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Arbonne Calling: Is Arbonne Really As Pure And Safe As You Think?

Posted Jan 20 2014 7:00am


by Meghan Telpner

Have you been contacted yet by your friendly neighbourhood Arbonne consultant?

We all know one, don’t we? This might have something to do with the fact that the number of Arbonne consultants has doubled, worldwide, in the past year.

Unfortunately, Arbonne is not living up to what they claim to be.

In the last six months, I have been approached by an Arbonne consultant nearly weekly. I would be a prime candidate to be a consultant: I cheerlead for the pure, healthy, clean lifestyle. I also have access to you, my very well informed, intelligent community who might be open to spending a little more for great quality products when they come with the assurance of non-toxicity.

I thought that rather than continue to kindly decline offers to sign up as a consultant, I would look into the products a little further, because maybe this could be a widely available brand that, even if I didn’t sell it, I might feel okay recommending it- after all, I have seen them at natural health shows and most recently, at the Green Living Show.

For those of you who don’t have a neighbourhood Arbonne rep, Arbonne works much like Avon, or Mary Kay cosmetics, Usana, Juice Plus, or the old school Tupperware. It’s a multi-level, or what they refer to as “network marketing”, company where independent reps go out and promote and sell the products to friends and family, and hopefully get those friends and family to sign up as consultants too, so they will earn income not just from their own sales, but also a commission on the sales their friends/family make. Top sellers are rewarded with lavish gifts like cars, cruises and financial bonuses. It’s an effective structure for a business, and is a great, self-empowering way for consultants to be in control of their careers, income and schedule. You know how I LOVE that!

For the cost of $95 and 35% off your purchases, anyone can be an Arbonne consultant, no training needed- at anytime.  It is the responsibility of consumers to become their own best expert, and ideally, that information should not be coming exclusively from the company’s own promotional materials.

Many people are choosing Arbonne, because of the image the company promotes as being high-end, pure, simple and plant-based. As it states on their website:

“At Arbonne, beauty begins with premium botanical ingredients, an integrative approach to beauty 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. 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.”

One might think from this description that the products really are quite pure. I might also then ask you to name any skincare, or even supplement that could not prove to be botanically based. Nearly everything in our world once came from plant or earth matter in some form or another. The other small catch is that from the sounds of it, all of their products are being tested by their own research labs, something pharmaceutical companies get in trouble for rather often.

I went into my research thinking Arbonne was better than most, especially as they also highlight these key features:

Arbonne personal care products are formulated without:

  • Animal products or animal by-products
  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde donating preservatives
  • The following petroleum-based ingredients:• PABA• Benzene
  • Mineral Oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Phthalates
  • Toluene
  • Arbonne nutrition products are formulated without:

  • Artificial colours
  • Artificial flavours
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Animal products
  • Animal by-products
  • Cholesterol
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • It’s equally important to know what’s not in a product, as to know what is in there. As you know, I am not a fan of healthwashing and so rarely take claims at face value.

    I first called the company, but no one called me back. I am still waiting. I then sent an email to Arbonne, using the form they provide, requesting ingredient information and received the following auto-response:

    1. Access the Arbonne website at (or for Canada)

    2. Click on The Products

    3. Select the Product Category

    Access to the Product Line will be displayed with information about the product and its ingredients. 

    So off I went, only to discover there are no ingredients listed on the website- anywhere.

    I put a call out on Facebook and we were flooded with comments and emails from people who knew reps, but none readily came forward with ingredient information.

    Finally, ten days after I first went searching, I got a call from an Arbonne consultant who was willing to share, and proudly, information about the company and the products. I immediately loved her passion for what she was doing.

    I shared my surprise at how tricky it was to get ingredient information on the products and was told it was due to the proprietary nature, to ensure other companies wouldn’t copy formulas.

    Most botanically based, pure and natural cosmetic companies however, freely share, and even highlight their ingredient lists with pride. Look at Living Libations, Thera Wise, Green Beaver, and even Alba Botanicals which is on the border for me of how natural it really is. I share the ingredients of my own All Purpose Body Butter- and would encourage you to make it in your kitchen.

    My first question was about how pure the products are and I got the response that always makes me cringe: We use the purest ingredients we can, wherever possible. 

    That stance allows for a great, big wide open door to use whatever is the easiest, cheapest or most accessible but still maintain their principles of being vegan, and cholesterol free, which by-the-way, would have to go together as cholesterol is only ever found in animal based products. From what I can tell, Arbonne cartwheeled through that loophole.

    As the consultant wrote to me following our conversation:

    The motto we stand by is ‘Pure, Safe, Beneficial.’ We aim to use the purest ingredients possible, married with the safest of science to provide products that provide benefit to our clients. I know there is some confusion around whether Arbonne is “100% natural”. This is not our claim. Arbonne wants to ensure that it provides the purest quality in skincare, health & wellness while maintaining safety. To do so, we combine ingredients and technology (like airless pumps to prevent oxidization which means we can use fewer preservatives) that are proven to be safe while doing the job required of the product.

    Wait, they are not 100% natural? But the Arbonne manifesto declares it so, using words like green, pure, simple, natural and healthy. They say they are “Earth lovers and protectors”, “Champions of wellness”, “Forward-thinking”,  ”Forward looking” and “Future-friendly”. You know I love a good manifesto, but you do have to actually do what the manifesto says for it to hold merit.

    The consultant went on to stress the importance that all of their products have gone through rigorous testing, all are FDA approved and all have a Drug Identification number (DIN). What she said to me was this:

    “Wouldn’t you rather know the products are tested and use ingredients that will keep the product stable and not go off, than stuff people just made up in their own kitchen?”

    A valid question and one certainly worth asking. Many of you may agree too.  My personal stance on this is that if someone is making something in their own kitchen, then at least I know they are not using Polysorbate 20 and Butylene Glycol as the main ingredient in a body mist, hydrogenated olive oil stearyl esters in an eyeliner, dimethicone in a facial moisturizer, or HDI/trimethylol hexyllactone crosspolymer as an anti-caking agent in my make-up. You can bet my man is not using a cetyl ethylhexanoate based after shave lotion. Not to mention that the oils that form the base of most of the Arbonne products, sunflower, safflower and in some cases canola, could not be confirmed as GMO-free.

    Unfortunately, many of their formulations are not living up to their own green, simple, pure, natural, healthy, forward thinking, planet-protecting manifesto. The simple use of GMOs negates all of that, on its very own.

    If you look up any of those aforementioned ingredients, most of the risks listed are between low and moderate in terms of being carcinogenic, hormone disrupting, allergenic and immuno-toxic. That may seem like a good place to start, and for many, it might just be a great place to start. This is why most women buy into the brand.

    The definition of the word Pure:

    1. Not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material.
    2. Without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.
    How pure are products that use upwards of 20-30 plant-derived ingredients, that are not in their whole or unadulterated form?

    Meghan Telpner is a Toronto based nutritionista and sought after media personality thanks to her refreshingly humorous, engaging and real approach to healthy living. Her online cooking courses and health programs are improving the health of people around the world. Meghan’s book UnDiet, Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health will be released North America wide in April, 2013. Join Meghan’s community on twitter@MeghanTelpner, or on Facebook at Meghan Telpner Nutritionista. For more visit

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