To a small company a popular review post can be of enormous value. It's one of the reasons I am selective about who I support. I accept samples in good faith. I do not take lightly the decision to publish my thoughts and opinions. When working with brands, I endeavour to keep communication open and usually provide private feedback or ask questions before a blog post goes live.
A few weeks ago I responded to a request for bloggers with eczema to review a balm. I knew the company and I had brought products from them in the past so I was more than happy to volunteer. As I sat down to write my review, I remembered I needed to query the ingredients label. I emailed and enquired if the lack of INCI (ingredient only stated in English) was an oversight or did I have outdated packaging (I had agreed to accept a sample that failed quality control). I also did not recall this problem when I purchased one of their other products.
I was surprised by the response, in their opinion the label was compliant (they had received legal advice). I directed them to the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2008. The next email received proudly informed me that they had done their own research and referenced that the July 2013 regulations (EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009) do not stipulate INCI so they are not in the wrong over the labels. I am not surprised by the conclusion made, as they referred me to an unofficial website. However, if you research thoroughly, you will discover statements that the requirement for INCI remains unchanged. (In April I wrote a blog post on the regulations click here)
At the point where you get told "I thought getting a free sample would be beneficial to you, this has perhaps not being the case.” I am willing to throw in the towel. I would rather concentrate my time on brands that are not afraid of feedback be it good or bad.
This company expects a review but I have been put in an awkward position. The frustrating part is the dilemma between supporting this company (as they do have good products) and fighting the nagging feeling that I can’t recommend a brand failing to meet regulations. Giving this company a recommendation is a disservice to all the brilliant brands I have work with who I know are diligent about regulations. The other sticking point is purely personal. I don't want to feel the wrath of an angry company because I have to be truthful in a review and they clearly disagree with me. I have gone there in the past and whilst my readers are hugely supportive and commend me for it, I'm the one that has to manage the furious emails.
This experience has highlighted to me that there are major flaws in how the cosmetic regulations are managed and enforced. Can the fact that a company is small and laws are complex really be an excuse for getting this wrong? I do sympathise to an extent but with the internet at our finger tips we can unravel most things. All my knowledge comes from asking people in the industry, reading books and the internet. I also want to highlight that if a company can't get labelling correct what other elements of the regulations are they failing to comply with? Are they keeping batch records or registering their products with the CPNP?
I feel the need to stress to other bloggers that cosmetic regulations are important. I’ve been informed that some don't care about lack of INCI. I understand where this derives from because English is easiest to understand, but the bottom line is regulations are in place for consumer safety. Consider this, you choose a product, you are happy it's suitable for your needs and then you mysteriously react to it. You just placed a huge amount of faith in that product because of the information provided on the packaging. INCI labelling, expiry dates and listing allergens protect the consumer and company alike.
I want UK bloggers, especially those of you who use natural skincare, to be more aware of the whole picture when reviewing products. Natural and Organic skincare is on the rise, we want it to continue that way and in order to get it on the shelves of big stores, companies must get regulations right.
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