Free From Skincare Awards 2019 — the winners, the stories

The Class of 2019!

Well, it’s all over for another year, folks … The Free From Skincare Awards results for 2019 were announced last week, during a very busy Tuesday, live via our Twitter account, for the very first time running as a standalone social media event, which generated quite a bit of excitement!

There’s still time to scroll back through our Twitter feed if you missed it, although we have since aggregated all the results on our Winners Page on the Free From Skincare Awards site, where you will see the main winners, and from which you can click through to all the various category medallists — Golds, Silvers and Bronzes in all 14 — each with additional tester quotes to those which were provided on our live Twitter stream.

Although we have tweeted the results since the 2014 awards, we had always done so at the presentation event we have previously held during the Allergy & Free From Show in Olympia, London, where the announcements would be made live in front of invited shortlisted entrants and media in early July.

In those days, we would only have time to tweet the Gold winners in each category, but staggering the announcements throughout the day — from 10am until 4.30pm — meant that each medallist could be announced individually, and accompanied by a positive tester comment, ensuring that every strong performer in the Awards this year could enjoy its moment in the Twitter limelight, even if it didn’t take a Gold.

Happy @ Wrinkly HQ!

I can think of no better example of the benefits of this decision than that provided by Lisa Turner of The Wrinkly Elephant Company, who won a Bronze in Hard Soaps for her Lemongrass soap, and filmed herself following the live Twitter feed on her smartphone, capturing her moment of triumph for posterity …. view it here, with handy camerawork and a bonus thumb-up!

That was just one reason we decided on the social media route this year, but we also thought it would be an interesting experiment anyway, and one which we may continue, which also allowed everybody to take part — entrants who would otherwise struggle to make the trip to London, not only from Scotland and Ireland, but for the first time this year from the many European countries whose skincare brands qualified for entry. After all, we like to encourage the participation of small brands in the Free From Skincare Awards, especially as other awards can be intimidating or prohibitively expensive, and know that the expense of travel and a day out of the office can be out of reach for some, in addition to the stock requests and entry fees which we inevitably have to charge.

As for the winners, as we are sure you have heard, it is Weleda’s wonderful Skin Food Body Butter which ultimately triumphed and was named 2019’s Best Free From Skincare product, but curiously most of the other top performers this year came from outside of England. A sign of things to come?

Four non-English brands won two major gold awards each. Regular participants and previous overall champions Kinvara Skincare from Ireland took Golds in Eye Care and Face Care (Leave On) while newbies Laponie of Scandinavia from Finland took Gold in Face Care (Leave On) and in Achievement (the latter jointly with the super Lyonsleaf, perennial top performers in the Awards). Meanwhile, Casa Mencarelli from Scotland, but with Italian roots, took Golds in Fresh & Fragrant and Face Care (Rinse Off), and Fiini Naturally also from Finland, took Golds in Problem Skin and in Oils and Serums — and were rewarded with a visit from their local mayor bearing congratulatory flowers!

Flowers for Fiini!

We were particularly pleased to see enthusiastic European participation this year, and those Finnish entries really made an impact in a number of ways. Laponie and Fiini aside, there was a third participant, Saaren Taika, whose excellent products made the Shortlist too, and judges were struck by the simplicity of the formulas of all of the products from ‘Suomi’. Scandinavian minimalism and purity shone through and, curiously, not a ‘free from’ label in sight that we could discern. Katja, one of our judges who happened to be a Finnish beauty expert, told us she’d not come across ‘free from’ labelling before. Perhaps, when formulations are simple and contain relatively few ingredients, ‘free from’ labelling is less needed …

We were also struck by the camaraderie between brands, which is typically absent among larger beauty houses and even the bigger natural skincare companies.

This was especially noticeable on social media amongst our Irish contingent — Kinvara again, The Handmade Soap Company (who took multiple medals, including the Hair Care Gold), Holos (who bronzed in Oils and Oil Serums for their Love Your Skin Antiageing Facial Oil), and Peachy Skincare (who bronzed in Family Skincare for their Better Bum Nappy Cream). “We all know and support each other here in Ireland — it’s very important,” Holos’ Niamh Hogan told us, and that sense of solidarity could also be felt among another clearly strong community, namely the graduates and students of Formula Botanica, which include Casa Mencarelli’s Lucia. As long-time friends of the Awards, FB have partnered with us and provided us with exceptional judges and judging assistance over the years, not least the fantastic Lorraine Dallmeier.

We are still catching up on brands celebrating their successes, and have been heartened to see even non-medalling entrants feel positive about their experience with us. Julie from Anderson Organics, for instance, who produces innovative salicylate-free cosmetics, declared herself ‘over the moon‘ to have been shortlisted, despite not medalling, and this is the spirit we love to see …

Because not everybody can win, and we have never been the sort of scheme to dish out awards casually like candy, which merely dilutes the significance of the wins, but we do offer a service of providing detailed feedback to all our entrants, no matter whether they were winning, shortlisted or not shortlisted, as it’s important to us that we treat all entrants equally and fairly and give them something of value for their participation.

And to give you a sense of how dedicated our army of 100 products testers is, the total feedback runs to around 500 hundred pages of text, so can take a while to collate into a reader-friendly format! But it’s important we do so: it’s the least we can do for entrants supporting our Awards — and we are also here to offer any media support you may need while trying to secure some local or blogger coverage for your win. Participants: please ask us. We can’t help if you don’t ask.

Kirsty is busy on our Instagram page, sharing news of the winners, and liking and commenting as much as she can, and I’ll continue to do likewise through Facebook.

If you missed our previous blogs on the testing and judging, then check out my blog here and also Michelle’s blog here.

Collated media coverage of the Awards and its participants can be seen here. If you spot any coverage, no matter how local or niche, on a blog or in a paper, in English or an other language, please do let us know about it, as we’d love to see it, and add it to our growing collection!

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