Brand Break Down: Herbivore Botanicals

Updated: Mar 16

*This feature is not sponsored or paid for in any way by Herbivore Botanicals or any other invested party

A quick #herbivorebotanicals search on Instagram yields a plethora of their jewel-toned products in glistening minimalist glass bottles. The subject of many #TextureTuesdays and often the one that adds color to thousands of #shelfies, Herbivore Botanicals has been a hit among beauty & skincare content creators.

bestsellers
The often sold-out Jewel Box set of Herbivore's popular products.

Among the bestselling crystal inspired products are:

  • Prism 20% AHA + 5% BHA Exfoliating Glow Facial

  • Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil

  • Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask

  • Phoenix Facial Oil

But more than just being Instagrammable, we know that there are other factors that catapulted this former Etsy soap shop into a widely sold-out beauty brand with a cult following. We reached out to Herbivore Botanicals to find out about their beginnings, ingredients, and corporate values.


OWNERSHIP

Herbivore Botanicals was created by husband and wife duo Alex Kummerow and Julia Wills in Seattle. It began when Alex bought Julia a soap-making kit that Julia fell in love with and prompted her to leave her job to continue making soap and selling the surplus at the local farmer’s market and Etsy. From its inception in 2011, Herbivore Botanicals remain independently owned and operated and is not overseen by any parent company.

Founders: Husband and wife duo Alex Kummerow and Julia Wills

INGREDIENTS

Whether you call it a marketing trend or genuine conscious act, Herbivore Botanicals products are proudly cruelty-free with PETA and Leaping Bunny certifications. Their ingredients are vegan-friendly and do not contain any animal byproducts.

For their 100% plant-based ingredients, they strive to use organic ingredients wherever possible, and ingredients that are certified organic are listed in the product lists (INCIs) in bold on their product pages and on product packaging.

Speaking of bold, every product page on the website boldly states that it is free of synthetic ingredients such as dyes, fragrances, and synthetic preservatives. Their formulation contains no fillers and uses “the minimum amount of ingredients necessary to achieve the maximum results”.

Certified Organic ingredients in bold for Prism Glow Serum


INGREDIENT SOURCING & MANUFACTURING

As the company continues to grow, worldwide demand meant that they had to double up on production and sourcing. For other brands, that means having ingredients that are more accessible but could compromise on their natural beginnings. However, Herbivore continues to be the brand that stays grounded in nature – literally! Some products, like the Hinoki Cypress Bath Soap, were even discontinued because they couldn’t find suppliers with an adequate volume of Hinoki Cypress oil.


Herbivore works closely with their ingredient/raw material suppliers to ensure that they align with Herbivore’s ethics in regard to a zero-tolerance policy on animal testing. Their stance against animal testing is so firm that they refuse to have their products sold or distributed in mainland China while their government keeps the policy of testing cosmetics on animals.


PACKAGING & RECYCLING OPTIONS

Sustainability is one of the core tenets of Herbivore’s brand identity, and as previously mentioned, its ingredients and sources are diligently selected to prioritize minimal environmental impact and fair labor/trade practices in their production.

In line with its strong commitment to sustainability, most of Herbivore’s packaging is sustainable. The beautiful products we see on Instagram are bottled in recyclable glass jars/bottles and use recyclable cardstock boxes for its outer packaging. The plastic tops for the glass jars as well as the glass from the oil droppers are recyclable.

Upcycling jars into sleek planters

This sustainability practice also extends to their shipping partners as they work to offer sustainable/compostable packaging materials soon, and for their mailing boxes to be recyclable.

Fans of refillable cosmetics and recycling programs may not be able to celebrate yet but our source tells us that Herbivore is hoping to offer a refill and recycling program soon. In the meantime, the brand expresses its support for Terracycle and provides creative ideas on how to upcycle the pretty glass jars on their blog.


GIVING BACK

The year 2020 has given us more screen time and that meant the opportunity for awareness and online social movements left and right. Nowadays, beauty brands are not exempted from the discussion. While some brands may see this participation as “off-brand” and fear the disruption of their beautifully-curated Instagram feeds, Herbivore is proud to stand up in support of charitable organizations devoted to anti-oppression, environmental protection, reproductive rights, and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as many others. Some organizations that they have supported (and continue to do so with every purchase of their products) are:

On top of all that, 50,000 bottles of Hand Hero 75% Alcohol Hand Purifying Gel

Was donated to United Way of King County (Seattle) and 25,000 bottles were given to New York City hospitals - both great initiatives you can read about here.


DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY

It’s 2020 and we are glad to find that inclusivity is at the heart of the Herbivore community. As a company, they strive to ensure that they uphold equitable hiring practices and celebrate their team's diversity. A year-round Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training is implemented for the whole team to become aware, sensitive, and accountable about racism, microaggressions, and tokenism in order to create an uplifting environment for all current and future BIPOC members of the team.

For transparency, Herbivore shared with us their employment demographics (race): BIPOC: 33% (5% are Black, 12% are two or more races, 11% are Latinx, 5% are Asian), and White: 67%. The majority of employees are white, which is probably why the structure of their diversity program is geared to the education of white people.


Herbivore shows us that the best way to go about these types of programs is not through whitesplaining. In fact, they are creating a Black-led council internally with the goal to ensure that all BIPOC employees on their team are heard, supported, and empowered to take on leadership roles.

While Herbivore is not drugstore-cheap, it is good to know that the brand you are purchasing is supporting charitable institutions & social movements and taking care of its employees. It's our hope that major companies and emerging brands would follow suit.

Herbivore Botanicals ships in the US and is available internationally through major retailers such as: Cult Beauty, Sephora, and Space NK. Check out the full list here. Some retailers like Cult Beauty may be UK-based but also ship internationally.