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Who's the fairest of them all?

‘Fairtrade’ is a term that most of us are familiar with when it comes to food and drink products, and there are fairly traded options in many of the things we buy every day, from tea and coffee to chocolate and wine. But what exactly does it mean, and what are the benefits?


Fairtrade is an internationally-recognised labelling organisation that certifies products that contain fairly sourced ingredients from the poorest regions in the world, guaranteeing minimum prices, buying quantities and bonuses.

Trade relations are based on respect, transparency and participation which gives producers from developing countries a sustainable improvement of their living and working conditions.

There are more than 1210 producer groups in the world currently benefitting from the Fairtrade system and the Fairtrade label is known by 6 in 10 consumers globally. In some European countries (the UK and Germany) these figures increase to over 80%.


Small scale farmers in over 50 countries produce ingredients such as coconut, argan, apricot and brazil nut oils for beauty products. When you choose a product with the Fairtrade mark, you can guarantee that these products get a fair price for what they make, as well as support to invest in community projects, such as clean water schemes and improvements to local schools and healthcare facilities.


Fairtrade beauty and skincare products may not yet be as much part of the mainstream as Fairtrade foods, but their presence in the market is growing all the time. In the UK there are already nearly 150 products available with the Fairtrade mark, from body butter to toothpaste. So, what should you be looking for, if you want to buy Fairtrade beauty products? When you see the Fairtrade mark, you know that you are buying a product with Fairtrade ingredients. In addition, you should also be looking out for products with natural and organic ingredients, that are free from mineral oils and free from paraffin, parabens and silicone. You may also want to check if the ingredients are certified vegan, and are not tested on animals. Some brands may even be certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).


It’s not all about cocoa and shea butter! Most Fairtrade beauty and skincare products include a whole range of ingredients that are produced fairly and traded fairly, from countries all around the world. One Fairtrade beauty brand, Fair Squared, are leading the way with their innovative and effective products.

They are working hard to provide Fairtrade alternatives to conventional cosmetics and body care products. Here is a closer look at some of the ingredients in this innovative range, and what makes them special:

OLIVES FROM PALESTINE Hand-harvested olives come from Palestine. Fair Squared’s partner there is Canaan, the producer of the award-winning ‘Zaytoun extra virgin olive oil’ that is used in some of the Fair Squared cosmetic range.

COCONUT OIL AND RUBBER FROM SOUTHERN INDIA Coconut oil and natural latex from the Southern Indian state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are key ingredients for a lot of Fair Squared products.

ARGAN OIL FROM MOROCCO Tighanimine, a women’s co-operative in Morocco, produces argan oil for Fair Squared. The co-operative has 60 member-owners. Tighanimine in 2011 was the first argan oil producer to be Fairtrade (FLO) certified and now has the right to use the Fairtrade logo.

SHEA BUTTER FROM BURKINA FASO Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries. The organic shea butter Fair Squared use for a number of products in their range comes from the Union of Women Producers of Shea Products in the provinces of Sissili and Ziro.

GREEN TEA FROM INDIA Tea is increasingly used as an ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products. It is considered to have a revitalising effect, making the skin look and feel younger. Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalayas, is possibly the world’s most famous tea growing region. Fair Squared’s partner Ambootia supplies green tea that is not just organic (certified by iMo), but biodynamic (Demeter certified).

ALMOND AND APRICOT FROM PAKISTAN Mountain Fruits, Fair Squared’s partner in Pakistan, supplies almond and apricot kernel oil. The trees grow in the valleys of the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. For irrigation farmers use glacier water which is known to enhance the quality of the agricultural produce of the region.

DESICCATED COCONUT FROM THAILAND The desiccated coconut Fair Squared use comes from small farmers in Thailand who have come together through Green Net. The loss of soil fertility, irregular rainfall and often crushing debt are reasons why these farmers are among the poorest in Thai society. Green Net tries to improve their living conditions in the long term, by switching to organic agriculture and certification, offering professional help to ensure and maintain quality during harvest as well as marketing and selling under Fairtrade to help raise the income of participating small scale farming families.

The Fair Squared range includes a whole range of beauty and skincare products, from shampoo and hand soap to shower gel, body scrub – and even condoms!

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