Recently Arbonne has taken Canada by storm. No really, suddenly I have three to four facebook friends messaging me, urging me to host an Arbonne party... all because I share my "EcoYogini" blog posts and fit the perfect demographic.
I've been continuously, politely, declining parties and invitations based solely on the fact that Arbonne does not disclose their ingredients. I will say, that Arbonne consultants feel *extremely* strongly about their products. To the point of my discomfort at the level of their passion.
The kicker, was when my mother attended an Arbonne party, purchased some products and proudly called me so I could be proud that she was using "natural and pure" beauty products.
"About Our Products"
At Arbonne, beauty begins with premium botanical ingredients, innovative scientific discovery, and an unwavering commitment to pure, safe and beneficial products. Arbonne creates personal care and wellness products that preserve and enhance the skin, body and mind for an integrative approach to beauty. Working closely with scientists around the world and our Arbonne Institute of Research and Development (AIRD®) facility in Switzerland, we continually explore and develop scientifically advanced, botanically based proprietary formulas that meet our exacting standards for quality, safety and sustainability (Arbonne About our Products 2013)
"Arbonne Ingredient Policy"
"The Arbonne Promise: To deliver pure, safe, and beneficial products in line with our botanical tradition"
Arbonne is committed to the development of unparalleled products free of harmful ingredients, using a combination of botanical principles and scientific discovery. Our commitment begins with research and testing to ensure that each of our ingredients meets or exceeds industry standards for purity. (Arbonne About our Products 2013)One quick look at Arbonne's ingredient policy, and you can see that they make some fairly strong statements about ingredient purity. However, a lot of these statements are purely "fillers": as virtually everything in our world (even plastic- originally petroleum originally oil which comes from organic matter like zooplankton) can be 'botanically based'.
These statements make you think: 100% natural. I mean, the word "PURE" used superfluously throughout their website, implies no synthetic chemicals. However, what Arbonne is actually saying is: "some natural products with our definition of safe synthetic chemicals that are tested for safety in our own labs".
Since all of my polite refusals were met with insistent answers, I finally asked if I could see a list of ingredients to make an informed decision. One consultant provided me with four pdfs listing ingredients to four products. (which, after some searching, is pretty rare. Arbonne ingredients are hard to come by).
After her lengthy spiel promoting the 'natural' and healthy benefits of Arbonne as a 'pure' and clean product, I was shocked to see some of the ingredients on that list. Even more shocking was that the consultant, who claimed to have chosen to be an Arbonne consultant based solely on supporting a healthy, natural product, didn't think to even check some of the ingredients herself.
The ingredient list for each product is LONG (I mean over 30 ingredients) and most list the source as "plant"... which for reasons listed above is extremely misleading.
The following ingredients were listed in one product:
- (4th) PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate: Rated 5 on Skin Deep.
- (5th) Cocamidopropyl Betaine: Rated 4 on Skin Deep
- (18th) Retinyl Palmitate: Rated 8 on Skin Deep
There are another 4-5 ingredients that rate a 3 or 4 on Skin Deep.
Sure, many ingredients were rated "in the green" or low on Skin Deep, but you can easily see a combination of one third that rate higher. What science is beginning to realize is it's not simply the safety of each individual ingredient or product, but the synergy (or how ingredients interact) that has the potential for upping the toxicity level. The scientific community is only beginning to understand how chemicals interact together, exponentially increasing our body burden.
Despite their claims of safety policies and abiding by various difference regulatory body standards: The FDA and Health Canada do not in fact have to test ingredient interaction. It's a ridiculous claim really, because most standards are actually considered frighteningly low (David Suzuki's "Dirty Dozen" Ingredients Investigated In the David Suzuki Foundation Survey of Chemicals in Cosmetics, 2010).
My grief with Arbonne is the sheer level of misdirection and "greenwashing" involved in promoting their products. It irks me to no end when companies take advantage of people (like my mom) without allowing them to make a fully informed decision. Unlike other companies that aren't 100% green but make "eco" claims (such as Lush), Arbonne appears to purposefully mislead customers, withholding ingredient information and using vague, faux scientific-speak to sell a product that doesn't live up to their "PURE" manifesto.
(For another fantastic review of Arbonne, check out "Is Arbonne Really as Safe and Pure as you Think?" by Meghan Telpner).