Local Farm Partners with Big-Name Company

February 15, 2019

Hair care, skincare and other cosmetics are widely used globally to help improve the way people look, smell, and feel. Consumers assume the products are safe, however, most are not always aware of what goes on behind the scenes. Some makeup companies use harmful materials such as triclosan, a dangerous carcinogen, in their products. Other companies test their products on animals, risking their lives to make sure the product is “safe” for humans to use. L’Oreal, the world’s largest makeup company, disapproves the use of harmful materials and animal testing in the makeup industry. In 2017, they set out on a mission to create a product line that meets these specific criteria.  Partnering with a local farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, L’Oreal transformed the idea of vegan, Eco-friendly beauty products into a reality.

The L’Oréal brand is called Seed Phytonutrients. It is an environmentally friendly beauty regime that is made of compostable packaging and natural fragrance. It is also vegan, paraben free, gluten free, and sulfate free. The company uses all recycled materials and up-cycled packaging, which they used to make the first shower-friendly sustainable paper bottle. Overall, these products are of 93-100 percent natural origin. The first of these products were released in April 2018.

Barefoot Gardens, a small farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania that has partnered with L’Oréal to make these products. Barefoot Gardens, owned by Linda Shanahan and Eric Vander, was originally a Community Supported Agriculture farm, growing vegetables and other food crops. A few years later, they shifted their focus to producing crops such as catnip, yarrow, lavender, and wormwood. In 2015, they closed down the CSA and changed their name from Barefoot Gardens to Barefoot Botanicals. Barefoot Botanicals has several clients. They are partnered with a large beauty brand in California, Laurel Whole Plant Organics. They are also partnered with another local brand called Tower Hill Brewery in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, to which they supply chamomile for honey ale. For Seed Phytonutrients, they primarily provide sunflowers for the sunflower oil in the products. The large brand wants to “support independent, sustainable agriculture”. One of the main values of Seed Phytonutrients is to put independent, organic farmers first because they want to embrace the philosophical and practical advantages of this process.

Although vegan products are beneficial to the environment and to the consumer, they can be a bit pricey. “I think the price depends on the product”, said Sophia Hughes. “If the ingredients are supposedly good, I think a higher price is reasonable. As consumers, it is important what we buy because our money is supporting these companies. So in the end, I would rather go with the cruelty-free product”. Sophia tries to be as aware as she can about which products test on animals and which ones don’t. She still uses a lot of products that are not cruelty- free because she either owned them already or was not aware at the time of purchase. Her goal, however, is to try to be as cruelty-free as possible. When asked whether she prefers large name brand items or items from smaller, local companies, she said she prefers a small, family-owned, local company. “It feels nice as a consumer to know exactly who you are buying from and exactly where they source their ingredients”, she said.

People do not necessarily have to be vegan to support a company like Barefoot Botanicals. Tara Portney is non-vegan, and when asked if she would prefer products from a small, family-owned company over a big name-brand, she said, “of course”. When it comes to pricing, however, Tara believes that spending a lot of money on a cruelty-free product is only well-spent if you get your money’s worth in product. For example, the 8.5 ounce face wash, which costs $38, is only worth that amount of money if the consumer can use it effectively for a long period of time.

Barefoot Botanicals has very good intentions but also has its flaws. However, in the long run, if they can spread the news of the benefits of cruelty-free products, they could influence more companies to be environmentally friendly. This would benefit the consumers, community, and now very happy, animals.

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