Companies That Test On Animals: Should We Boycott Their Cruelty-Free Brands?

non cruelty-free parent companies

Some cruelty-free brands are owned by bigger companies that do test on animals. Just recently, L’Oreal bought Urban Decay as well as NYX, and Tarte was sold to Kose, a Japanese company with less strict rules when it comes to animal testing.

Cruelty-free consumers sometimes have divergent views when it comes to this issue: should brands such as Urban Decay, NYX, and Tarte still be considered cruelty-free?

This issue is anything but black and white.

If you’re switching to cruelty-free products, there are a few things you should consider.

1. These brands are still cruelty-free

As long as a cruelty-free company remains certified by the Leaping Bunny — and their certification has to be renewed yearly — it is still cruelty-free. As long as a brand does not test anything on animals, at any point during the making of their products, I consider it to be cruelty-free.

As long as these companies will maintain certification or maintain their cruelty-free policies and NOT sell in mainland China, the brands themselves are cruelty-free regardless of the parent company. As much as I love some NYX products, they wouldn’t be worth it if NYX didn’t remain a truly cruelty-free brand.

2. Choosing to buy the cruelty-free brands sends a message

By continuing to buy NYX and Urban Decay while boycotting other L’Oreal brands, a message is sent to these giants of the industry: consumers truly value cruelty-free cosmetics and care about the ethics behind the products. 

If everyone boycotted Lancome in favor of Urban Decay, L’Oreal would surely be forced to change their animal-testing policies.

3. Profits Go To The Parent Company

All that being said, there’s something else we can’t overlook: the profits ultimately go to the parent company. When a cruelty-free company is acquired by a new parent, the big guys at the top (those who get all the profits) also change. This means that by purchasing Urban Decay products, you’re really giving your money to L’Oreal.

Because this is financing a company that tests on animals, this also means that you might indirectly be funding further animal testing. That’s so far from what we want to accomplish by purchasing cruelty-free products!

Bottom Line

I hope the points raised above helped you come to your decision. No matter what this decision is, it should be something you truly personally believe in and are comfortable with. It should work within your lifestyle. And remember that there’s no right or wrong way of looking at this issue, since a cruelty-free brand is a cruelty-free brand.

Personally, I’ve come to the following decision:

Supporting brands that are 100% cruelty-free is my priority. I believe that this is the best attitude when it comes to cruelty-free brands, and my site to reflect this. My list of cruelty-free brands only mentions brands that are 100% cruelty-free.

About 90% of my beauty and household purchases are from brands that are 100% cruelty-free, but I still believe that supporting cruelty-free brands owned by companies that test on animals is better than purchasing from brands that aren’t cruelty-free.

How do you feel about cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals?

From The Cruelty-Free 101 Series:

  • Suzi

    You have a good point!

  • Katherine

    What about Wet n’ Wild ? many of their products are made in China, but are on the cruelty free list ???

    • Conchita Quilt

      I’m no expert but if they sell China they can’t be Cruelty Free in book based on the fact that China has strict laws insisting on cruel animal testing if products are to be sold there.

      • Ellie

        Cosmetics that are made in China aren’t necessarily tested on animals. It’s the case for a lot of cruelty free brands- made in China however not sold there.

  • Hannah

    Those companies are using the fact that people feel less guilty about buying those products as they seem to be cruelty free. While you may think that you’re supporting the brands that are cruelty free and actually having an effect on the bigger companies, you’re just buying make up that might not have been tested on animals but which consists of the same ingredients that have been tested on animals for e.g LOreal products. Of course they don’t need to be tested especially for NYX, Urban Decay etc. as they’ve already been tested for others. If you don’t want to buy makeup that has been tested on animals, don’t buy from companies that test on them.

    • anna

      I’m sorry that this is a very late reply, but you’re wrong. Loreal has nothing to do with the ingrediants in the Urban Decay products. It’s exactly the same. What Loreal does is just owning the company and getting money.

  • seymourLlama .

    “I’m not contributing to the funding of animal testing”
    “by funding L’Oreal”, you are.

    “a message is sent to these giants of the industry”
    the message is that people will buy products even if they are owned by animal-testing companies, because people’s “ethics” matter less than hoarding makeup.

    “If everyone boycotted” animal-testing companies “in favor of” companies that actually don’t test on animals and don’t fund companies that test on animals, THEN it would make a difference.

    This is like going to mcdonalds and buying fries. Technically, it’s vegan. Realistically, the money goes directly to the exploitation and slaughter of animals, and unethical treatment of employees. It does not send a message to mcdonalds. It sends them money, which they use to torture animals. Like l’oreal.

  • Suzi | Cruelty-Free Kitty

    Thanks for your support Marta. I totally agree, of course. :)

  • Louise

    It’s great to read someone’s opinion on this. As I’ve been yoyo’ing on my decision.

    I feel a company won’t ever change what they are doing until it is deemed not to be too risky. If the cruelty free companies they acquire are becoming more profitable than the non cruelty free ones they will start to look at why and I think that’s a good thing as it could mean changes in the future. If we boycot them because of who owns them, and they fail they might just think oh well cruelty free didn’t work let’s stick with what we know and make money.

    The parent company may also not 100% fully own these companies. To be a parent company I think you only need to own over 50% of the shares if my memory services me correct. So it’s not necessairily true that all the profit is feeding back to the parent. Yes some will be depending on ownership % but not all of it.