All of the Green Science products from Aveda make over the top claims about the argan oil they contain. This oil comes from tree nuts native to Morocco, and is said to be rich in vitamin E and linoleic acid. Of course, Aveda also mentions the native Moroccan Berbers, natives who’ve supposedly used this oil for centuries for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. That must mean it’s something special (though keep in mind other natural ingredients, such as lead, were also used for cosmetic purposes until we learned how harmful it can be) but what does published research have to say about argan oil? Not much. The only study concerning topical application of argan oil has shown its oil-controlling, not moisturizing, properties. The remaining body of research has to do with the oil’s benefits when consumed orally, and includes studies related to prostate cancer, the circulatory system, and cancer. We do know that argan oil contains beneficial components, including essential fatty acids and the antioxidants vitamin E and ferulic acid. In that sense, argan oil can be considered a reliable antioxidant, though not necessarily any better than other plant oils such as olive or pomegranate (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2007, pages 113-118; Cancer Investigation, October 2006, pages 588-592; Clinical Nutrition, October 2004, pages 1,159-1,166; and European Journal of Cancer Prevention, February 2003, pages 67-75).
In the case of this water-based serum, the amount of rosemary extract is cause for concern, as is the plai oil. Also known as Thai ginger, plai oil is similar to common ginger, which means it retains this plant’s volatile components that can cause skin irritation. This serum also contains several irritating synthetic fragrance ingredients (not exactly green by anyone’s standards) and is really unimpressive compared to the best “wrinkle-filling” products available. For example, Good Skin Tri-Aktiline Instant Deep Wrinkle Filler is superior to this product not only because of its formula but because its spackle-like texture really does fill in superficial lines (though the effect is temporary). And the Good Skin product costs less than half of what Aveda is charging for this product.
Targeted treatment concentrate for deeper lines and wrinkles. P.M.-only. Formula with argan leaf extract, soybean protein and peptides helps to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Water Extracts: Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Selaginella Tamariscina (Spike Moss) Extract, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Glycerin, Polysorbate 80, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Algae Extract, Xanthan Gum, Opuntia Robusta, Glucosamine HCL, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Argania Spinosa Leaf Extract, Zingiber Cassumunar (Plai) Root Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Caffeine, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Salicylic Acid, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Limonene, Geraniol, Citronellol, Linalool, Citral
Aveda, part of the Estee Lauder Companies since 1997, offers natural-themed products that have evolved from a simple premise: what you put on your body should be as healthy and natural as what you put into it. Plants remain the major focus but—as has been true from the beginning—a quick look at Aveda's ingredient listings reveals many substances that aren't edible in the least. Who would want to eat isostearyl benzoate, cetyl ricinoleate, diazolidinyl urea, or octinoxate (a synthetic sunscreen ingredient)? We could go on, but you get our drift.
The company vigorously promotes its use of natural "pure-fume" aromas that create each product's scent. Yet regardless of whether or not a product's fragrance is natural or synthetic, the potential for irritation is still there along with a host of other problems. In fact, many of the essential oils used in Aveda products have a documented history of unpleasant side effects, including allergies, phototoxic reactions, and dermatitis. They may smell wonderful, but fragrance isn't skin care.
Aveda would truly like you to believe that it is in fact the flower and plant essences in its products that are doing the "work." If that were true, why bother using so many of the industry-standard ingredients seen in products from other cosmetics companies? Many of the highlighted plant ingredients merely contribute to the fragrance of the products. That's an obvious draw, but it's not enough to ensure a great (or even good) product. It has also been well established that once many of these plants and oils are purified and processed for use in cosmetics, they retain very little of their original benefit—though that doesn't mean they are worthless ingredients for skin. Furthermore, the manner in which Aveda discusses many of their plant ingredients on their Web site speaks more to historic and folkloric use rather than to published research that establishes a genuine benefit. It may seem intriguing to consumers that some plants have been "used for centuries to cleanse the skin and hair," but lots of things used a long time ago would be a problem today, including lead in cosmetics, not using sunscreen, absence of barrier repair substances and cell-communicating ingredients, and on and on. History doesn't always translate to eternal efficacy or safety, and it shouldn't be a deciding factor when you're choosing a skin-care routine.
One natural point Aveda has every reason to be proud of is its ongoing commitment to the environment and use of sustainable resources, including packaging made from recycled (and recyclable) materials. The company has many programs in place that support its mission statement of caring for the world we live in and giving back to society. What needs to happen to complement the philanthropy is a focus on weeding out the troublesome plant ingredients (perhaps saving them for use in their scented candles instead), and creating products built around plants whose benefits for skin are unquestionable because they are supported by substantiated research rather than referring to cultural traditions.
For more information about Aveda, owned by Estee Lauder, call 1-800-644-4831 or visit www.aveda.com.
Makeup has never been Aveda's strong suit, though it often bests their skin care line. They do their natural best to try to remain competitive and, lately, even trendy. Several of their complexion-enhancing products were reformulated, but with mixed results. For example, while the concealer improved and their already-great tinted moisturizer remained the same, the latest foundations and powders contain shine at levels ranging from subtle to showgirl. We're not opposed to shine, but am a proponent of using it judiciously and not over wrinkles because it only emphasizes them. Shade-wise, Aveda offers some surprisingly good foundation choices for fair to dark skin. The blush, eyeshadow, pencils, and most of the lip-enhancing options aren't impressive when compared to the best options in these categories from other lines, but they're by no means terrible.
In contrast and of note are the wonderfully soft, well-shaped synthetic-hair makeup brushes. They aren't as much of a beauty bargain as they were, but the improvements justify the expense and they still cost less than many department-store brushes. Overall, while Aveda's makeup isn't as extensive or all-encompassing as those from other Lauder-owned lines, there are a few genuinely superb products to consider if you watch out for the overemphasis on plant ingredients. Yes, most of the products contain plenty of plant extracts, emollients, and waxes. However, they're working in concert with many of the unnatural ingredients that are required to create modern textures and silky applications. Aloe and flax alone do not a spectacular eyeshadow make!