Judging for the Free From Skincare Awards 2014

Judging for the Free From Skincare Awards 2014
Free From Skincare Awards are run by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, editor of the FoodsMatter.com websites and founder of the hugely successful Free From Food Awards, now in their seventh year, and Alex Gazzola, deputy editor of SkinsMatter.com and a writer specialising in allergies and sensitivities. When I was asked to help judge, my holiday form was immediately submitted and then I counted down the days like Christmas. If you regularly read my blog you will know that I assisted with Stage 2 judging last year as well.

This year I got my hands on the entrants for the categories Face Scrubs/Washes/Cleansers, Oils & Serums and Family. When I see the products lined up on the table, I’m pretty shocked at how many brands I know; I’m definitely a natural skincare addict. I am not paid to judge, I do it for my love of the awards and to feed my skincare addiction. I wear my judging hat with pride and you know what, it’s blooming hard work. I don’t think people appreciate how much goes on behind the scenes. I was only involved in stage two and in total there are four stages building up to selecting winners.

During this stage of judging, myself and fellow judges are asked to assess products on originality, ease-of-use, pleasantness, aesthetic appeal, functionality, value for money, packaging and the product's ingredient labelling for clarity and transparency. By the end of the day, we will have a list of shortlisted and commended products. The next stage for Shortlisted products, involves a panel of experienced Beauty Bible testers who put products through their paces and see how they perform over the course of a month.

Looking at labelling is a very important part of the day, as you would suspect some companies are really good at it and others are falling behind. It’s not just about product formulations, it does include checking for correct INCI formats and the declaring of essential oil allergens, all of which is a legal requirement. My advice to companies is you need to sort this out, labels and packaging can be just as important as the product inside. Food allergens crop up, especially nut oils and sesame (this year I spotted milk) and we need to give consideration to the impact on customers with allergies. 

Hardest part for me is always fragrances, good grief some products pack a punch in the essential oil department. People need to work on their blends and I’d personally say it could be toned down. This year a product which I thought smelt amazing the rest of the panel was not too keen on. I mention this because we have to take a side step from personal tastes and remember that the diversity among judges is reflective of consumers. Best part of the day, aside from Michelle’s lovely lunch buffet, was discovering a few new to me brands. I have a shopping list of products and websites I want to explore. At some point, I will get around to blogging about them but in the meantime I will keep them under my hat until the shortlist is announced on the 15th April. 

It is a long day, but I do come home with baby soft skin from applying all the creams and balms so it not all bad work. I honestly love judging because it allows me to put my wealth of knowledge to good use. I am up for the judging challenge whenever Free From Skincare Awards needs me :-)

Sarah x