How The Farm To Face Movement Is Evolving (And What Is It Anyway?)


“You are what you eat.” We’ve heard it all our lives, and sometime in the last couple of decades it started to mean much more to mainstream consumers than simply “eating healthy”. Widespread knowledge of what healthy food consumption is has evolved well past “increase intake of fruits and vegetables” and “avoid red meat and unhealthy fats” to a greatly-expanded and granular public awareness of food production in terms of ‘organic’ versus ‘conventional’ — what the differences between the two are, and why they matter. This is clearly evidenced by the steady acceleration of organic food sales year-over-year. According to the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), worldwide sales of organic food grew over 500% between 1999 and 2014. People are getting it: consuming chemicals is probably not good for you.

But what about the concept of, “You are what you apply”? (Ok, I know it needs work. It definitely lacks that roll-off-the-tongue stickiness of “You are what you eat”, but let’s go with it for now. Please? Thank you.*) Mass understanding of the truth that what we put on our bodies matters as much (or more) than what we put in our bodies, while growing measurably and steadily, is still in its nascent phase. Most people have yet to make the leap that our skin — not just an organ like our internal organs, but in fact our body’s largest organ — absorbs up to 100% of what we put on it, with the permeability of the face being particularly high. But every day more and more people are getting the message, and the green beauty trend is growing massively as a result, with global organic personal care sales expected to crest $15 billion by 2020. And within the green beauty trend is the “Farm-To-Face” trend (which, frankly, we prefer to think of more as a movement than just a trend).

So What The Heck Is ‘Farm To Face’ Anyway?

Farm To Face is a young concept (we’re hard pressed to find references to it that predate 2012) and, as such, its definition is imprecise and evolving. It means different things to different people but at its heart it’s about purity, sustainability, and transparency as they pertain to the manufacture of green beauty products.

To an absolute purist, Farm To Face means a manufacturer of skin care products (for example) has controlled every aspect of production, beginning with growing and processing all of their own ingredients. This is incredibly admirable, and there are companies that are doing exactly that. But it’s also a potentially over-rigid definition that can be counter-productive to the advancement of the movement as a whole, (and also, by definition, limits those products to ingredients that can be grown within a small geographic radius, resulting in sacrifices in product efficacy). Our various skin types and needs are best cared for and attended to using a wide variety of chemical-free ingredients that simply can not be grown in one region. So as the Farm To Face movement grows, perhaps it would be better for us to think of it more holistically, or rather globally.

Dispensing with the rigid definition that the skin care products in question must originate from the personal farm of the manufacturer opens up a broader definition with the power to do greater, further-reaching good while maintaining what people are really seeking from green beauty makers — purity, sustainability, and transparency. Under the global definition of Farm To Face, the responsibility of the manufacturer shifts from ensuring the purity of their products by growing them themselves to ensuring suppliers worldwide are following good practices, and encouraging them to continue to improve their communities by supporting what they are up to.

And what are some of these good practices? Ensuring ingredients are certified organic and/or wildcrafted is one important thing steadfast Farm To Face manufacturers do to protect their consumers. Ensuring supplies are cruelty-free is another (thankfully) growing aspect of the Farm To Face movement. In the same way that harmful chemicals are simply not needed to create effective skin care and cosmetic products, there is no reason animals need be subjected to tests, especially when the products are made from organic, plant-based ingredients.

Why Should You Choose Farm To Face Green Beauty Products Over Conventional Beauty Products?

Well, there are a number reasons why, but if you want to look at it broadly, by choosing Farm To Face green beauty you are, in a sense, saving the world. (Wait… what? Run with me on this one for a moment).

In the terrific and frightening documentary Food Inc. the filmmakers show how consumers vote with their wallets when it comes to food production. In an on-camera interview a buyer from Wal-Mart states that as long as people buy organic Wal-Mart will continue to stock more and more organic products. And because consumers have chosen to do just that (showing a willingness to pay a premium for cleaner, healthier food) Wal-Mart’s ever-growing organic offerings have put them in direct competition with the likes of Whole Foods.

To be clear… This is a good thing. As