The packaging for Laxmi, a new brand of organic and fair trade beauty, is as imposing as an exclusive downtown nightclub, with impenetrable, thick black glass overlaid with tall, white lettering. I put it out on my counter because I was out of space in my beauty cabinet. But I didn’t mind. I left it there for my guests to see. I thought it looked beautiful next to the white tile.
But it’s what’s inside Laxmi that’s important. So let’s talk about that.
Laxmi was incubated in founder Leila Janah’s 7-year-old non-profit venture, Sama Group, which connects low income women and youth to internet-based work around the world using the impact model, which uses jobs to address a broad array of social ills and poverty. “We’ve moved 7,000 families out of poverty through a unique model of digital work, funded over 5,000 critical medical treatments,” Laxmi’s website says. Laxmi is Janah’s foray into beauty using that same model.
Laxmi sources raw, organic, sustainably harvested ingredients from low-income communities around the world through non-profit collectives, promising that for each of their primary ingredient harvests, the producers earn at least three times the local wage. Their star ingredient is nilotica, a subspecies of shea butter native to East Africa that has high levels of oleic acid.
According to Laxmi’s website, in a University of Bordeaux clinical trial of shea butter with 49 volunteers, 100% reported plumper skin with a healthier appearance, 90% reported dull/grayish spots becoming clearer and smoother, and 75% found that wrinkle depth looked significantly reduced. (The original study is in French, but it’s referenced here.) And of course, there are no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes, silicones, artificial fragrances or preservatives. The products are made in the U.S., vegan, and cruelty free.
How It Feels
Laxmi is not for the beauty oil novice. The Cold-Pressed Cleansing Oil, with mongongo, marula and moringa oils (the latter I’ve discussed before) for moisture, plus tea tree oil, makes for a rich and nutty cleanser. It’s designed to not strip the skin, and even after I rinsed my face several times, emulsifying the oil with my fingers, it felt like there was a thin layer of it left on my skin. If you’re used to a normal soap-based cleanser that leaves you feeling squeaky clean, this might be an alarming feeling for you. I’ve been using beauty oils for a couple years now, and I’ve gotten over that myth that oil with make you break out, so I got used to that feeling. And it did take my eye makeup off quite nicely. At first, though, I tried to strip the rest of the facial oil off with the Rose Water Mist. After the first few times, I gave in to the beauty oil and instead just misted the rose water on top. You need to give that a minute to dry, perhaps brushing your teeth, before you massage in the facial crème, a rich but not too heavy cream.
Laxmi, which features shea butter as the main ingredient, along with other African ingredients, looks and feels luxurious, though it may take some getting used to if you’re not used to beauty oils. I liked it enough to continue to use it even after I was done testing it. I have a feeling that I may come to prefer the uber-rich feeling after enough use!