5 mins with Abi Weeds from Odylique…

In a celebration of all things Fairtrade, Fairtrade Fortnight started on Monday and will run until Sunday 13th March. Led by the Fairtrade Foundation, it is an important time to highlight the difference we as consumers can make, simply by choosing to buy Fairtrade products. By buying these products we can be sure that the farmers and workers that produced them have received a fair wage, along with decent working conditions and worker’s rights. A Fairtrade premium is also paid, which is invested into local projects such as schools, healthcare and transport.

It is not just about buying tea and bananas though, Fairtrade products are available in so many areas of our lives now, including beauty. Odylique by Essential Care are one of my favourite Fairtrade beauty brands. Mother and daughter, Margaret and Abi launched the company in 2003, but Margaret had been formulating products for a long time before that, having studied herbs and essential oils since her initial training as a beauty therapist in the 1970’s. Margaret has formulated the whole range which is handmade in their suffolk workshop.

Abi and Margaret

All of their products are certified organic to Soil Association standards and they were the first UK brand to launch skincare to Fairtrade standards too. Their 2 in 1 Purifying Face Mask was the first product in 2009 and they’ve continued to add to the range as more Fairtrade ingredients have become available. Fairtrade coconut oil, avocado oil, sugar and shea butter are all used within the Odylique range. Shea butter can be found in their lipsticks and eyeliners which is brilliant as you don’t often come across Fairtrade make-up. Fairtrade sugar is used in the Coconut Candy Scrub which I LOVE.

In light of Fairtrade Fortnight and quite simply for being a lovely range, I asked Abi a few questions on beauty, organic and Fairtrade…

What does organic mean to you?

I was brought up with a pretty ‘organic’, sustainable philosophy – from minimising waste at home, avoiding food laden with the popular 1980s-style artificial flavours & colours (I had multiple allergies as  a child) to not spraying the garden with weedkiller!

Specifically, when I was about six, my Mum (Margaret) began a course in herbal medicine, where she learned the molecular makeup and interactive synergy of herbs, laying the foundations for our formulations now!

I had fairly severe eczema which was a catalyst for her putting the newly gleaned knowledge of natural remedies to work.

I have a clear memory of Mum ‘brewing’ lotions and other concoctions in the kitchen, with ingredients I thought odd (they certainly had an ‘unusual’ smell), but they worked to soothe the itching and discomfort I had.

Fast forward 15 years and I was living in the U.S. and my action packed lifestyle, coupled with a lapse in using good skincare saw my allergies flare again.

During this time Margaret had developed quite a range of skin care and nothing other than her all-natural formulations ‘agreed’ with me or worked, so my interest was re-kindled.

The research I then did into organic (farming / processes / ideology) before setting up our business was illuminating. Trying to follow an organic lifestyle is the ‘only’ way that I see we can keep the planet on a sustainable course.

So I guess, for me, Organic is the way to enjoy skin care, beauty and even food, without feeling like the price my body, or the environment are paying is too high.

Why is organic beauty important?

My experiences when I was younger, and also now as a parent myself have taught me that you can’t take your skincare choice lightly. Our skin is too big an organ for that – it’s the first line of defence against internal injury and it’s the first thing we see that reflects our state of health.

The synthetic chemicals in many skincare preparations soak into the skin and, as the body cannot recognise and process these ‘foreign’ substances, they often accumulate in the tissues with the potential over time to cause an allergic skin reaction (such as contact dermatitis or eczema) and / or disrupt other systems in the body.

This to me means, choosing certified organic body care is as important in decreasing the toxic load on the body as choosing a healthy (and organic!) diet.

Above all, modern organic beauty products work. There is increasing scientific evidence to support this. Organically grown plants are hardier and have a higher antioxidant vitamin content that helps combat premature ageing in a just as powerful (and arguably healthier way) than synthetic molecules.

It also goes without saying that using organic products helps to support the sustainability of our environment. It is widely acknowledged that organic farming is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, and produces less carbon dioxide and less dangerous wastes.

What is the best piece of beauty advice you were given and by whom?

(By my mother Margaret) – don’t over-moisturise – it can make your skin lazy – little and often is better.

What beauty product couldn’t you live without? And what is inside your make-up bag?

I travel quite a bit, and pack lightly, but am never without our Gentle Herb Shampoo, Creamy Coconut Cleanser, Black Eye liner & Mascara, plus a mini of our Superfruit Concentrate and our Fair Concealer (which you can mix together to make a tinted moisturiser!).


What beauty product should every woman own – is there a key product that every woman could benefit from?

I think a do-it-all moisturiser is the most critical investment any woman can make for her skin. Even oilier skins benefit from hydration in key areas and I don’t know many women who regret getting into a good skincare routine.

The type of moisturiser you choose might change as you age, or seasonally. For instance, in winter your skin is more likely to suffer from dryness and itching due to central heating and cold winds.

This means you might need to look for richer ingredients like olive oil and avocado, both found in our 24-Hour Avocado Moisturiser, which will help ease tight feeling skin or rough patches.

In summer however, you may find that you need a lighter moisturiser and our Timeless Rose Moisturiser is the perfect example of a soothing, but deeply nourishing lotion that absorbs quickly whilst replenishing the skin.

avocado and rose

Why is Fairtrade important to you?

 I studied development economics at university and learned to appreciate how the right kind of trade can make a real difference to lifting communities and economies out of poverty.

With Essential Care and Odylique, ethical trade has always been one of our priorities. – We were proud to become the first UK brand to launch cosmetics certified to both organic and Fairtrade standards.

As a brand committed to sustainability, we also try to strike a balance between local, organic and Fairtrade. We buy locally where possible and through fair trade organisations when we need to buy outside the UK and Europe. For us, long-term supplier relationships are important rather than short term shopping around to save a few pence. And we love that through fair trade schemes we can achieve an even closer relationship with the growers of our ingredients.

How can we incorporate Fairtrade into our beauty regime?

We were at the forefront of beauty innovation with the launch of our beautiful natural mineral make-up range in which the lipsticks and eye liners are made with Fairtrade certified organic shea butter. So even if you switch just one of your lipstick shades, you can easily and cost-effectively start to incorporate Fairtrade into your makeup bag.


Looking for scrubs, like our Coconut Candy Scrub, that contain fairly traded sugar is also another way of incorporating Fairtrade products into your beauty regime.



Any tips on what else we can do for Fairtrade Fortnight?

This year the Fairtrade Foundation are focussing on breakfast and making sure workers can afford to feed their families. Have a Fairtrade breakfast celebration with your friends with fairly traded cereals, jams and teas! We’ll be having one in the office.

We are also partnering with Arena flowers – their range of fair trade flowers are a beautiful way of gifting Fairtrade values, perhaps for Mother’s Day which falls at the same time!

Amazing answers! Thank you so much Abi!!

What are you doing for Fairtrade Fortnight?