Alaffia’s mission is to foster beauty, equality and empowerment and they walk the walk by using certified fair trade ingredients, supporting farmer co-operatives in West Africa, using an eco-conscious approach to product formulation and by re-investing profits back into communities in West Africa with a wide variety of life-affirming initiatives.
Alaffia’s values and ethics shine through in their approach to formulating and choosing ingredients. This starts with the farmers and producers in West Africa. Alaffia is the largest employer in Togo, outside of the government, and this includes a number of farming co-operatives and 10,000+ ingredient collectors. They also work with artisan co-ops – craftswomen who use their traditional knowledge to turn shea nuts into butter and the butter into soap.
Alaffia goes beyond just using fair trade ingredients that provide fair wages. Their whole organization is certified Fair for Life by Ecocert. Their most recent Ecocert audit resulted in a 91% score. Alaffia invests in their West African farmers and suppliers and the larger community. You can tell that Alaffia cares deeply about the people and communities that provide their ingredients by the results of the community initiatives they invest in:
Alaffia products use indigenous, locally sourced, West African ingredients like shea butter, coconut and palm oil, coffee berry, neem, turmeric and ginger. All of their formulas are vegan, gluten-free, biodegradable, cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny certified) and made without parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrances. Their products are hard to miss on the shelf, using authentic tribal patterns and vibrant colours in their packaging.
Alaffia’s EveryDay line of hair and body products are made with coconut oil and shea butter. Their coconut oil is authentic, wet-milled, fermented coconut oil made at Alaffia cooperatives in Togo, West Africa. Nourishing and hydrating by nature, coconut oil is ideal for soothing irritated, inflamed, or agitated skin and moisturizing for normal to dry hair. Alaffia EveryDay shea shampoos, conditioners and body washes are crafted with unrefined Certified Fair-Trade shea butter made at Alaffia cooperatives in Togo, West Africa. Shea butter contains deeply moisturizing and protective fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, leaving skin and hair hydrated, soft and smooth.
Alaffia ingredients are still made the traditional, time-honoured way. Shea butter and coconut oil are first mixed together. A natural saponifier made from the ashes of plantain leaves and tree bark is added, then the mixture is heated, stirring constantly for 30- 60 minutes until the hot saponification process is completed. The hot soap is scooped into a large metal bowl, where the soap expands up into a palm-frond basket and cools. Cooled soap is placed onto palm frond mats to dry in the sun.
Coconut: Alaffia uses both coconut oil and coconut water in their formulations. The water is for hydration and electrolyte balance. Unlike with most products, the oil is not pressed. Instead, it is fermented according to traditional methods, resulting in a smooth, creamy texture. Making the coconut oil is done using traditional wet milling: fresh coconut is grated and the milk expressed. The coconut milk is poured into clay pots and left in the sun to ferment for 2-3 days. The creamy coconut oil will then rise to the top.
Coffee Berry: Used for its gentle moisturizing effect while also providing antioxidant protection to the skin.
Ginger: A warming herb that promotes circulation to the scalp.
Shea Butter: Made from the wild-crafted nuts of the shea tree and has moisturizing properties for skin; an emollient (softens, soothes skin) and humectant (helps retain moisture) and contains the following fatty acids: oleic acid (40–60%), stearic acid (20–50%), linoleic acid (3–11%), palmitic acid (2–9%).
Red Palm Oil: A natural part of the West African diet also used in body care, this oil contains saturated fatty acids that support skin health and elasticity. Fair trade certified and sourced from small farms in Togo, West Africa, so that its harvest and use does not disrupt orangutan habitats in Asia. Oil palms are native to West Africa and have been grown as part of multi-cropped sustainable small farms for centuries.