Olay 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.
Olay 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||Uncertain|
|Suppliers test on animals||Uncertain|
|Third party animal testing||Yes, where required by law|
|Sold in mainland China||Yes|
Olay's Official Animal Testing Policy
“We do not test our products on animals. Olay is working closely with governments around the world to provide alternative research methods to eliminate testing on animals, enabling cruelty-free skin care in the beauty industry. For example, in a few countries where Olay is sold, governments still mandate animal tests. In those cases, Olay can be required by law to submit our products to labs where we know animal tests are happening. This is why we do not claim cruelty-free on our packaging. We do not believe these tests are necessary to evaluate safety or performance. But today, they won’t accept alternative non-animal testing methods. We remain steadfast and will continue to advocate for alternative methods to end animal tests in the industry.”
What This Means
This is an example of “cruelty-free greenwashing” (or bunnywashing) from Olay. They claim not to test finished products on animals themselves, yet there’s no mention of ingredients. Later in the policy, they admit that they’re willing having their products tested on animals in markets that require animal testing.
Their statement is: “In a few countries where Olay is sold, governments still mandate animal tests. In those cases, Olay can be required by law to submit our products to labs where we know animal tests are happening.”
By phrasing it this way, Olay is trying to convey that they have no choice in the animal testing. However, the decision to sell in China is entirely up to the brand. Since, as Olay claims, they were aware that their products would be tested on animals when entering the Chinese market, Olay could have made the decision not to enter the market at all.
Many cruelty-free brands decide not to sell products in stores in mainland China in order to remain cruelty-free. Others choose the online route, which bypasses any mandatory animal testing.
Bunnywashing On Their Website
On Olay’s official website, at the very bottom of the page, we find a link titled “Cruelty-Free”. When we click it, we’re directed to a page featuring much more than Olay’s animal testing policy. It starts with a bold headline — Is Olay Skin Care Cruelty-Free? — following by 5 Facts About Olay’s Push for Cruelty-Free Skin Care in the Industry.
Here’s a screenshot of the page (click the image to view full size):
At first glance, this page is very misleading. When we continue reading, it becomes clear that Olay is bunnywashing, or trying to appear cruelty-free when it’s not.
They mention that they test their products on “lab skins”. However, there’s no mention of whether or not their ingredients are tested on animals, by themselves or by their suppliers.
They mention that they invest in cruelty-free research, however they don’t directly mention that they willingly pay for their products to be tested on animals in China.
They tell us that they don’t use the claim “cruelty-free” on their products because their products are tested on animals in China. The fact is: their products are not cruelty-free, which is why they don’t use this label.
Olay is on PETA’s list of brands that do test on animals.
Olay is a popular drugstore skincare brand which also offers body care. They focus on anti-aging products and they can be found in most drugstores worldwide. Olay was acquired by Procter & Gamble in 1985.
Why We Classify Brands Like Olay 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.