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After a weekend at the Aveda Congress, SALON TODAY went on a tour of the Aveda Headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota to see where the magic happens! From the products to the facility, Aveda is all about being as environmentally conscious as possible and keeping safety a main priority.

Surrounded by native vegetation, the Aveda Headquarters owns their own wildlife preserve, with miles of pathways for employees and visitors. Outside of the building, Aveda invests in ecological landscaping and an employee garden, where the vegetables are offered in Café Organica (the facility’s cafeteria)—they even have an Aveda Garden Daycare facility. After learning a little bit about the outside of the building, it was time to venture inside, where we visited a number of laboratories for hair color, formulation research, cosmetics, investigative research, analytical quality assurance, aroma development and more.

In each of the labs, especially the hair color and formulation research labs, the scientists at Aveda conduct “half head” studies on either volunteers or hair swatches. None of Aveda’s products are tested on animals. Once a test is complete, the scientists will then look at the technical parameters and results based on either side of the head or on the swatches.

Hair swatches were also an interesting topic on the tour—Aveda tests their products on different levels of hair colors, and some samples even have a percentage of gray hair. On average products go through two years of testing and formulation before production.

The Aroma Development Center was probably my favorite part of the tour, we learned that Aveda uses natural oils from all over the world (espeically India). We were not allowed to bring cell phones on the tour for one primary reason—because we were going to enter a HIGHLY flammable room with hundreds of concentrated bottles of oils. Upon entering this room, the aroma was the first thing I noticed—hints of Lavender, Sandalwood, Rose, Orange…all meshed together into one powerful fragrance.

In the corner of the room was a smaller machine, only about 10 feet long where all of Aveda’s oils are bottled and hand-capped by employees. After pointing out the machine, our tour guide picked up a liter-sized jug of oil and said, “This Bulgarian Rose Oil I have in my hand contains approximately 1 million flowers of the plant, it’s super concentrated and it costs around $11,000.” I was astonished—$11,000 for a liter-sized jug of oil? That’s a lot of money!

(Our tour guide also told us that the fire-proof room is so effective, that even the Minneapolis Fire Department practices drills in the room!)

Another highlight was seeing the Product Lines where all of the bottles are capped, boxed and then processed for shipping. We also passed by Aveda’s water tank, which turns regular water into purified water through a 7-step process [the water is passed through a charcoal filter, reverse osmosis (which filters out minerals), then the water is de-ionized into a 7,000 gallon tank]. This "clean" water is used in each of Aveda's products (it's the largest raw material used by the company).

The facility really was a site to see. Even though cell phones/cameras were not allowed into the facility, you can see below some of the new products Aveda is coming out with in January 2012. Stay tuned!

Lauren