45 Categories, 142 Brands 408 Products and way too many late nights
Chanel Le Vernis – new shades for Spring 2013
Four months of trying, testing and applying, spritzing, preening, cleansing and conditioning later, the 2013 Awards are just days away now. It’s hard to believe but to be honest it’s also quite a relief. It’s been a massive undertaking this year. 142 brands, 408 products entered and there are 45 categories in all for our second ever Awards. Sleep has been a luxury since early January and every spare minute of my time, and a lot of the judges’ time, has been taken up by them. The Excel spreadsheet, our working document, is testament to that alone.
This year’s theme “Feel Good Beauty” has really brought home how interlinked the emotional-health-beauty connection is. Texture, scent, packaging, efficacy, labels/formulas were all factors that won or lost products valuable points. Some formulas were good but the packaging let them down. One impressive new moisturiser we loved didn’t make it to the shortlist. Why? Because you couldn’t get it out of the thin neck of the bottle, even if you turned it upside down! Another serum – again good – didn’t make it, sadly sabotaged by a badly designed pump/bottle. And if you’re going to create a facial spritz that’s very different (this one was and we did like it because the formula was a clever one which we hadn’t seen before), please give it the spray bottle it deserves, not one that squirts the hydrating toner into your right eye like a blast from a garden hose – aaargh!
This may sound weird but you can feel the love, commitment and the integrity that goes into many beauty brands – on the flipside, we can sniff out an “empty label” – Basset Hound style – at a distance of 500 yards. When the (one) natural botanical touted on the label appears at the end of the ingredients, and the first 10 ingredients are all synthetic/potential allergens, you know that product won’t be up for accolades (at least not from us!)
It’s important to point out that The Beauty Shortlist Awards are not sponsored. Brands didn’t have to pay an entry fee (this may change next year) and we haven’t run ads, so there’s zero it in for us – other than a very valuable opportunity to get an eagle eye view of the beauty industry. What works, what doesn’t? Where do brands go right, where do they go wrong? (Interestingly there were a lot of “repeat scenarios”, same mistakes). And then there were the products that just made our hearts sing! It’s all been a bit like a day on the beauty desk at a magazine…or a year at the beauty desk of a mag, squashed into four months of trying, testing, judging, scouting for the “best of” the “best of”, no strings attached.
The beauty industry is a wonderful one to be in but from a brand perspective, it is a crowded place and fiercely competitive. The bar gets raised constantly as we all search for our holy grail anti-ageing serum or the ultimate gloss treatment for our less-than-glossy hair. It’s a daunting prospect but the drive of many of the (mostly female) brand founders has been inspiring and when you watch it all happening from the outside, you just know how much hard work these entrepreneurs put into developing, defining and marketing their particular products – it’s extraordinary (many of them mums, juggling children, home and work – amazingly!)
So I hope that the brands who win or are shortlisted this year will feel recognised, honoured – and appreciated! Few things have the feelgood factor of applying a new Dior lipstick for the first time as you step out of the door on a Friday night, another work week over, and a whole weekend to look forward to. Or finding a fab new mascara for under £7. Nail colours for spring, peacock blue eyeliner, a concealer that really conceals, a fragrance that fast forwards us into early summer (or reminds us of special summers come and gone)…
We’ve made some exciting discoveries and we can’t wait to share them with you on Friday.
The 2013 Beauty Shortlist Awards are on Friday 15 March.