Aveda is the latest beauty brand to go 100% vegan. The plant-powered hair care company today announced a new milestone in its sustainability journey: All of its products, including hair care, hair color, body care, makeup, and more are now 100% vegan. While Aveda has been cruelty-free since the brand was founded in 1978, they relied on some animal-derived ingredients in its products like honey, beeswax, and beeswax-derived ingredients.

It’s important to note that while people often think “cruelty-free” is synonymous with “vegan,” the two have very different meanings. Cruelty-free indicates that no animal testing is done in relation to the product. On the other hand, vegan products don't use animal or animal-derived ingredients. Just because a product is cruelty-free, doesn't mean it’s vegan; and just because a product is vegan, doesn't mean it’s cruelty-free.

So what animal-derived ingredients might be lurking in your beauty products? Many ingredients including the aforementioned beeswax and honey, as well as silk, keratin, glycerin, non-vegetal squalene, lanolin, collagen, and carmine to name a few. (For The Beet’s guide to both vegan and cruelty-free beauty, check out this article.)

Aveda says that while they only used honey and beeswax-derived ingredients in a small number of products, it was no easy task to remove them; The veganization of their more than 500 beauty products sold around the world has taken several years. “Removing beeswax was one of the biggest challenges for Aveda formulators because it helps to create texture, structure, color payoff, and smoothness,” explains Christine Hall, vice president of research and development at Aveda. “One common alternative to beeswax for lip products specifically is synthetic beeswax, a wax that is petroleum-derived. But at Aveda, because we are committed to maximizing our use of naturally-derived ingredients, we opted instead to create a unique blend of plant-based butter and waxes that are strong enough for application, but also feel good on your lips.” Aveda’s Feed My Lips Collection for example, which is a colorful lineup that includes lipsticks, glosses, and liners, is now beeswax-free.

Aveda also had to reinvent how they create aromas in products that contain fragrance. “We have worked hard to recreate these formulas using only non-animal derived ingredients to ensure that our iconic aromas would not be affected,” Aveda Principle Perfumer Kate Rosso explains.

Decades in the Making

Aveda is no stranger to do-gooder haircare and beauty. Beyond its commitment to not use animal products and not animal test, the brand has also made a concerted effort towards environmental stewardship over the last several decades. The company was an early beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled materials in packaging. Today, more than 85% of its skincare and hair styling bottles and jars contain 100% post-consumer recycled materials. Aveda was also the first company to sign the Ceres Principles, created by the nonprofit Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres) for corporate responsibility, which outlines a model for environmental conduct for corporations to follow. And this is to just name a few of their environmental efforts. From environment to animal welfare, Aveda’s commitment remains steadfast in helping the Earth and its inhabitants; eliminating animal and animal-derived ingredients from its products was a vitally important piece of that commitment.

“Behind the Aveda brand is a team of people that are passionate and energized by our mission to care for the world we live in, and our transition to 100% vegan formulations is a testament to the hard work of this team as they embarked on reformulating and repackaging our products,” says Barbara De Laere, Aveda Global Brand President. “This work has been in progress for more than three years and it is a big milestone for us: it is part of our brand promise to create high-performance products that are 90% naturally-derived (on average) and formulated with our mission of sustainability in mind.”

Aveda and Veganuary

In 2020, the world saw unprecedented support for Veganuary. And while individuals participate in this international month dedicated to all-things-vegan and creating vegan awareness, companies are encouraged to support as well in 2021. Aveda for example is participating this year with its employees joining the Veganuary Workplace Challenge, which encourages participants to try a plant-based diet for 31 days during the month of January. The company says that Aveda will be the first beauty supporter to take on the Veganuary Workplace Challenge in the United States.

For Aveda, 2021 is a culmination of leading by example as they usher in a new era of mainstream brands making the shift to being both vegan and cruelty-free. “We believe in no-compromise formulas at Aveda: there is no reason why we can’t have sustainable, animal-friendly products that work for all hair types and textures!” says De Laere.

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