Aveda has gone 100 per cent vegan by removing honey, beeswax, and beeswax-derived ingredients from its entire range of hair and beauty products.
Since it launched in 1978, the much loved hair and beauty brand has been cruelty-free.
But it has always been important to the brand that founded on an environmental mission and has built a reputation for being a company that cares about our planet to eliminate all animal ingredients. The key was being able to overcome the challenge of making the move while still producing high performing products and that explains why it was three years in the making.
Leading the way is Barbara De Laere, Aveda Global Brand President, who herself leads a plant-based lifestyle.
Describing Aveda’s remarkable sustainability milestone, Barbara said: “Going 100% vegan is part of Aveda’s cruelty-free philosophy and environmental mission. This milestone is a natural evolution of our mission and we’re so proud to offer consumers high-performance, naturally-derived products that are sustainably made – and now vegan!
“This work has been in progress for more than three years and it is a big milestone for us: it is part of our brand promise to create high-performance products that are 90% naturally-derived (on average) and formulated with our mission of sustainability in mind. We believe in no-compromise formulas at Aveda: there is no reason why we can’t have sustainable, animal-friendly products that work for all hair types and textures!”
We believe in no-compromise formulas at AvedaBarbara De Laere, Aveda Global Brand President
The Carousel Interview with Barbara De Laere, Aveda Global Brand President
- What initiated this change to make your products vegan? Aveda has been cruelty-free since the brand was founded in 1978 and was largely vegan with the exception of some products that contained honey, beeswax and beeswax-derived ingredients.
- Have you yourself become plant based and that initiated the idea to change your beauty products to vegan?
Aveda was founded on an environmental mission, so becoming vegan was a natural next step for us to continue to lessen our impact on the planet. We were further compelled to expedite the process when faced with the facts around the impact of animal-derived ingredients on the health of the planet. Non-vegan ingredients used in beauty products are often derived from industries that have a negative impact on the environment, such as farmed livestock. 45% of the surface of our planet is used for livestock — it is the major driver of deforestation. Additionally, the animals themselves contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. A statistic that really resonated with me was reading that the United Nations recently revealed that farmed livestock accounts for 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. That’s roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. This is of course not entirely an effect of the beauty industry. But purchasing these animal-derived ingredients continue to fuel the growth of the livestock industry. So, for us as a company, choosing vegan and getting there as quickly as we could was an obvious decision because we want to provide consumers with a clear and easy choice when they are searching for more sustainable beauty. And yes, I have personally been plant-based for seven years now. This is not the reason the brand chose to go vegan but it is one of the many reasons I feel so at home at Aveda.
- Do you believe this will attract a new audience to your products, or even incline customers who may have left your brand before due to not being vegan products to return? Yes, we believe this will bring new guests to the brand – all of our data is telling us that veganism is a rising consumer trend. According to Google Trends, the term “vegan beauty” has been searched 305% more this year than last. I think there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, we believe this is due in part to increased interest from consumers in understanding exactly what goes into their beauty products. Additionally, as the public becomes more aware of climate change and the negative effects of industrial farming, we are seeing many people become “ethical vegans.” These individuals choose not to use animal products (food or otherwise) because they hope to cut down their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment. As a 100% vegan, high-performance, prestige hair care brand, we are excited to welcome all types of conscious consumers to the brand, from vegans to those interested in taking small steps to lead a more sustainable life. Making the change to vegan beauty products is a way for interested consumers to have a positive impact.
4. What are the key implantations and initiatives you are taking to achieve Aveda’s new global sustainability?
Sustainability is, and always has been, central to Aveda’s brand mission – this is not a new focus for us, but rather the foundation of our company. The brand was founded in 1978 by Horst Rechelbacher: he was a world-class hair stylist and an environmentalist who believed that you shouldn’t have to compromise high-performance for natural, and set out to create products that were good for our guests, our stylists and our planet. We have never swayed from that mission: in fact, our care for the environment is as important today as it ever was, and every year we set out to achieve sustainability milestones that will help to further decrease our impact on the planet. In addition to being 100% vegan, other sustainability milestones we’re proud of include:
- Packaging: Aveda was the first beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled materials in packaging. We are continuing to innovate, and today, more than 85% of our skin care and hair styling PET bottles and jars contain 100% post-consumer recycled materials.
- Manufacturing: Aveda was also the first beauty company to manufacture its products using 100% wind power at its primary facility through renewable energy and carbon offsets. In June 2020, we completed our solar array, which provides up to 50% of our manufacturing facility’s annual demand.
- Sourcing & Transparency: To create our products, we are deeply committed to sustainable sourcing. Just over a month ago, we announced the completion of a blockchain technology pilot that traces vanilla beans from 450 smallholder farms in Madagascar to our factory in Minnesota and – soon – to 125 of our products. This level of traceability is important because it provides a new level of transparency throughout the supply chain. This transparency can help validate the quality and authenticity of ingredients and, eventually, can even help ensure fair wages for farmers. We are looking at expanding our use of this technology and evaluating other ingredients to expand this program.
- What differentiates Aveda from its competitors who are already producing and certified as vegan friendly beauty products? In addition to being vegan, Aveda products are also 90% naturally derived on average. These two terms are not mutually exclusive and to be both at once, while also delivering best-in-class performance products that are used by thousands of Aveda Artists around the globe, is a feat that we feel sets us apart. We are proud to live at the beautiful intersection of vegan + naturally derived + high performance, all supported by a mission of purpose and sustainability.
- How do you think this will impact the business’s future and the impact it will have on your intended consumer base?
As consumers are becoming more conscious, we believe that understanding where your products were made, who made them and what’s in them will become more and more important. Based on the current trends we are seeing, we believe that Aveda is in the bullseye of relevancy for consumers – even 40+ years after we were founded! This is because Aveda’s core values and authentic mission of care align with what we believe consumers value in today’s world: consuming products that are “good for me” and “good for the planet and all of its beings.”
- Along with having vegan products, is your packaging environmentally friendly to maintain your sustainable goals in healing the environment? Absolutely! Aveda is a pioneer in the use of environmentally-friendly packaging. We were the first beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled materials in packaging. Today, at least 84% of our skin care and hair styling PET bottles and jars contain 100% post-consumer recycled materials and at least 82% of our high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bottles use a minimum of 80% PCR. This is an area where we remain committed to innovation. For example, one of the challenges our packaging team has faced is limitations in color when using recycled materials (which usually produces a brown or grey resin). Earlier this year, they achieved a first, creating a bold coral for our Nutriplenish franchise. We are continuing to increase our use of PCR with a goal of reaching 100% PCR in the future.
- Why has it taken this long for your brand to choose to be vegan friendly with your products when many brands have been doing so for years?
Aveda was founded on an environmental mission and has been cruelty-free since inception. Up until now, the brand considered itself to be vegetarian and refrained from using the vast majority of animal ingredients, with the exception of some bee-derived ingredients in our products such as honey and beeswax. We used those ingredients because they delivered the best in performance in terms of color payoff for lip color, and creating texture in our styling products. Over the last three years, we reviewed more than 900 ingredients to ensure that they were 100% vegan throughout the supply chain. We found some surprising things, such as the fact that even sugar can sometimes not be vegan, because it can be processed with bone char. Luckily, ours wasn’t! It was important to us to go the extra mile and review our entire supply chain, in addition to reformulating those products that featured bee-derived ingredients with naturally-derived alternatives, perfecting the beeswax substitutes without using synthetics. We are so happy to be able to now offer 100% vegan, high-performance, naturally-derived beauty products to our guests, our salon and retail partners and our stylists.
9. For your existing customers, would you say the quality of your products remain the same or have improved since becoming a vegan brand? Going vegan has no impact on the performance of the product – in fact, every time we touch the formula, we aim to make it better. As a prestige brand, we are constantly striving to deliver high-performance products that exceed our customers’ expectations. Our talented team has spent years fine-tuning our formulations to deliver no-compromise products that are sustainably made and deliver best-in-class results. And – they are all tried and tested by our more than 50,000 stylists worldwide!
10. What was some challenges you faced whilst shifting your products to becoming vegan? Through the three year process of reformulating, removing beeswax and beeswax absolute proved to be our biggest challenge. Beeswax is commonly used in lip products and styling products. Lipsticks used beeswax for product strength, color payoff and smoothness. In styling products, beeswax provided structure and the ability to spread easily through your hair. Instead of using a synthetic beeswax, we formulated our own alternative with a blend of naturally-derived waxes and butters.
Beeswax absolute was used in some of our aromas, an ingredient that is extracted from honeycomb or cakes of beeswax, and it provides a sweet, warm and complex aroma. Upon this transition, our in-house perfumers were tasked to recreate their beautiful aromas without it.
The end result is truly no-compromise, high-performance formulations that are sustainably made.
To learn more about Aveda’s sustainability initiatives, visit: