You are here: HOME > RESOURCE > LIP INK World > Cosmetic Industry News > Mar-07 > Ethical beauty

Ethical beauty

Changes in the beauty industry mean we will all soon be able to reap the benefits of ethically sourced products.
Over the next decade our approach to beauty - and the way we buy into it - will alter, as a whole new world of holistic and environmentally sound goods opens up.

The forces changing this business are similar to those that are reshaping the food industry. Better appreciation of the holistic approach to well-being (and beauty) and a desire for corresponding products is one key driver.

Greater savviness about ingredient origins is another. These interests have encouraged some brands to rethink their formulas - and their packaging - so they are more ecologically worthy.

One of the knock-on effects of this shift is a gentle rise in companies now sourcing ingredients via community trade programmes.

Beauty houses such as the Body Shop - which sources cocoa butter for its moisturisers from the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana - and One Village have had fair trade partnerships in countries such as Africa, South America and India for many years.  One Village was founded in 1979 to work in partnership with producers' societies such as the Palam Rural Centre in Tamilnadu, a community of some of the lowest caste people in southern India.

A fair trading factor in beauty is a good thing for the same reasons as in any market: it enables investment in the community the ingredients come from because the price paid covers the cost of crop production and is not affected by commodity price fluctuations.

But because fair trade is primarily about recognising the value in individuals, communities and the environment, applying the principle to a shamelessly commercial and self-absorbed business such as beauty makes even more sense because it gives products greater worth.

The following list shows how some of the most conscientious companies are participating.

Founded by Akua Wood, a Ghanaian who settled in Britain two decades ago, this range of soaps, body butters and scrubs is made with ingredients imported from producers and farmer-run co-ops in Ghana via Wood's company Sheabutter Cottage.The hero ingredient is pure, unrefined shea butter, which comes from northern Ghana, where 300 women pick the nuts from the karite tree, then dry, boil, process, crush and churn them into shea butter for Wood's products.

Star turns
Cioccolatina Shea Body Butter, 10.75, is said to be wonderful for taking the itch out of eczema and dry skin.
Other products include Shea Olea Lotion, 10, and Shea Butter Scrub, 10. (0118-969 3830;

One Village
An independent foundation that sells products from craftmakers in the poorest parts of the world from its shop near Oxford, as well as wholesale to other British retailers.One Village's main points of difference is that it strives to sell good-quality handmade products that, wherever possible, reflect the style or cultural tradition of the makers. Also the raw materials and processes used to make the products are chosen with consideration to the impact this will have on the environment.

Star turns
One Village One Aromatics Incense Sticks (12.50 for a parcel of 12 differently scented sticks) are made with natural oils and resins and unadulterated by heavy carrier oils.One Village Sandalwood and Neem Soaps (10 for four bars) are vegetarian and made with rice bran and distilled coconut oil. (

The Body Shop
As well as its non-animal testing policy, the Body Shop is committed to environmental protection and respect for human rights, and has an extensive community trade strategy.It aims to develop trading relationships with communities in need and buys natural ingredients from 28 suppliers across 22 countries from Zambia to Australia.

Star turns
Africa Spa Salt Scrub, 14, comes in a chunky Kilner jar, which makes it easy to scoop from, and contains community trade Ghanaian shea butter and Zambian beeswax.Africa Spa Honey Butter, 10, contains fairly traded honey - which makes it smell yummy, and it is said to work wonders on dry elbows and knees. Call 0845-905 0607 to find your nearest branch.

Get Ethical
This company was founded by The Big Issue and Red Pepper magazines to promote ethical consumerism.
It sources the best ethical, Fairtrade and environmentally friendly products and services available and brings them together to be sold through its website.If you buy products via Get Ethical you help to reduce environmental impact and contribute to creating sustainable communities.

Star turns
Shikakai Amla Shampoo/conditioner, 10.30, contains extracts from the herb shikakai, liquorice (which makes hair shiny), Indian soapnut and neem.It is made by an Indian company called Sasha Exports which has its own beauty manufacturing unit run by women from underprivileged communities.