One of my top Allergy Show highlights was the third annual FreeFrom SkinCare Awards ceremony which took place hidden away in a room in the back corner of the exhibition hall in the Love Natural Love Organic show, which was taking place on the same day in the same hall.
Why was this one of my highlights? Well I am very proud to be one of the FreeFrom SkinCare Award judges, included because I have very sensitive eczematous skin which makes me highly qualified for a the Problem Skin Category. This skin has to have some uses!
The Awards take an incredible amount of planning, organisation, hard work, sweat and tears and are managed pretty much single handedly by Alex Gazzola who many of you may know on Twitter as @HealthJourno.
“The standard was far higher this year, and all winners and medallists performed exceptionally well and demonstrated terrific ‘free from’ properties,” said Alex Gazzola, Awards co-ordinator. “Like last year, it was particularly encouraging to see many smaller or boutique brands holding their own among the big guys – and often beating them!”
So don’t be discouraged from entering if you are a small independent producer – it’s not just the big companies who do well so give it a go next year. Entries for the 2015 Awards will open in January.
I was delighted to see that it was very well attended with hardly an empty seat in the room. I almost missed it, sitting happily in the Newburn Bakehouse seminar area listening to a talk about the new FIR Food Service allergen Regulations (more about them later). Thankfully the organisers chose to announce that the awards were about to take place or I would have missed them completely. I can only apologise for leaping up and racing out of that presentation! There was just so much going at the Allergy Show it was hard to choose what to do, see and explore at any one time.
This was the third FreeFrom Skincare Awards, this year sponsored by NATorigin, who have won the awards in the past with their natural organic hypoallergenic skincare and cosmetic range and also by Spiezia, who produce lovely skin friendly ointments that are kind to eczema skin. The awards have grown and grown over the years with more and more entrants and categories each year making the job of the judges and testers more interesting and challenging.
As a regular judge at these awards I was involved with the initial analysing stage which involves in-depth discussions about the ingredients, labelling, freefrom claims and the look, feel, smell and ease of use of the products. We are able to test how the products smell, look, feel, do they smooth on easily, leave the skin oily, greasy, are they easy to use. Picture bowls of warm water and flannels so we can wash off each product before we try the next. We really put each product through its paces and when I leave I always smell like a perfume shop, wafting my way home across London smothered in a bit of everyone’s product!
This year there were some lovely products put through for testing and I am pleased to see that some of my favourites were commended and even won categories. Being the one with the sensitive skin, anything with claims to be suitable for such special types was daubed onto my skin, so the day involved copious washing off and reapplying of new emollients and ointments. At one point, one eye made up with one brand of mascara and another brand of eye pencil and the other eye with completely different products. I am not one for wearing much makeup as a rule so it was great to get some tips on how to apply things like blusher from the experts. It’s a bit like having a pampering day but just slightly more frantic when you have a number of categories and almost 70 products you simply MUST look at all on the same day!
The judging process is split over four days, after which the rigorous month-long assessment by testers recruited by the FreeFrom Skincare Awards’ associates, the Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible, begins in earnest! All the products entered had to be freefrom allergens, chemicals, additives and fragrances associated with skin sensitivities, allergies, ethical and health concerns.
To find out more about the judging process click here. There is even a picture of me I think, examining an eye pencil on the back of my hand! Like you do!
The winners were announced by Foods Matter’s Michelle Berridale Johnson to a packed room, me straining to see from my perch in the back row, the only seats left by the time I managed to find the room, out of breath from wading through hoards of freefromers.
Winners then received their awards at from the ‘Imperfectly Natural’ beauty and holistic health guru, Janey Lee Grace.
Drum roll please… The winner was Tropic Skin Care’s Smoothing Cleanser with Organic Bamboo Cloth taking top honours with the Overall Award for Best ‘Free From’ Skincare Product. “Just the best cleanser I have ever used,” enthused one tester. “Absolutely amazing.”
Including green tea and eucalyptus to brighten the complexion and jojoba and avocado to nourish and hydrate, the Cleanser was the winner in the Face Care ‘Take off’ Category.
I really liked this product, particularly the inclusion of the bamboo face cloth which was a nice touch, very soft and added a dimension to the product. It was refreshing and soothing and we all loved it – well it won so the testers must have agreed!
Now I could give you a list of all the Gold, Silvers and Bronzes but the Award website does that far better than I can here with a full rundown of Winners of the FreeFrom SkinCare Awards 2014.
I will just mention a few brands which I loved during testing… because I don’t have time to mention all of them. Seriously, the quality of products was so high.
- Elixirs of Life’s Gardeners Life Hand Cream – so luxurious for soothing dry skin after gardening but I’d use this anytime as a hand cream and foot cream.
- Barefoot SOS – I love all their products, especially the hand cream
- Green People – Lovely products which have never irritated my eczema skin
- Botanicals – were awarded Gold in the Best Free From Skincare Brand with all three products entered winning Silver
- Spiezia Organics – especially the calendula ointment
- Jane Iredale – very soft easy to apply Eye Pencil – which won Gold in the makeup category
- NATorigin, Compact Face Powder which got Silver in the makeup category
- Lyonsleaf, Healing Calendula Balm – which got Gold in the Problem skin category
- MuLondon, Organic Marigold, Frankincense & Myrrh Moisturiser
- Weleda – do a huge range of skincare, hair and bodycare products
I was lucky enough to meet…The brains behind Nom Nom Skincare’s Organic Pregnancy Stretch Butter Camillia and Vanilla (Family Skincare category – sponsored by NATorigin) which was such a lovely product it shouldn’t be reserved only for pregnant tummies.
The products are packaged in vibrant fresh lime green and orange packaging and the Silver Award winning Calendula and Evening primrose baby butter is a very delicous product. Again – not just for babies – perfect for sensisitive skin everywhere! Baby can share.Emma from Eve of St Agnes, Hydrating Body Cream who got a Silver award in the Body Care (leave on) category. This product is beautifully packaged with natural and wildlife drawings. I love owls! and I know that shouldn’t influence my preference but the packaging really appeals to me. Something any woman would be delighted to receive as a gift (hint hint! Mr What Allergy? Are you reading this? Wedding anniversary pending…).
I met Emma in the back row of the awards ceremony and again by strange coincidence in the coffee shop as the only empty seat was at her table! Lovely to meet you Emma and put the world to rights over coffee!
Be nice to your skin
If you have dry sensitive skin, eczema or psoriasis and are fed up with giant tubs of lard that make you feel dirty or maybe just about ready for a cross channel swim attempt you should check out some of these products for when you want a bit of luxury for your troubled skin. I’m not knocking Epaderm, which I do rely on for my own eczema skin. It’s cheap and available for me on prescription but there isn’t a single healing or natural thing about it. It’s made from paraffin wax which I wouldn’t choose to eat – but I let my skin drink it every day. We should all think about what we smother in our skin. Your skin absorbs 60% of what you rub into it so have read of the ingredients of some of your skincare products and think about being a bit nicer to your skin as well as your body and what you eat.
You might also be interested in the following:
SkinsMatter.com – www.skinsmatter.com
The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible – www.beautybible.com
The Love Natural Love Organic Show – www.lnlo.co.uk
NATorigin – www.natorigin.co.uk
Spiezia Organics – www.spieziaorganics.com
Janey Lee Grace – www.imperfectlynatural.com
Twitter: @FFSkincareAward / @SkinsMatter