Fair Trade, Sustainable Skincare: Alaffia

I’m going to cut to the chase and say that the Alaffia Rooibos and Shea Butter Antioxidant Face Cream ($16.95) is the best face cream I’ve ever used to date – that’s 15 years of trying countless products.  It feels light and airy on my skin, in a velvety kind of way, yet somehow manages to effectively lock in moisture. I have sensitive skin, especially on my face, and this moisturizer did not cause any inflammation or break outs. I’ve tried other brands that kept my skin moisturized, but felt too sticky, greasy, or grossly heavy on the skin. It’s never a good thing when you want to badly wash a product off immediately upon putting it on. I’ve also tried brands where they feel light on the skin, but seem to evaporate too quickly. Alaffia’s that happy medium. That goes for the price as well. There’s no way I could currently afford anything over $25, and yet the products under $10 contain way too many ingredients, consisting mostly of things I can’t pronounce.

The smell is not too strong, and doesn’t contain artificial fragrance. On this note, although most of Alaffia’s products do not contain artificial fragrance, their coconut products do contain artificial fragrance (labeled “fragrance”). Apparently that beachy coconut smell customers have come to love is nowhere to be found in nature. One other negative is the packaging of the face lotion. Once you near the bottom, it’s hard to get the rest of the lotion out even when you’ve had it suspended upside down for awhile because the bottle is so small and the lotion is a bit thick. Due to this issue, Alaffia says they overfill their bottles by 25% to compensate for the bottom-of-the-bottle conundrum. They also suggest warming the (glass) bottle in a cup of nearly boiling water for 5 to 15 minutes to loosen up the lotion.


Their unscented Shea Butter Moisturizing Body Lotion ($10.95) also effectively moisturized my skin, but since it goes on heavier I just use a little at at time. Although they do sell cleansers, I’ve used the Neem and Shea Butter Soap as a cleanser because it only costs $3.95 and works just as great as more expensive cleansers in removing excess dirt without stripping essential oils and drying out skin. It surprisingly lasts a long time as well.

I don’t shampoo or condition my hair everyday, and when I do I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but the air here is dry and my scalp tends to get flaky and itchy. So once a week I need to use some sort of scalp friendly conditioner, and Alaffia’s Neem and Shea Scalp Recovery Conditioner ($10.95) did a good job of soothing my scalp. My fiance and I don’t like clutter in our small apartment, so we try to buy products that work for us both, and Alaffia fits that bill. I know the prices are still high for some people, but my fiance bought these as gifts for me when they went on sale a few times at our co-op ($2 off the original price per product), so be sure to keep your eye out for sales.

Another reason I feel good about using Alaffia is their commitment to fair trade and sustainability. Their unrefined shea butter is sustainably harvested and traditionally extracted. To Alaffia, fair trade means paying a fair price or wage in the local context, providing equal employment opportunities, engaging in environmental sustainable practices, providing healthy and safe working conditions, being open to public accountability, and reducing the number of middlemen between producers and consumers, thereby reducing waste and costs. Through the sales of their shea butter products, they raise funds for community projects in central Togo aimed at alleviating poverty and advancing gender equality.

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