Aveda Cares

animals and aveda

Aveda is a cruelty-free brand. We do not test on animals and never ask others to do so on our behalf. Our products are “people-tested.” 

Being a cruelty-free brand is an important part of our mission to care for the world we live in and for those we live with, and has been since our founding in 1978.

We strive to set an example for leadership and responsibility of caring, not just in the world of beauty, but around the world.  Our commitment to caring for animals and wildlife reaches far and wide. In fact, we live and breathe it.

Our proudest achievements:

In 1989, we were the first company to sign the Ceres Principles for corporate responsibility, which call for the safeguarding of the Earth and "its inhabitants."

While Aveda products are not certified Vegetarian or Vegan, the overwhelming majority of our products contain no animal-derived ingredients. A very small number of products may include ingredients such as beeswax, honey, or whey-based protein.

Our Blaine, Minnesota manufacturing plant is certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. We worked with NWF to create “drive with care” signs that would help protect wildlife on our campus.

We work with Audubon Minnesota to enhance the nesting habitat on the grounds of our Blaine, Minnesota headquarters. This has included the construction of a chimney swift house, a purple martin house, wood duck nesting boxes, and bluebird houses.

We have supported Audubon's Upper Mississippi River Initiative through the Aveda Earth Month program since 2007, directly funding water quality work that helps protect and enhance river habitat for birds and other wildlife.

We help raise awareness about the importance of pollinator conservation by sponsoring the Aveda Butterfly Garden at the Minnesota Zoo; a zoo renowned for its conservation efforts. By funding free entry into this exhibit, Aveda is helping to educate children on the importance of protecting butterflies and other pollinators.

Since 2010, we have collected used cell phones from our employees to donate to the Recycle for Rainforest Project sponsored by the Minnesota Zoo. Currently, funds from this program support the conservation efforts of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project (GTAP) in the Republic of Congo (West Africa).

We have supported animal relief during natural disasters, donating to the Animal Humane Society in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and to the National Wildlife Federation after the Gulf Oil Disaster.

Over the past decade, our network has raised over $8 million for grassroots organizations that help protect endangered plants and their environs, including the animals therein.

We support the Endangered Species Act and, in 2006, we sent more than 500,000 signatures from our network and guests to the United Nations and the White House to support it.

We practice bee friendly gardening at our headquarters in Blaine MN and provide a honey bee haven with access to pesticide-free food, shelter and water.

The handcrafted Nepal lokta bark paper for our holiday and year-round gifting boxes are Certified Wildlife Friendly® by the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network. Our commitment to purchasing this paper helps to protect 34,000 acres of forest, maintaining critical wildlife corridors for 21 endangered species, including the grey wolf, snow leopard and wild yak.


help support breast cancer research

Every year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aveda releases a limited-edition of our best selling hand relief™ moisturizing creme, and donates $4 US of the purchase price from each sale to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF) for cruelty-free research.  BCRF is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder and is the only national organization strictly dedicated to funding clinical and genetic research on breast cancer at medical institutions across the country. For more information about BCRF, visit bcrfcure.org.



Donations from Aveda are used to fund cruelty-free research exploring environmental causes and links to breast cancer such as exposure to toxic chemicals and pollutants. For many years now our funding has been directed to a specific research project at Columbia University in New York that studies the interaction between environmental exposures and genetic susceptibility to breast cancer. Future funds will support this or similar projects.

aveda and the yawanawa

The Yawanawa people, growers of the beautiful, red-orange Brazilian urukum seeds, work as a community, toward growth and renewal with support from Aveda.

In the upper reaches of the Amazon River in Brazil, along the Rio Gregorio tributary, are the lands of the Yawanawa people, an indigenous community whose homeland encompasses 92,859 hectares of ancestral rainforest and clearings for river-bank villages and scattered hunting camps.

The story of Aveda's distinctive source for urukum – commonly known as annatto – is the account of the resurgence of this Brazilian indigenous community, whose use of this vivid orange-red pigment for traditional face and body designs inspired Aveda when its founder first met the Yawanawa over twenty years ago. Since then, Aveda has sought to use this material in various products and packaging at different times and with the Yawanawa have developed a relationship that has seen many successes and some important challenges.


Yawanawa History

The community has struggled since the late 19th century when rubber planters laid claim to the ancestral Yawanawa lands, developed rubber plantations in the rainforest, and coerced the Yawanawa people into forced labor. During this period, missionaries also attempted to convert them to Christianity and suppressed their traditional culture and rituals. For generations the Yawanawa struggled to keep their community identity intact and retain centuries-old traditions. As the market for natural rubber declined in the mid-20th century, many Yawanawa – who had become dependent on consistent cash incomes and less so on traditional hunting and farming – left their villages to find work in Brazil's modern cities, further straining their traditional culture.

The first signs of positive change came in 1984 when missionaries chose a young man by the name of Biraci Brazil to join their mission. A native member of the Yawanawa, Biraci was sent to the nearby city of Rio Branco to study. There he discovered laws guaranteeing rights for indigenous peoples, and a government agency that had been created to oversee indigenous affairs. Biraci returned to the community armed with proof of his people's rightful ownership of the land and led the Yawanawa in a fight to reclaim it. In 1987, Biraci was elected leader of the tribe and he subsequently enabled the community to achieve independence from the waning rubber industry and missionaries.

Because of increasing dependence on cash income that had evolved over nearly a century, it became important for the Yawanawa to develop ways to achieve economic independence so that community members could return to their homeland and reestablish tribal traditions and culture.

Yawanawa and Aveda Build a Relationship

It was in the context of this need that Aveda and the Yawanawa first connected through a meeting between Biraci and Horst Rechelbacher, Aveda's founder, at the first United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

Urukum pigment—which comes from the seeds of a spiky fruit—is vital to Yawanawa spiritual and cultural life. It helps them express their individuality and, for special ceremonies, they paint their skin with intricate geometric patterns that are significant tribal symbols, or rub the urukum evenly on their bodies. Each design is unique and each person is an artist. This creative and beautiful use of a widely-available ingredient drew Aveda to the Yawanawa as a special source of annatto supply.

While annatto pigment is an inexpensive food coloring grown commercially by others in tropical areas, Aveda has chosen to work with this community because of our commitment to supporting traditional farming as well as helping protect indigenous cultures and their deep wisdom, such as intimate knowledge of botanicals.

The conversion from traditional tribal use of a wild-harvested crop to a cultivated raw material was not an easy process. During the first 10 years little urukum was actually produced while production and processing skills were developed and refined, and a third party processor was identified. Also during this period a leadership change took place in the community and Tashka Yawanawa, a young tribe member studying business in a nearby city, was selected by tribal elders to succeed Biraci.

During the 2000's, much progress was made under Tashka's leadership through the further reestablishment of traditional culture, modern health care, food security improvements, and – most important to the tribe – securing official title to their traditional lands. During this time, the Yawanawa were able to provide Aveda with a steady source of urukum for use in various cosmetic products and packaging. However, in 2008, a leadership split occurred. Although the Yawanawa remain firmly committed and unified about land preservation, some Yawanawa people now follow Biraci, and some follow Tashka.

Benefits – and Challenges – of the Relationship

The Yawanawa cite many successes achieved with the help of Aveda support during the years of this relationship:

• Reestablishing and strengthening traditional Yawanawa culture, highlighted by the publication of the first book in their native language and the production of a video – “Yawa” – explaining their culture to the world.

• Varied community developments including an initial urukum plantation in a new community, Novo Esperança, urukum processing equipment, schools, educational assistance for students to attend college, a health dispensary for treating malaria, drinking water wells provided with Earth Month funds, improved food security through new farming practices, and, recently, funding for a bio-diesel engine conversion program for their river transportation.

For Aveda the relationship has provided many benefits as well; among them

• Learning to work with traditional communities, which has become a key component of Aveda's supply-chain relationships more widely;

• Becoming more knowledgeable about and involved with indigenous cultures around the world through UN engagement;

• Watching the Yawanawa people progress and sharing this progress with our customers;

• Integrating their traditional material and artistic designs into both products and packaging.

The relationship has also had a number of challenges over the years:

• The conversion from traditional tribal use of a wild-harvested crop to a cultivated raw material was not an easy process. During the first 10 years little urukum was actually produced while production and processing skills were developed and refined, and a third party processor was identified.

• The original vision of helping the Yawanawa develop sustainable businesses has not been realized – largely because of the remoteness of their location and difficult access to potential markets.

• Urukum production has been interrupted since a leadership split in 2008. The villages that chose to follow Tashka organized into a new cooperative called Associação Sóciocultural Yawanawa (ASY) which has worked to develop a new urukum supply for Aveda. During this period Aveda has not received Yawanawa-harvested urukum for use in its products and has had to depend on a different supplier.

While this relationship has had challenges over time it continues to evolve and is an impressive story about a company and an indigenous community working together to help protect its biodiverse ancestral rainforest in the Amazon.

Looking to the Future

Aveda continues to support the development of a new urukum supply from the communities that make up the Associação Sóciocultural Yawanawa (ASY), to compensate those communities for the use of image rights in brand communications, and to fund other community projects. Simultaneously Aveda is working with the entire Yawanawa people to identify future opportunities for them to achieve true sustainability and economic independence. While still early in this process, opportunities for them to receive payments for “ecosystem services” – e.g. carbon sequestration, watershed and biodiversity protection – for protection of their pristine forest are being explored together. Aveda will continue to work with and support all of the Yawanawa to achieve a long-term, successful outcome for what has been a truly remarkable 20-year relationship.


*Aveda’s paper purchase helped 4900 papermakers earn income from June 2015 - June 2016

**The 5-year relative survival for women diagnosed with localized breast cancer (cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes or other locations outside the breast) is 98%; if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (regional stage) or distant lymph nodes or organs (distant stage), the survival rate falls to 84% or 24%, respectively. Source: www.bcrfcure.org/breast-cancer-statistics