Aveda Founder Debuts New Organic Products, Green Labeling Debated

Horst Rechelbacher's Intellectual NutrientsAveda founder unveils Intelligent Nutrients: Will green gals get it? Horst Rechelbacher, the Aveda founder who sold his company to Estee Lauder back in the 1990s, is introducing a high-end line of hair and body care products, positioning the Intelligent Nutrients brand on its USDA Certified Organic status.

The premise is unusual. Currently, while there are a handful of personal-care products that are also Certified Organic, there are no organic standards for cosmetics in the U.S. That's what makes it easy for marketers to get away with the greenwashing IN says is "epidemic" in the beauty industry. Instead of relying on cosmetic standards, IN is using ingredients that are certified organic using food standards.

"We've raised the bar on cosmetic science by using the purest form of the food-derived ingredients to ensure safety, industry organic certification and authenticity--and most important--performance," the company says in its release. "It's based on using only certified organic food-derived ingredients--substances the body recognizes and readily assimilates as nutrients in the body."



The line--which includes more than 20 SKUs, including certified organic aromatics, scalp and hair care, hair styling, body cleanser, and something called "lip delivery nutrition"--is based on a trademarked substance called Intellimune, itself a certified organic antioxidant seed oil blend. It contains black cumin, pumpkin, red grape, red raspberry and cranberry seed oils. (Some are grown on Rechelbacher's Minnesota farm.) It's also selling Intellimune in tablet and oil form, as nutritional supplements.

The products are both pricey ($39 hairspray, $42 conditioner, $60 nutraceutical tablets) and unexpected: A fragrance called Seductive promises you will want to make love; one called Focus will "feed the mind." (Both are $65.)

A company spokesperson did not return calls, but the release says the line will be sold through flagship stores in Minneapolis and New York, as well as specialty retailers, salons, spas and at www.intelligentnutrients.com.

While the Intelligent Nutrient line will likely gain a competitive edge by calling attention to its certification, experts say consumers are still confused by the way marketers toss around terms like "organic" and "natural."

"Consumers do recognize the USDA label as a federal standard," says Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association, Washington, D.C. "And they definitely see that as adding value. But there are so many certifications they start to look like Girl Scout badges."

It doesn't help that the lines between the typical good guys and bad guys are blurring. California's attorney general filed a suit against Whole Foods and other companies last week, alleging that they are selling products that contain a carcinogenic contaminant called 1,4-Dioxane. California requires that such products be sold with warning labels that it may cause cancer.

"Whole Foods Market is cooperating with the California Attorney General's office to resolve these claims as quickly as possible," the company says in a statement. "We do not believe that these products represent a health risk. "We carry numerous USDA organically certified personal care products, in addition to other products that meet our own Premium Body Care standards."

Fabricant says he expects to see more interest in certifications and the precise definition of marketing terms. "There's a consumer demand for these products," he says, "and it's becoming more important than ever for companies to know their supply chain."

Next story loading loading..