Is AVEDA Cruelty-Free and Vegan in 2022?

AVEDA produces a vast range of cosmetics that are all developed with ancient Indian medicinal learnings. Trust us when we say that you’re not only going to love their cruelty-free and vegan policies – you’re going to love it all.

Is AVEDA Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

AVEDA 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. AVEDA is also 100% vegan – it doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients.

Horst Rechelbacher founded AVEDA in 1978 in Blaine, Minnesota. On a trip to India, the Ayurvedic concepts (a traditional South Asia system of holistic eating, medicine, and surgery) inspired him. So when Rechelbacher returned to the States, he used his newfound knowledge to build AVEDA.  

“Our mission at AVEDA is to care for the world we live in, from the products we make to how we give back to society,” said Rechelbacher.

AVEDA aims to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility. This extends to much more than the beauty industry – it’s about the world we live in.

People love what this brand stands for (and so do we), so it’s no surprise Rechelbacher was able to sell AVEDA to Estée Lauder in 1997 for $300 million.

 Before deciding if they live up to that high standard and deserve space in your beauty cabinet, here's what you need to know about AVEDA’s current animal testing policies, vegan ranges, formulation, and sustainability

Is AVEDA Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

AVEDA is 100% Cruelty-Free

It does not:

  • Test any of its products or ingredients on animals;
  • Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain; or
  • Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.

AVEDA clarifies that it has never conducted and will never perform any animal testing on its products; nor has it used a third party acting on its behalf either.

It’s also PETA-certified to back up its cruelty-free claims.

Today, AVEDA is owned by Estée Lauder, which is not a cruelty-free company. In saying this, the brand remains relatively independent from its parent company and the way it’s run.

 This brings us to the next point:

AVEDA is Vegan

Can you believe it? This premium brand is 100% vegan, and we’re here to cheer them on.

AVEDA historically used beeswax in some of its products. But in 2019, it managed to develop an alternative.

As of January 1st 2021, all AVEDA products on shelves were 100% vegan.

AVEDA strives to fuse the benefits of naturally derived ingredients with science. It does not use any animal-derived ingredients in any of its products.

However, it's worth knowing that AVEDA is the exception and not the rule.

Most mainstream skincare brands are not 100% vegan. These are certain animal-derived ingredients to look out for in general:

  • Honey & beeswax  these ingredients pose many health benefits to your skin and wellbeing. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with essential vitamins.

    Just because beeswax isn't vegan, it doesn't mean it can't be cruelty-free. Find out more here: Can Beeswax Be Cruelty-Free?
  • Carmine – this ingredient is the red pigment made from the crushed female cochineal insect. A little gross, no? But it is completely harmless and is used in makeup to get those rouge tones.
  • Lanolin – this ingredient, like honey and beeswax, is used in skincare and cosmetics because it is incredibly hydrating. It is basically the waxy oil that comes from sheep wool. Lanolin can be cruelty-free – follow this link for more details.
  • Collagen – this essential protein plays an integral role in strengthening your skin and potentially help slow down the effects of ageing when taken as a supplement. It does this by minimizing wrinkles and dryness.

If you're interested in AVEDA’s best vegan products or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: AVEDA’s vegan products.

Animal Testing Policy and History

AVEDA has been committed to creating clean and holistic hair and skincare products that are also cruelty-free since its inception in 1978.

They were the first company to sign the Ceres Principles in 1989, a set that stands for corporate responsibility “which call(s) for the safeguarding of the earth and ‘its inhabitants’.”

Many brands say they set the sustainable standard, but AVEDA actually means it.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

Here is a screenshot of AVEDA’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:

AVEDA cruelty-free website statement

Certification

Currently, AVEDA is PETA-approved which is not a bad start.

But we would love to see more certification from them since it’s a proudly cruelty-free brand.

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.

The Leaping Bunny association’s strict and reliable regulations stipulate that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products they sell.
  • No animal testing is conducted by the brand suppliers or on their ingredients or formulas.
  • No animal testing is done by someone else that the company itself paid for.
  • Any other form of testing (beyond ingredient and consumer safety), such as worker safety and environmental health, are considered and evaluated.

But some certification is better than nothing at all.

If you see a bunny stamp on the back of your product bottle – that's an excellent 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 AVEDA Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

AVEDA does not distribute any of its products to mainland China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law. It is sold in Hong Kong, which operates under different animal testing policies.

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.

While AVEDA manufactures most of its products in the USA, we cannot confirm if they do any third-party manufacturing in China.

If any third-party manufacturing happens in China, this does not mean that the brand conducts animal testing.

This law is purely enforced on international cosmetic products entering China and not on products made within the country itself.

However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes. Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

The Best AVEDA Vegan Products

AVEDA has a great range of vegan products that continues to expand. It prides itself in developing a product with you (the consumer) and the planet in mind.

AVEDA’s product formulations are vegan, and the brand goes above and beyond with its actions and investments, reflecting its holistic ethos.

To save you some time, here are some of AVEDA’s most popular and award-winning products to choose from. 

Skincare

  • Botanical Kinetics™ Intense Hydrating Rich Crème
  • Botanical Kinetics™ Deep Cleansing Clay Masque
  • Botanical Kinetics™ Energizing Eye Crème

Haircare

  • Invati Advanced Intensive Hair And Scalp Masque
  • Botanical Repair Strengthening Shampoo
  • Nutriplenish Leave-In Conditioner

Body

  • Shampure™ Hand And Body Wash
  • Foot Relief™ Moisturizing Creme
  • Chakra™ 3 Balancing Body Mist Intention

For a complete list of AVEDA’S vegan products, you can find everything on their website

Vegan Alternatives to AVEDA 

Overall, AVEDA is an excellent option for vegans and provides vegan products that other brands haven't cared to try yet.

They have a clean track record and noteworthy transparency with their consumers. For a multi-million dollar brand – it's commendable.

But whether you believe AVEDA is 100% vegan and cruelty-free depends on how you feel about its parent company, Estée Lauder (which is not a cruelty-free company).

If you are vegan or a strong advocate of cruelty-free cosmetics, AVEDA may not be the right brand.

Luckily, there are alternatives you can find that are certified cruelty-free and vegan.

If you're looking for 100% vegan cosmetics that are in the same price range, here are some similar alternatives within the same price range:

Is AVEDA Natural and Organic? 

AVEDA is certified organic and claims to use natural formulas too.

It says that “in keeping with Ayurvedic principles – and because of our concern for the earth – AVEDA is committed to using organic ingredients.”

While the term "organic" is regulated by the USDA and means an ingredient is free of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or non-organic substances.

Unfortunately, the term “natural” is not regulated. AVEDA explains that 50% of each ingredient’s molecular weight needs to be naturally derived for the brand to consider it a natural ingredient.

On average, they even claim that each product is 90% naturally derived.

AVEDA has also taken its love for natural ingredients further by using what they called ‘green ingredients’ wherever possible. Green ingredients are:

  • Certified organic,
  • Naturally derived (as per the definition above),
  • Sourced from sustainable or renewable plant-based origins, and
  • Free of any negative impact on the ecosystems where AVEDA sources them.

Clean vs. Natural Ingredients

The term "natural" is not regulated for cosmetics and skincare. In other words, it doesn't hold one specific meaning.

Usually, it means a product is free of certain more toxic synthetic ingredients, including parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and more. But people also interpret "natural" to mean ingredients of immediate plant origin.

When it comes to AVEDA – it means both!

Here's the thing: "natural" is not always good. Just because an ingredient is natural doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin. Poison ivy is natural – but we wouldn't recommend rolling in a field of that stuff!

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas, and AVEDA is no exception – but it can choose to use better or clean synthetics.

If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.

Does AVEDA Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, AVEDA has an 82-91% allergen-free ranking for various products; however, some products score as high as 100%.

AVEDA has super strict ingredient policies that we love. As a brand, they never use: 

parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, formaldehyde, and its donors, SLS and SLES, oxybenzone, benzene, retinyl palmitate, microcrystalline wax, polyethylene beads, triclosan, triclocarban, lanolin, carmine, talc or synthetic fragrance

While there are no statements detailing whether AVEDA is hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, their highly naturally-derived formulas are usually safe for sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Still, the best thing you can do is read the ingredients and ensure you’re buying a product designed to fit your skin’s needs.

It's also important to note that not all natural common allergens are harmful ingredients.

A typical example is lanolin — this waxy substance has many benefits to your skin. Find out more here: Can Lanolin Be Cruelty-Free?

Although AVEDA does not use many toxins at all – here are some of the ingredients you want to avoid:

Skincare

  • DEA, MEA, and TEA
  • DMDM Hydantoin and urea (that often release formaldehyde)
  • PEG (Polyethylene glycol)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • Triclosan

Makeup

  • Butylated compounds
  • Benzophenone compounds
  • Carbon black
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead or other heavy metals

Haircare

  • Benzophenone
  • Butylated compounds: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Coal tar
  • Ethoxylation
  • DEA, MEA, and TEA
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs)

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.

Here's more on the subject if you're interested: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?

Is AVEDA Sustainable and Ethical? 

Is it ever!

If we could award a brand with the best sustainable and ethical initiatives – AVEDA would be at the top of our list.

They are so environmentally conscious that it would be impossible to list all their endeavors in this article alone, but we will give it our best shot and invite you to marvel.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Helps create sustainable, ethically developed products.
  • Focuses on holistic beauty that respects Ayurvedic traditions.
  • Strives to do more to help people, animals, and the planet.

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 of the ways AVEDA is taking strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Using natural ingredients that are biodegradable and safe for the environment.
  • Creating sustainable packaging. AVEDA was the first cosmetics brand to use 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.

    Today, over 85% of their haircare bottles and skincare jars use 100% PCR plastic.
  • Blending plant-derived bioplastic (a plant alternative to plastic) with PCR plastic where needed.

    Having an active recycling program where consumers can either recycle products from home, return them to AVEDA or send in an AVEDA Full Circle Takeback collection box.
  • Using 100% carbon neutral shipping throughout the whole of the USA. It’s no wonder it’s won the CEW Sustainability Excellence Award.
  • Switching to wind and solar-powered manufacturing at their factories.
  • Having a waste-reuse program at their primary manufacturing facility to reduce the amount of production waste

When it comes to ingredients, AVEDA is:

  • Growing the number of green ingredients that it uses by:
  • Using more organic raw herbal ingredients and essential oils from 20% to 90% in the last 20 years. (While increasing total tonnage too.)  
  • Establishing a supply chain traceability process called Soil to Bottle™ for certain key ingredients.
  • Developing the exclusive Babassu Betaine technology to establish the use of sustainable plant-based alternatives to replace petrochemicals.
  • Slowly phasing out the use of palm fruit that is both Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO) and organic certified. One such alternative they are using instead is Babassu Betaine.
  • Using natural ingredients sourced from sustainable or renewable plant-based origins. This means that it doesn’t harm their ecosystems when sourced.
  • Sourcing ingredients that provide jobs for locals so that they can receive fair wages and ethical treatment. For example:
  • Turmeric and amla
    AVEDA sources both Ayurvedic roots from the Indian firm, Nisagra – who not only promote organic farming but create jobs for nearby villagers close to their farms.
  • Babassu
    This tree produces nutrient-dense seeds that are great for haircare. It’s grown in Brazil is legally protected – it can only be owned and harvested by locals.

    Even better is that it’s mainly women who collect the seeds, press them for their rich raw oils and sell them to AVEDA’s mission-aligned partner.
  • Although AVEDA doesn’t talk directly about its ethical MICA mining policies – its parent company Estée Lauder claims to source its MICA from ethical sources.

Finally, AVEDA is taking ethical responsibility by:

  • Running collaborations that raise more for the environment. By 2021, AVEDA initiatives and partnerships had raised just under $65 million globally.
  • Promoting the importance of protecting the environment right from their head office.

    According to AVEDA’s website, “our Blaine, Minnesota manufacturing plant is certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

    Their head office has various nesting houses and stations for indigenous birdlife in Minnesota.
  • Partnering with ANSAB (Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources) to preserve biodiversity and improve the livelihood of locals within South Asia.
  • Funding ASSEMA, a local non-profit in Brazil that provides community development projects, advocates human rights for locals, and the protection of the babassu trees.

    This included funding a massive clean water and irrigation system in those areas to improve the lives of local farmers.
  • Having complete supply chain transparency with their customers, primarily through blockchain technology.

What’s scary is that this isn’t even all of it. AVEDA funds so many initiatives in the spirit of helping people, communities, and the environment – you can tell it’s fully embraced the Ayurvedic way of living.

Final Thoughts

AVEDA doesn’t just talk the talk – it walks the walks when it says it’s an Ayurvedic brand. They have done their utmost to respect the principles of this ancient system of knowledge.

Acknowledging the source and the teachers behind the information that inspired the brand, never testing on animals, signing the Ceres Principles in the 1980s all stand in good stead.

AVEDA has also found room for improvement and developed what the need to make those improvements in terms of products, environments, social, aspects and sustainability ­– even finding beeswax alternatives where many competitor brands fail to do so.

The only issues we may have are that:
  • AVEDA’s parent company is not cruelty-free.
  • It’s only PETA certified, and we were hoping for a more upstanding Leaping Bunny accreditation.

At Cruelty-Free Soul, we would never want to pressure any reader, but it is up to us as consumers to stand for what we will and won't accept from our cosmetics.

We love AVEDA, and if you love it too – get in touch with them and tell them the changes you’d like to see from this progressive brand. They might just listen.

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