Low Carbon: Fairtrade beauty products
You may have your larder stocked with Fairtrade teas and pulses but what about your beauty shelves? Kate Hodal looks at the newly launched Fairtrade beauty products to see what's in store.
Once upon a time, beauty rituals consisted of milk baths and sugar scrubs - or at least Cleopatra's did.
But with natural ingredients making a huge comeback over their synthetic counterparts, it looks as though green Brits will no longer have to rely on their larder for natural beauty inspiration.
Milk and mint facial cleansers, oatmeal bath bombs and vinegar hair rinses have long been touted by green-thinking women keen to avert the artificial ingredients present in most beauty products.
But now a jaunt along the high street will lend itself to an entirely new era of beauty regimes: one of organic, natural and Fairtrade products to cleanse, scrub and moisturise our worries away.
To date, the Fairtrade logo has filled our homes via coffees, teas, wines and chocolates, but all that is set to change as the Fairtrade Foundation has just given its trademark logo to 57 beauty products here in the UK.
The move followed research which found that 31% of Brits were interested in buying Fairtrade cosmetics, meaning that lip balms, face masks, body butters and shower gels from Boots, Bubble & Balm, Essential Care, Lush and Neal's Yard will now have one or more Fairtrade ingredients in them, be it cocoa butter, shea butter, sugar or brazil-nut oil.
Five billion units of cosmetics are sold every year in Europe, according to the European Commission, using an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of ingredients. Converting some of those ingredients to Fairtrade ones increases the chances of our beauty regimes being better for our health, as well as being better for the global economy too, says Harriet Lamb of the Fairtrade Foundation.
"It's great news that the beauty industry is getting a Fairtrade makeover and that the farmers who grow the natural ingredients will get a fairer deal," she explains.
"The producers need Fairtrade now more than ever, and as the public has said they want to lead a sustainable lifestyle, this is the next step along the path to looking good and feeling great."
Consumers worldwide spent ÃÂ£1.6 billion on Fairtrade-certified products in 2007, with 64% of the UK population linking the mark to a better deal for producers in the developing world.
And now with more Fairtrade beauty products in the works, the logo is set to become ever more popular - which will in turn increase the benefits to the farmers producing them, says TV presenter Fearne Cotton, a long-standing Fairtrade supporter.
"I've tried out several of the new beauty products for myself and I love them," she says.
"They're great quality, but they also make me feel good because I know that the farmers who grew the ingredients that went into them are now able to improve their lives."
So how do the new Fairtrade beauty products feel on our skin? We tried and tested a few so that you don't have to. For more information on where you can buy them, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk.
Boots' Extracts Mango Body Butter (ÃÂ£7.34 for 200ml).
It's made with organic mango extract and organic shea butter, fairly traded and sustainably sourced from Ghana.
The verdict? "This is the best body butter I've tried to date," said our mystery tester. "The smell is absolutely divine, and the butter glides on smoothly and leaves my skin nicely moisturised and creamy, but not at all sticky."
Bubble and Balm's Herbal Mint Butter Scrub Bath Salts (ÃÂ£7.95 for 110g, www.bubbleandbalm.co.uk).
Made with Fairtrade cocoa butter, jojoba oil and Vitamin E, along with a heap of essential oils including mint.
The verdict? "I poured a handful of these salts into my bath, which left the water smelling like mint and feeling silky. The instructions said I could also use the little shea butter granules as a body-and-face scrub, so I scrubbed away my dead skin before the granules melted into a creamy moisturiser on my face, leaving my skin looking buffed and clean."
Lush's Fairtrade Foot Lotion (ÃÂ£7.59 for 225g, www.lush.co.uk).
Spearmint and peppermint oils lend the cream a refreshing scent, while the marigold herbs help relieve stress and keep the feet cool. The lotion's also packed with Fairtrade shea butter.
The verdict? "I wasn't too sure about the smell of this stuff, as it's a little too sweet for my liking. But it turned my tired, cracked feet into polished and silky smooth skin, which is more than I can say of any other foot cream I've ever tried."
Neal's Yard Remedies Sensual Jasmine Shower Gel (ÃÂ£12.60 for 200ml, www.nealsyardremedies.com).
Boasting 62% organic ingredients, this is a shower gel for eco fans who like to douse their skin in extracts of honey, Fairtrade rooibos, and essential oils of jasmine and ylang ylang.
The verdict? "I found this a little drying on my skin, and hard to lather. And it smelled less like jasmine than it did like musk, but my boyfriend liked that so he's taken it away from me!"
Essential Care 2-in-1 Purifying Mint Mask (ÃÂ£20 for 50g, www.essential-care.co.uk).
If you like DIY facial care, this is the mask for you, as you mix the minty clay mixture together with warm water, flower water or yoghurt to create a mask tailored to your skin type. Packed full of sea kelp and green clay to detox, plus Fairtrade sugar cane and alpha-hydroxy-acids to polish, this mask is also Soil Association-organic certified.
The verdict? "My skin is quite dry, so I mixed the clay with some milk - a beauty regime first for me. But it seems the milk did wonders, as my skin isn't as tight in this heat. I've even had compliments that I look like I've been on holiday, which I haven't!"