When you hear Arbonne mentioned do you:
a) rave about the amazing products that have changed your life
b) feel disillusioned about their ingredients claims and multi-level marketing structure
c) stare blankly in confusion: you’ve never heard of Arbonne
Or maybe a journey through a milder version of all of the above? Six months ago I would’ve replied c), then I tried their Detox Scrub and went through the a) phase, and finally researched the company and leaned towards b). Since first discovering the US beauty and nutrition brand Arbonne last year, I now seem to regularly come across it on social media and at health and beauty shows. Having had a quick scan online Arbonne attracts quite a bit of negativity for its Multi-Level Marketing approach and over-priced products. The brand claims to ‘transform your life and the life of others’ through ‘pure, botanically based ingredients’. These are big bold claims to live up to and this may partly be the source of the issue if the brand doesn’t deliver. Here I explore the brand’s set up and claims as well as reviewing some of its beauty products.
Launched over 35 years ago (and just over 10 years in the UK), Arbonne offers beauty and nutrition products through a network of independent consultants. Known as Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), consultants who register with the business can earn commission on products they sell or by recruiting new consultants to join the team under them and earning commission on their sales. These schemes tend to have a negative perception as earnings for consultants are generally low and dependent on building a strong high performing team under you. Positive arguments such as flexible working hours, financial control and work-life balance feature strongly on the Arbonne website, with sweeping statements such as ‘transforming your life and the life of others’. Cue cheesy images of women in fields of lavender or glamorously posing at an outdoor table, head thrown back in perfect pearly white laughter. MLM is a model used by quite a few beauty brands: you can check out my post on doTerra which operates that way. Annual earnings for an Arbonne consultant can be pretty abysmal: 57% of UK active consultants earned an average of £470 a year. Yes that’s for the whole year. Don’t quit your day job just yet then.
As previously mentioned when I reviewed Arbonne’s It’s a Long Story mascara, the brand’s products feature botanical ingredients, with certain formulas certified vegan. Using vague terms such as ‘pure’, ‘safe’ and ‘beneficial’, Arbonne sounds good without committing to much. ‘Naturally inspired’ doesn’t mean that the products are actually natural, and the formulations’ botanical ingredients can be lost amongst all the silicones and minerals. You can however access a detailed information sheet for each product which provides the ingredients list, product benefits, shade range and key features.
Certified by The Vegan Society and featuring SPF 15, Arbonne’s foundation provides a smooth medium coverage boosted with moisturising properties. With breadth of foundation shades now a key indicator of diverse beauty, makeup brands are under pressure (and rightly so) to provide a wide selection to suit a variety of skin tones. With 15 shades available Arbonne isn’t doing too badly, although I’d say quite a few lean towards Caucasian complexions. RRP £37.00
To accompany the Perfecting Liquid Foundation there’s the primer, a light, very smooth texture that glides onto skin to prep it for foundation application. Quite a few Arbonne consultants rave about this product but being only an occasional primer user I don’t have many points of comparison. This one feels comfortable to wear and helps keep foundation in place. RRP £32.00
The 11 certified vegan shades available offer sheer to bold colours, but I feel like I’m missing pretty pink and true red options. I tried on Cosmos, a rich deep pink shade, which looks like it’ll give a good hit of colour on lips. Worn alone it provides medium coverage but on top of a nude lipstick delivers a shinier deeper colour. Enriched in sunflower and castor oils, the texture is creamy and non-sticky, my lips felt hydrated throughout the day and the colour was long lasting. RRP £21.00
With a hydrating formula, smooth application and long lasting colour, the Smoothed Over lipstick was my favourite Arbonne makeup product from this selection. Certified vegan and enriched in candelilla wax, mango butter and fruit extracts, it felt like I was wearing a balm but the colour was bold and stayed vibrant throughout the day. From the 16 shades available I picked Poppy, an orangey red which didn’t disappoint once applied to lips. I let that pop of colour do the talking and kept the rest of my makeup natural with just a tinted moisturiser and mascara. RRP £23.00
The shampoo and conditioner samples which I was given at a health and fitness show come in 6ml tubes. Having previously worked for a company that makes miniature toiletries for hotels I know that 6ml of shampoo isn’t going to go very far. My hair isn’t exactly pixie crop short so I was pleasantly surprised when, after squeezing out every last drop, the thick shampoo was actually just about enough for a full head wash. The shampoo and conditioner both have a very subtle botanical scent and left my hair feeling suitably cleansed yet nourished. No amazing results though, which for £29.00 per 237ml bottle I would expect to see.
I’ve met three Arbonne consultants in the last six months and they are all passionate about the brand and its products, which I think you would need considering the MLM structure and the products’ high price point. No doubt the autonomy and flexibility this set up offers suits determined self starters, but only very few manage to actually make a living out of this. Have you tried Arbonne beauty products? Leave a comment below to let me know what you thought of them.
All products photographed are samples.