Beauty products are made from loads of natural ingredients that are harvested by a global network of farmers and growers. Without the shea nut collectors in Ghana or the honey harvesters in Zambia, loads of our best makeup products wouldn’t exist. That’s why, this Fairtrade Fortnight we want to champion brands taking fair trade beyond the kitchen.
We’ve all seen the Fairtrade stamp a thousand times and we know what it stands for, right? Well, a quick catch-up with the Head of Responsible Business at the Fairtrade Foundation proved me wrong. Anna Barker says: “We are at 90% awareness in the UK. The Fairtrade mark is recognised by almost everyone, but most aren’t sure what it means.”
So, what is fair trade?
The Fairtrade Foundation breaks down its certification into three key areas: fair supply chains, minimum price guarantees, and a fair trade premium.
For a product or ingredient to be fair trade it must “pass our extensive audit,” Barker explains. She goes on: “We check the whole supply chain for good practice in pay, working conditions, and sustainability. The Fairtrade Foundation trains farmers and traders to work in the right ways.”
On top of the initial audit, fair trade brands must pledge to pay a fair cost for ingredients (which is often higher than usual) and set out clear purchase quantities in advance. Both of these things ensure stability and safety for farmers in the global market.
Why are more beauty brands becoming fair trade?
“There are lots of ingredients in beauty products that carry a lot of risks,” shares Barker. She highlights shea butter and honey as the most threatening ingredients.
It’s not just ingredients that are forcing the beauty industry to change. More consumer awareness about where their products come from and the climate crisis are vital too: “People are more aware of the vulnerability of global supply chains because of Covid-19 and Brexit. They are more likely to pay a fair trade premium which means communities can invest in reforestation programmes and solar initiatives,” Barker continues.
Barker says: “Buying fair trade means the beauty products we purchase to make us feel good also make the women who have made them happy and safe too.”
The Fairtrade Foundation is the most recognised certification but there are lots of other bodies that award fair trade accreditations. Whether it’s Fair For Life, Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT), or a brand’s independent initiative, all of these products are perfect investments this Fairtrade Fortnight.