Whether or not Arbonne is a cruelty-free and vegan product line comes up a lot because of the company's consistent and boisterous branding as being “clean and green.” When it comes to understanding these claims – there are quite a few things to consider.
Is Arbonne Cruelty-Free and Vegan in 2021?
Arbonne is a skincare, cosmetics, and nutrition line that has been classified as cruelty-free and vegan by PETA’s Beauty without Bunnies and The Vegan Society. However, certain organizations choose not to recognize Arbonne as cruelty-free or vegan because their parent company, Yves Rocher, is not cruelty-free itself. Additionally, Arbonne works on an MLM scheme, which could be considered unethical.
There are thousands of health, wellness, and nutrition companies out there, all claiming to be the best for your health. Consumers of these industries have become increasingly aware that there is no need to test on animals and that clean, natural ingredients have the best effects on our health. Read on to understand more about Arbonne’s health policies and the importance of choosing to use only cruelty-free products.
Which Cruelty-Free and Vegan Certifications Does Arbonne Currently Have?
Arbonne is classified as cruelty-free and vegan by certain organizations. The brand likes to market itself as transparent with its consumers and claims to keep its product lines "clean and green".
There was discussion around this brand's claims and how genuine they were as, for a long time, they did not list their product ingredients on their website. So, it was difficult to verify this independently without having the physical product in your hands.
But with persistent retaliation, Arbonne now lists all their ingredients online and attempts to be transparent with their consumers. It has disclosed ingredient policies, philosophy, and brand health certifications.
Vegan Certifications Arbonne Has
The Vegan Society: As the longest-standing vegan society in the world – The Vegan Society holds a lot of esteem. Arbonne submits all their products here to be approved.
Cruelty-Free Certifications Arbonne Has
PETA’S Beauty Without Bunnies: PETA, otherwise known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has an extensive and easily searchable database that shoppers can use to find companies that have been certified by Beauty Without Bunnies. Arbonne’s products are recognized by this certification, which is reasonably respected globally.
What Is Arbonne’s Brand Philosophy?
Arbonne was developed in 1980 with the brand mission to create health, wellness, and beauty products. They claim to use naturally derived and beneficial ingredients when making their product formulas, which is also outlined on their website.
Here is what they claim to focus on:
However, there is a great deal of marketing jargon used that we need to consider when verifying these claims. Often, they like to state that they “use the purest ingredients we can, wherever possible.” Wherever possible? What does that actually mean?
Things to Consider About Arbonne
Arbonne makes many claims on their website about using only the best, safest ingredients. They state that they are constantly staying aware of how their production processes affect the environment. Let’s look at their claims and evaluate them:
Its Products Are Not 100% Natural
We know that Arbonne’s personal care products and cosmetics don’t use:
All good signs – right? Not really. Arbonne does make certain claims around how “natural” its products are that are not very clear.
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.”
Meaning that Arbonne might use naturally derived ingredients, but so does any other personal care brand. Pretty much all ingredients we use in beauty are naturally derived – it does not mean they are still in their natural form.
Their Ingredient Lists Are Not Pure
According to the Open Natural Labelling Association (ONLA), it is misleading to use the terms “natural” or “pure” to describe any cosmetics that use chemicals or technology to change the composition of their ingredients. They state:
‘Pure’ should not be included in any brand or fancy names, nor in coined or meaningless phrases, in such a way as to imply that a cosmetic product that does not meet the criteria above is pure or made from pure ingredients.
Given Arbonne uses upwards of 20 plant-derived ingredients in each personal care product that are no longer in their natural form, it cannot be truly classified as natural or pure.
Its Parent Company is Not Cruelty-Free
The primary place in which Arbonne calls themselves cruelty-free is with the two main certifications discussed above, PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies and The Vegan Society.
There are some organizations that have still not decided to recognize Arbonne as cruelty-free. While this may mean that Arbonne did not apply for certification, a lot of it probably has to do with Arbonne’s parent company, Yves Rocher.
Yves Rocher sells a wide variety of beauty products, and although they say they are “respectful of nature,” this is more a marketing tactic as they do not have any cruelty-free certifications, and some of its brands, including Yves Rocher itself, does export its products to China.
Use this chart to explore other certification organizations that have not given Arbonne their blessing and learn about their values.
Reasons Arbonne Doesn’t Meet Criteria
The organization’s primary values
Choose Cruelty-Free- Australia
Arbonne's parent company, Yves Rocher, is not cruelty-free
CCF does not approve companies owned by a parent company that is not cruelty-free, who sells in China (animal tests are required by law), and/or have not updated or applied for their CCF application
Free The Bunnies
While Arbonne is cruelty-free, they are owned by parent company Yves Rocher, that is not.
Free the Bunnies only certifies companies that are cruelty-free in their entirety.
Leaping Bunny doesn’t approve companies that are connected in any way to animal testing, down to the ingredient and formulation, and requires companies to have compliance documents.
Arbonne has several certifications listed on its website. They include Gluten-Free, Halal, and Kosher, Banned Substances in Sport, and Non-GMO. Even so, it is smart to check out other health certification organizations and their reasonings for not including companies like Arbonne.
It Uses Confusing Marketing Tactics
The list of toxic ingredients that Arbonne chooses not to include in its personal care products is great. However, they further claim to have banned 1400 different ingredients from their products altogether. It’s part of their trademarked “NOT ALLOWED list™.”
It’s unclear from the start 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?
Once again, this is just another statement made that proves the company does falsely advertise its products.
It Uses “Network Marketing”
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 get more people to sign up to be consultants as well.
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.
Always Check Your Certifications
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. As nice as the commitment sounds, there are definitely a few reasons to be wary of these claims if you are committed to using brands that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
Arbonne is not the best option to choose if you are boycotting all brands that either export to China or are owned by parent companies that do the same. Additionally, their 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.