The judging process for the Free From Skincare Awards is in four stages.
Entry forms are checked to ensure that products entered comply with our Criteria for Entry.
Once entries are accepted and product samples are received at our offices, a full-size sample of each is then sent for a month’s in-depth testing of its qualities and efficacy to four experienced testers, carefully selected from a panel of around 100, all of whom are passionate about natural beauty and ‘free from’ skincare, and who may also have sensitive/problem skins or specific allergies or ingredient requirements to take into consideration.
The hand-picked team of testers put all products through their paces for four weeks, assessing how the products do their job, and how they benefit the part of the body on which they are used. Once the testing period is over, testers complete detailed questionnaires on each of the products, and return them to us, with scores. Their scoring is based solely on day-to-day performance and month-long efficacy. From these scores, a shortlist is drawn up. Generally speaking, if at least three out of the four testers report positively on the product, it will be shortlisted.
Shortlisted products go forward to our roundtable expert panels for week-long judging sessions, usually held in May. The panels consist of a variety of individuals — including for example beauty writers, skincare professionals, allergy experts, brand owners, beauty bloggers, cosmetic formulators, and consumers with problem skin conditions or an interest in ‘free from’ skincare. Usually, five or six judges sit on each panel session.
The judges are free to open and examine the products, read the entry forms, and hear summaries of testers’ feedback on each product, individually.
In addition to considering the tester feedback, and discussing any specific points raised from them, judges will assess qualities such as originality, formulation, innovation, aesthetic appeal, value for money and much more. They will be asked to consider ‘free from’ awareness in terms of allergens and other ingredients, and manufacturers’ use of natural and skin-beneficial ingredients. An important aspect is judging the products’ labelling (including claims) for clarity, transparency and compliance — vital for consumers with any kind of sensitivity, or seeking to avoid particular ingredients due to ethical, environmental or health concerns.
Subsequently, by combining testers’ and judges’ feedback, Bronze, Silver and Gold ‘medals’ will be decided in each category.
Normally, one Gold — but sometimes two Golds — and several Silver and Bronze awards are awarded per category, depending on category size.
Once category winners are decided, a smaller judging panel will convene and decide on the key special awards — that of Best Free From Brand and Best Overall Free From Skincare Product — as well as the unique and prestigious Free From Achievement Award.
The results are expected to be announced online in June 2021.
2020 judges are listed below. 2021 judges will be revealed in May / June 2021.
NB. Judges participating in the Awards or with relationships or with vested interests in any participating brands are not involved in the judging of those brands’ respective categories or products.
* Galina Achkasova-Portianoi is a journalist, brand consultant, and the editor of The Curiosity Gap.
* Sarah Coleman blogs on natural skincare and free-from living at Sugarpuffish. She has eczema and multiple sensitivities.
* Lorraine Dallmeier is a biologist and organic cosmetic formulator, and the director of Formula Botanica — an international online organic cosmetic science school.
* Natasha Dauncey is a cosmetic formulator, and the founder of Apothaka Skincare.
* Ruth Holroyd is a writer and blogger, who runs WhatAllergy.
* Kirsty Mawhinney is the awards administrator. She specialises in developing of niche beauty brands for start up and established UK and international companies, and runs her own agency, Skin Insight.
* Sara Niven is a beauty journalist and the beauty columnist for Vegetarian Living magazine.
* Sarah Stacey is a beauty expert, consultant and joint-editor of the Beauty Bible books.
* Abi Weeds is the co-founder, with her mother Margaret, of Odylique (previously Essential Care).
Free From Skincare Awards team 2020:
* Alex Gazzola is the awards co-ordinator and director, deputy editor of SkinsMatter.com and a health writer specialising in allergies and skin health. He is the editor of Allergy Insight.
* Michelle Berriedale-Johnson is editor of FoodsMatter.com, publisher at Curlew Books, and director of all free from awards, including the Free From Food Awards.
Previous judges, who could not participate in 2020, due mainly to Covid-19, and whom we hope to welcome back in the future:
* Yanar Alkayat is a writer, digital consultant and web editor, specialising in beauty, health and fitness.
* Sue Cane is a free-from expert and long-term sufferer from psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
* Judy Johnson is a beauty and skincare journalist, specialising in sensitive skin issues.
* Katja Kokko is a Finnish natural beauty expert, formulator, and make-up artist, who edits the Genuine Beauty Book.
* Ailish Lucas, The Glow Getter, is a beauty therapist, make-up artist, and award-winning beauty blogger and influencer.
* Michelle Sutton of Butterflies Healthcare is a pharmacist, and the UK distributor of long-time previous FFSA sponsors, NATorigin.