Weleda Logo Superimposed on a Lavendar Field
Brand Reviews

Weleda | A 100 Year Old Brand’s Still Got It & Best Products

100 year old Weleda’s got some funky, way before their time founders, and really historic products all at an accessible price. A bit of the company’s history, what I think about their formulations, and their Best Products.

Weleda Table of Contents

Weleda Quick Facts | The company’s commitment to ingredients, the environment, ethics and its EWG and Good Guide Standing

Weleda’s Got History | 100 year old brand has founders far ahead of their time

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going | Weleda Survives even when Natural isn’t popular

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations | Very transparent formulations and easy to understand ingredient choices

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

Weleda Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegetarian, Natrue Certified, GMO free, Free Of List, Paraben Free, Preservative-Free, Sodium-Laurel-Sulfate-Free (SLS), Synthetic Fragrance-Free, Phthalate-Free, GMO-Free.

Eco-Friendly | Focus on continually reducing packaging and investigation into more environmentally friendly packaging with targets set in their annual report

Ethical | Fair Trade Sourcing, Cruelty Free

Good Guide | 4.3 over 70 products

EWG | 1-7 over 53 products

Weleda’s Got History

Bee pollinating an Arnica field. Biodynamic gardening does not rely on chemical fertilizers but instead treats each farm as a system that can effectively care for itself.
Weleda’s founders started biodynamic gardening which is the first organic farming movement. It treats each farm as a unified system of interrelated tasks that can effectively care for itself. As such, it excludes chemical preparations and uses natural fertilizers.

Weleda interest in biodynamic gardening, naturopathic medicines, and natural beauty products since 1921 put the company massively ahead of its time.

In many ways, this is due to its founders.

Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman were pioneers.

He was a philosopher who believed in viewing man as a whole and deeply connected to nature. A natural outcrop of this was a deep respect for natural farming techniques and holistic remedies.

A picture of Robert Steiner.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher who viewed man as a total system of mind, body and spirit. Inextricably bound to nature, nature was also the obvious source of healing. Via Biodynamics NZ.

In the field of medicine, Ita was one of the first women doctors and developed an extract from Mistletoe following Steiner’s advice.

Today, the company continues to be involved both in medicine and in cosmetics while maintaining the founders’ philosophies with regard to natural healing.

They have biodynamic gardens in Germany and a network of people throughout the world dedicated to organic farming. Their cosmetics have become increasingly prominent and are now two thirds of the company’s revenue.

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going

Weleda's survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy. A WWII picture of the Russian flag over the Reichstag.
Weleda’s survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy.

In the early days the user…had to remember how much they loved natural: the colour of the creams was a bit muddy, they felt a little greasy, they would go very runny in summer and set firm in winter – but they were good for the skin and the environment! Now we have become so adept at formulating totally natural creams they are as attractive and easy to use as any conventional cream.

Loraine Murry, Weleda Natural Beauty Consultant

Weleda’s survived almost 100 years through sheer grit and determination.

WWII, economic crises, and a lack of understanding of the company’s natural offering all made Weleda a fairly small enterprise until the 90’s.

Then, things changed.

Consumers started to demand natural products and Weleda poured more effort into marketing.

The public exposure drove awareness and interest. Celebrities like Adele, Victoria Beckham and Julia Roberts started carrying Weleda’s signature Skin Food in their purses and magazines and publications gave them hundreds of awards.

The long and short of it was that the public rediscovered Weleda’s historic products. Skin Food is from 1926. Massage Balm with Arnica and the Rosemary Hair Lotion are also from the 1920’s. People started to appreciate their history and understand their offerings and sales grew.

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations

Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.
Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.

Looking through Weleda’s formulations, I’ve generally agreed with their ingredients and their choices.

Skin similar ingredient lanolin is used in their Skin Food and Diaper Care Cream. Humectant glycerin and occlusive beeswax attract and maintain moisture for dry skin creams.

They use a mix of proven science and new ingredients, but even when they choose a unique item, I can follow along with their thinking.

Weleda has logical choices or uses traditional herbs and I like that they keep their claims not to far beyond the realm of possibility.

Science hasn’t quite caught up with all the skin care ingredients out there. A lot are used based on marketing or belief, and very few are well researched or proven. And their interactions between each other are not entirely known.

So, when I look at Weleda’s ingredient list on a per product basis, I take that all into account. I see which ones are good with scientific evidence, have a strong history of use, and those which the company includes to stabilize the formula.

In addition to generally agreeing on their ingredient choices, I like that they have essential oil fragranced or unscented options.

Personally, I am not a fan of essential oil fragrances although I don’t go and ban them outright. Some have been shown to provide anti-microbial, anti-bacterial or other beneficial effects, but I’m sensitive to all scent and prefer them out of my beauty products altogether.

And their packaging is nice, not just professional looking but also thoughtful enough to preserve their ingredients.

All in all, I’d say this is a nice, responsible brand with solid products that work well.

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

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Andalou Naturals Product Group
Brand Reviews

Andalou Naturals’ Beauty Industry Veterans Build a Great Brand Once Again

Andalou Naturals Brand Review Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegetarian; Sulphate Free; Organic; Natural Minimum of 70%; Gluten Free tested by Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) on behalf of Celiac Sprue Association (CSA); Non-GMO as certified by the Non-GMO Project

Eco-Friendly| Recyclable without BPA

Ethical | Cruelty Free; 100% of the net profits from A Path of Light Hand Creams benefit women; Supports She-Can and Vital Voices Leadership, $783,000 total given

The Good Guide| Not Rated

EWG | 1-4

Andalou Naturals Brand Review Table of Contents

Smells like Entrepreneurial Spirit | A couple of veteran beauty entrepreneurs get back in the game

Natural Skincare is Actually Within Your Reach With Andalou | Democratic natural skincare

The Low Down on Plant stem cells | Plant stem cells are a new development in the beauty industry

My Take On Andalou Naturals | A generally good brand

Best of Andalou Naturals | Products and Reviews

Smells like Entrepreneurial Spirit

Packed Aisles in a Grocery
Packed Aisles in a Grocery but Nothing to Buy

The story of Andalou Naturals starts like this:

Stacey Egide goes to market.

Stacey Egide doesn’t find a single night cream she likes.

So, being Stacey Egide, she decides to make her own night cream.

Now, what separates this Stacey from the thousands of other people who create products is that this is Stacey Egide.

If you’re familiar with the beauty and personal care space, you’ll recognize this is the Stacey of the Stacey and Mark Egides, entrepreneurs who started Avalon Organics, the Sonoma Soap Company and the San Francisco Soap Company.

These are serial, successful entrepreneurs.

As anyone who has ever started a business before will know, the biggest obstacle is fear.

Rubber Duckie Taking a bubble bath.
Andalou’s veteran founders must find starting a new business as relaxing as taking a bubble bath at this point.

These guys have none. They’ve entered the beauty industry so many times that what is a cold shock of water to most people must be a comfortable, relaxing bubble bath with a squeezable rubber duckie to them.

This is a good thing, since when they set up Andalou Naturals in 2011 they had some really tight deadlines. They wanted to launch at Expo West, which was only months away. They also had a major presentation to Whole Foods.

So, they recruited their former Avalon Organics team members Nathalie Internicola for sales, and Alissa Berihu for product development. And they knew where to source and who to tap, which made the deadlines achievable even though they were tight.

By 2013, they were the first company awarded full non-GMO certification. They also made it through the door of Whole Foods and Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, which often takes years for less established brands.

They were so successful they were ranked the No 1 facial skin care brand in the natural channel (SPINS Oct 2016).

The Egides strike again.

Natural Skincare is Actually Within Your Reach With Andalou

Shea butter in its raw form in two jars.
Shea Butter is a nourishing skincare ingredient often included.

What I like about Andalou Naturals is how accessible they make organic skincare.

They’re an affordable, well-formulated line that is sold everywhere. They make trying out the organic lifestyle simple, not just for the woman who can afford hundreds of dollars for moisturizer.

Women want products that have quality, healthful, and nourishing ingredients that make their skin feel great, they want the company and the ingredients to be transparent and, ultimately, they want products that are affordable.

Stacey Kelly Egide, Andalou Naturals Founder and CEO

This is democratic – and still organic – skincare.

And it isn’t like they are skimping on ingredients either.

They pack in the antioxidants with their BioActive 8 Berry Complex composed of acai, aronia, bearberry, bilberry, black elderberry, goji berry, rosehips berry, and sea buckthorn berry. They are solid, non-fragrant choices for proven skin benefit.

Closeup of Goji Berries, which is an ingredient in Andalou Naturals Bioactive 8.
Andalou Naturals uses the antioxidant rich Bioactive 8 mix of berries in several products.

I also really like that they were the first companied certified by the Non-GMO project.

Certification is not easy, and Andalou states that it had to certify over 200 ingredients with manufacturers and suppliers to do it. It confirms that the manufacturing process and not just the ingredients were non-GMO. This is an important point to those concerned about the growing use of pesticides and rumored links to health.

It’s important to shine a light on natural and organic ingredients and label transparency for food and personal care safety.

Stacey Kelly Egide, Andalou Naturals Founder and CEO

Label transparency is nothing new to the Egides. They’d previously fought for organic standards by lobbying for new Californian legislation in 2003. This eventually resulted in the California Assembly Bill 2823 or The California Organic Products Act of 2003.

 

The Low Down on Plant Stem Cells

Close up of a Plant's Stem with Water on It
Andalou Naturals uses Plant Stem Cells for anti-aging even though the science may not yet support it.

If you’re familiar with the skin care space at all you’ll know that Andalou’s point of differentiation and innovation is the inclusion of plant stem cells.

Plant stem cells are supposed to revitalize skin and fight against anti-aging by visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles. They provide hydration, improve elasticity and brighten the skin.

Another brand I looked at tended to overpromise (yes, all that and the moon too), but Andalou is suspiciously quiet on it.

All that is left on their website is a brief blurb about PhytoCellTec Fruit Stem Cells, stating that they provide energized anti-oxidant defense.

I heard about Andalou before and a lot of what was written about the brand was linked to their use of plant stem cell technology. An initial interview talked about how they were going to use plant stem cells as a point of differentiation and how they’d heard about the technology from its use by Michelle Obama.

Plant Cells under a Microscope
Plant Cells under a Microscope

And then I went to the science reviews, where people essentially said it was overblown hyperbole. The technology was too early to be useful and the one study on effects was flawed.

I think Andalou took it down.

For a brand that is generally transparent and uses pretty proven ingredients, it was really odd to suddenly find exaggerated claims about ingredients.

That’s not to say that Plant Stem Cells are crock. They are a promising new area that could have significant effects. It is also likely they have antioxidant benefits as they come from antioxidant rich sources.

So bottomline: not proven but they really can’t hurt.

My Take On Andalou Naturals

Cosmetics and Shampoo Aisle
Andalou Organics is widely available at accessible price points.

There are some things that are immediate hot buttons for me. Fragrances are a no-go, jar packaging can be problematic and I really want brands that are transparent.

So, the fragrances and the jar packaging that I often find in Andalou are things that I wish they would change. In addition, I think it should be clear that this is a line that has mostly all-natural non-GMO ingredients. This line doesn’t commit to all ingredients being natural.

Still, I think that there is a lot of good in this brand.

First, I like how accessible this brand is.

While I appreciate all brand stories and tend to fall in love with the brand I’m trying out at the moment (It’s a flaw; I’m working on it 😊), I’ve a special fondness for accessible brands.

People can sigh over the $350 serum and the $58 face masks, but they buy the ones that provide value.

With Andalou’s most expensive product at $40 and several in the $20 range, everyone benefits. It is suddenly possible to try out natural products to see if they work for you.

In addition, generally good ingredient choices and limited fragrances are huge pluses. These are ingredients that are low on irritation and have proven benefits, which I can totally get behind.

This is a pretty good brand. If they’d avoid jar packaging and take out some of the fragrances, that would really amp it up for me.

Best of Andalou Naturals | Products and Reviews

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Tata Harper products grouped together.
Brand Reviews

Tata Harper Makes Us Believe Living On a Farm Is Amazing and Doesn’t Include Any Dirt

Tata Harper Brand Review Table of Contents

Tata Harper Brand Review Quick Facts | Company commitment to ingredients, the environment, ethics, and its Good Guide and EWG standing.

Tata Harper Makes Me Want to Move to a Farm | How Tata Harper makes healthy farm living look effortless

One at a time, Tata Changes Her Products and Ends up Changing her Life |How Tata started making personal care products

Tata’s Vermont farm Julius Kingdom is her Personal Kingdom | How the company does it all from a 1,200 hectare farm

The Bottle is Green and Everything Else is Too | Certified organic ingredients and eco-friendly packaging

Marketing Can Get a Little Out of Hand | How I take some marketing claims with a grain of salt

Best of Tata Harper | Products and Reviews

Tata Harper Brand Review Quick Facts

Ingredients | Certified by Ecocert, GMO Free, Artificial Color Free, Artificial Fragrances Free, Synthetic Chemicals

Eco-Friendly | Glass bottles, and plastic resin from corn, 100% post-consumer materials, soy-ink for printing, some labeled with boxes labeled with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Ethical | Cruelty Free

The Good Guide | 3.8 on 24 products

EWG | 1-4 Only Available Information is on Old Formulations

 

Tata Harper Makes Me Want to Move to a Farm

Tata Harper dressed in white beside a rustic wooden farm structure.
Tata Harper still looks good even on a farm.

We are the opposite of crunchy granola; we are about showing naturals in their total high-quality splendor, the ultimate luxury.

When I look at Tata Harper’s fabulously shot photos of sun-kissed fields, wind-blown hair, small children and cast of animals cute enough to be supporting characters in Babe, I want to move to Vermont.

That could be me.

No dirt will stick to my clothes, a white wooden house will be my home, and – oh yes, my skin will be perfect as I single-handedly run a skin care empire from my backyard.

Tata Harper on her farm with her kids.
Farm living looks effortless and amazing when Tata does it.

Tata Harper makes the simple life look good.

Tata is the face and brains behind the eponymous skin care brand, and green living seems effortless and beautiful in her hands (or at least her very well-edited photo ops).

Still, all this was a conscious decision.

As her stepfather battled cancer, Tata was often with him during consultations. She was shocked when his doctors started asking questions about his personal care routine.

The doctors were like, ‘We want you to use as many organic and natural products as possible. Don’t use this deodorant, try to use that natural deodorant,’ and I just sat back and was like, I can’t believe this. [My stepfather’s grooming] routine is so simplistic; imagine if the doctors had seen mine!”

She started to realize how daily decisions could have far-reaching consequences, and she began to evaluate her own daily choices.

One at a time, Tata Changes Her Products and Ends up Changing her Life

Tata Harper creates products that are exactly what she was looking for – naturally derived and high performance.

First, the diet was up for a revamp. Then, household cleaning products were replaced. Lastly, Tata tried to retool her extensive personal care regimen – and that was when she hit a brick wall.

I was really disappointed in what I was buying … It was either you bought raw coconut oil and jojoba oil — very basic — or when it had a little bit more going on, then it was full of all the same synthetics that I wanted to avoid in the first place.

Realizing that the products she wanted didn’t exist, she decided to create them herself. She envisioned a line made with cutting edge technology and packed with active ingredients, and all without a single synthetic.

As you can imagine, this took a bit of doing.

There were five years of development before products launched and in the meantime, she and her family moved to Vermont.

Tata’s Vermont farm Julius Kingdom is her Personal Kingdom

Have you been to Vermont?

If ever there were a place that was a poster child for all-natural, healthy living, it would be Vermont. Beautifully forested and sparsely populated, there are hiking and cross-country trails everywhere.

You’d absolutely want to be here if you were an all-natural skincare line, and that’s exactly where Tata HQ is.

Tata launched her brand from renovated, gutted barns after scouting manufacturing locations in Vermont’s Champlain valley and coming up empty. She already knew that they were going to produce the product themselves with their own employees. Bringing production on-site just made sense.

She worked on formulations with a few biologists and incorporated Ayurvedic, Chinese and homeopathic medicine in her products. She also consulted with herbalists to see what would rapidly grow on Vermont soil as she wanted to include them in the line.

Today, everything produced in the line is formulated, mixed, packaged and shipped from Julius Kingdom. Forty herbs are grown on site and used in the line, and Tata oversees it all from within a white 1820’s vintage farmhouse set amidst rolling hills.

The Bottle is Green and Everything Else is Too

Tata Harper Green Box with Yellow Ribbon.
Tata Harper’s Boxes are from 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

The bottles lovingly enveloping Tata’s products are green and her accent color is yellow. Still, the fresh, natural colors are more than decoration.

You’ll find a lot of eco cred here.

Bottles are glass to be recyclable. Boxes are approved by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or are 100% recycled paper. Soy ink is used for printing.

It’s three times as expensive but I just feel better about it.

Tata Harper how her decision to use recycled paper for packaging makes sense.

You’ll find that being green also extends to what’s inside.

The company avoids GMOs, artificial colors and fragrances, and synthetics. In addition, they are certified organic by French-based Ecocert, who evaluates total company processes for sustainability.

Marketing Can Get a Little Out of Hand

The look, smell and skin feel of Tata Harper products are perfect.

You’ll want to smear them on your face, rub them on your body and eat them if you could. The smell does something to your brain and light pink colors speak to the little girl grown up who still secretly loves things pink, pastel, and shiny.

Tata Harper's beautiful products with a flower and shadows.
Tata Harper has products with an incredible look, smell and skin feel.

Still, I’ve looked at a lot of products. And what I’ve found is that while a product may look good, it may not exactly live up to the marketing.

For instance, naturally derived ingredients.

If you think about it, everything is all-natural since everything comes from nature. It can essentially be meaningless as manufacturing processes can contaminate or can completely change the ingredient. Naturally derived doesn’t necessarily mean good.

Claims of results are also often overblown. There are some proven results from some very specific ingredients, but the rest are usually promising fields without real proof.

So, I feel that sometimes marketing for Tata Harper products do sometimes get out of hand, because no, I really don’t know what she means when she says:

As for anti-aging results, our products have some really advanced technology, including muscle relaxing extracts … that topically deliver the effect of an injectable, to minimize and prevent wrinkles…

Nutrition Stripped

I take this with a grain of salt.

Tata Harper products have excellent skin feel and appearance, and I do find some ingredients interesting. Despite the fact that I occasionally think there is too much fragrance and that the term “from natural origin” is misleading, the company is incredible at what they do.

You’ll really want to try to live differently. You’ll be convinced that small changes can impact you and your health in the long term, and you’ll start to scrutinize products to see if they are the safest choices for yourself.

In this, the company is stellar. So, while the value of labels such as “naturally derived” may differ from person to person, the fact that cosmetic ingredient safety and efficacy is now a topic of conversation is a step in the right direction.

Best of Tata Harper | Products and Reviews

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Note: Pictures care of official brand site and instagram.