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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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • 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.

  • Patrick May 6, 2015, 3:45 pm

    I used to work for the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis many decades ago. This was the original institute that Horst himself opened and managed for many years. I was not only a student at the original school, but also ended up teaching at the new (or current) location. Back in the day when Horst owned the Aveda line, the ingredients were all natural. In fact, none of his products even had water listed in them as Horst always said that enough water comes out of your faucet…why add more to the product? While training at the Aveda Institute, we would actually taste the products because they were harmless to our systems. When he sold the product line to Estee Lauder, the entire line changed. I imagine that the 3oo (plus) million dollars Horst made off of the sale was enough to keep him calm, but in the day, he would have stomped his feet, clenched his fists and turned blood red if ANY ONE were to have suggested using chemicals in his products. Even the candles smell like nothing while burning….It is sad for all of us who remember when Aveda was a good quality ALL NATURAL product. Anyone that doesn’t like what I just stated…oh well, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about or you have forgotten the original Aveda line and what it represented. 100% Earth friendly.

    • Kimberly November 15, 2019, 2:41 pm

      I can agree with the gentleman above I’ve been Aveda since day one, Horst would be flipping in his grave if he sees what Corporate Aveda has done, it is no longer about the salon. Support, it’s about benchmarks it’s about money it’s not about the rain forest, , it’s about reaching out to everybody’s clients trying to get them to buy online at a cheaper deal it’s disgusting , but you know what….karma …

  • Elizabeth Koeberer October 2, 2015, 2:07 pm

    Patrick is totally correct ! Lauder desimated Aveda – no longer bears any resemblanc to the original – there is no other line I can find that has close to the integrity of Horst’s Aveda -tragic and unnessary loss – just pure greed .

    • Paula February 13, 2018, 1:28 pm

      Email. Let’s talk Monat.

      • Stef November 6, 2019, 2:13 pm

        Monat? You mean the MLM shampoo that makes your hair fall out?? (I know this is a late reply but I couldn’t resist.) Hopefully you have seen the light by now and have rightfully denounced that terrible company.

  • DAYNA October 20, 2015, 3:44 pm

    PLEASE HELP!! My daughter just began school at AVEDA and the “ONLY” REASON she is there is because I believed it was “organic/all natural”. Due to the misleading claims the school made I thought going to AVEDA Institute using organic and natural fragranced products would keep her safe from chemicals that could harm her training at other cosmetology schools. Now she began experiencing excruciating sinus headaches since working with color, etc and we don’t know what to do? Do you have any suggestions?

    • Randy Schueller October 20, 2015, 5:34 pm

      Can she finish her training without doing the hair coloring portion of the program?

      • Danielle December 17, 2015, 11:18 pm

        That’s like telling a painter they cannot use paint.

  • Michele C May 21, 2016, 10:14 am

    Ladies, this is NOT a bad list. I too do much research on ingredient lists in ALL my products and since the difficult to pronounce ones are near the very end, it’s not one you should try and steer folks away from. It doesn’t claim to be 100% plant derived OR natural. Find someone else to pick on. It’s a decent product.

    • Kim November 15, 2019, 2:46 pm

      We went from a concept Salon to a family and Salon and trying another natural line I’m sorry but Aveda people are AVeda people and they will buy the products to their death and I feel like you guys are all underating it , it’s an amazing product and they do good for our world ,We have people seek us out because we are an Aveda salon but unfortunately corporate has taken over to a fault, hopefully we can all rally it back!

  • Sarah Mongie June 2, 2016, 1:42 am

    Hey! I am a stylist for Aveda. What’s is great about their products is that they are “earth friendly,” and a lot of their ingredients and plant derivatives come from and support developing countries. Aveda is very passionate about giving back to the community. Although they are not totally organic, most of the ingredients you find are derived from plants and essential oils. Aveda products also don’t have a lot of yucky toxic parabens you find in a lot of products! I work with their color line exclusively and there is a major difference that separates them from other competitors.

    • TijanaDjacic April 14, 2020, 9:31 am

      I went to Beauty School in the early 70’s although washing peoples dirty hair wasn’t my thing I stayed on top of beauty products and I am thoroughly happy with Aveida.know the product line and Aveida is much better than some of top color products-just more money are thrown at them. At so called top dollar color line. Tried them all still stick with Aveida

  • Carole Dransfield October 6, 2016, 4:05 am

    Methylchloroisothiazolinone is the problem for me. It a preservative which causes dermatitis and eczma . I used Aveda for years then suddenly I started having rashes and itching, The above chemical was the cause. A tragedy as Aveda was such a good brand. Not any more.

    • Elizabeth Stockman December 11, 2018, 3:59 pm

      Experienced severe reactions to Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone. Discovered that cherry almond shampoo/conditioner are the only two that don’t list these preservatives on the bottles. I need an answer before I try these two Aveda products. I don’t trust bottle labeling.

  • Elli H January 12, 2017, 3:51 pm

    Haha Randy, your ‘snarky’ comment made me laugh – I used to work for Aveda too and it’s kind of like a religion where people become ‘indoctrinated’ to believe all other companies are E.V.I.L. Interesting note: When Estee Lauder took over – just about all shampoos etc remained the same – so blast that one down! Bee stings are ‘organic and natural’ too – but that’s no reason to put them on your face/body – plus the amount of processing the so called ‘natural’ ingredients undergo – they are no longer ‘natural’.

    My question that I can’t find the answer to ANYWHERE on the web – do aveda products contain fragrance oils (in addition to essential oils)? They say ‘fragrance’ on ingredients lists – but I remember a trainer saying they contained 100% essential oils (no fragrance). When I asked that same trainer the % of a particular ingredient, she replied ‘a really high amount’ – something my husband and I still laugh about to this day.

    This sounds snarky, but most Aveda disciples aren’t trained in analytical thinking – they don’t question anything they are told or do independent research. Just say’n.

    • Randy Schueller January 13, 2017, 7:52 am

      Hi Elli. If an Aveda product has “fragrance” on the ingredient list then, yes, it is using fragrance oils. The essential oils would be listed separately.

  • Dianne January 18, 2017, 2:35 am

    Aveda does not test their products on animals. That’s pretty darn earth friendly if you ask me. I will buy their products.

  • Elli H February 4, 2017, 2:12 am

    Thanks Randy for your response to my question, that’s what I thought! (that ‘fragrance’ listed in ingredient list = fragrance oils) but it’s great to hear it from you. Aveda say (at least when I was working for them) that all their perfume ingredients are ‘naturally derived’ – whatever that means! I mean aspirin is ‘naturally derived’ isn’t it?

    By the way, Dianne, most companies don’t test on animals these days. I love the Aveda scent – so does my son! But I’ve found some great ‘copies’ of it on the web.

    There’s no doubt Horst was a believer – who can blame him for selling? But the ‘naturalness’ of his original singular 1 shampoo product ain’t what Aveda stands for today. You could say Aveda being natural is Horst-shit !

    • Randy Schueller February 4, 2017, 7:47 am

      Horst-shit, lol! I’ve never heard that one before!

  • AK June 9, 2017, 4:53 pm

    The criticism and comments are valid on all fronts. The key element omitted is the fact that pricing is somewhat exaggerated and obviously of no account to anyone to doesn’t keep tabs on their outgoing expenses on grooming. I always think in terms of how many jars of caviar I could buy and enjoy with a glass of champagne based on the pricing of the ‘economy’ sized containers of product.

  • Linda October 16, 2017, 10:15 pm

    Hi friends,
    I have a question. Since my husband and i have started using a package of Aveeda including: Exfoliating Shampoo, Thickening Conditioner and scalp Revitalizer , we have often got headache in a particular spot ( left side). Both the same spot.
    Does anyone knows any relation between these products and headache?
    I really appreciate your answer.

  • JB July 29, 2020, 8:25 pm

    Current Aveda student and I am watching a live webinar with the Global Director, Barbara DeLaere, as well as the VPs of marketing and science. They have just announced that as of January 2021, ALL Aveda products will be 100% VEGAN.

    I am THRILLED with this as someone who wants to use completely vegan and nontoxic products on myself as well as future clients!