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Weleda AG
ISIN CH0004960180
Key people
Dr Aldo Ammendola (CRDO), Michael Brenner (CFO), Alois Mayer (COO), Nataliya Yarmolenko (CCO), Paul Mackay (President of the BOD)
Revenue424,059,000 EUR (2020)
22,317,000 euro (2020)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Total assets 284,824,000 euro (2020)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Number of employees
2,512 (2020)
Website www.weleda.com

Weleda is a multinational company that produces both beauty products and naturopathic medicines. Both branches design their products based on anthroposophic principles, an alternative medicine. [1]


The company takes its name from the German form of the name of the 1st-century Bructeri völva Veleda. As well as being known to use green energy, Weleda uses natural ingredients grown using biodynamic methods and none of their ingredients or products are tested on animals. [2]

Weleda Group is member of the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT). [3] [4] [5]


1920–24: Founding and early history

In 1920, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, and Ita Wegman, a Dutch gynecologist founded "Futurum AG", in Arlesheim, Switzerland, and "Der Kommende Tag AG" (an incorporated company with the mission of encouraging economic and spiritual values) in Stuttgart, Germany. Their operating profits were meant to contribute to the financing of various anthroposophic undertakings such as constructing the Goetheanum and establishing the Free Waldorf School in Stuttgart. [6] In 1920, Der Kommende Tag AG acquired the former "Colonial-Werke Paul Rumpus" in Schwäbisch Gmünd. Today, this is the location of the Weleda headquarters. [7] In 1921, the two companies wanted to merge for financial reasons. In 1922, the Futurum AG was renamed Internationale Laboratorien AG (ILAG) and new shares were issued. At a general meeting, Rudolf Steiner asked the shareholders to give their shares in Der Kommende Tag to ILAG in order to secure the assets of both companies, which were in financial difficulties. The companies were merged under a new name: Internationale Laboratorien und Klinisch-Therapeutisches Institut Arlesheim A.G. The facilities in Germany became branches of the Swiss parent company. Following a suggestion by Rudolf Steiner, the name Weleda was registered as a trademark: on September 20, 1924 in Germany and on September 25, 1924 in Switzerland. It was also proposed to rename ILAG, the parent company accordingly. On 10 December 1928, the company officially registered under the new name Weleda AG, and it is still known as such today. [8] [9] The name Weleda derives from the Germanic prophet and healer „Veleda“. [10] The Weleda company logo was designed by Rudolf Steiner. The logo is based on the Rod of Asclepius, a staff entwined with a snake, which is a symbol of the medical and pharmaceutical professions.

The establishment of Weleda coincided with Lebensreform, "life reform", a social movement in Germany that advocated alternative medicine and health food. [11]

From 1925: Internationalisation

During the 1920s, Weleda expanded its product range. Some of the newly developed cosmetics are still part of the range today: toiletry milk (later iris milk), massage oil, rosemary bath, skin cream, soap, shaving soap, skin food, sun protection cream, hair washing powder, pine bath essence, and arnica essence. Weleda’s total turnover doubled between 1925 and 1928 and Weleda expanded internationally. A number of subsidiaries are founded in the 1920s: The British Weleda Co. Ltd. (1924), Handelsonderneming Weleda (Netherlands, 1926), The American Arlesheim Laboratories (1926), Veleda-Ges.m.b.H. (Czechoslovakia, 1926). [12]

From 1933: Nazi Germany

During the 1930s, parts of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) viewed anthroposophy as a movement that was contrary to National Socialism. As a consequence, Rudolf Steiner’s books were banned from Bavarian public libraries. [13] In 1935, the Anthroposophical Society was proscribed. Several times, Weleda was threatened with a ban on production, which it could avoid with considerable effort. In 1943, Weleda delivered a one-off consignment of frostbite protection cream to the German armed forces, the Wehrmacht. Since Weleda did not have the petroleum jelly needed to produce the frostbite protection cream that had been ordered, it was provided with this ingredient from the Wehrmacht’s own stock. The frostbite protection cream was delivered to Staff Surgeon Sigmund Rascher of the German air force. Rascher performed hypothermia experiments on prisoners at Dachau concentration camp. [14] In the 1990s, Weleda distanced itself from these actions and apologized to the survivors’ association Aktion Kinder des Holocaust (AKdH). Weleda facilitated a comprehensive scholarly investigation of the events concerned, carried out by the history department of the University of Basel. Weleda overcame the period of National Socialist rule and the Second World War relatively unscathed, as the German branches belonged to a company with its headquarters in neutral Switzerland. [15]

From 1945: Later developments

Experience Centre Weleda Schwaebisch Gmuend Visitor Centre with shop Experience Centre Weleda Schwaebisch Gmuend Visitor Centre with shop.jpg
Experience Centre Weleda Schwaebisch Gmuend Visitor Centre with shop

During Europe’s economic boom in the 1950s and 1960s, Weleda expanded its product range: therapeutic tea (1950), sea buckthorn elixir (1955), facial toner (1959), shaving cream (1960), lavender bath milk (1961), foot balm (1962), and chestnut shampoo (1966). From the 1950s onwards, Weleda continued to pursue an international course. Foreign subsidiaries were established in Italy (1953), New Zealand (1955), Sweden (1956), Brazil (1959), and Argentina (1965). The global demand for natural cosmetics increased continually during the 1990s and thereafter. By 1992, Weleda was represented in 30 countries with a range of over 10,000 products. Weleda established further international subsidiaries, such as Weleda Chile (1992), Weleda Peru (1993), Weleda Japan (1999), Weleda Slovakia (2000), and Weleda Finland (2004). [16] At the end of 2018, Weleda opened City Spas in the Dutch cities of The Hague, Rotterdam and Oegstgeest. [17] At the beginning of 2020, another City Spa opened in Hamburg. In 2021, two more City Spas opened in Amsterdam and Stuttgart. [18] [19]

2021: 100 years Weleda

In 2021, the company turns 100 and marks this event with a partnership with the British charity treesisters to support reforestation projects worldwide. Weleda aims to plant one million trees with this project sponsoring global reforestation projects and initiatives run by women or supporting women. [20] The project started with a Christmas gift sale in 2020 that funded 47,255 trees. [21] Until today 78,355 trees have been planted. [22]

Anthroposophic philosophy and biodynamics

Experience Centre Weleda Schwaebisch Gmuend skin food flower pot Experience Centre Weleda Schwaebisch Gmuend skin food flower pot.jpg
Experience Centre Weleda Schwaebisch Gmuend skin food flower pot

Weleda bases its products on Holistic medicine and Anthroposophic medicine. [23] Anthroposophic medicine is a medicine inspired by the philosophy called Anthroposophy.

Weleda’s botanical ingredients are grown using a farming method known as biodynamics. Biodynamic farming was developed by one of Weleda’s founders, Rudolf Steiner in 1924. Biodynamics treats the whole farm as one living ecosystem with soil fertility, plant growth und livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks. [24] Weleda is still inspired by Steiner’s philosophy today. The company has imbued his values through all their operations: biodynamic farming, fair treatment of staff and stakeholders and sustainable manufacturing processes. [25]


Products sold by Weleda in Brazil, 2021 Weleda products displayed in Drogasil Ilheus-Bahia-Brazil 2021.jpg
Products sold by Weleda in Brazil, 2021

Weleda is world’s leading manufacturer of holistic, natural, organic cosmetics and pharmaceuticals for anthroposophic therapy. [26] The product catalogue includes a complete line of skin care products, like Weleda Skin Food, items for baby and mother care, as well as homeopathic preparations. [27] Following the philosophy of so-called lead plants, the company develops products that do not only focus on the raw materials, as all ingredients and the entire formula contribute to the overall effect. Lead plants include arnica, birch, calendula, iris, lavender and wild rose. [28] [29]

Weleda is known as the historical and main producer of fermented white mistletoe extract (Viscum album), marketed under the name of Iscador. This treatment stems from a 1917 Steiner vision: «According to Rudolf Steiner, it is only through the appropriate blend of mistletoe summer and winter extracts that the mistletoe can deploy its "real healing power" on cancer». [30] Sold as an anti-tumor, and widely used in the 1980s to cure different cancers in Switzerland and Germany (centers of Anthroposophic doctrine), its ineffectiveness has since been established and its use is not recommended by the Swiss Cancer Congress and the Swiss cancer league. [31] [32]

Social engagement

Weleda recognizes that it has a responsibility for the environments in which it operates, and for the people involved in manufacturing Weleda products. [33] Following the principle of diversity that forms a core Weleda value, philanthropy is encouraged to take a variety of forms in the individual countries in which Weleda is present, typically as a response to needs discovered through interaction with local communities. [34] Weleda has been in a partnership with The Foundation for Living Beauty, a nonprofit organization supporting women with cancer. The partnership is dedicated to improving the quality of life for women living with cancer and cancer survivors. [35] The anthroposophical philosophy of Weleda also effects the way the company involves its employees. A format called Werkstunden, one-hour sessions on current topics, is coordinated by the concept of "culture and identity". For the employees, the programmes are voluntary and part of regular working hours. [36] Since 2015, Weleda employees from various countries have been participating in the sustainability initiative "Bike to Weleda". Together they collect kilometres to do something good for climate protection and the environment by cycling to work. The length of the total distance travelled can be seen on a website which was financed with 10,000 euros from the RadKULTUR programme of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. [37] [38] In 2021, Weleda has earned a B Corp certification. B Lab, the label behind B Corp certifies purpose-focused businesses and their actions and impact, rather than only their products. Weleda has committed itself to positively influence environmental and social impact. The certificate will need to be renewed every three years, setting in motion a development process that aims for higher standards and continuous improvement. [39] [40]


Sustainable agriculture

Weleda releases an annual sustainability report, to mark their progress towards becoming an even more sustainable company. Aligning their targets with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to enhance transparency and traceability of products. Weleda also aims to safeguard nature and the needs of their cultivation partners. [41] [42] Weleda has created several gardens to grow ingredients for its products according to biodynamic cultivation methods that involve sustainable farming, avoiding pesticides and working with the seasons. Following the concept of lead plants, various medicinal plants are cultivated in the gardens, such as calendula, valerian, lavender and sage. [43] [44]

Waste prevention and recycling

Weleda Benelux has been climate-neutral for several years. The companies in the Netherlands and Belgium have also been participating in a Soil & More Impacts project in 2008 and the dutch company organizes composting operations worldwide. [45] Weleda partnered with TerraCycle, a waste management company, to bring customers to recycle their packaging. Consumers can send in their empty packaging from the entire Skin Food line of products to be recycled for free. The collected packaging is cleaned and melted into hard plastic used to make new recycled products. [46] [47]

Environmental projects

Weleda Australia and the Kitchen Garden Foundation have formed a partnership to educate children about the important role of pollinators by building a network of ‚Bee B&B Hotels‘ at primary schools. [48] [49] In 2019, Weleda partnered with Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) to protect orangutans and committing to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Weleda has pledged $100,000 to the 20-month project that aims to create harmony between nature conservation and human needs in the Mawas area. [50]

In 2018, Weleda received the first-ever Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) Certification and label for sourcing with respect. The UEBT certification is designed to show consumers that the product they want to buy is produced by a company that treats people and biodiversity with respect. [51]


Weleda won the first price at the 2021 Sustainable Beauty Awards by Ecovia in the categories "Sustainable Leadership" and "Sustainable Pioneer". [52]

Related Research Articles

Anthroposophy is a spiritualist movement founded in the early 20th century by the esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to engage in spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and in studying the spiritual world seek comparable precision and clarity to that obtained by scientists investigating the physical world.

Rudolf Steiner Austrian esotericist (1861–1925)

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian occultist, social reformer, architect, esotericist, and claimed clairvoyant. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy. His ideas are largely pseudoscientific. He was also prone to pseudohistory.

Cosmetics Substances applied to the body to change appearance or fragrance

Cosmetics are constituted mixtures of chemical compounds derived from either natural sources, or synthetically created ones. Cosmetics have various purposes. Those designed for personal care and skin care can be used to cleanse or protect the body or skin. Cosmetics designed to enhance or alter one's appearance (makeup) can be used to conceal blemishes, enhance one's natural features, add color to a person's face, or change the appearance of the face entirely to resemble a different person, creature or object. Cosmetics can also be designed to add fragrance to the body.

Organic movement

The organic movement broadly refers to the organizations and individuals involved worldwide in the promotion of organic food and other organic products. It started during the first half of the 20th century, when modern large-scale agricultural practices began to appear.

Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture based on pseudo-scientific and esoteric concepts initially developed in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). It was the first of the organic farming movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.

Anthroposophic medicine is a form of alternative medicine based on pseudoscientific and occult notions. Devised in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) in conjunction with Ita Wegman (1876–1943), anthroposophical medicine draws on Steiner's spiritual philosophy, which he called anthroposophy. Practitioners employ a variety of treatment techniques based upon anthroposophic precepts, including massage, exercise, counselling, and substances.

Ita Wegman Dutch physician

Ita Wegman co-founded Anthroposophical Medicine with Rudolf Steiner. In 1921, she founded the first anthroposophical medical clinic in Arlesheim, known until 2014 as the Ita Wegman Clinic. She also developed a special form of massage therapy, called rhythmical massage, and other self-claimed therapeutic treatments.

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer German soil scientist

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer was a German scientist, soil scientist, leading advocate of biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophist and student of Rudolf Steiner.

Rudolf Hauschka was an Austrian chemist, author, inventor, entrepreneur and anthroposophist.

Walther Cloos was a pharmacist, alchemist, Anthroposophist, lecturer, researcher, inventor, author and pioneer in anthroposophical pharmacy.

Willem Frans Daems, PhD was a pharmacist, anthroposophist, pianist, teacher and editor.

Hans Krüger was a pharmacist, anthroposophist, botanist, lecturer and researcher.

Wilhelm Pelikan was a German-Austrian chemist, anthroposophist, pharmacist, gardener and anthroposophical medicine practitioner.

Oskar Schmiedel was a pharmacist, anthroposophist, therapist, Goethean scientist and theosophist.

Peter Selg is a German psychiatrist. He was born in Stuttgart and studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin. Until 2000, he worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke hospital in Germany. Selg is director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy and professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany). He lectures extensively and is the author of numerous books.

Cosmetic industry Industry that manufactures and distributes cosmetic products

The cosmetic industry describes the industry that manufactures and distributes cosmetic products. These include colour cosmetics, like foundation and mascara, skincare such as moisturisers and cleansers, haircare such as shampoos, conditioners and hair colours, and toiletries such as bubble bath and soap. The manufacturing industry is dominated by a small number of multinational corporations that originated in the early 20th century, but the distribution and sale of cosmetics is spread among a wide range of different businesses. The largest cosmetic companies are Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal Paris, Gillette, Neutrogena, Nivea and Chanel, Inc. The market volume of the cosmetics industry in Europe and the United States is about EUR €70b per year, according to a 2005 publication. The worldwide cosmetics and perfume industry currently generates an estimated annual turnover of US$170 billion. Europe is the leading market, representing approximately €63 billion.

Margaret Cross was a British educator and school principal, a pioneer of Co-education and of Steiner Waldorf education in Britain as well as of Biodynamic agriculture. Together with Hannah Clark she founded the Kings Langley Priory School, later the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley, which was closed in March 2019.

Sunfield is an Independent special school, Children's Home and charity on the border of Worcestershire and the West Midlands in England. It was founded in 1930 and now supports boys and girls, aged 6 – 19 years, with complex learning needs, including autism.

The Rudolf Steiner Fellowship Foundation was founded in 1966 by a group of young anthroposophists with a goal to care for the elderly.

Dr. Hauschka is a German skincare company that produces chemical free, natural skincare products using biodynamic, fair trade, and sustainably produced ingredients.


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