A typical scene from a Skincare awards judging session – our new awards co-ordinator, Kirsty Mawhinney of Skin Insight, and Sarah Stacey of the Beauty Bible comparing notes on a product while Lorraine Dallmeier of Formula Botanica peers dubiously at her hand which has just had yet another cream rubbed into it!!
Fortunately our judges only judge one day each as I would worry seriously about their hands and arms if they did more. Over the course of that day, their arms may well have been ‘scrubbed’ three times, moisturised six times, ‘washed’ five times, treated with a serum seven times, ‘cleansed’ eight times and had a wide selection of eye shadows, under eye concealers, foundation creams, blushers and lipsticks – not to mention eczema, acne and psoriasis treatments – applied to them…. So far no permanent damage seems to have been sustained.
Our ‘professional’ judging sessions take place over three days during which our judges (all professionally involved in skincare in some capacity and often with skin issues of their own) scrutinise the formulations, claims, labelling and packaging of the entries. These have all already been tested for a month by our Beauty Bible testers who have reported to Alex on how well the products worked for them and – very important for freefrom skincare awards – whether they suffered any adverse reactions.
And here is Alex – sporting the latest fashion in beards. I am afraid that three days of breathing in rosa damascena, lavender, lemon grass, frangipani and YlangYlang can have an alarming effect on the sanity some judges…
Alex enters all the testers’ comments into a massive spreadsheet. He then shakes (but does not stir) and comes out with a list of those products which performed well enough to get shortlisted or even to be up for a medal. The role of our ‘professional’ judges is make sure that the ingredients meet FreeFrom Skincare awards criteria, make sure that they ‘work’ in terms of preservation, shelf life etc – and most important, especially for ‘freefrom’ awards, that the labelling and claims are all correct and do not in any way mislead.
And labelling is an issue as far as our entrants are concerned. There are very clear guidelines as to what you can and cannot say in terms of health/medical claims on product labels and also on how ingredients need to be listed. These are not difficult to find and although they are a little complicated, with a small amount of application, they are not hard to follow. But it is depressing, and concerning, how often ingredients are not listed as they should be and how often ‘not allowed’ health claims are made which could mislead the consumer. While this is undesirable for any consumer it can be positively dangerous for the allergic, sensitive or freefrom consumer.
However, the other job of our professional judges (see here for who they all are) is to have a quick try of the products. Not that they can, in one dab, discover as much about them as the testers can in a month. But it is helpful, none the less, to get their reaction to the products that the testers liked. However, this does, every year, give rise to some hilarity, especially when it comes to the lipsticks, salves and the masks….
Here are Sue Cane and Ruth Holroyd (of What Allergy?) working on a rather exciting green mask with spirulina. I must say that Sue did look very vibrant when she washed it off!
And here is Yanar, applying a lip pencil – a rather cool image I thought…..
And a very much less glamorous one of me applying lip salve!!!
We were also fortunate that we had beautiful weather for the judging sessions so whenever it all became too much, the judges could head out into the garden for break….
And then of course there was always lunch, a crucial part of any freefrom judging session at Lawn Road. Gluten, dairy, wheat, soya, nut and onion free this year….. Those are flaxseed fusilli, by the way – and mange tout broad beans under the chive flowers! Plus home-made hummus made with dried, not tinned, chickpeas.
For a more serious report on the products entered and the judges’ findings (without, of course, revealing the winners….) see Alex’s blog. For the shortlist, check in to the Awards site in a week’s time. For the winners, come to the Love Natural Love You show at Olympia on the 7th July, or, if you can’t make it, check back to the website after the 7th.