The 2022 FreeFrom Skincare Awards, now in its eleventh super successful year, opens today – seeking out the ultimate in skincare products which are ‘free from’ some of the many ingredients which consumers need or want to avoid.
As always, our good friend Alex Gazzola will be guiding entrants through the awards’ rigorous testing processes. Each product spends a month with four different testers who put it through its paces – and then comes back to be reviewed by our panel of professional skincare judges before the winners are finally decided on.
Categories include Face and Body Care, Hair Care, Men’s Grooming, Deodorants and Problem Skin plus Best Brand, FreeFrom Achievement and Over all winner. But this year the awards have a new category – Best Labelling.
The labelling issue
Readers who follow the FreeFrom Food Awards will know that for the last two years, the FFFA have had a category focused specifically on labelling. This is such a crucial element in making, selling – and buying – a freefrom product.
In food, if allergen labelling is inaccurate, confusing or even absent, it can literally be a matter of life or death – as it was in the tragic case of Natasha Ednan Laperouse who ate a baguette containing sesame seeds to which she was allergic because, at that point the regulations did not require the pack to be labelled. (Thanks to the efforts of Natasha’s parents, the regulations have now been changed, so hopefully that particular issue will not arise again.)
Although there are instances of death being caused by PPD hair dye (see earlier posts and this one in particular)….. ) we are not aware of any instance of an allergen in a skincare product being fatal. However, there are many ingredients in skin care products that consumers might wish to avoid – nuts or milk, fragrances and other ingredients associated with skin and health issues, ethical issues and environmental concerns. But unless the product is properley labelled, listing all of those ingredients, they are not able to do so.
Labelling in skincare and cosmetics
However, while this sounds simple – it does present problems for the manufacturer. For a start, regulations require ingredients to be list in their INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) format which is often in Latin or uses the ingredient’s scientific name. Since these will mean little to the average consumer, many manufacturers also list their common or English names. But this not only requires a degree of expertise and accuracy to get them all right, but it takes up a lot of space.
Which brings you to the second problem for manufacturers. Although some jars and bottles are quite large, many products come in very small bottles and jars on which there is very little space for lengthy lists of ingredients. This means that they will be printed in the smallest font allowed (6 point) and sometimes smaller which makes them extremely difficult to read. Most manufacturers will also print the ingredients on their websites but that is not always easy or convenient to access when you are making a purchase.
Then there are the health claims. As a manufacturer you are obviously very anxious to get across the benefits of your product. But what you can claim about product which you believe could be helpful for eczema, for example, is very tightly regulated and you need to get it right. So, in the case of eczema, you cannot say a product would be good for, or help, eczema, or use any other similar phraseology. You can only say that the product ‘may be suitable for skin prone to eczema.‘
And then there are the design issues. Obviously everyone, manfacturer and purchaser alike, wants the product to look attractive but the danger is that its looks may take precedence over its usability. So space may be given to an image or promotional material which might more profitably be given to ingredient information. Or a charming colour palette (white print on powder blue or pink, for example) may look lovely but be illegible.
So, not easy…..
However, some manufacturers do get it right and the FFSA is anxious to celebrate them in its new category and hope that they will act as example to others struggling with all of those issues.
The FreefromSkincare Awards is open for entry now.
To enter go to the Awards site here where you will find the categories, the rules and criteria, the costs, FAQs which will hopefully answer any other questions you may have – and the entry forms.
You have until May 3rd to enter – but that is only 6 weeks away, so do not delay!
Finalists will be anounced in late June; winners in July.