22.2.14

Ingredient Review - Xenca & Arbonne


Unfortunately, I feel the need to start this blog post with a little disclaimer. What you are about to read is MY personal opinion, it's not an "attack" on anyone or the brands involved.



I have two brands on my radar which make me raise my eyebrows and cry into my pillow, I'm looking at you, Xenca and Arbonne. 

Let's start with Arbonne, whose reps approach me on a regular basis. A quick Google search will enlighten you to this company; they are a prime example of greenwashers. You won't find ingredients on their website and I've never managed to get a rep to give me a full ingredients list. I did a little digging a few months back and came across a blog post by Meghan Telpner and I recommend you read it (click here). It was published last year and is the closest I have come to uncovering the truth about this brand without having to accept samples or buy products.

Despite sending one rep a list of ingredients I avoid, the response I received was "We have just been awarded the vegan logo on all of our products if this was a scam I don't think they would be doing that. The products are dermatologically tested, and free from parabens". There seems to be a distinct lack of understanding and I find it really sad. A Vegan approved product does not make it natural or organic and neither does leaving out parabens. From my dealings with this particular representaive clearly they did not understand the products they were selling. Companies that Greenwash are confusing and misleading consumers.

Now let me focus on Xenca who are getting a bit of attention from the Green Community. Xenca talk the talk on their website - "Our beauty products are free from parabens, petrochemicals, glycols and synthetic fragrances." but then in the next paragraph alarm bells go off in my head. "Our ingredients are as natural as possible – in most cases 100% natural. However, certain ingredients, due to quality, efficacy and processing requirements, can be enhanced by substances that are synthesised in the laboratory"

If you subscribe to Souk Souk beauty box, you probably received a Xenca lipstick. There is nothing wrong with the lipsticks, the ingredients are 'green and clean' but has anyone looked at the mascara and eyeliner?

EYELINER INGREDIENTS: (*= PRODUCED FROM ORGANIC FARMING) WATER(Aqua), PVP/DIMETHICONYLACRYLATE/POLYCARBAMYL/POLYGLYCOL ESTER, MINERAL OIL (Paraffinum liquidum), LANETH-20, MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, HYDROXYETHYLCELLULOSE, POLYSORBATE 60, METHYLPARABEN, PHENOXYETHANOL, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, PROPYLPARABEN, POLYSORBATE 20, DISODIUM EDTA [ +/- (MAY CONTAIN) CI 77499 , 77491, 77492 (IRON OXIDES), 77007 (ULTRAMARINE BLU), 77891 (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), 77289 (CHROMIUM HYDROXIDE GREEN), 77288 (CHROMIUM OXIDE GREEN)]

MASCARA INGREDIENTS: (* = PRODUCED FROM ORGANIC FARMING) ISODODECANE, WATER ( Aqua), BEESWAX (CERA ALBA), HYDROGENATED POLYCYCLOPENTADIENE-ISODODECANE, STYRENE/ACRYLATE/AMMONIUM METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER, C18-36 TRYGLYCERIDES, COPERNICA CERIFERA (CARNUBA WAX), SYNTETIC WAX , SILICA, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, PEG/PPG-20/15 DIMETHICONE, QUATERNIUM-18 HECTORITE, METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN [ +/- (MAY CONTAIN) CI 77499 , 77491, 77492 (IRON OXIDES), 77007 (ULTRAMARINE BLU), 77891 (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), 77289 (CHROMIUM HYDROXIDE GREEN), 77288 (CHROMIUM OXIDE GREEN)]


Hold a minute whilst I hyperventilate at the sight of parabens, urea, mineral oil, PEGs and silicone. Xenca do not hide ingredients for the makeup, I copied and pasted these from their website but I can't say the same for the skincare. It does raise an interesting question which I would like to put forward to Green Bloggers, at what point do you draw the line when it comes to your ingredient ethos? If a brand has, for argument sake, 9 out of 10 clean products but they have a rogue one among the mix, would you boycott them? Personally, I find it extremely frustrating for a company to ditch their natural ethos when it suits them. I am not willing to support companies that do this.

I welcome your opinions on these brands but please keep it civil :-)


20 comments:

  1. Very interesting post Sarah! I was a bit worried when I saw Xenca as I just blogged about their lipsticks. I am happy to know that the ingredients in the lipsticks are green and clean but I am very annoyed at the ingredients in the eyeliner and mascara. If I just saw that ingredients list I would have assumed it was just your typical mainstream brand. I cannot believe they would put those ingredients in, especially products that are used on your eyes, whilst claiming to still be a green brand! I understand that sometimes synthetics might have to be used to get a 'better' result but mineral oil and parabens are not necessary. Thank you for highlighting this issue, it has put me off buying anything else from this brand. The same goes with Lily Lolo and the carmine we were talking about the other day. Although this is much much worse as parabens and mineral oil are harmful to the skin & health!

    I love the video of Sheldon by the way ;) made me chuckle!

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    1. I am so upset with Lily Lolo and I've promoted them, just goes to show how far you have to look into a brand because what you are being told on the surface may not be as open as you thought. I'm a Big Bang fan so absolutely couldn't leave that one out ;-)

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  2. Really interesting post, thanks for sharing!! x

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  3. It's a great, straightforward post, thank you! I find it sad when companies are consciously misleading their customers just to squeeze into the 'green market' and gain more sales.

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    1. I agree, I'm getting a little tired of it & I wish there were more rules governing the use of the word natural & organic

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  4. I was approached by an Arbonne rep and she was really lovely. I looked at their website and like you couldn't find ingredients but agreed to be sent some samples. However when the products arrived and I started to look at the ingredients lists I was horrified at the synthetic ingredients which were in them. Yes, they use botanicals etc but amongst that is a cocktail or nasties too. Misleading as a company they certainly are. I sent the products back, explained that I liked her too much to write a detremental post about it as it would affect her, but that they weren't the green brand she believed they were. I have come across Xeneca recently and I too noticed the eyeliner and mascara had parabens. This kind of destroys a brand's integrity if they do this. They'd have been better to perhaps leave out these products until they had a better solution. The carmine thing isn't unusual in dark red lipsticks with some natural brands and I've noticed a lot of hair brands that use MI & MIC. As you say, it's where you draw the line. Perhaps it's about us blogging about the good bits of a brand but being mindful in highlighting to our readers the other bits which people need to look out for. Perhaps then brands will pull their socks up and understand that us green bloggers are getting savvy to their antics ;) xx

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    1. Thanks for your comment Charlie, interesting to get a viewpoint of someone who has seen Arbonne products. Funny you should mention the MI & MIC I have picked up on that recently when looking at shampoos. From my viewpoint, Carmine is sad to see in natural brands because of the animal cruelty side to it.

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    2. I agree about the Carmine animal cruelty aspect and personally wouldn't buy red lipsticks with it in. As I understand it, it is exceptionally hard to find an alternative to this for red lipsticks so some brands don't have that colour range at all. I suppose we have to decide whether we believe that a Brand is a "no go" because they have 1 or 2 products which are not green or natural enough, or whether we are happy to forgive these mis-demeanours. Phenoxyethanol is another one but it is at present an industry standard preservative. If we buoycotted this we probably wouldn't have the majority of brands we do xx Oh the dilemmas. I'm feeling a post of my own coming on :) xx

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  5. Thank you for your comments about our Perfection makeup brand.

    We fully appreciate your point of view and welcome the opportunity to respond. As a company, we pride ourselves on our transparency and certainly do not wish to deceive anyone in any way. As you rightly point out, we are entirely open about our makeup ingredients and list them on our current website. We also have a detailed offline FAQ for customers, which we intend to incorporate into our forthcoming new website, along with our skin care ingredients.

    Thank you for your endorsement of our Perfection organic lipsticks. In line with all our cream and powder cosmetics - concealer, foundation, blush, eyeshadows and lipgloss - they are eco-certified organic and are indeed 'green and clean', as you say. All our products are cruelty-free, our lipsticks, lipgloss and concealer are vegetarian-friendly (they do contain beeswax) and our powder products are vegan-friendly.

    We have been delighted with the accolades this range has been receiving since its launch last summer, and especially since the inclusion of our lipsticks in Souk Souk's January Little Green Beauty Box. We are proud of the genuinely green credentials of our organic products, all of which carry our Xenca Organic Range logo. We are also proud of our eco-friendly Perfection cardboard packaging and promotional literature (made from paper from a sustainable source and printed in vegetable ink).

    After very careful consideration, however, we chose not to include 100% natural, organic mascara and eyeliner when we launched the Perfection brand due to the typically poor performance of such products. Consequently, our mascara and eyeliner - whilst they are ophthalmologist-tested and suitable for sensitive skin - do not form part of the organic range and therefore do not carry the Xenca Organic Range logo.

    I hope this clarifies things. It is certainly not our intention to mislead and we are only too happy to receive feedback that will help us communicate more clearly with our customers in the future.

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  6. Such an important post, Sarah, and funny to boot! It's not an easy topic to tackle. I wrestle with this a lot because there are many brands that claim to be natural that aren't. Usually I avoid them in the name of authenticity. But it gets a bit sketchier when it comes to brands that really are mostly natural but then have a few products with nebulous ingredients. I'm hoping that soon there will be enough products with high integrity that we won't need to have this discussion. Until then, I do still buy from those brands (if the rest of their products are really good). Sometimes I call them out on any "natural" claims that are false. I'd rather they be honest in their marketing than be misleading. Thanks for bringing this up for discussion! Great comments so far! xo

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    1. It really is a personal journey deciding what brands you will use, sometimes I feel as if people are too afraid to raise the discussion because it can come with a backlash. I want companies to know that as green bloggers we are on the ball and don't miss any tricks. In the case of Xenca I really don't see why the mascara and eyeliner can not have better ingredients, other companies manage it :-)

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  7. Debate is healthy and there should be more of it, irrespective of whether or not we all reach the same conclusion or not. I can't comment on the Arbonne as I have no experience of them, but have blogged about Xenca recently. Although not perfect, the information about their make up ingredients is clearly listed on the website and their packaging is largely recyclabe so they are enough of a step in the right direction for me personally. For me, it is about being able to make an informed chioce. Will I make mistakes along the way, undoubtedly, but you have to willing to admit that and learn from them x

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    1. I certainly don't want anyone to feel bad about their choices, it is a decision for you to make but I do want all facts on the table before I make up my mind. One thing I like about the Green Community is difference of opinions and I would favour more discussions of this nature. My green journey is enhanced by other people inputs and viewpoints.

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  8. I like this post - I love a good discussion and I like things being brought to people's attention.

    I'll be completely honest with you Xeneca messaged me on Twitter before Xmas (with a discount code) and I looked at their stuff and wasn't that keen, it didn't seem very clean or green to me as an overall brand so I didn't buy anything. It also seemed a bit faceless as well - I prefer to support something where I see the story and passion behind the brand...

    Since Suzie and I have been chatting on twitter and I saw all the lipsticks popping up on blogs I thought, hmm maybe I could at least try the lipstick... but then your post has made me think again - do I want to support a brand that has unclean ingredients in SOME of its products? like you said, where do you draw the line? I really don't know where I stand on this. I am undecided because I really want to put my money towards the right companies - vote with my feet so to speak...

    I think this harps back to the old green washing debate - if the ingredients are clearly listed is it green washing? in my opinion, yes, because the average joe can't and doesn't read/understand ingredients.

    It is a difficult subject, well done (and trust you!) writing about it.

    Rach xx
    AllNaturalAspirations.com

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    1. I always feel green washing is open to interpretation, by law a company has to list their ingredients on packaging so it can only ever be hidden on websites so I really don't see point of companies not disclosing online. I need to check my facts but I think Xenca is actually a bit like Avon in you have representatives for the company so that's probably why you feel it's faceless.

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  9. As soon as I started going green I was contacted by Arbonne. First thing I asked for was a list of ingredients, when they couldn't give that to me I never looked back. There is always something untrustworthy about a company that claims to be 'safe' yet won't list its ingredients!

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    1. Agree with you, most companies who are 100% natural are very proud of that fact and often very happy to share ingredient information & answer questions :-)

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  10. How did I miss this post? Anyways, I have read it now, so here is my 50 pence. My personal shopping policy is product by product, because I want natural to become main stream and when if a company brings out a natural product that doesn't sell as well as their non natural ones, they just keep making the non natural ones. Although the organic/natural market has grown significantly, it is still a niche market. I love and support small, in house natural brands, but they are not always in everyone's price range, and personally a lot of more affordable natural skincare didn't agree with me ( unlike when I used to use non natural, never used to have problems with the likes of Nivea). So in my opinion the green market still has a long way to go, and I will support whoever is genuinely trying.
    When it comes to performance a lot of green makeup is not great, especially if you don't want to use loose powders, again the good stuff comes mostly with a big price tag. I loved Xenca lipstick from the souk souk box, since then they've also sent me a concealer that I really do like. No I am not happy with the fact that eyeliner and mascara are not natural, but I won't stop using the rest of the range because of it. What I will do is politely enquire about how long it will take for them to come up with an all natural formula. It is so difficult for me to find makeup that performs and doesn't cause irritation and also doesn't cost me an arm and a leg, so I am not going to boycott a company because some other products are not up to my standards. But making other people aware that not the whole range is natural is important, all choices should be informed.
    As for Arbonne they are so far of my radar I even forgot they existed, I really dislike when companies don't put up the ingredients least on their websights. Some natural companies that I use still don't, but they have been happy to email me the full lists, if a company doesn't, well then I won't use them. For two reasons, clearly they do not appreciate my custom and if they don't have anything to hide why not disclose it?
    That's just how I feel about it.

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    1. The way we handle our green journeys is varied within the community online. My blog is obviously about how I view the world as is your own. My dealings with Xenca behind the scenes of this blog post are rather eye opening :-)

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