Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Alaffia Bodycare - Whole Trade Guarantee

By Jessica Johnson, June 13, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jessica Johnson
My name is Jessica and I am the Whole Trade Guarantee Specialist. In my role I have the opportunity to promote social responsibility through the ethical sale and trade of commodity products. We donate 1% of all Whole Trade Guarantee sales to the Whole Planet Foundation, which funds micro-credit loans to women all over the world to help end world poverty. One of my favorite companies to work with is Alaffia Bodycare. The owner and founder Olowo-n'djo Tchala was born and grew up in Togo, Africa located on the West African coast. Times were extremely difficult growing up due to political unrest. Olowo-n'djo made a promise to himself he would do all he could to improve the lives of the women from the community he grew up in. Indigenous to the country of Togo, shea nuts are the main ingredient used in Alaffia's Bodycare products, which provides ethical wages to the women in the community. Olowo-n'djo explains: Because I grew up in poverty in Togo, I feel morally responsible to dedicate my life to empowering our communities in Africa. I have chosen to promote indigenous African natural resources that are culturally, spiritually, economically and ecologically sustainable. Traditionally handcrafted shea butter fits these criteria. It is a renewable resource of African origin; shea trees are wild, requiring no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Furthermore, it is an integral part of many savanna communities and, consequently, there is a wealth of local and traditional knowledge of making shea butter. The fair trade of our handcrafted shea butter and shea butter skin care products is bringing income to and empowering our communities in Togo, while making indigenous, sustainable and effective skin care available to the global community. Fairly traded, handcrafted Shea Butter benefits the communities that produce it as well as the communities that purchase it. Members of our Agbanga Karite/Alaffia Shea Butter cooperative gain pride as they are able to use their traditional knowledge and skills to support their families. Our customers benefit because they are receiving an authentic product directly from the source. As part of our Fair Trade philosophy, we use 10% of our sales for community enhancement projects in Togo, West Africa and locally in Washington State. We also believe that Fair Trade applies to more than African communities and resources. The same care and philosophies are applied when crafting our creams, lotions, and soaps in Olympia, WA. We bring our handcrafted oils to Olympia, where we make our final products by hand in small batches. We combine our handcrafted oils with other high quality ingredients, including pure essential oils and food grade preservatives. We believe customers should have access to body care products made with unrefined, natural ingredients free of harmful chemicals, such as parabens and petroleum derivatives. Check out more about Alaffia on their website.
Category: Whole Body, Whole Trade




PP says ...
Today I tried the Alaffia African Liquid Black Soap on my hands and face. However, it really dried out my face where it looked powdery. So I returned it. It says the ingredients are saponified shea butter and palm oil. Perhaps, whatever ingredient that is used to turn the shea butter into a liquid soap form (an ingredient that isn't listed on the bottle) is the culprit. Great product concept, but it didn't work for me.
06/19/2008 4:23:57 PM CDT
Olowo-n'djo Tchala says ...
Firstly, I would like to thank you for trying our African Black Soap. I was surprised to hear your experience, as we usually hear the opposite from our customers. However, we do acknowledge that every person is an individual, and will react differently to the same product. Our Liquid African Black Soap has two ingredients – Distilled Water and African Black Soap. Since soap is a complete reaction of oils and a base, it is considered one ingredient as these two individual components are no longer present. We include the ingredients of the African Black Soap on the label (Saponified Shea Butter and Palm Kernel Oil)to indicate the base oils used to make the soap. The term saponified means the oils have been turned to soap. Our Black Soap is handmade in Togo using a traditional recipe in which unrefined shea butter and unrefined palm kernel oil are reacted with indigenous potash made from the ashes of plantain leaves and bark (shea and baobab). The soap is fully reacted over a minimum of 5 hours to ensure all potash is reacted with the oils. It is then cured in the sun for four weeks to mellow the soap. Because of the unique potash used to make the black soap, the soap contains a large amount of glycerin and will absorb water to become liquid soap without the addition of any chemical surfactants. Therefore, we are able to make a liquid soap simply be adding distilled, purified water to the indigenous soap. As you can see, this is a very simple and traditional soap – without any chemical surfactants or hidden ingredients. Thank you again for your support in purchasing our African Black Soap, and we encourage you to try other Alaffia products to find one that works best for your skin.
07/09/2008 6:04:39 PM CDT
meg hozack says ...
hey that's interesting that you experienced dryness as a result of using the african black soap. I have lived in an area in which the treated water dried out my hair to the point i just kept it short. Since my friend turned me on to Allaffia products, my hair feels good for the first time in years and I'm happy to be growing it out again!
07/10/2008 5:10:51 PM CDT
Michelle Murphy says ...
Hi- I have coarse, curly hair that totally frizzzes out. The Alaffia black soap does not dry my hair like regular shampoo does...it seems to clean with out stripping. The result is strong shiny curls, with no frizz. I use the Alaffia hair lotion for extra shine and definition. It does not have the greasy weight of other leave in conditioners. I also use the soap to wash my baby girl and have since she was first born...It has proven to be gentle and pure. Thanks for what you do. All best, Michelle
07/18/2008 1:46:46 PM CDT
Tommy says ...
I have tried many alaffia products and find that they are a better alternative for daily skin care compared to other big brands in skin care. I used Estee Lauder for years and years but switched to alaffia and find that it is a better quality product with better results for my skin. I use the antioxidant skin care line, and I can't tell you how great it really is. The facial creams leave my skin clear, even, renewed, and soft. Alaffia also give back to the world by providing jobs for people in Africa. I will always patronize their company as long as they are around.
07/20/2008 4:58:19 PM CDT
Erika says ...
I first found out about Alaffia's shampoo after a friend suggested I look for haircare products that didn't contain methylisothiazoline, formaldehyde, or other dangerous chemicals. After reading about their fair trade work, I decided to give Alaffia's shampoo and conditioner a try, and I'm so glad I did. Not only do I feel good about supporting sustainable and ethical businesses, my hair looks and smells wonderful (always a plus). Their Shea and Red Palm lip balm is also delightful, and smells like tangerines and cloves!
08/04/2008 12:35:31 PM CDT
Sarah says ...
I live a block from a Whole Foods in Washington, DC and frequently haunt the beauty aisle. Over the past two years, I have probably tried every single hand and body lotion in the store, and I have to say that the Alaffia products are the only ones I would spend $10 a bottle on. They rub in completely, without residue, which is really important for your hands. I have purchased the Cocoa Butter Intensive Lotion, and the scent is absolutely delicious.
11/04/2008 12:59:05 PM CST
LeJ from L.A says ...
Does Whole Foods also just sale unrefined shea butter from Togo? I hear even in its pure form its great for skin and hair. I am very sensitive to smells therefore I would love to buy raw shea butter.
02/24/2009 3:42:26 PM CST
Autumn from Pittsburgh says ...
Hi. I just wanted to say that i LOVE the shampoo & conditioner i just bought a few days ago. I was looking for a shampoo that would not dry out & make my hair hard. I am a Black woman & i wear my hair in its natural state (no relaxers) so finding good moisturizing products without all the harsh chemicals has been a little hard for me. I've just started shopping at Whole Foods and i'm so happy to find all of these natural, organic products. While in the shower using the Alaffia shampoo i could instantly tell the difference. My hair did not feel stripped of all its oils and yet it was very clean. I also love the conditioner. (btw, i purchased the Shea & Honey infused products) My hair felt really good with just the conditioner, but i also added coconut oil to my hair and left a cap on for an hour. My hair has NEVER felt so smooth & soft & MOISTURIZED. I think i'm in love. (lol) I love the products so far. I will be going back to check out the other products. I did get body lotion, but have not used it yet. I really love the idea/concept behind the product line. That is really what made me want to buy the product. Just knowing that my small purchase in some way is helping other women provide for their children & communities. Thank you for this product.
04/17/2009 4:20:03 PM CDT
Sarah Hauschka says ...
I have been using the shampoo and hair conditioner for a month now. I have a very dry scalp which often itches and flakes. This shampoo and conditioner have completely helped me. My hair and scalp feel and look great. Please keep carrying this product.
09/24/2009 12:08:24 PM CDT
Rob says ...
After obsessively reading the labels at Whole Foods and a few other shops, I picked up the Alaffia Liquid African Black Soap because it had the most pure and natural ingredients that I came across. No chemicals, no hype, no "organic" bells and whistles, no essential oils, just the real thing. I like that it can be used as an all-in-one face, body, and hair soap too, which makes it more economical. Reading the company description makes me feel even better about their products. Love it!
01/22/2010 1:23:03 PM CST
Sara Rovine says ...
07/29/2011 9:57:31 AM CDT
Amelia says ...
I really want a bar soap. I only hear people speak of the liquid. Does this line come with the bar . To me it's normal that the soap dries my skin out a little. Its just stripping that layer of skin that needs to shed. I just follow up with Shea butter because black soap is very strong for my skin. I can only use it once a day. If I use it twice it makes my skin raw.
09/19/2011 3:45:11 PM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Amelia Thanks for reaching out. Yeah, sometimes it's hard to find the perfect combination of body care products to match your skin's balance and needs. It sounds like you're really in tune to what your body is telling you, however. That's a good start. As for finding this soap in a bar, our product offering differs from store to store. So, I encourage you to reach out to your community's Whole Foods Market to learn if they offer this product in a bar or can suggest something similar and complimentary. Follow the link to identify your store and their contact information. Cheers to clean, happy bodies. :) http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/
09/20/2011 4:42:01 PM CDT
Brandess says ...
AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!!! I just washed my hair with the Shea and Honey Shampoo and Conditioner. I have used many different brands, but I have honestly never seen my hair look and feel like this without going to a salon. And really it feels better than salon products. I can't stop looking in the mirror. It is shiny, bouncy, and looks VERY healthy. Usually, after I wash my hair, I have to put some type of product to moisturize, add sheen, and just make it manageable, but I can't believe I don't need anything else! I am definitely going to be a regular customer. I have to try your other products. It's great that I can achieve this look and at the same time I know I am using ingredients that are good for my hair. I'm also happy that money goes to the community! I am going to spread the word with all my family and friends. Thank you Olowo-n'djo!
10/02/2011 12:45:34 PM CDT
Gabbie Rodriguez says ...
I just placed an order Monday and it still hasn't been shipped. I can't wait to receive it especially after reading do many positive reviews. I ordered 3 bars of black soap, the Shea body lotion, lip balm, face wash, face moisturizer, and I forgot what else. Next is the hair stuff! :D
04/17/2012 1:10:08 PM CDT
Rosa Cervantes says ...
I tried Alaffia liquid soap and it really helped me. I had a lot of discoloration around my mouth area and freckle like spots, it lightened them a lot. I noticed that it minimized pores and in 90 degree heat is fantastic. I would like an exfoliant cream for my nose.
07/03/2012 9:11:39 PM CDT
Wonderdoom says ...
Why do you mention a 1% donation as if it is some sort of feat? ONE per cent. that means if each bottle of this stuff sold for 1 dollar theyd make a penny. Or, If they sold for 10 dollars per bottle theyd make ten cents for each bottle... As a consumer of Whole Foods products as well as Alaffia, I was wondering if you would tell me exactly how much money is donated toward the micro loans each year.
05/07/2013 7:47:16 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@WONDERDOOM - Since we started the donation of 1% of Whole Trade Guarantee retails sales being donated to the Whole Planet Foundation, over $2.81 Million has been raised thus far!
05/15/2013 3:50:32 PM CDT
Danial says ...
Amazing! Its really amazing article, I have got much clear idea regarding from this paragraph.
07/24/2013 1:18:29 PM CDT
pamela gundelach says ...
I"m looking for Karite Butter 100%
05/21/2014 8:13:53 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@PAMELA - Our options differ between stores. Check with your local store to see if they have this in stock!
05/21/2014 11:33:21 AM CDT