These popular brands all still test on animals. Some of them are often mistaken for being cruelty-free, but sadly this is not the case. I’ve included a brief description of each company’s policy to explain why they aren’t cruelty-free.
For the majority of these cases, the brands are sold in China, where animal testing is mandatory by law for foreign cosmetics. It’s important to read the fine print when reading brand policies, as many of them will claim to be cruelty-free but then include a clause about “except when required by law”. If they are sold in stores in China, this clause then means that they are not a cruelty-free brand.
I’ve also included alternative cruelty-free suggestions for each brand. Feel free to leave your favorite cruelty-free dupe suggestions in the comments below!
NARS was once a cruelty-free staple brand for so many. Unfortunately, earlier this year, they updated their animal testing policy to reflect their decision to join the Chinese market. From now on, NARS is going to test on animals where required by law, meaning they are no longer cruelty-free.
One good thing that has come out of this horrible decision is that there has been so much media attention brought to their decision, which is helping to increase awareness about animal testing!
For cruelty-free alternatives to NARS, check out Stila, Kat Von D, Jouer, Marc Jacobs Beauty and Smashbox! The Sonia Kashuk Lip Crayons are also an excellent cruelty-free dupe for the popular NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils.
L’Oreal has a notoriously misleading animal testing FAQ. They claim “L’Oréal no longer tests any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others.” However, they do sell their products in China where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. They address this loophole in their policy as well: “An exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes.” In order words, they do fund animal testing of their finished products in China, where the practice is required by law.
L’Oreal owns tons of other brands, some of which are sold in China and share the same policy to test on animals where required by law, and some of which remain cruelty-free despite the policy of their parent company (like Urban Decay and NYX).
For cruelty-free alternatives to L’Oreal from the drugstore, give e.l.f. a try! Their products are on point and they are more affordable than L’Oreal.
3. Estée Lauder
Estée Lauder claims that they are “committed to the elimination of animal testing”, yet they do test on animals where required by law. Since they sell their products in the Chinese market, where animal testing is required, and they aren’t a cruelty-free company.
Like L’Oreal, Estée Lauder also owns several other brands which are subject to this same policy.
Their Double Wear Liquid Foundation is incredibly popular, but fortunately there are some great cruelty-free alternatives! The Too Faced Born This Way Foundation and Smashbox Studio Skin Hydrating Foundation are both similar options.
MAC Cosmetics is probably one of the most popular and well-known makeup brands of all time, and they used to be a cruelty-free brand, which can lead to some confusion as to their current policy. They are owned by Estée Lauder, whose animal testing policy is not to test on animals unless required by law (as mentioned above). Because MAC is sold in China, where animal testing is required, MAC isn’t a cruelty-free company.
If you’re looking to replace your MAC eyeshadows, I can’t recommend Makeup Geek enough. Their eyeshadows are AMAZING! As for MAC’s lipsticks, NYX and Wet n Wild actually have some great shade dupes, and as a bonus, they are a whole lot more affordable.
Benefit is one of those brands that everyone seems to think is cruelty-free, but unfortunately, they are NOT a cruelty-free company. Their policy is not to test on animals unless required by law. Their products are also sold in mainland China, where animal testing is required. Benefit also currently sells its products in Sephora stores across China and shows no intention of pulling out of China.
If you are drawn to Benefit because of their adorable retro packaging, you will LOVE the cruelty-free brand theBalm Cosmetics!
Lancôme is owned by L’Oreal and inherits the same policy to test on animals where required by law. Since Lancôme is sold in stores in mainland China, it cannot be considered a cruelty-free brand.
Some of Lancôme’s most popular products are their mascaras, but I think the cruelty-free mascaras from Tarte and Pacifica are easily just as good if not better!
7. Make Up For Ever
Make Up For Ever is a popular French brand owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton / Moët Hennessy) which is sold at Sephora and used by many theatre and makeup artists alike. Sadly, they test on animals. They sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. Because of this, Make Up For Ever isn’t considered to be a cruelty-free brand.
If you are a fan of Make Up For Ever’s vivid pigments, I would highly recommend checking out the brand Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, which is not only cruelty-free but also 100% vegan!
Another heavy hitter drugstore brand, Maybelline also shares the same policy as their parent company L’Oreal. They sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. Because of this, Maybelline isn’t a cruelty-free brand.
For an affordable cruelty-free alternative to Maybelline and other drugstore brands, Wet n Wild has tons of great options!
9. Rimmel London
Rimmel London claims to be “against animal testing”, but in reality, they are not cruelty-free as they sell their products in China. When asked about why they are selling their products in China while they claim to be against animal testing, they state that “Chinese consumers have made it clear they want Rimmel London. It would not be right to deprive them of the products they want to use and enjoy. Our industry continues to work together in encouraging the Chinese authorities to accept more modernized non-animal safety testing methods.” Rimmel’s parent company Coty shares the same policy.
For a dupe for the Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retroglam Mascara, I highly recommend the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara! Not only is it vegan, but it also won our best cruelty-free mascara reader poll!
Like L’Oreal, Revlon is a privately held company which tests on animals where required by law. Since they are sold in China, they are subject to animal testing and thus not cruelty-free.
If you love Revlon’s famous lipstick formula, give Colourpop’s Lippie Stix a try. I found the formulation to be very similar, and they are even more affordable than the Revlon ones!
Covergirl may use adorable kittens in their advertising campaigns to give off a cute and cuddly image, but they still test on animals! They sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. Because of this, Covergirl isn’t considered to be a cruelty-free brand. Its parent company Coty shares the same policy.
If you liked using CoverGirl’s face products, try Physician’s Formula instead!
Clinique is NOT a cruelty-free brand. Clinique is owned by Estée Lauder and its official animal testing policy is not to test on animals except when required by law. Clinique is sold in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law.
For a dupe of Clinique’s ever-popular Chubby Sticks, try Tarte’s LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Tint. They are equally hydrating and beautiful!
Almay is owned by Revlon and shares the policy of their parent company to test on animals where required by law. They are also sold in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. As such, they are not a cruelty-free brand.
For a cruelty-free alternative to their “dermatologist-tested” eye makeup, give SheaMoisture’s products a try! As a bonus, they also contain more natural ingredients.
14. Max Factor
Max Factor is another drugstore brand which is primarily sold in Europe. They are also sold in China, where animal testing is required, and they are therefore not a cruelty-free brand. Their parent company Coty shares the same policy to test on animals where required by law.
For a cruelty-free (and equally affordable) alternative to Max Factor, check out the brand Barry M!
15. Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown states that they test on animals where required by law. Since they sell their products in China, this means they are subject to animal testing and thus they are not a cruelty-free brand. They are owned by Estée Lauder, which as mentioned above, shares the same policy to test when required by law.
Like many of these brands, Chanel’s animal testing policy is nowhere to be found on their website. But their products are indeed sold in mainland China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. Because of this, Chanel tests on animals and cannot be considered cruelty-free.
If you’re looking for high-end designer beauty but don’t want to support animal testing, Marc Jacobs Beauty is a great luxury cruelty-free option!
Bourjois is a popular French cosmetics brand. They were previously owned by Chanel but were acquired by Coty in 2015. They share the same policy as their parent company to test on animals where required by law. They sell their products in mainland China and as such, they are not cruelty-free.
For a similarly priced (but cruelty-free) European drugstore brand, try GOSH Copenhagen! I especially love their Velvet Touch Lipsticks.
18. Giorgio Armani
While their website says “Giorgio Armani does not use animals to test its products”, this is very misleading. They are owned by L’Oreal, and they share L’Oreal’s policy to test on animals when required by law. Since Giorgio Armani’s products are sold in mainland China, this, of course, means they are not cruelty-free, as they are therefore subject to animal testing.
For a cruelty-free dupe for the “holy grail” Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, try the Catrice Nude Illusion Foundation!
19. Tom Ford
Tom Ford is owned by Estée Lauder, and it shares their animal testing policy to test when required by law. They are not considered cruelty-free, since they sell in China, where animal testing is mandatory.
The Milani lipsticks are great cruelty-free affordable alternatives for the Tom Ford ones. They are just as creamy and opaque, and at a fraction of the cost!
20. Yves Saint Laurent
As with Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent is also owned by L’Oreal, and adheres to L’Oreal’s animal testing policy. As YSL products are sold in mainland China, they unfortunately are not cruelty-free.
The Catrice Re-Touch Light-Reflecting Concealer is an excellent cruelty-free dupe for the YSL Touch Éclat and it’s about $36 cheaper!
21. Sephora Collection
While there are many cruelty-free brands sold in Sephora stores, sadly Sephora’s own brand is NOT cruelty-free. Sephora sells its products in China where animal testing is required by law for foreign cosmetics.
While it is hard to suggest an alternative brand since Sephora’s brand covers such a wide range of products, there are comparable options from e.l.f., NYX and Wet n Wild.
Shiseido is a luxury Japanese beauty brand over a century old. It is also the parent company to brands such as NARS and Bare Escentuals (aka bareMinerals). Shiseido’s policy states that it does not test its cosmetic products or ingredients on animals except when absolutely mandated by law, and upon further searching through their website (which is not made easy), I found another clause that states “in China, in order to guarantee the safety of imported cosmetics, safety studies including animal testing may be required”.
For a cruelty-free but equally upscale option, try the brand Charlotte Tilbury. The formulas of their cream eyeshadows and lipsticks are also very similar to those of Shiseido.
There is misinformation about whether Burberry tests on animals, and unfortunately the truth is that they do test where required by law. Since Burberry is sold in mainland China, they cannot be considered cruelty-free.
For a cruelty-free alternative to their unique eyeshadows, I would recommend the cruelty-free brand Illamasqua, which sells equally deluxe eyeshadows.
Dior is owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton / Moët Hennessy). Like many other luxury brands, Dior tests on animals. They sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. Because of this, Dior isn’t considered to be a cruelty-free brand.
A good alternative to the Diorshow Mascara is the Urban Decay Perversion Mascara. Its thick mascara wand and formula are very similar to Dior’s.
25. La Mer
La Mer is an incredibly expensive luxury makeup and skincare brand owned by Estée Lauder. Like their parent company, they test on animals when required by law. Since their products are sold in mainland China, this means they are not cruelty-free.
Since La Mer’s makeup is formulated with unique ingredients, it is a bit challenging to find exact dupes. However, I would definitely recommend the foundations and other products from 100% Pure, as they have luxurious formulations that are a bit more affordable.
Guerlain is owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton / Moët Hennessy). They claim that they “are strongly opposed to animal testing and have developed recognized expertise in alternatives to animal testing”. However, they sell in mainland China, which unfortunately refutes this statement. Therefore, they cannot be considered cruelty-free.
If you like Guerlain’s Meteorites, you will definitely love Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Powders!
Avon claims to be the first major cosmetic company to end animal testing nearly 25 years ago, but in reality they’re authorizing and paying local officials in China to test on animals for them so they can sell their products there. While they claim to have “a deep respect for animal welfare”, it seems to be part of careful wording to distract from the fact that they are not cruelty-free.
Jordana’s eyeliners are said to be good dupes for Avon’s. They are easy to find in most drugstores and they are cruelty-free!
28. Mary Kay
Similarly to Avon, Mary Kay’s representatives are sometimes responsible for misinformation regarding Mary Kay’s animal testing policy. While they are very vocal about “not testing on animals”, they actually do test on animals where required by law. In the late 1989, they announced a moratorium on animal testing of its products. Sadly, in 2012 they started testing on animals again when they made the decision to join the Chinese market. This means they are now no longer cruelty-free.
For a cruelty-free alternative to their SPF Foundation, try Balm Shelter from theBalm.
29. Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana is owned by Coty. They share their parent company’s policy to test where required by law. As they sell their products in the Chinese market, they cannot be considered a cruelty-free brand.
Two similar options to D&G’s popular Luminous Cheek Colour Blush are Marc Jacob’s Air Blush and Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Blush.
30. Shu Uemura
Owned by L’Oreal, Shu Uemura shares their parent company’s policy to test on animals where required by law. Since they sell their products in mainland China where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics, they are not a cruelty-free brand.
For cruelty-free (and easier to find) alternatives to Shu Uemura’s iconic eyelash curlers, try the ones from Tarte and Tweezerman!
While these brands may have made the unfortunate choice to test on animals, there are SO many amazing cruelty-free brands to choose from. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cruelty-Free + Vegan Makeup Brands to get started on building your perfect cruelty-free makeup kit!
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