Suzana Rose

Kiehl’s is NOT cruelty-free.

This means that this brand either tests on animals, pays for animal testing, or sells in mainland China. Some brands that fall under this category test on animals where required by law, which means they're not cruelty-free.

Kiehl’s isn't owned by a parent company that is not cruelty-free.


At a Glance

Finished products tested on animals Yes, where required by law
Ingredients tested on animals No, with possible exceptions
Suppliers test on animals No, with possible exceptions
Third party animal testing Yes, where required by law
Sold in mainland China Yes

Kiehl’s's Official Animal Testing Policy

“We at Kiehl’s do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. As we continue to expand globally and reach our customers around the world, it is our practice to do our part towards advancing the science of safety and validated alternative methods that eliminate the need or requirement for any animal testing globally.

In 1989, our parent company, L’Oreal voluntarily stopped using animal testing for the evaluation of its entire range of finished products. The company has invested more than $1 billion over the last 25 years to develop innovative, alternative methods to animal testing, particularly in the area of reconstructed tissue development. L’Oreal and Kiehl’s are totally committed to a future without tests on animals.”

What This Means

Kiehl’s inherits the animal testing policy of their parent company, L’Oreal. Although they claim not to test on animals themselves, they do admit to testing on animals where required by law. Since Kiehl’s is available in stores in mainland China, this means that their products were likely tested on animals by the Chinese authorities.

No company that complies with these animal testing regulations can be considered cruelty-free. Every brand has the choice to either enter the Chinese market, which means having their products tested on animals, or to find alternatives which don’t require animal testing, such as selling to China online-only.

Even though Kiehl’s claims to be “committed to a future without tests on animals”, they willingly paid for their products to be tested on animals, which contradicts their statement.

From Their Website

Kiehl’s animal testing policy can be found on their website. We did have to dig for it, as it’s displayed in their FAQ, under “Product Information”.


Kiehl’s is a high-end skincare and body care brand available in department stores and drugstores worldwide. Founded in 1851, they were acquired by L’Oreal in 2000.

Why We Classify Brands Like Kiehl’s As “Not Cruelty-Free”

The term “cruelty-free” is unregulated. This means any brand can claim to be cruelty-free without breaking the law, even if they test on animals.

Because of this, we communicate with brands directly to gather information about their full animal testing policy.

Brands who are classified as “not cruelty-free” break one or more of the Cruelty-Free 5:

  • Their company engages in animal testing
  • Their suppliers engage in animal testing
  • They allow third-parties to test on animals on their behalf
  • They test on animals where required by law
  • They knowingly sell cosmetics in stores in mainland China, where animal testing could be performed

A supplier is any company that sells the brand raw materials, ingredients, or finished products. A third-party is an outside company or entity, whether or not it’s hired by the brand.

What’s The Deal With China?

Many beauty brands choose to sell their products in China. It’s important to note that these companies can not be considered cruelty-free.

As of 2020, China still requires most cosmetics to be tested on animals in order to be sold in the country.

As for products which can bypass these mandatory tests, the Chinese authorities may still pull these products from the shelves and have them tested on animals. Although the chance is small, we believe that companies can not be considered “cruelty-free” while taking this risk.

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