Skincare Shopping on a Budget: Understanding Smart & Fair Trade Skin Care

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Fair Trade skincare has many benefits. They go beyond younger-looking skin, and can impact everything from the quality of the products we buy to the quality of life in developing countries.

It's hard to believe that the simple act of purchasing skincare could help end global poverty. But the fact is that it can -- when people buy products made with fairly-traded ingredients.'s latest article, "The Benefits of Fair Trade Skincare," discusses what everybody should know about the advantages of Fair Trade.

Changing the face of skincare

It wasn't long ago that the term "Fair Trade" seemed exclusive to coffee imports. Today, however, Fair Trade Certified ™ labels are popping up on everything from shampoos to moisturizers to body butters.

Driving the trend is consumer demand. According to Organic Monitor, a research and consulting company that specializes in the international organic industry, Fair Trade "is catching on as it enables cosmetic products to be marketed on ethical values, attracting consumers concerned about social inequality and sustainability."

The sales figures agree. In 2007 alone, global sales of Fair Trade cosmetics increased by a staggering 47 percent, according to Organic Monitor. And with the benefits it holds for farm workers, the environment and the consumer, we can expect more growth to come.
Empowering developing communities

If there's one word that sums up the concept of Fair Trade, it's "empowerment." By ensuring that farmers receive a fair wage for their goods, Fair Trade prevents worker exploitation and helps disadvantaged communities pull themselves out of poverty. Paul Rice, President and CEO of TransFair USA, a third party certifier of Fair Trade products, tells ABC News that Fair Trade can bring farmers two to three times the earnings they'd receive in local markets.

But price is only part of it. When people purchase fairly-traded skincare, they're also supporting vital principles like:

  • Humane working conditions, including laws to prohibit child labor.
  • Direct trade, so that farmers can cut out the middleman and develop direct relationships with purchasers.
  • Community development, where farmers invest back in their communities to improve the level of healthcare, nutrition, education and training available to their people.

Protecting precious resources

As much as Fair Trade is about protecting workers, it's also about protecting the environment. To earn certification on their products, farmers need to adhere to strict environmental standards.
According to TransFair USA, harmful chemicals are prohibited "in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect famers' health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations."

And farmers have every reason to take sustainability seriously. On top of fair prices, they also receive financial incentives for soil and water conservation efforts and for promoting environmental education within their communities.

Bringing quality to the consumer

Many believe that buying fair trade skincare means safer, better products. Because ingredients are grown to meet eco-friendly criteria, and producers are paid enough to forego cost-cutting measures, consumers are assured a top-quality product.

In addition, many Fair Trade products are also certified organic. Because organic skincare excludes synthetic materials, pesticides and other harsh materials, it's believed that the body metabolizes these ingredients more effectively than conventional products.
Importantly, however, keep in mind that organic ingredients can still irritate the skin and many conventional skincare ingredients, like retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids have years of research to substantiate their safety and efficacy.

When selecting Fair Trade skincare, the best bet is to read the label----on both organic and non-organic products----in order to know precisely the ingredients the product contains.

Paving the way for a larger selection
While cosmetic companies are responding to consumer demand, retailer shelves aren't exactly overflowing with Fair Trade options. Part of the problem is that there are only so many certified Fair Trade ingredients available----and only a few of them are appropriate for use in skincare. Vanilla, shea butter, honey and cocoa are a few.

But there are more options on the horizon. According to FLO International, a standards and certification organization, "new product development is a very important issue for the future of Fair Trade." covers all skincare and beauty topics from head to toe. Check out these latest articles:

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Bobby Lyons
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