Everything You Need to Know About Fair Trade

Fair Trade and Direct Trade are two alternative approaches to conventional trade, a phrase used to describe trading companies only looking for the best economic deal. When a product carries a Fair Trade or Direct Trade logo, it means the trading company and the producers have worked together to ensure producers, mostly located in developing countries, are justly compensated and able to build a sustainable business in their community. Both practices serve to promote environmental and economic sustainability, as well as protect farmers’ rights and working conditions like minimum wage and health and safety standards.

There are, however, a few major differences between the two approaches. “Fair Trade” is a term regulated by the non-profit Fair Trade USA, requiring co-op farms and farmers to pay an annual certification fee. “Direct Trade” is not a certification. Rather, its parameters are established and regulated by the trading company itself. It allows for building a direct and long-term relationship with the producers without the extra cost of a certification, but because it isn’t standardized, there is less control over who can use this term. Neither is better than the other; they are two different approaches with their own strengths and weaknesses.

At Beautycounter, we source Direct Trade mongongo and marula oils. We are also highly invested in the quality of our ingredients and their production process, two things that are not regulated by the Fair Trade standard.

When shopping, you can identify Fair Trade-certified products and companies sourcing from Direct Trade through the following logos.


Although these logos provide information on ingredient sourcing practices and social implications, they are not about ingredient safety. To learn more about safety versus sourcing, click HERE.