Aveda Action Is More Than Skin-Deep

Consumers in the '90s seem to care as much about their appearance a s they care about helping the planet. They want products that are environmentally sound, and skin- and hair-care companies have jumped on a medicine-man bandwagon to promote their "natural" concoctions. But all too often these products are full of chemicals and synthetic ingredients and packaged without concern for the Earth.

A company whose integrity--and ingredient content--doesn't fall under that category is Aveda. Its founder, Horst Rechelbacher, has achieved a sort of cult status among stylists and environmentalists who agree with his commitment to the environment.

Last Thursday, he hosted a luncheon for environmentalists at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, then attended that evening's opening of the Aveda Esthetique in South Coast Plaza.

At the lunch, Rechelbacher talked of his company's practices, which include working with organic farmers and tribal shamans. Treaties are signed with indigenous tribes to cultivate native plants for use in his products.

"We're not the perfect corporation," he told the luncheon audience. "I'm not saying we're here saving the world. I'm just trying to chip away at the problems and find solutions."

Rechelbacher's company was among the first to promulgate the term "aromatherapy" when the company started in 1978. But the saturation of cosmetic companies bottling synthetic and mediocre natural ingredients and calling it "aromatherapy" has undercut the true meaning of the term. It originally described therapy using natural essences from plants, flowers, resins and woods. Aveda now uses the term "Pure fume," a copyrighted label that connotes the same concept without the tarnish.

In the evening, about 300 salon owners, stylists and others in the industry celebrated the opening of the new store, which will carry the complete collection of Aveda products available--700 items at last count.

They brought Rechelbacher flowers and words of adoration.

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