A common trend within the food industry was the movement to reconnect people with the land by offering farm fresh food right at your table. Using only locally-sourced ingredients, it took away the mass production and processed foods from restaurants. The beauty industry is now adapting to this ‘farm to table’ concept offering a similar philosophy, ‘farm to face’. I first noticed the increasing use of this claim towards the end of 2022 and wanted to take a deeper look at how this trend is developing within the UK beauty industry.
There is no standard definition for ‘farm-to-face’ cosmetics; however, skincare brands who make this claim prioritise sourcing handpicked, cold-pressed and locally sourced ingredients. Some brands will even have strong stipulations for raw material suppliers on where the ingredients originate and how they are produced if they need to outsource. A clear protocol with simplicity and transparency is what consumers look for when deciding whether to purchase these types of products.
It seems, the idea is to know precisely what is in the bottle while potentially saving money on receiving ingredients from far-off places. This means more naturally-derived ingredients, produced in smaller batches, to support local farmers striving to be more sustainable.
Types of Claims
When I researched what is already available in the UK, I found there are a variety of ways that brands choose to make ‘farm-to-face’ claims.
Level 1: Sourcing Philosophy
The generic way is to have a farm-to-face philosophy where the brand uses farm-sourced ingredients to cultivate conscious beauty.
Level 2: Own brand small farm
Small batches using home-grown botanicals are produced from the brand’s own small farm where they process and package on site using methods of distillation, cold press, fermentation and other physical processes to extract the most potent naturally-derived ingredients.
Level 3: Own brand large scale farming
Brands will produce each product on their farm, or in their own nearby factory, where the foundation ingredients are grown and harvested. Their goal is to make ‘farm fresh’ products with naturally-derived botanicals. This ensures total traceability of the formulas so consumers can learn exactly how their product was made from start to finish whilst keeping the environmental impact of transporting materials to a minimum.
Like any claim, whether ‘green’ or efficacy based, it is essential to have an abundance of data to substantiate claims made in relation to cosmetics. The key principles of advertising regulation is that the claims or marketing materials should not mislead the average consumer. Therefore, when considering compliance of a claim the regulator will always try to assess what the average consumer expects from a claim - the more broad and vague the claim is the more difficult it is for brands to ensure compliance. As the farm-to-face trend is small and perhaps less understood by the consumer, it is especially important to be clear and, of course, to provide relevant evidence to qualify the claim so that authorities and consumers alike can plainly understand this type of claim. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are carrying out a review this year of green claims on household essentials including personal care products and we can see that there is scope with the ‘farm to face’ claim to be caught under their radar if the brand is not adhering to the Green Claims Code.
Written by Ember Bryant