Aveda Middle East’s Barbara De Laere On The Benefits Of A Vegan Beauty Regime

7 min read

There’s no denying the fact that more and more people are turning to veganism with their diets, while avoiding foods that are synthetic, processed and full of preservatives, chemicals and toxins. If we’re going to clean up our diets, surely it makes sense to make our beauty cabinets healthier, too? After all, our skin absorbs 60 per cent of the products we apply.

Aveda understands the importance of going vegan, and today has announced a new milestone in its sustainability journey: all of its hair care, hair color, body care, makeup and aroma products are now 100 per cent vegan.

MOJEH sat down with Barbara De Laere, Aveda Global Brand President, to discuss why we should all be going vegan with our beauty regimes, and what changes we can make going forward.

Barbara De Laere, Aveda Global Brand President

What drove Aveda to going 100 per cent vegan with its hair and personal care products?

Aveda has been cruelty-free since the brand was founded in 1978 and was largely vegan with the exception of some products that contained honey, beeswax and beeswax-derived ingredients. Going 100 per cent vegan is part of Aveda’s cruelty-free philosophy and environmental mission. This milestone is a natural evolution of our mission and we’re so proud to offer consumers high-performance, naturally-derived products that are sustainably made – and now vegan!

What was one of the biggest challenges in going vegan?

Over the last three years, we reviewed more than 900 ingredients to ensure that they were 100 per cent vegan throughout the supply chain. We found some surprising things, such as the fact that even sugar can sometimes not be vegan, because it can be processed with bone char. Luckily, ours wasn’t!

Aveda was always a 100 per cent vegetarian brand, but we used some beeswax and honey in our products. This was one of the biggest challenges for us because it is commonly used in lip products and styling products, for example in lipsticks for product strength, colour payoff and smoothness, and in styling products for structure and the ability to spread easily through your hair.

Many companies use synthetic beeswax, which is derived from petroleum. That wasn’t an option for us as we always ensure that our formulas are as naturally derived as possible, so we formulated our own alternative to beeswax with a blend of naturally-derived waxes and butters.


Do you think vegan beauty is a passing phase or is it here to stay?

All of our data is telling us that veganism is a rising consumer trend. Between 2017 and 2019, the US plant-based food industry grew by 40 per cent, while global forecasts indicate that plant-based alternatives might grow to 27.9 billion USD by 2025. The trend in beauty is also on the rise – to give one data point, according to Google Trends, the term “vegan beauty” has been searched 305 per cent more this year than last.

I think there are a few reasons for this trend towards veganism across the board. From a beauty perspective, there is more interest from consumers to know what goes into their beauty products. Some ingredients – like milk, for example – may create negative reactions for some people, so it’s easier to seek out vegan products to ensure that those ingredients are not included.

Secondly, there is a lot of interest from a health perspective. There are some new documentaries that were recently released, including Netflix’s “The Game Changers” and “What the Health” which shed more light on the potential benefits of a vegan diet.

Finally, as we become more aware of climate change and the negative effects of industrial farming, we are seeing many people become “ethical vegans.” These individuals choose not to use animal products (food or otherwise) because they hope to cut down their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment.

What are the benefits to the Mojeh woman of going vegan with her beauty regime?

There are so many benefits to going vegan in your beauty routine (both from a health and environmental perspective), and making the change to vegan beauty products is a way for interested consumers to have a positive impact.

The benefits from an environmental point of view are many. Non-vegan ingredients used in beauty products are often derived from industries that have a negative impact on the environment, such as farmed livestock. 45 per cent of the surface of our planet is used for livestock – it is the major driver of deforestation. Additionally, the animals themselves contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.


A statistic that really resonated with me was reading that the United Nations recently revealed that farmed livestock accounts for 14.5 per cent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. That’s roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet.

This is of course not entirely an effect of the beauty industry. But purchasing these animal-derived ingredients continue to fuel the growth of the livestock industry. We know that we all, each individual person and each company, has the power to drive change by voting with our dirhams!

What are the biggest skin and hair concerns among women nowadays?

Specific to hair, the biggest hair concerns for women are dryness, damage and thinning.

More generally, our data is telling us that, especially after this past year, there is an increase in preoccupation with self care from the inside out. The emphasis on meditation and mental health can be seen in the growth of that industry with some meditation apps reporting a 3000% increase in time spent on the app this year. We see this extending to what we’re calling “wellness beauty” – the idea of tending to what’s on the outside and inside as a form of self-care.

This translates to an increased focus on hair + scalp + skin health and products that really nourish, strengthen and repair. Additionally, we’ve seen growth in the health supplement category, especially products that boost immunity and help alleviate the side effects of stress, like hair loss. Sadly, there’s been a huge increase in hair loss this year – both as a side effect of Covid-19 and as a byproduct of the stress of living through a pandemic.

Finally, we are also seeing movement towards a back-to-basics philosophy – which we are excited about! We believe that “nature is the best beauty artist of all”, and we are starting to see more simple, sustainable beauty routines with high-performance, natural and naturally-derived ingredients at the core. This also ties into the increased desire amongst consumers to know and understand exactly what’s in the products they use.


How do your products tackle these issues?

I’m so glad you asked! We have three high-performance hero products that tackle the aforementioned hair-care related concerns, including the Invati franchise, which helps instantly thicken hair and helps reduce hair loss by 53%. Our new Nutriplenish collection is also fantastic for dry hair. Just launched last year, it is an advanced hydration system that offers high-performance, nutrient-powered hydration through our Superfood Complex, a blend of organic pomegranate oil, organic coconut oil and mango butter that expertly hydrates your hair. It was specifically formulated to address hydration needs for all hair types and textures and provides 72 hours of nutrient-powered hydration. Last but not least, our newest franchise, Botanical Repair, addresses damage and is powered by plant-derived 3-layer hair repair technologies that repair and protect 3 key layers of hair.

What is Aveda’s approach to sustainability?

Sustainability is, and always has been, central to Aveda’s brand mission – this is not a new focus for us, but rather the foundation of our company.

Every year we set out to achieve sustainability milestones that will help to further decrease our impact on the planet. In addition to being 100% vegan, other sustainability milestones we’re proud of include being the beauty company to use 100 per cent post-consumer recycled materials in packaging as well as the first beauty company to manufacture its products using 100 per cent wind power at its primary facility through renewable energy and carbon offsets. We are also deeply committed to sustainable sourcing, and just over a month ago, we announced the completion of a blockchain technology pilot that traces vanilla beans from 450 smallholder farms in Madagascar to our factory in Minnesota and – soon – to 125 of our products. This helps validate the quality and authenticity of ingredients and, eventually, can even help ensure fair wages for farmers. We are looking at expanding our use of this technology and evaluating other ingredients to expand this programme.

What is your personal go-to beauty look for the 9-5?

My go-to beauty look starts with good hair. To achieve that on a daily basis, every Sunday, I take time to deeply nourish and repair my hair with a mask. I also use our Thickening Tonic to plump up my naturally thin hair and then keep the style simple to let the healthy hair shine. Makeup-wise, I prefer to keep things effortless and natural. I usually throw on a few coats of mascara followed by a lip treatment to keep my lips soft and healthy.

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