AHAVA-Dead Sea Laboratories, founded in 1988 by Ziva Gilad and partners, is a popular cosmetics company situated in Israel. Well known for their skin care products originating from the mud and resources from the Dead Sea, they have begun to branch out into an international luxury brand.
One of AHAVA’s main selling point is the natural qualities of all their products and an important factor in maintaining a loyal consumer base. The company prides itself on the rejuvenating qualities of its products and its balance between science and nature. Their products consist of body cream, body milk, facial cleanser, facial moisturizer, foot cream, hand cream, and moisturizing shower cream aiming to take care of dryness, anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and brightening. The main goals for their products include rejuvenating and hydrating the skin. They claim that their products are able to have all these qualities due to their exclusive Osmoter. Popular products include their best-selling mineral botanic collection and their body oil line. Amongst all their products, they notably released their skin-care line for men in 2015.
As a company based on its interest in the Dead Sea’s natural qualities, they are, uniquely, the only ones able to do research within the Dead Sea. AHAVA – Dead Sea Laboratories has continued its research on, not only how to improve its products and discover more on how to use the Dead Sea’s mud and mineral content, but also nanotechnology to enhance their skin-care products. They have been increasing their involvement in nanotechnology research as the years pass by. Multiple pieces of research have been done on their products. Following the release of the company’s mud compresses, researchers conclude that they have beneficial effects on people suffering from Osteoporosis. The company defines itself as an eco-conscious company who aims to help restore the declining Dead Sea alongside Jordan.
AHAVA has not been excluded from controversies and has been in the mix of one since they started branching out. With their products labeled "made in Israel", it has brought no shortage of questioning and confusion. Not only does that label limit some of their sales within the Middle East, but it also brings about the running issue of where production truly lies. Due to their gathering of resources from the West Bank as well, there are prevalent and ongoing questions on whether they are breaching international law.
Developing the Brand
Starting as a single stand in 1988 selling bottles of mud to Dead Sea tourists, AHAVA slowly began its growth towards gaining its mainstream appeal – eventually interweaving its way into upscale chains internationally. Ziva Gilad was a local spa technician who gained inspiration for what has become AHAVA after seeing multiple female tourists bottling Dead Sea mud to take home. Desiring to gain a greater understanding of the beneficial effects of the dynamic contents of the Dead Sea, Gilad and partners began the start of the brand. Gilad and partners began small stands selling Dead Sea mud and salts to tourists. As business began picking up, Ziva Gilad began to branch out. The small stand Gilad started gained attraction leading to Gilad and partners to market them throughout Israel.
The company was originally named Dead Sea Laboratories and their sales grossed nearly $1 million in the first year as a 30-person start-up, and the small company began aiming for a larger audience. Their first step into the into the world of high-end beauty had marginal success. Upon rebranding their name to AHAVA, meaning “lovely” in Hebrew, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue began to carry its products. Their big break occurred in the 2000s after B. Gaon Holdings invested over $10 million into the company upon recognizing its potential. In 2009, the company gained the attention of Shamrock Holdings, an American investment firm owned by the Disney family, who acquired a nearly 20% stakes.
With its growing popularity, the company has become the only cosmetics company to be licensed by the Israeli government to legally mine raw materials at the Dead Sea. Despite that advantage, AHAVA experiences some drawback for stressing its Israeli bases, and, as a result, limits its selling point in certain countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. Thus, they continue to miss some of the growth it could attain in parts of the Middle East. Despite this factor and remaining a still rather small player in the cosmetics industry, the cosmetics brand is continuing to grow internationally.
As the number of skin-care brands in the U.S continues to increase and is approaching a saturation point, the need to be different continues to pressure brands. The company is fortunate to have a bit of an advantage in comparison to other skin-care brands. They’re hoping that their reputation for their natural Dead Sea product line will keep consumers looking for all-natural products loyal. They have an upper-hand as they depend less on money and power, and more on their unhindered access to the Dead Sea. Anyone else who wants to use materials from the Dead Sea must buy from AHAVA giving them another marketing advantage as well. Their selective choices for whom they allow to sell their products establishes them as a luxury brand and makes them a larger competitor. As a result, AHAVA is a small, yet powerful player in the growing luxury-skincare market not only in the U.S. but in other parts of the world as well.
AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics firm, gains its popularity for its all-natural products stemming from the Dead Sea. Believing in a balance between nature and science, scientists of the Dead Sea Laboratories work to identify the purifying and regenerative natural qualities of the Dead Sea. Thus, the scientists have put a deep focus on developing a balanced blend of the dynamic elements of the Dead Sea to draw out the optimal effects of their products. The natural composition of the mud from the Dead Sea along with the minerals of the water deeply cleanses and stimulates the skin. All the products are promised to be vegan and contain no fillers.
Their products are unlike other mainstream cosmetic industries as they are known for re-creating the experience of being the Dead Sea. Each product preserves the consistency and texture of the mud and salt as you would experience in the Dead Sea. As an eco-conscious company and the growing trend towards all-natural cosmetics, they have begun purifying its own water and claims to harvest mud and minerals with minimal invasion. The cosmetics brand does not test their ingredients on animals and packages their products in recyclable containers.
They have a variety of products offered for a variety of different purposes. With a focus on skincare and bath and body, the company has a product for most needs. With skin care products ranging from body cream, body milk, facial cleanser, facial moisturizer, foot cream, hand cream, and moisturizing shower cream aiming to take care of dryness, anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and brightening, their products help restore the skin.
The brand is well known for their exclusive Osmoter that developed from much of the research executed around the Dead Sea and its rejuvenating properties. The Osmoter is composed of mineral-rich Dead Sea water which increases moisture by reacting within the skin. It originates from a solar evaporation process precipitating sodium chloride and leaving essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium that enriches the skin acting as an osmotic pump. The product is lightweight which boosts hydration and contains three times the amount of their signature mineral catalyst. All of their products are powered by Osmoter. They ended up developing their own Osmoter Super Serums line to boost skin care routines with their concentrated minerals. The concentration of the Osmoter promotes and improves multi-level hydration and boosts cell renewal and function by increasing cell energy. The exclusive Osmoter is intended to not only elevate moisture in the skin but also rejuvenate the natural balance within the skin.
In 2015, AHAVA came out with Dead Sea cosmetics focused on men's skincare. A focus for this new line was on shaving and moisturizing. Some of the most popular products for men are their Men’s Exfoliating Cleansing Gel, Men’s Soothing After-Shave Moisturizer and Men’s Foam-Free Shaving Cream. Their men's skin care is stemmed from a composition of extracts from the "G-Force", namely gingko, ginger, and ginseng in order to protect, moisturize, and energize the skin for men.The company’s mineral botanic collection is one of their best-selling product lines such as the lotion “Hibiscus and Fig”. They contain 21 essential minerals to rejuvenate the skin, including magnesium, calcium, and potassium. A few of their products use citrus and citrus products to provide vitamins and minerals.
Another popular product is their Body Oil line. The product comes in different forms such as the Precious Desert Oils, the Shower and Bath Oil, and the Dry Oil Body Mists. The mists come in four different scents: Cactus & Pink Pepper, Mandarin & Cedarwood, Prickly Pear & Moringa, and Sea-Kissed. The most popular one out of the four is Cactus & Pink Pepper. The fragrant oil sprays are light-weight and made with Dead Sea plant oils maintaining the key purpose of all their products: rejuvenating and hydrating the skin.
The cosmetics company has been a leading force in the research surrounding minerals and their effects on skin for over 25 years and is an industrial Small to Mid-Size Enterprise (SME). They are one of several Israeli cosmetics companies involved in researching nanotechnology applications. As a result, AHAVA created its own laboratory for cell and organ culture and is the coordinator of SkinTreat, a partner in nanoReTox which founded and coordinated CELLAGE. CELLAGE is a European research consortium with a central focus on cellular aging – a focus in AHAVA’s products. Their work and research have led to international recognition resulting in collaborations and funding reflecting the company’s perception in the world. A special R&D program was created to investigate the various possibilities of Dead Sea ingredients. There was a central focus on those ingredients being processed in nanosize, which includes nanoemulsion and nanosuspension of the nanoparticles of mud. Dead Sea Laboratories is the only one to conduct research on the Dead Sea resulting in their unique product line.
AHAVA’s role in nanoTHER, a European Project supported within the Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development, is a partner in SP2: Toxicity and biocompatibility. The company maintains the responsibility of monitoring potential inflammation risks. Multiple people within Dead Sea Laboratories are key to the nanoTHER project. Dead Sea Laboratories also released multiple publications regarding the research they have done. This research has been fundamental in all of their products and they remain a large catalyst in making a groundbreaking discovery for the skincare and cosmetics world.
In 2009, a study was done with AHAVA Dermud skincare products showing to have protective, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These work against the biological effects of UVB radiation on the skin which can reduce photodamage and photoaging which has been one of their main selling points. In response to the expensiveness of therapy for conditions such as osteoarthritis using mud packs, AHAVA developed mud compresses to be used at home to minimalize the limitations some may have with getting help. They also supplied a grant towards clinical research done by the Ben Gurion University of Negev that concluded that natural mud compresses had a 20% or more reduction in knee Osteoarthritis pain scores upon treatment compared to the control group. This, in part, supports AHAVA's branding behind their products and the beneficial and rejuvenating effects that the Dead Sea mud can have.
Not only is the company eco-conscious but also upholding a responsibility for the environment. As the Dead Sea suffers from shrinking, AHAVA has become more involved in preservation efforts for the Dead Sea. One such plan includes bringing water from the Red Sea in cooperation with Jordan. Thus, they have taken it upon themselves to educate younger generations and encouraging the growth of research and discovery of the Dead Sea in an eco-friendly way. Research is not only an integral part of AHAVA’s origins and founding but has become a core piece in its branding today.
AHAVA has had its fair involvement in controversies revolving around whether they are breaching international law due to their factory location. Located on the West Bank section of the Dead Sea Shore, the cosmetics company buys mud from there and Dead Sea Works which is found within the pre-1967 “Green Line’ of the internationally recognized borders of Israel. B’Tselem, a human rights organization, claims that AHAVA, among other Israeli commercial ventures in West Bank, breach the Hague Convention on the Law and Customs of War on Land. This prohibits resources being exploited in occupied territories. There have been several boycott campaigns against AHAVA regarding this issue. Multiple claims have been made stating that goods created in occupied territories are misleading if they are labeled as a “made in Israel” and should not be labeled as such. An economic agreement formed between Israel and European Union claims that Israel is prohibited from labeling products as "made in Israel" if they are manufactured in the West Bank. Products in the West Bank are subsequently higher in tariffs compared to products made in Israel.
AHAVA remains a powerful force in the cosmetics world and the growing skincare industry. While they continue to research the Dead Sea and hope to begin its restoration, the cosmetics brand continues to build its brand and supply a powerful line of products that have changed the skincare industry. By embracing the growing desire for natural ingredients in cosmetics, AHAVA is a formidable and influential force.
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