January’s – ‘The Positivity Issue’ – Download Now

For the last four decades, Aveda has been a leading cruelty-free and all-natural brand. In its next chapter, as part of its natural evolution, the brand is now going 100 per cent vegan. However, such a pioneering move doesn’t just happen overnight, it has been many years in the works.

Aveda’s Global Brand President Barbara De Laere sat down with Emirates Woman to discuss the motivation behind the brand’s positive innovation, the highs and lows of making such a move and what it exactly means to be 100 per cent vegan.

What was the motivation behind for going 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. Going 100 per cent 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!

How has the brand grown and advanced in a positive way since its launch?

Aveda was founded in 1978 by Horst Rechelbacher: he was a world-class hairstylist 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. He was a pioneer in so many ways and helped Aveda achieve several industry firsts like the combining of products with haircare professionals to create an integrated brand experience, and the introduction of the concept of a retail store within a salon setting.

We have never swayed from Horst’s original mission to care for the world we live in: 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.

As a brand that was born cruelty-free, never tested on animals and founded with an environmental mission, going 100 per cent vegan is a milestone that’s been in motion for some time and one we are quite proud to achieve.

Aveda has always strived to be as natural as possible – does this latest decision align with the same ethos?

Yes, absolutely. For Aveda, as a company founded on an environmental mission, there were obvious environmental reasons for not using animal ingredients – which is why we previously refrained from the majority of them, except for beeswax. Going vegan has been a milestone that is years in the making and we are so happy to be able to now offer 100 per cent vegan, high-performance, naturally-derived beauty products to our guests, our salon and retail partners and our stylists. These are truly no-compromise formulations that are sustainably made and deliver the absolute best-in-class results.

If you could describe Aveda in just five words, what would they be?

Can I choose six?! Pioneering, responsible, high-performance, powerfully-natural, professional, vegan.

What have been the major hurdles going through the process to be all-vegan?

Prior to this milestone, Aveda has typically avoided animal-derived ingredients, with the exception of those created by bees such as honey and beeswax. When reformulating, removing beeswax and beeswax absolute was our biggest challenge.

Can you describe the process of changing ingredients to vegan?
Beeswax is commonly used in lip products and styling products. Lipsticks used beeswax for product strength, colour payoff and smoothness. In styling products, beeswax provided structure and the ability to spread easily through your hair. Instead of using 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.

As well as being vegan, your products are ‘90 per cent naturally-derived’ – tell us more?

I’m glad you asked because vegan doesn’t always mean natural – did you know Oreos are vegan? And vice versa – there are many natural ingredients that aren’t vegan like milk proteins and beeswax. With years of hard work and research, we were able to find the sliver of intersection where the two coincide and identify incredibly powerful naturally derived and vegan ingredients that deliver first in class results.

To further elaborate, naturally derived means that the ingredient originated from a natural source (plant, animal, microbiological or mineral) and remains over 50 per cent natural (by molecular weight) after being modified during its creation through certain permitted chemical or biological processes.

As of July 2019, Aveda voluntarily chose to follow the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard for its natural and naturally derived claims in the belief that it offers a transparent, consistent, and internationally recognized standard for natural and naturally derived cosmetics. We are very proud to be a leader in the beauty industry in adopting this standard.

Tell us about the growing demand for ethical beauty products?

All of our data is telling us that consumers are looking for more from the brands they invest in. For example, according to Google Trends, the term ‘vegan beauty’ was searched 305 per cent more in 2020 than in 2019. I think there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, from a beauty perspective, there is more interest from consumers to know what goes into their beauty products. Also, the idea of ‘clean beauty’ has taken over, but now it’s moving beyond actual formulations to also encompass the idea of ethical sourcing and cruelty-free practices. Then, in some cases, ‘ethical beauty’ is expanding from vegan, cruelty-free and free-from to include transparency across the full spectrum of the supply chain and working environment, including how brands treat their employees and local communities. And finally, cruelty-free cosmetics have experienced increased demand due to consumer awareness about the prevalence of animal testing.

How has your role evolved since you joined the brand?

I’ve been at Aveda for more than four years and every day, I continue to be motivated and inspired by our team’s shared goal to live our brand mission. Our founder, Horst Rechelbacher, was a disruptor and an innovator and his original mission to care for the environment while creating high-performance, natural beauty products – with no compromise – is what drives me. In my personal life, commitment to pursuing sustainable practises is a passion of mine. To be able to channel that passion into the work I do at Aveda is a true privilege. Plus, I have the honour of working with the most incredible team – it takes a village to live out our mission and I have the very best working alongside me to do so!

This is ‘The Positivity Issue’ – how will you be channelling positivity in your life this year and amongst everyone at Aveda?

As my team will tell you, I am a perpetual optimist and firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. In a year that has challenged us all, I continue to seek opportunity in obstacles. So often, incredible innovation is the result of perceived roadblocks and challenges. I strive to lead my team at Aveda by example by finding the silver linings, guiding us to them and recognising them as an opportunity for growth.

January’s – ‘The Positivity Issue’ – Download Now

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