I've had the fortune to be close friends with independent Arbonne consultant Andrea De Melo since highschool. There is no shortage of adjectives I could use to describe what an amazing person Andrea is - friendly, caring, gregarious, honest, reliable, intelligent, hard-working, logical, intuitive....the list goes on and on! She is also the mama of two beautiful children, including a handsome li'l man two weeks younger than S, and actively practices a gentle parenting style. All in all, I have the utmost respect for Andrea, so when I received an email from her last October with the exciting announcement that she had started her own consulting business through an emerging health & wellness company, I knew she must have tapped into something impressive!
Arbonne was founded in Switzerland in 1975 by a man named Petter Mørck (along with a team of leading bio-chemists, biologists and herbalists) who had a vision to provide skin care products unparalleled in quality and effectiveness. It has since grown to include four additional major product lines (cosmetics, nutrition, aromatherapy and weight management) and expand its global reach to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
Arbonne operates via a network marketing strategy, with independent consultants (such as Andrea) directly spreading the word on the company's history, values, business opportunity and, of course, its varied and comprehensive product offerings. There are many benefits to this multi-level marketing / direct selling approach, including (but not limited to) the following:
- In working directly with a consultant, the Arbonne customer is educated and receives assistance choosing products that are right for him/her. Consultants are also trained to do follow-ups, suggest alternatives if desired results are not achieved and give full refunds when warranted.
- The money saved on traditional marketing methods goes directly back into product research & development and to the consultants in the form of commission, bonuses, etc. Arbonne consultants are well taken care of which is certainly evident in the enthusiasm, commitment and respect they have toward the company!
The opportunity is particularly attractive here in Canada as Arbonne found its way into the country just 5 short years ago - so oodles of market potential remaining here in the Great White North! :)
Arbonne's promise is "to deliver pure, safe, beneficial products in line with our botanical tradition." All Arbonne products are Vegan certified, which means they do not contain animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products, and they are never tested on animals. In addition, Arbonne personal care products are formulated without parabens, formeldahyde donating preservatives, petroleum-based ingredients and PABA. Arbonne Healthy Living products are formulated without artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners, cholesterol, trans fats and saturated fats. Full ingredient disclosure is offered within their printed materials and, for many of their product lines, directly on their website. Arbonne consultants and preferred clients have complete access to ingredient lists for all product lines.
Note that if you search online, you may find some negative articles & opinions on Arbonne. In the interest of providing the most balanced & comprehensive information possible to my readers, I thought it was important to address this. The first thing to note is that many of the sources questioning ingredient safety are outdated as Arbonne made a few key changes recently including the removal of parabens from all products. Some contributors have also chastized the company for claiming to have "natural" products when this isn't actually true; Arbonne clearly differentiates between "plant" and "science" ingredients and how each is used within their product disclosure sections.
All that said, a number of Arbonne products do still contain ingredients which some groups/reports consider controversial, such as oxybenzone in the sunscreen within their ABC baby line. As such, I asked Andrea if she had access to any unbiased information on the safety of these ingredients. She contacted Arbonne directly on this topic, and her customer care contact responded back with the following:
There is a lot of information about Arbonne (products and company) available in the public domain. Not all sources of information are reliable and we appreciate that you have come to the source for input. [...]
When researching product information, it is important to use reputable sources. We recommend the following websites for ingredient information:
Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board: The CIRB was established in 1976 with the support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America.
Personal Care Products Council: PCPC is the leading national trade association for the cosmetic and personal care products industry.
All Arbonne cosmetic ingredients are tested periodically for safety and effectiveness by industry experts. CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) Board is the one to determine ingredients' safety. The CIR reports its findings to the CTFA (Cosmetic, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association). The CIR and PCPC (formerly CTFA) are unbiased and extremely reputable. Unlike the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), they are not government bodies. The PCPC (formerly CTFA) is the watchdog for all manufacturing and cosmetic ingredients. We also embrace the European Commissions Scientific Committee on Cosmetic and Non-Food Products (SCCNFP), which conducts safety evaluation on cosmetic ingredients.
Rest assured that Arbonne will take immediate action on any ingredient that is unsafe in any of its formulations when guided by the FDA, the CTFA and the CIR. In our normal course of business, we continue to research and develop the pure, safe, and beneficial products our Arbonne Independent Consultants and Clients have enjoyed for more than 31 years.
Andrea also pointed me specifically toward a PCPC statement responding to the 2011 EWG Sunscreen Report which asserts that the EWG's latest claims (that traditional sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone are unsafe) are scientifically unfounded.
Admittedly, I do have a (healthy or unhealthy, your pick) level of skepticism myself regarding "unnatural" ingredients, products and approaches. Having said that, as companies which embrace science-based methodologies go, I have come to feel strongly that Arbonne is the Real Deal - a brand truly committed to producing and distributing safe, high-quality, effective products AND providing wonderful opportunities for passionate and driven individuals to establish successful consulting businesses.
My family has had the chance to try several Arbonne products so far, mainly within the Health & Wellness line with a few from within the skin & body care areas as well. Here are some highlights on our experiences with these products:
Arbonne Essentials vitamin/mineral shake mix (chocolate) - "Shake up your daily routine with delicious single-serving chocolate vitamin/mineral shake mix packs that delivers 20 grams of vegan protein, plus 20 essential vitamins and minerals."
Andrea provided me with this product to try as a meal supplement for my 13-month-old daughter S and myself, as she knows we've both had some challenges putting/keeping on weight!
(Note that these shakes are more commonly used as a meal replacement, or as a supplement to very light meals & snacks, for those looking to shed some extra pounds. In fact, the Essentials line can be used effectively as a full weight loss program.)
Truth be told, I first found the taste a little peculiar (there were some interesting floral notes and I wasn't getting chocolate-chocolate, per se), however I've never had a protein shake before so perhaps I was expecting something sweeter & milkshake-like. I have to say that the taste really grew on me, however! By my fifth or sixth shake, I was really enjoying them. Note that it takes a little time & effort to whisk the powder in thoroughly and remove all the lumps, but this is worth it to get a smooth, silky consistency.
I definitely experienced some extra energy on the days when I had a shake. Not the "quick high & crash" type of energy, but a slower, steady, physical energy - which makes sense due to all the protein. And the best part is that I managed to gain 3 pounds after enjoying the shakes (along with my regular meals) 5 days in a row! This was quite the achievement for me, as I'm underweight in general and particularly so since I have been nursing.
My first attempt at giving S some of the shake was comical. I poured some in her sippy cup base with a small straw and offered it to her as she mosied about in her play area. Needless to say, we ended up with very little in her tummy and a polka-dotted ottoman. Oops. :) The next morning, I thought through things a little better and mixed some into her banana oatmeal. This was perfect! She seemed to like the taste as she inhaled her breakfast with as much zeal (if not more so) than usual.
All in all, I really like these shakes and would buy them again. Andrea gave me a set of 10 pre-portioned packets, however the mix is also available in a 30-serving jar which is nice as you get more bang for your buck and less packaging is involved. Perhaps I'll try the vanilla flavour next time around!
Update 26-Mar-2012 - I ended up buying a 30-serving jar in chocolate, and now drink a half protein shake / half "cleanse" shake (of a different brand) combo each morning. Let me tell you this - the Arbonne part definitely tastes better than the cleanse part (which was prescribed by my naturopath). All in all, I continue to enjoy these shakes and would to recommend them to anyone looking for a pleasant-tasting protein shake with high-quality ingredients.
Arbonne Essentials Fit Chews - "These bite sized treats will deliver a great tasting boost throughout the day."
Andrea gave me a package of caramel chews to try out. I enjoy the taste of them; they're flavourful and caramel-y without being overly sweet. I have't found them to give me extra energy per se, however I did notice their effect as an appetite suppressor in particular one day when I had a couple of them later in the morning. Usually I'm super-hungry for lunch right around noon, however that day I didn't end up eating until after 1:00 and I'd say my appetite was only moderate by that point.
Since I'm currently trying to gain weight myself, this product isn't so much up my own alley right now. However, I think it could definitely be helpful for someone on a weight management program looking to curb those cravings and stick to a healthy meal plan. I could also see a busy mama tossing a few into her purse for a quick tide-me-over in between meals.
Arbonne Essentials Energy Fizz Tabs - "A refreshing combination of botanicals, B-vitamins and chromium to help increase alertness and performance as well as help the body to metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins."
Each tab is about the size of a quarter, but 3-4 times as thick. It feels like you're conducting some sort of childhood science experiment as you watch it dissolve away. :) The resulting beverage itself is slightly tangy, somewhat effervescent and certainly refreshing! And let me say - I definitely do get a kick from these bad boys. I'm not surprised, as the product is packed with green tea, ginseng, guarana, taurine and rhodiola. But missing from the picture is all that crash-inducing sugar which laces the majority of traditional energy drinks.
I wouldn't personally have one of these every day as I think there are more...gentle ways to nourish the body and promote energy and wellbeing. However, we don't always feel at our best (for many reasons) so a product like this can provide an appreciable boost when we do need a li'l jump start.
SeaSource Foaming Sea Salt Scrub - "This foaming body scrub gently exfoliates and cleanses impurities from the skin’s surface, increasing microcirculation and stimulating skin to promote a softer, smoother look. Specially formulated with sea botanicals and sea salt."
I LOVE this product! It exfoliates really well leaving my skin super-smooth without irritation. I target my back in particular as my skin is thick there and prone to blackheads. I also use it on my check, neck and shoulders (about half as often) to slough off the dead skin which can tend to build up in these areas. The smell is invigorating as well. Oh, and a little truly goes a long way with this product; a pea-sized dollop is enough to scrub my entire back!
SeaSource Detoxifying Rescue Wash - "The sea algae extracts in this sulfate-free cleanser provide antioxidant benefits .This unique formula lifts away impurities and provides a moisture barrier on the skin’s surface to provide a relaxed, comfortable feel."
This product is perfect (in theory) for a practical gal like me as it is super-versatile. You can use it to wash your face, body and hair, or squirt some under running water for a stimulating bubble bath. In practice, it didn't work well for me as a shampoo as I ended up pumping a pretty large amount to get a decent lather, which felt wasteful. That said, I'm quite happy with it as a face and body wash, so that's how I've been using it regularly. My skin has felt smooth and balanced since I started using it. Thumbs up!
Update 26-Mar-2012 - I continue to use the rescue wash every day on my face & body, and the scrub once every 2-3 days. I still have well over half of each product, so a little DEFINITELY goes a long way here! I will certainly be buying more of both of these once I run out.
FC5 Ultra-Hydrating Hand Crème (with fresh kiwi cell extracts and Moisture Fresh™ Complex) - "Ultra lightweight formula moisturizes hands, leaving them feeling soft and supple."
This is the cadillac of hand cream, folks! It has a delicious fruity & spicy scent, glides on effortlessly and absorbs instantly, leaving your hands silky-smooth without feeling at all greasy. You can get back to whatever you what you were doing right away, without worrying about leaving behind any nasty residue. (On this note, I just put some on about 3 minutes ago and now I'm back typing away!)
This cream has dramatically improved the condition of my hands since I started using it. Now that I have a little one, I wash my hands approximately 2342934935 times a day, and it was starting to show. The skin on my palms and between my fingers in particular had dried right out and even cracked & bled periodically. Not anymore! My hands no longer feel like they should be buffing a child's Shop project, and I can massage my husband's back and caress my daughter's hair without feeling apologetic.
One minor criticism is that I find myself wanting to use a little more than expected. A hallmark of Arbonne products is that a little goes a long way (due mainly to the lack of animal by-products), which is still true here but much more appreciable with some of their other FC5 products (e.g. the skin conditioning oil). Otherwise, this is a super-duper hand cream.
RE9 Advanced for Men - From this line, my husband has been using the exfoliating wash and the shave gel. I bought him these products hoping they would lessen or eliminate the skin irritation and itching he often experiences after shaving. Unfortunately, after a few weeks' usage, he has reported that his skin is about the same. He's also not a huge fan of the (rather citrusy) scent. This surprised me as I've read positive reviews about these products and I know that Andrea's husband has had positive results with the line, however I guess we could chalk this up to "everyone is different". On the bright side, Andrea pointed out that this is a case where we could take advantage of Arbonne's 45-day money-back guarantee. I love that the company is so confident in their products that they allow consultants to offer this guarantee for those (presumably rare) cases when a customer isn't satisfied.
As a whole, I have been impressed with the Arbonne products I have tried so far. Although they are a little pricier than similar products I have seen in stores, I feel good knowing that I am getting quality ingredients, and the lack of fillers means that the products will go a long way. I also love the fact that I can consult Andrea directly if I have any questions or concerns about any of the products; in her three months as an Arbonne consultant she has already built up an impressive wealth of knowledge, though if she doesn't have an answer immediately you can bet she'll be off researching within a matter of hours! If you have any questions or concerns yourself, you can contact Andrea via email here.
You can purchase all of the Arbonne products I mentioned here as well as hundreds of others directly from Andrea De Melo's Arbonne site! Orders are generally shipped within 24 hours and can be delivered to Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Shipping rates depend on destination and order size.
Spread the Word!
If you're feeling super-excited about these products, why not consider hosting your own party? I'm sure you'll agree that the host/hostess reward program is certainly enticing! Plus, if you live in the Waterloo, Halton, Peel, York or Durham regions of Ontario, Andrea is happy to travel and present at your party! She is also happy to personally train and provide support for anyone who would like to join her team.
Andrea has generously offered to give away a $50 credit toward the purchase of any Arbonne product(s) to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Open to Canada and the United States.
To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered or to share your product feedback with others!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: The prize is being provided by Andrea De Melo, independent Arbonne consultant. I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive two sample items free of charge. This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.