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Vegan beauty products are not a fad: Amanda Le Roux, Aveda International

American haircare brand Aveda has landed in India with a focus on remedy oils and thinning treatments

Aveda’s Invati range
Aveda’s Invati range

In 1978, after visiting the Sadhana Mandir ashram in Rishikesh, Austrian hairdresser Horst Rechelbacher decided to formulate a clove shampoo. In the process, he conceived and established Aveda, an environmentally conscious haircare brand that draws from the principles of Ayurveda, with a focus on high-performing natural ingredients, responsible sourcing and cruelty-free testing.

Forty years later, as the green beauty movement enlists more advocates, the brand continues to search for more efficient answers to whether natural ingredients actually match the results of synthetic ones. “We are always looking at scientific literature to see what new results have been published for skin or hair," says Cindy Angerhofer, executive director, botanical research, Aveda. “For instance, in our Shampure range, we use Abyssinian oil, which has a very long-chain fatty acid profile, and hence excellent hair conditioning properties. We still use silicone in some of our products because they (guarantee) high performance, but we are looking for natural replacements and Abyssinian oil is hitting some of those attributes."

Other products in the range that cater to specific hair woes include the Invati Advanced line (for thinning hair), the Be Curly range and the Pramasani Protective Scalp Concentrate (for pollution damage).

Amanda Le Roux, vice-president, Aveda International.
Amanda Le Roux, vice-president, Aveda International.

At the Aveda launch in Mumbai, Amanda Le Roux, vice-president, Aveda International, spoke to Lounge about Indian haircare rituals and why the green beauty trend is here to stay. Edited excerpts.

Aveda’s origin story traces back to India—what took so long to launch the brand in the country?

What’s happened recently—in the last 12-24 months—is a really big interest in natural, botanical ingredients here in India. Of course, it is the country of Ayurveda, but there wasn’t necessarily that willingness to pay for prestige products that had botanical ingredients at their core because there was that scepticism—will they perform? In the US, prestige retail haircare has grown by 19% over the last six months. I think people have traded up in make-up and skincare, and now they’re looking at haircare. Younger people are also interested in where a company is sourcing its products from. They want natural ingredients but responsible sourcing and they hold companies accountable.

While researching the Indian market, did you notice any concerns particular to the country?

People here are in love with oils. There are Friday-night oiling rituals with mothers and grandmothers. This interest in oils was particular to India—but not heavy oils, people want lighter, serum-type oils. That informed our product line-up. We have a dry remedy oil, for instance, and you don’t need a gallon of it on your hair, just four-five drops. We’ve also called out the oils in our visual merchandising—we don’t necessarily shout about it in other countries, but that was important in India. We want to register our hair colour and by next July we’d like to launch in salons as well.

How does Aveda differentiate itself from other natural ingredient focused beauty brands?

I think one of our big differences is to marry botanical ingredients with high performance. Overall, if you take all our products, we are 90% natural. Very often you do need a certain amount of preservative…we try and use a natural alternative to a chemical preservative but it’s got to perform. We’re working towards being completely vegan but we’ve got beeswax in some of our products. By next year, we can claim that the whole range is vegan.

Do you find that consumers still doubt efficacy of natural haircare products?

There are a lot of natural products that come out every year, both around the world and here in India. The thing is, you’ll buy a natural product once, but not again if it doesn’t perform. We are very particular about having high-performance claims so you get the end result you have chosen. We were started by a hairdresser, and we work with a panel of stylists from all over the world. We always test on them first—they are the most critical users. If a product doesn’t work for a stylist, forget it, it’s in the bin.

In the last few years there has been an explosion of plant-based, vegan beauty brands. Do you see this becoming the norm?

Yes, I don’t think it’s a fad. It’s here to stay—it’s a movement. Consumers are not suddenly going to say I’ve had enough of natural. It’s a bit like climate change. We’re carbon-neutral at the moment and we’re trying to be carbon positive.

Aveda products are available on Sephora stores and Nykaa online.

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