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Is aveda really more natural?

Sandra Says: I read about Aveda products being derived from plants. Wanting to move away from toxic products, I excitedly bought shampoo and conditioner. The first ingredients sound great…then the list grows with increasingly complex multi-syllable chemical words that I find hard to believe are just plants! Technically I suppose everything on earth comes from ‘nature’ but I was expecting plant extracts ONLY not plant extracts and the same old chemicals. Whats up here? Is it marketing hype?

The Left Brain laments:

Sandra, I think you guessed it…Aveda is mostly marketing hype. Consider Aveda’s Color Conserve Shampoo

Shampoo Ingredients

Their ingredient list (as taken from Drugstore.com)

Aqueous Purified Water Extracts: Camellia Sinensis Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara Peel Extract (Bitter Orange), Astragalus Root (Membranaceus) Extract (Milk Vetch), Schizandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Pinus Tabulaeformis Bark Extract (Pine), Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Sedum Rosea Root Extract, Rehmannia Chinensis Root Extract, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Quaternium 80, PEG 7 Dimethicone C8-C18 Ester, Babassuamidopropyl Betaine, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Amyl Salicylate, Amyl Cinnamate, Lycopene, Lecithin, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopherol, Sucrose Palmitate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Glycol Stearate, Glycol Distearate, Polyglyceryl 10 Oleate, Polyquaternium 7, Fragrance, Cistus Ladaniferus Oil, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone

They actually aren’t following the naming conventions of the INCI Dictionary because the term “Purified Water Extracts” is not an official name. If you strip away from this list all the stuff that is just marketing fluff, you’re left with the following ingredients that actually make the product work.

Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Quaternium 80, PEG 7 Dimethicone C8-C18 Ester, Babassuamidopropyl Betaine, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Glycol Stearate, Glycol Distearate, Polyglyceryl 10 Oleate, Polyquaternium 7, Fragrance, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone

You have the same kind of formulas you find in conventional shampoos.

That includes water, detergents (ALS, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, lauramidopropyl betaine), conditioning ingredients (all the ones after betaine up to fragrance), fragrance, adjustment ingredients (to make manufacturing easier), and preservatives (parabens, isothiazolinones).

And you’ll find many of these ingredients in store brands like Pantene, Suave, Dove, Fructis, Tresemme, etc. There is nothing particularly natural about Aveda shampoos anyway. They do have a requirement that all the ingredients can be traced back to some plant but ultimately, this is a ruse.

The Beauty Brains bottom line:

Aveda produces good, high quality products, but they are no more natural or good for you than anything else you can buy. They have some environmental stances that are laudable which may help make you feel better about buying them. But these marketing shenanigans sure make me lose faith in them.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Liz February 22, 2014, 12:34 pm

    Since water is usually the first ingredient of any shampoo… then all these extracts are basically taking the place of plain old water. What would make this formulation different is the concentration of the extracts in the purified water, no?

    • Randy Schueller February 22, 2014, 1:11 pm

      Liz, this is a great question! Instead of just answering it here in the comments section of this post, Perry wants to write a new post addressing the issue. Look for it on the blog in the coming week. Thanks!

  • Gab February 15, 2015, 11:05 pm

    Aveda is a fantastic company who makes high quality products. My hair is proof of this. You obviously need to make some exceptions to chemicals to actually get clean, but to compare them to Suave, Pantene, etc. is just simply foolish. Worst blog I’ve read in awhile

    • Randy Schueller February 16, 2015, 8:42 am

      Gab: Unilever (who makes Suave) and P&G (who makes Pantene) are also fantastic companies who make high quality products. Millions of people’s hair is proof of this. Worst comment I’ve read in awhile. (Sorry for the snarkiness but you kind of asked for it.)

  • Annie March 12, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Mr. Schueller used to work for Unilever. What a shock. Unilever and Proctor & Gamble are 2 of the WORST corporations on the planet. They are completely environmentally and socially irresponsible. Look them up. Do not purchase their products for the sake of saving a few dollars.

    • Randy Schueller March 12, 2015, 1:11 pm

      Two of the worst on the planet? Could you please provide a reference to where you got those ratings? I’d like to look into it. Thanks.

  • Annie March 14, 2015, 9:33 am

    As you know…people can find anything to support their opinions on the internet…but search around on Ethical Consumer, Multinational Monitor, Green America, Stop Corporate Abuse, criminal cases on the EPA website, ewg.org, Public Integrity, Betterworld Shopper, Sum of Us etc. Watch out for greenwashing and the “doubt factory.” Sure, nobody’s a saint in business, but bottom line for me is if SOME companies can do it right (Seventh Generation, Method), ALL companies can do it right.

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