Arbonne claims to be a clean and green company. But here's what you need to know its cruelty-free and vegan claims. The truth will leave you with a lot to consider.
Arbonne is cruelty-free. It doesn't conduct animal testing on its products, nor does it distribute its cosmetics where animal testing is required by law. Arbonne Skincare is also vegan – it doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients.
The Arbonne empire was founded in the USA in 1980 by a Norwegian entrepreneur named Petter Mørck. The brand develops cosmetics and nutrition supplements that claim to be "pure, safe, and beneficial."
In 2020, Arbonne made an estimated annual sales revenue of $847 million. But there's more to this brand than meets the eye – especially with its questionable marketing strategies.
The main reason why certain organizations and people refuse to recognize Arbonne as cruelty-free is because it runs on a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) scheme.
Before deciding on what to buy, here's what you need to know about Arbonne's current animal testing policies, vegan ranges, formulation, and sustainability.
Is Arbonne Cruelty-Free and Vegan?
Arbonne is 100% Cruelty-Free
It does not:
The brand is cruelty-free certified by PETA. While this is a great start, it may not be the most reliable accreditation, and we explain why under certification.
Arbonne also exclusively offers vegan makeup tools and brushes made from synthetic fibers.
Vegan makeup brushes are preferred because they are not made using animal hair.
While cutting some fur off a goat can be done in a cruelty-free way, it's hard to find sources that will comply with this.
This issue stems from the fact that animal hair is usually sourced from countries with few animal welfare policies that are also harder to track from a supply chain standpoint.
You can learn more about this industry here: Can Wool Be Cruelty-Free?
The unfortunate news is that the brand is owned by Groupe Rocher, which is not a cruelty-free organization as it does test on animals when required by law.
But there is good news.
Arbonne is 100% Vegan
Arbonne is technically completely vegan as it does not use any animal-derived ingredients in any of its products.
It is also certified by The Vegan Society – the longest-standing vegan society in the world.
You can see all of its claims and certification under each product once you've selected it.
But certain organizations and individuals refuse to recognize the brand as either cruelty-free or vegan because the entire company runs on a multi-level marketing scheme.
We discuss this here: Arbonne Sustainability and Ethics
It's also worth knowing that most mainstream skincare brands are not completely vegan.
These are certain animal-derived ingredients to look out for in general:
If you're interested in Arbonne's most popular vegan products and brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Arbonne's vegan products.
Animal Testing Policy and History
Arbonne claims to create clean and green cosmetics. It has also been cruelty-free since launching in 1980.
Cruelty-Free Status in 2021
Here is a screenshot of Arbonne's official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:
It would be nice to see more certification from Arbonne since it’s a proudly cruelty-free brand.
Currently, it's PETA-approved which is not a bad start.
While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations out there. It seems to only require a brand's written consent that abides by the PETA code of conduct.
Certification from Leaping Bunny is ideal because it holds rigorous standards and does regular audits to ensure they are upheld.
Leaping Bunny certification proves that:
Since Groupe Rocher owns Arbonne, Leaping Bunny would not qualify the brand as cruelty-free at all.
If you see a bunny stamp at the back of your product bottle – that's a really good sign. But don't be fooled by the image itself. A lot of brands are using fake logos to fool consumers.
Do your homework and see which products are genuinely cruelty-free first. This article will help you: Which Cruelty-Free Logos Can You Trust?
Is Arbonne Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?
Arbonne does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on any cosmetics by law.
However, its parent company Groupe Rocher does own brands that distribute to China, including its founding label Yves Rocher.
China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most amount of animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used per year.
However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes to be aware of. Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?
The Best Vegan Arbonne Products
Arbonne has a great range of vegan cosmetics that continues to expand, not including its range of synthetic brushes.
To save you some time, here are some of its most popular skincare products:
For a full list of Arbonne's vegan products, you can visit its website: Arbonne Healthy Living
Vegan Alternatives to Arbonne
Although Arbonne is considered cruelty-free and vegan by certain standards, there are a few reasons why you would consider brand alternatives.
If you're looking for 100% vegan brands that are ethical and more affordable, some great options include:
Is Arbonne Natural and Organic?
Arbonne is not an organic or natural brand, but it claims to use naturally-derived and safe ingredients.
Arbonne is Not Natural
It's important to note that Arbonne is not a natural cosmetics brand, even though it claims to be naturally derived.
Pretty much all ingredients we use in beauty are naturally derived – it does not mean they are still in their natural form.
In response to the well-known nutritionist and author Meghan Telpner’s questions around Arbonne’s claims, a consultant wrote the following back:
“[…] I know there is some confusion around whether Arbonne is "100% natural". This is not our claim. Arbonne wants to ensure that it provides the purest quality in skincare, health & wellness while maintaining safety.
To do so, we combine ingredients and technology (like airless pumps to prevent oxidization which means we can use fewer preservatives) that are proven to be safe while doing the job required of the product.”
The terms "clean" or "natural" is not regulated for cosmetics and skincare. In other words, it doesn't hold one specific meaning.
In most cases, it means a product is free of certain more toxic synthetic ingredients and uses ingredients of immediate plant origin.
Arbonne is Not "Pure"
Another confusing marketing strategy that Arbonne uses is "pure." It claims to use the purest ingredients wherever possible.
Wherever possible? What does that actually mean?
According to the Open Natural Labelling Association (ONLA), it is misleading to use this term to describe any cosmetic that uses chemicals or technology to change the composition of its ingredients.
They state that the term "pure" should not be used as a brand name or in coined meaningless phrases, in a way that implies a cosmetic product that does not meet the criteria above is pure or made from pure ingredients.
Arbonne uses upwards of 20 plant-derived ingredients in each personal care product that are no longer in their natural form, so it cannot be truly classified as pure or natural.
In other words, this is false advertising.
Does Arbonne Use Safe Ingredients?
According to Skin Safe, Arbonne usually has an 82% - 91% allergen-free ranking for each product, but some score as high as 100%.
There was discussion around this brand's claims and how genuine they were because it did not publicly list its product ingredients.
But with persistent retaliation from consumers – it now lists all its ingredients online and attempts to be transparent with its consumers.
Arbonne's products are free of parabens, formaldehyde donating preservatives, PABA, benzene, mineral oil, petrolatum, phthalates, and toluene.
Arbonne is also 100% hypoallergenic, but it is not non-comedogenic, so checking the ingredient lists is crucial.
Arbonne Claims to Follow EU Ingredient Regulations
As a conscientious shopper, you must read up on any brand's ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States.
Besides the fact that animal testing on cosmetics is against the law in the EU and UK, the cosmetic ingredient regulations are far stricter.
This is because the FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the USA. Europe, on the other hand, has banned 1,328!
Even though Arbonne is based and manufactured in the USA, it claims to still follow EU regulations. This is commendable.
But Arbonne takes its marketing tactics to a whole new confusing level. It has created its own updated list of 1400 toxic ingredients that it claims not to include in its personal care products.
This is part of its trademarked “NOT ALLOWED list™.”
It’s unclear what this list is made up of – but it sure sounds impressive. With a little digging, you’ll find that some of their banned ingredients include Alprazolam (Xanax) and Diazepam (Valium).
Wouldn’t that be interesting to find a lipstick with mood stabilizers in it?
Much like its "natural" and "pure" claims, this is another statement made that proves the company falsely advertises its products.
Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?
If you're worried about how safe it is to use cosmetics that are not tested on animals – please relax and take a sigh of relief.
There is no reason why cruelty-free products shouldn't be just as safe, if not safer, than anything tested on an animal.
Not only is it easy to test ingredients without using animals altogether, but there are so many pre-approved ingredients you can use to make cosmetics that there really is no need.
If you're interested, here's more on the subject: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?
Is Arbonne Sustainable and Ethical?
Arbonne has worked hard to improve its sustainability efforts and certain ethical causes. But the biggest issue with the brand is that it operates using a multi-level marketing scheme.
So does the good outweigh the bad? You're going to have to evaluate the situation and make a decision based on your moral compass.
It's no secret that the world has a huge waste problem, and cosmetic brands are only making it worse by using unsustainable packaging and harmful ingredients.
Some things Arbonne has done include:
But now for the ethical conundrum.
Arbonne Uses a Multi-Level Marketing Scheme
If you haven’t seen Arbonne in the store, it’s because it uses a network marketing or multi-level marketing business system, which some people would also identify as a pyramid scheme.
It works on the premise that independent workers buy into the company, stock up on products, and go out with the hopes to not only sell products but also get more people to sign up to be consultants.
The concern with this is that it’s not always considered ethical.
There’s usually the promise of high earnings that can grant someone financial independence. However, most bottom-earning consultants usually earn very little.
They end up paying more to the company in renewal fees and product purchasing stock than anything else.
Arbonne brought in almost $600 million in sales in 2017. However, of their approximate 250 000 consultants worldwide, only about 12% of them earn any money at all.
Arbonne proudly claims that they are cruelty-free and vegan. They also have purported to have the certifications on their website to back those claims up.
We also appreciate the fact that it is opening up about its supply chain transparency, as well as its testing, purchasing and distribution policies.
However, there are a few reasons to be wary of these claims if you are committed to using 100% vegan and cruelty-free brands.
Since Groupe Rocher owns Arbonne, it's not a viable option if you will not support a brand whose parent company isn't cruelty-free either.
Arbonne's claims might not align with your code of ethics as a consumer, especially if you want natural and pure beauty products.
There are other certification organizations that have either refused to accredit Arbonne as cruelty-free in its entirety. And it's worth exploring their reasonings before you make any decisions.