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Verità: Empowering Women With Organic Skin Care

Verità: Empowering Women With Organic Skin Care

We could all benefit from trying to decrease our reliance on makeup and skincare products pumped with chemicals and artificial ingredients. Due to the pervasiveness of chemicals such as parabens and sulfates, this may seem easier said than done. So, naturally, discovering skincare lines that reject the use of such ingredients is always a breath of fresh air. Verità is one such brand.

When I discovered Verità, I was not only intrigued by the company’s commitment to natural skincare but the founder’s personal connection to supporting and partnering with female-owned businesses. Founder Amanda Riggs has a rich background in global and international affairs; she was previously an advisor for Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to assisting companies on business development and marketing strategies for Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and other countries, she helmed endeavors such as launching the MENA Clean Energy Initiative and the organization of trade missions to Egypt, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. In 2009, Riggs visited the Atlas Mountains near Marrakech, Morocco while on winter vacation with her friend. Riggs and her friend climbed the mountains with the help of a local guide, who then introduced the pair to the women of the argan oil cooperatives. Thus, the spark was born to create Verità.

I received some of Verità’s “Most Loved Products,” which included: the Coffee & Argan Oil Body Scrub with Cinnamon & Clove ($36), Coconut Palm Sugar & Argan Oil Face Scrub ($24), Coconut Palm Sugar & Argan Oil Lip Scrub Softener ($12), and the 7ml Argan Oil ($5). The body scrub, a Fair Trade product, acts an exfoliator. As coffee is one of the main ingredients, I enjoyed using it in the morning to kickstart my day. When used for skin care purposes, coffee can also temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite and get rid of puffy, tired eyes. The other ingredients are as follows: coconut palm sugar, walnut shell powder, argan oil, pumpkin seed oil, apricot oil, cinnamon powder, and clove essential oil. It should be noted that if you’re allergic to nuts or really don’t like the smell of coffee, this body scrub may not work for you.

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The face scrub, which has a slightly sugary texture, aims to wash away dead skin cells and brighten the complexion. The ingredients consist of the following items: Women’s Fair Trade Farmers coconut palm sugar, argan oil, pumpkin seed oil, apricot seed oil, walnut shell powder, and essential oils of tea tree, lavender, and grapefruit. I found that the face scrub didn’t leave my skin feeling tight; it even removed my makeup.

The lip scrub softener had somewhat of the same consistency and texture as the face scrub. It’s packed with organic argan oil, organic coconut oil, and organic coconut palm sugar. Although the scrub did peel away rough and flaky skin, I personally felt that it didn’t moisturize my lips as well as I anticipated. However, it does hold up next to the scrubs and lip exfoliators offered by Sephora-backed brands such as Fresh.

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I was most surprised by the effectiveness of the 7ml Argan Oil. Who knew that such a tiny bottle could produce lasting results? Argan oil can be used for multiple remedies when applied to your face, hands, scalp, hair, and body. The 100 percent pure argan oil is used to soften, moisturize, and rejuvenate the skin. It’s also used to treat acne, stretch marks, scars, eczema, and psoriasis. After I washed my face at night, I applied a few drops of the lightweight oil to my skin, hands, and cuticles. It worked just as well as a name brand lotion or night-mask. Verità’s argan oil is organic certified by ECOCERT, one of the largest certification organizations operating in over 80 countries. It does not contain added fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, polyethylene glycols or petrochemical products, and is residue-free.

I was able to speak with Riggs about the origins of Verità and its future. When asked about how her time in Egypt influenced her decision to jump into the skin care business, she said, “Cooking and gathering around food is such an important part of family togetherness in Egypt, and Egyptian cuisine was particularly fascinating to me. Egyptians drink bright pink hibiscus tea around religious holidays, which I loved and incorporated into my Dead Sea Salt Body Scrubs for its brilliant hue as well as its toning ability for the skin. Fluorescent yellow chamomile flowers were used in teas to help heal the sick and I’ve combined Chamomile into my organic facial toner to help brighten skin and provide antioxidant protection from sun damage. Geranium, or Egyptian Rose, has a classic elegance to its aroma that I’ve added to my body creams and cuticle oil while calming and bringing balance to our emotions with its aroma. The Egyptian kitchen is a source of health and happiness and I’ve weaved those secrets into the Verità’s organic skincare line for their healing, nourishing, and medicinal properties.”

Egyptian beauty practices have certainly shaped Verità’s philosophy. Riggs elaborated, “The simplicity of the Egyptian skin care routine had the most impact on my own personal skin care practices as well as that of Verità. While many Americans think that more steps to beauty is better, I am a proponent of the “less is more” motto. By using high quality ingredients that are pure and not mixed with cheaper fillers, you can achieve real health for your skin. With Verità argan oil, you only need a few drops a day on your face to see a difference within 10 days. Skin is softer, smoother, more vibrant and hydrated with vitamins nutrients. Adding oils to the body scrubs act as a 2-in-1 exfoliator and moisturizer. Combining ingredients have double the nutritional impact while creating multipurpose products, such as the organic facial toner that cleanses, tones, and moisturizes at the same time. The idea is so simple, yet powerful.”

Verità is committed to “economically empower women by sourcing ingredients directly from women-run farms and producers around the world.” Riggs explained, “I started the company by importing argan oil from a cooperative where women peel, crack, and press the meat of the argan nuts into create pure oil. I offer the natural oil as a multipurpose skin and hair moisturizer, which is the basis for my entire line. I later expanded by using Shea Butter that I acquire from two women’s cooperatives, one in Nigeria and the other in Ghana. Each region offers slightly different textures and scents that come from the soil and go into several of the products based on their unique properties, such as the lip balms and body creams. I source the Coconut Palm Sugar from family farms in Indonesia for the sugar face scrubs and lip softeners. I recently started offering coffee that I buy from a women-run farm in Peru for the coffee body scrub. These ingredients are sourced Fair Trade and 100% are organic and natural that do not use chemicals in the processing.”

Amanda Riggs at the Flea Market at Eastern Market in SE Washington, DC.
Amanda Riggs at the Flea Market at Eastern Market in SE Washington, DC.

She added, “By purchasing directly from female-lead farms, Verità provides a means where women producers receive the profits for their labor and are able to provide for their families. Many of the cooperatives Verità works with offer education to the women and their families as well as fair wages and a say in the trade practices around the world. To me, this is the foremost important benefit of Verità as a company. All products are handmade by women in Washington, DC, which further empowers women locally in my community. By using 10 organic ingredients or less and clear labeling practices, Verità seeks to empower women consumers to make informed choices about what goes on their skin and in their bodies by providing a healthy alternative to toxic chemicals, harmful binding agents, and cheap fillers.”

With such a dedication to organic skin care and a truly global awareness of sustainable products, it’s no surprise that her skin care regime has evolved over the years. Riggs admitted that, “I did not know much about skin care growing up. I simply used lotion that my mother had and accepted adolescent acne as a rite of passage.” When Riggs traveled to Morocco with her Egyptian friend Shimmy, she learned of the powers of argan oil. Today, Riggs only uses Verità products, as “the care for my skin is regimented knowing that its long term care begins while we are young and requires consistent nourishment with vitamins.”

She continued, “Caring for our skin is a lifestyle choice. It takes love for our skin, our bodies, our health, and the value in ourselves to maintain it for a lifetime. It also takes work to read the labels and decide what is acceptable to put on our skin. We must do the work to find our skin type and the right products to heal and regenerate skin while protecting against the damage that the sun, elements, and our youth take on our faces. For those that think there is an easy solution to great skin, think argan oil.”

What does the future hold for Verità? According to Riggs, “Right now, the main goal of Verità is to get every woman across the United States the chance to try argan oil. Argan changed my life and I hope that it can make a difference in the lives of women across the country. It is extremely versatile and can be used for so many skin and hair concerns. Whatever the issue, argan oil can pretty much help solve. I post product giveaways on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and offer free samples of the Verità argan oil, so I tell people to keep an eye out. For those that want to try to oil, I ask men and women to take out 10 Days to Healthier Skin challenge. I sell a half sized mini sample on our website at www.VeritaSkin.com and invite women to tell their stories and send before/after photos. Of course, since I love the creative process, you should see one or two new products this summer!”

Vanessa Willoughby

Vanessa Willoughby is a writer and an editor. Her work has been featured on The Toast, Vice, Book Riot, The Hairpin, Thought Catalog, and Bitch Media. She is also Creative Director at Winter Tangerine Review.
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