Fair Trade makeup artist and guest blogger Louise Dartford tells us how we can make a difference by simply buying Fair Trade beauty products.
As consumers it’s becoming easier to make good decisions in our everyday shopping, as more and more beauty and skincare brands are including Fairtrade certified ingredients in their products.
Fairtrade certification ensures that the producers receive a fair price along with a Fairtrade premium that can go towards projects that help local communities. We can even make a difference with our choice of lipstick as Fairtrade cosmetics are becoming more readily available.
What does Fairtrade certification mean for beauty and skin products?
The Fairtrade Foundation, the UK division of Fairtrade International, launched certified Fairtrade beauty products to the UK in June 2009. Since then the market has been growing steadily with an 8.4% growth on sales between 2011-2012 and an estimated retail value of £11.5m in 2012. According to Globescan, in 2011 47% of consumers wanted more Fairtrade certified cosmetic products.
The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) is responsible for setting the standards for certification, of which there are two categories:
- Category A covers the products that are left on the skin, for example moisturisers, they must contain at least 5% Fairtrade certified ingredients.
- Category B covers wash off products such as shower gels, and they must contain at least 2%.
These percentages seem quite low, but some beauty products can actually contain just a small amount of the natural ingredients, the rest being made up of water and synthetics. If the requirements were to be set higher it would be very limiting for all involved. The Fairtrade Foundation expects companies who use the Fairtrade ingredients to use as much as they can and to commit to helping the producer’s communities in other ways.
At present there are over 200 Fairtrade certified ingredients available under FLO’s standards and 160 certified beauty products in the UK. There are also other certification bodies from other countries and many associations working across the globe to strengthen the Fair Trade.
How Fair Trade and Organic go hand in hand
Fairtrade also encourages farmers and producers to work using sustainable methods, thus respecting the environment too. Organic and Fairtrade values go hand in hand so it makes sense where possible to combine the two. A new but growing market, there are some amazing beauty products that do contain both organic and Fairtrade.
Beauty and Skin Care Brands embracing Fair Trade and Organic ingredients
Every product made by Visionary Soap Company carries the Fairtrade logo. The UK based company strives to use as many Fairtrade ingredients as possible across the whole range. Working with producers from eight different countries, Visionary Soap Company uses way above the minimum requirements and will continue to add as more ingredients become certified. The brand runs projects with their local community in Hastings, East Sussex. Their Organic Lip Balms contain 34% Fairtrade certified ingredients: olive oil from Palestine and shea butter from Ghana. The balms come in four flavours – my favourite is orange – and feel great on the lips with no stickiness.
Not content with being certified Organic, Dr Bronner’s also became Fairtrade certified in 2007 by Swiss Certifier IMO. The brand uses Fairtrade ingredients in their products, including olive, hemp, palm and coconut oil. At first, they found it difficult to source organic and Fairtrade ingredients, so they set up initiatives to supply Fairtrade and organic ingredients to other responsible companies. For example, Serendipol in Sri Lanka supplies coconut oil to other responsible companies. Dr Bronner’s has a great range of products, including the Liquid Magic Soap – with 18 suggested uses, it’s great for travel. I’m a fan of the almond fragrance!
Akoma Skincare works with the Akoma Cooperative Multipurpose Society in Bolgatanga, Ghana to create a certified organic and Fairtrade raw shea butter. Collecting, processing and selling shea nuts and shea butter is one of the main sources of income in this poverty-stricken area. The group enables women in particular to earn a fair wage. They are planning to expand the women’s skills into things like dressmaking and soap making in order to create work opportunities outside of harvest time.
The Shea Butter is the base to many of the Akoma skin products, and it can also be bought on its own either to custom blend products yourself, or to use as is. The fact it is raw and unrefined means that it retains all of its goodness. Shea Butter is full of vitamins and minerals, an excellent moisturiser and good for many skin conditions such as Eczema.
Essential Care is a family run business based in Suffolk with a mission to make the purest skincare in the world. All their products are still hand made and developed on-site, using well-sourced natural raw and organic materials. The lipstick, which comes in eight shades, is certified organic and Fairtrade – shea butter is the ingredient that makes it so. It’s also in the eye and lip liners, making them pass the standard as well. The textures of all three are lovely and smooth, gliding on with ease. They moisturise skin while still having great durability. I’ve got the Raspberry Coulis lipstick, which is just as it sounds – a really wearable sheer raspberry pink that works well with the Rose lip pencil.
French cosmetic brand Couleur Caramel is a natural line made with high percentages of Fairtrade and Organic ingredients. Fairtrade Baobab Oil, certified by PhytoTrade Africa, is used to formulate their Make-up Base, Compact Foundation and Dark Circle Concealer. PhytoTrade Africa works throughout the Southern African region to promote a fair and reliable supply chain of indigenous African plants, along with biodiversity conservation and human rights. The Baobab fruit is high in Vitamin C and has great antioxidant properties, helping it to nourish, moisturise and protect skin, perfect as a make-up ingredient.
Terre d’Oc is another French Organic cosmetic brand that is now incorporating many Fairtrade ingredients into their products. Lipsticks are made with Fairtrade and organic argan oil from Morocco. Argan oil is anti-ageing and moisturisng. Using Fairtrade argan oil helps the Berber women to learn to read and create financial independence. The powder eyeshadows contain Fairtrade pomegranate oil, which comes from the Himalayas where a Fairtrade project has allowed 250 villages access to clean water. Using Fairtrade shea butter in the Terre d’Oc foundations has helped training in organic farming and sustainable energy in Burkino Faso and Mali. Fairtrade and organic green tea is also used in the liquid eyeliner, and coconut oil in the lipglosses.
Louise Dartford is a Fairtrade Make-up Artist.