While it has become increasingly common to leave a supermarket with a trolley of bananas, coffee and chocolate certified by the UK Fairtrade Foundation, it is far less routine to step away from the chemist with a basket of beauty products that have been made using ingredients produced under fair trade guidelines. This is because, in comparative terms, fair trade certification for cosmetics remains a fairly new development. Certain ingredients, from coconut to apricots, are Fairtrade-certified in the UK and an increasing number of brands are offering a fair trade range of some kind. Most products on this list contain UK-certified ingredients, or work within their own fair trade scheme.
To put it simply, fair trade is about developing a trading relationship centred on good working conditions, open dialogue, transparency, and sustainability for those in the developing world. By taking small, piecemeal steps, fair trade consumer practices invest in a sustainable future and address deep-rooted trade practices which keep the world an unequal place.
Here is our pick of beauty products out there that use ethically sourced ingredients. We tested these lot to bring you those that we found were effective at their intended use, as well as ticking the ethical boxes.
1. L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: £8 for 30ml, L’Occitane
This is one of the French brand’s bestsellers and contains Fairtrade-certified shea butter, which has been fairly traded with women’s co-operatives in Burkino Faso. When the fair trading partnership began in 1981, just a dozen or so women were making the shea butter but now around 17,000 are working in these cooperatives. It is not hard to see why the rich cream, which is subtly scented with jasmine and ylang ylang oil, has become a handbag staple. It’s also available in a 150ml version.
2. Neal’s Yard Remedies Jasmine and Ylang Ylang Body Cream: £30.00 for 200g, Neal’s Yard Remedies
The luxurious body cream is made with Fairtrade-certified organic honey and apricot kernel, as well as jasmine and organic ylang ylang. This subtly fragrant cream is thick and takes a while to absorb into the skin but is fully worth the wait. What’s more, the texture means a little goes a long way so it lasts for a long time. There is also a gorgeous shower gel and oil in the range.
3. Dr Bronner's Citrus Castile Liquid Soap: £13.99 for 946ml, Amazon
Dr Bronner’s natural soaps are huge sellers in the US. This one includes a combination of organic extra-virgin coconut, olive oil, jojoba and hemp oils, and pure essential oils. All of the ingredients are Swiss-certified fair trade. Producing a soft lather, it makes you feel squeaky clean and leaves skin feeling refreshed.
4. The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Gently Exfoliating Cream Scrub: £15 for 250ml,, The Body Shop
This gentle scrub is enriched with almond oil from the Alicante region of Spain, as well as honey from the UNESCO Sheka rainforest in Ethiopia. The Body Shop works with the “bee whisperers” of Beza Mar, a group dedicated to improving the livelihood of Ethiopian beekeeping communities. While the honey and almond oil are not UK-Fairtrade certified, The Body Shop uses its own Community Trade mark, in place since 1987, and mean it works fairly with farmers and suppliers, helping communities to thrive.This scrub leaves skin soft and velvety. Unlike many scrubs which are too rough on the skin, we found this just right.
5. Lush Peace Massage Bar: £6.95 for 50g, Lush
In keeping the ingredients in a sturdy, solid form, Lush massage bars are able to spurn the usual chemicals and preservatives that ensure a product remains liquid at room temperature. Dubbed a “massage bar to restore inner peace and help you make sense of the world”, the bar includes olive oil certified by Fair for Life and cocoa butter, which is FLO Fairtrade-certified. The cocoa butter comes from the Peace Villages of San Jose de Apatardo in Colombia and the oil is from a women’s cooperative in Galilee, Isreal.
6. Honey Street Handmade Sunshine Body Butter: £13.99 for 200ml, Honeystreet Handmade
Honeystreet Handmade is a family-run company based in Wiltshire which makes all of its produce in small batches. It takes its Fairtrade certification seriously, so the paper is handmade from recycled cotton and hand screen printed in a fair trade unit in India and all of its packaging is fully eco-friendly and recyclable. This could be described as the best of a good bunch of fair trade products. Unlike some other body butter, this particular number, which contains organic shea butter and other Fairtrade-certified ingredients, is swiftly absorbed into the skin and leaves it supple, with a lively, zingy scent to boot.
7. Boots Extract Mango Body Wash: £4, Boots
Both reasonably priced and ethically produced, Boots Extract body wash contains mango extract and uses Fairtrade-certified honey to introduce moisture into the skin. The honey is produced by communities in South America and helps to secure their future prosperity. As well as smelling sweetly fragrant, this body wash provides a thick lather and we felt brilliantly clean after using it.
The Verdict: Fair trade beauty products
For us, the L'Occitane shea butter comes out on top because of its ability to combine luxury and practicality, with the Neal's Yard Body Cream and zesty Dr Bronner's Citrus Castile Liquid Soap coming a close joint-second.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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