I believe that everything starts with the skin. As I’m sure you will have heard before, the skin is the largest organ in our bodies. It’s our biggest natural defence organ against the outside world. It’s a living thing. And it needs constant, careful nurturing.

But, when navigating the skincare world, the seemingly endless amount of product options, conflicting advice and slick marketing can be overwhelming. I want to help people cut through the nonsense and understand what will genuinely deliver lasting results and why. Like I have at several points throughout my life, I don’t want people to fall victim to great marketing and invest time and money into skincare that has no real evidence to back it up.

My passion for judging skincare in various beauty awards stems from my ethos that I will only use what I feel are the best and the safest products and treatments in the marketplace. Creating effective skincare is what every skincare brand wants to do, whether that is with a simple face cream that keeps the skin hydrated; or a high-tech serum intending to rev up the skin’s idling repair mechanisms into overdrive to improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles; or banish acne for good.

What makes the difference is whether the product contains high-quality ingredients, and this is one of the first things I look for when judging a product. I want to see evidence-based ingredients that are research-backed and supplied at sufficient concentration levels to give a result. But ingredients only tell one part of the story. Just because the ingredients work well doesn’t necessarily mean that the formulation will. So, it’s equally as crucial that the product formula gets those high-quality, research-backed ingredients exactly where they need to go within the skin.

Take a hydrating serum that promises to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and laxity for example. Not only will it need to contain exceptional ingredients, but the formulation will also need to allow those ingredients to wiggle a bit deeper, to plump up the top layers of skin from the inside. If a brand can show me studies of their finished product as a whole, that is a gold standard in my eyes.

It’s equally important that products are free from harsh ingredients such as parabens or alcohol, which may feel nice, but alcohol can dry the skin out, which is detrimental to our skin barrier. I also want to know whether the product is non-comedogenic – essential oils and sulphates can irritate and lead to blocked pores and breakouts.

Then there’s the issue of sustainability, which is just as vital in the beauty world as it is in any other, yet we still have a very long way to go. Over the past decade, beauty consumers have woken up to the fact that sustainability is a genuine requirement rather than an optional choice, and the younger generation is particularly keen to see brands actively make better sustainability choices. I look for sustainability in products in many different ways – from the packaging to how the ingredients are sourced and even how they are washed off in our sinks. The formulations themselves should aim to be sustainable as, ultimately, that is what will end up swept into our oceans. However they do it, I want to see brands making some level of effort to incorporate sustainability into their product offerings.

Finally, I will look at the user experience. Of course, people want their skincare to deliver results, but they also want to enjoy using them. Skincare plays a big part in self-care and for a lot of people, applying their products is the only time they get to wind down after a busy day. But I feel that many skincare brands have gone too far the other way in their approach, focusing all of their efforts on just the formulation and results.

The brands that do it best are the ones that offer products with a beautiful self-care experience but are still good for the skin and deliver results. These are the products that stand out to me. They’re a rare find, but it’s truly glorious when you stumble upon a brand that can offer such a perfect combination.

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