Is Unilever Cruelty-Free?

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Is Unilever Cruelty-Free?

No, Unilever is not cruelty-free. They may test on animals, either themselves, through their suppliers, or through a third party. Brands who fall under this category could also be selling products where animal testing is required by law.

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Our commitment to ending animal testing is under-pinned by our work since the 1980s in developing and using alternatives to animal tests for assessing safety, e.g. computer-based modelling and cell-based ‘in vitro’ methods. Unilever’s framework for safety assessment is risk-based rather than hazard-based. This enables us to use a wide range of non-animal approaches to assess the safety of our products for consumers. We review all of the available data, including how consumers use the product and safety information on the ingredients it contains.

For example, we are making good progress in developing a non-animal approach for assessing ingredients that may cause skin allergy. To encourage acceptance of this new approach we continue to present and publish our results externally, and are working with international research and policy groups to share our experience. We share our scientific research on a dedicated Safety Science in the 21st Century website.

In 2016 the risk-based non-animal approaches we are developing for assessing consumer safety were discussed with leading scientists, policy-makers, regulators and animal welfare organisations at key meetings in the EU, US and China. Unilever scientists were major contributors at the US Society of Toxicology 55th annual meeting, where we shared progress on a research collaboration with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists to advance non-animal approaches for chemical risk assessment.

Unilever experts also played an active role in a China – EU training programme, involving the China Food & Drug Administrations (FDA) and UK Home Office, sharing how we use non-animal approaches for assessing the safety of cosmetics.

We use a wide range of non-animal approaches to assess the safety of our products for consumers. We do not test our products on animals and are committed to ending animal testing. Our leading-edge research has one clear purpose: to continue to develop new non-animal approaches that can guarantee that our products are safe, without any need for animal testing.

Occasionally, when there are no suitable non-animal approaches available, some of the ingredients we use have to be tested; and some governments test our products on animals as part of their regulatory requirements. We are actively working with these governments, other scientists and NGOs, to put in place alternative methods.

Over the past 30 years we have invested millions of Euros in research into non-animal approaches for assessing consumer safety. We have a team of internationally recognized scientific leaders in alternatives to animal testing in Unilever, who collaborate with the best research teams across the world on this important topic, so that new non-animal methods that start as ideas in our research laboratories are accepted by regulatory authorities and become standards for the industry.

Is Unilever owned by a parent company that tests on animals?

Unilever is not owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

In the beauty industry, it’s common for brands to be owned by a larger company. These are called parent companies, and they’re often global corporations such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, or Procter & Gamble.

Most of these parent companies are not cruelty-free, since they test on animals to some degree. They might also own several brands that are not cruelty-free.

However, some of the brands owned by these parent companies are cruelty-free and have strict policies against animal testing.

There are pros and cons to supporting cruelty-free brands owned by parent companies that aren’t.

You can either:

  • Choose to boycott them since they’re a part of a larger conglomerate that engages in animal testing.
  • Choose to support some of them based on the individual ethics of each parent company, or only purchase from them if there are no independent alternatives.
  • Choose to support them since they are 100% cruelty-free even though their parent company is not, therefore showing their parent company that consumers are favoring their cruelty-free brands.

In the cruelty-free community, the majority of conscious consumers purchase from cruelty-free brands even if they’re owned by a parent company that tests on animals. This is our stance at Cruelty-Free Kitty as well. We believe that supporting all cruelty-free brands is the only path towards a cruelty-free and more ethical beauty industry.

It’s also worth noting that subsidiary brands of parent companies are unique corporations by themselves. They act as independent branches and operate independently from the parent company, and can also be sold to other companies including cruelty-free ones.

Another aspect to consider is that many parts of the world only have access to limited brands, so their only cruelty-free options are owned by large corporations. This is a concern we hear about constantly from our international readers. Given this complex landscape, we believe that supporting all cruelty-free brands is ethical as well as practical.

A minority of shoppers choose to boycott brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we make it easy for all of our readers to know which brands are owned by a parent company that tests on animals. At the top of each brand page, you’ll see a “parent company” note if that’s the case.

You can also filter our list of cruelty-free brands to only show brands that are not owned by any company that tests on animals.

Finally, for a list of brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals, click here.

Is Unilever certified cruelty-free by any organizations?

No, Unilever is not certified by any organizations.

While companies can be fully cruelty-free without being certified, it’s still a good indicator of their ethical practices. Leaping Bunny and PETA are the two organizations giving out cruelty-free certification.

Is Unilever vegan?

No, Unilever is not vegan. This means that some of their products may contain animal-derived ingredients. Unilever might offer some vegan products, however because this company is not cruelty-free, it's recommended to avoid any products they offer even if they are vegan.

Brands can be cruelty-free without being vegan, and claim to be vegan without being cruelty-free. This is because “cruelty-free” refers to the animal testing aspect, while “vegan” refers to the ingredients.

A “vegan” product contains no animal-derived ingredients, such as Beeswax (made by bees), Carmine (a red pigment made from crushed beetles), or Collagen (from mammal or fish skin).

A company is “cruelty-free” at company level, meaning they can’t have cruelty-free products unless the whole company is cruelty-free. However, a company can offer vegan products even if not all of their products are vegan. If all of their products are vegan, then we refer to the brand as “100% vegan”.

We have a list of 100% vegan brands, and you can also filter our official list of cruelty-free brands and choose to show vegan brands only.

Looking for vegan products from cruelty-free brands? Visit our Product Database and make sure you use the vegan filter.

Does Unilever test on animals?

Yes, Unilever tests on animals. This means that the brand pays for their ingredients or their finished products to be tested on animals, either by the brand itself, their suppliers, or any third parties. Most often, brands that test on animals do so by allowing third parties in mainland China to test their finished products on animals.

How do you determine that brands like Unilever are not cruelty-free?

Most brands don't publicly display their full animal testing policies. We contact brands directly with our questions in order to get their complete policy. If any brand states that they, their suppliers, or any third party test on animals, the brand is listed as "not cruelty-free."

We ask all conscious consumers to be mindful of misleading statements from brands. Companies that test on animals try to minimize their involvement in animal testing, and understandably so—if a brand were to proudly claim to perform cruel tests on animals, their customers would surely reconsider being a loyal fan.

What they do instead is use clever language that shifts the blame away from themselves and makes the public believe that they’re not responsible for the animal testing, or that the animal testing performed on their products is “an exception”.

If a brand is listed as “not cruelty-free” in our database, you can rest assured that their products were tested on animals in recent years.

We monitor every change and constantly post updates. The changes in our database, list of cruelty-free, and brand pages are reflected in real time as soon as we become aware of new information.

Is Cruelty-Free Kitty reliable?

Founded in 2014 by Suzana Rose, Cruelty-Free Kitty is the largest and most trusted cruelty-free shopping platform.

We vet every single brand added to our database by contacting them directly and ensuring they adhere to our strict criteria we call "The Cruelty-Free 5".

For a brand to be listed as cruelty-free, it must satisfy the following:

  1. The brand itself does not test on animals, for either finished products or ingredients.
  2. Suppliers do not test on animals for products, raw materials, or ingredients.
  3. No third parties test on animals on the brand's behalf.
  4. The brand does not test on animals when required by law.
  5. The brand does not sell cosmetics in physical stores in mainland China.

At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we have an unwavering commitment to accuracy. The landscape of cosmetics animal testing is constantly evolving globally. Our team is diligent about staying current on changing laws, brand acquisitions, and policy updates that impact cruelty-free status.

To date, we’ve vetted over 1200+ brands and helped millions of conscious shoppers choose products that aren’t tested on animals. Please feel free to contact us with any questions by using our contact form.

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