overall rating:



Georgia Powell
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Aveda was founded in 1978 by Horst Rechelbacher, who was inspired by the science of Ayurveda, a Hindu system of holistic medicine. Aveda has since been bought by the multinational company Estée Lauder, although it is still run as a semi-autonomous company. It predominantly focuses on selling skin care products. Aveda was one of the first beauty companies to endorse The Ceres Principles, a set of principles designed to encourage greater environmental responsibility in business. Aveda also partners with many local companies to source ingredients, and donates large amounts to sustainable education.

What it's made of:


Aveda is very transparent about the ingredients involved in their products and have stated on their website that all their products don’t contain the following ingredients: parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, formaldehyde and its donors, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), oxybenzone, benzene, retinyl palmitate, microcrystalline wax, polyethylene beads, triclosan, lanolin, carmine, talc or synthetic fragrance. Most of the listed ingredients have negative environmental impacts, due to posing ecological harm, having low biodegradability, and/or being toxic. The absence of these chemicals, which are popular in the cosmetics industry, means that Aveda has made an active effort to create more sustainable products. Aveda also states that their formulas are 90% naturally derived on average, meaning their product ingredients are sourced from plants, non-petroleum minerals, or water. As well as this, 90% of their botanical active ingredients are traceable to their country of origin. These are both very positive statistics, although there is still 10% room for improvement to make Aveda’s products thoroughly sustainable. Furthermore, Aveda is cruelty-free and has never tested on animals. To build on from this, as of 2019 all of Aveda’s products are also vegan, meaning no animal products are used in their ingredients. This increases their sustainability rating, as obtaining animal products is incredibly unsustainable globally. Finally, Aveda has said that they are working on removing silicones from their products. Silicone is not the most environmentally friendly material, as producing silicone requires hydrocarbons derived from petroleum. It is also a difficult material to recycle. Therefore, whilst it is not ideal that it is still present in their products, their commitment to removing it is a positive step.


How it's made:


All of the ingredients used in Aveda’s products are certified organic, which means that the production of all the ingredients doesn’t involve the use of manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilizers, no routine use of antibiotics, no GMOs, little to no pesticides involved, and the land where the ingredients are grown is managed sustainably. Organic farms are one of the most environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable methods of production. Traditional methods of crop rotation, animal and plant manures, and hand weeding are used to maintain and grow produce. Additionally, all of Aveda's essential oils are processed in an environmentally responsible manner through steam distillation. This method is environmentally beneficial because it requires low amounts of fuel compared to most extraction methods, and doesn’t require the use of solvents. In addition to this, all of Aveda’s products are manufactured with 100% wind power through renewable energy credits and carbon offsets. This sustainable manufacturing method is far more eco-friendly than the use of fossil fuels, and the implementation of carbon offsets further negates Aveda’s carbon footprint on the planet. The 100% use of wind power is an impressive feat and sets Aveda apart from most of its cosmetic competitors. Not only this, but 83% of Aveda’s waste is reused or recycled in their primary manufacturing facility. In addition, the company that owns Aveda, Estée Lauder, has been recognized by global environmental non-profit CDP as a leader on corporate climate transparency and action by achieving the highest score of A for their 2020 climate change disclosure. There is a lack of transparency on where the products are manufactured, as there is the potential for carbon emissions associated with transportation along the supply chain.


Who makes it:


Aveda has partnered with the Indian firm Nisarga to source organic turmeric and amla for use in some of their products. This firm grows Ayurvedic herbs using organic and biodynamic agriculture. The firm owns farmland, and also partners with locally owned organic farms to produce Ayurvedic herbs. Turmeric grows at Nisarga's organic Umbari farm, which creates jobs for nearby villagers planting the fields, harvesting the rhizomes, then steaming, drying and polishing them for shipment. Amla is grown at the independent Devarashtre farm, one of the many independent farms Nisarga employs. Nisarga helped to certify their land as organic, paying the costs that make certification a barrier for many small farms. Villagers harvest the amla by hand, removing the seeds and drying the fruit before shipment for processing. Aveda buys a significant amount of the certified organic oil that comes from the seeds collected by rural workers as a part of ASSEMA, a local non-profit in Brazil, helping to provide them with income. Aveda also helps to fund ASSEMA programs that help the nut-breakers and their families, including education about organic and sustainable farming practices that increase food security while protecting the surrounding ecosystem. Additionally, the sandalwood trees from which Aveda sources their oil are harvested by local, indigenous communities. Aveda has also partnered with Enio Bonchev, a Bulgarian Rose and Lavender oil distillery, which ensures the Romi People's fair treatment and compensation. This distillery involves no use of machinery, instead employing field-workers to hand-pick the flowers instead. These workers are paid daily, and are left with enough money to support them through the non-harvesting winter months. Aveda regularly purchases large quantities of their oil, ensuring the livelihoods of the workers are guaranteed and giving them access to additional benefits such as free medical care and showering facilities. Aveda also sources citrus from Spain, lokta bark from Nepal, and cupuaçu from the Amazon, all harvested by locals.


Overall Aveda is a brand very committed to sustainability and its implementation, using sustainably sourced ingredients and sustainable manufacturing methods. In areas where Aveda could improve, they have outlined that they are committed to doing so.