the show encourage us to keep going in our aim to encourage improvements in ‘free from’ labelling in the industry, and discover new products with terrific ‘free from’ attributes that we can shout to our readers about. As so much of the interest in ‘free from’ skincare is food-allergen related, many of our readers will hopefully be pleased to learn that we are planning to set up a food allergy page in our Skins Matter Directories, hopefully before the end of the year, and will be asking brands to let us know the food allergen status of their products.
Finally, a huge thanks to those who visited our stand, and who signed up to our newsletters at the weekend. We gave away many samples of products from Green People, AEOS, Suti and Mary Jean at the show, and hope you all enjoy them!