Home Blog Cruelty-Free 101 You're here

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

by Suzana Rose

Nov 8, 2019

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.

Spread the word.

26 Shared

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 cruelty-free and not owned by a parent company that tests on animals is my priority. I believe that this is the best attitude when it comes to cruelty-free brands. However, I still purchase from cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals. Combined with boycotting the brands they own that do test on animals, I believe this to be the best way of sending a message.

How do you feel about cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

From The Cruelty-Free 101 Series:

Which Brands Are Cruelty-Free?

Download our list of 600+ verified cruelty-free brands straight to your device. Bring it with you everywhere you go, and never worry about supporting animal testing again. Click here to download

deep dive Deep Dive
+ Show Comments (39) - Hide Comments (39)
  • Inga says:

    I am wondering why you have not stated beside Drunk Elephant that it is owned by Shiseido.
    It falsely looks like it is cruelty-free, but it is owned by a parent company which is not.
    Please add the parent company beside Drunk Elephant so consumers can make an informed decision.

    Thank you!

    • Suzana Rose says:

      We do state that, and there’s even a post about Drunk Elephant being acquired by Shiseido.

  • Marwa says:

    Hi Suzana, your blog has helped me a lot! I have a question, are all Too Faced products owned by Estée Lauder or only the Better Than Sex mascara? I don’t really know how I feel about cruelty-free brands owned by parent companies that aren’t cruelty free. So I was wondering wether the money goes to the parent company or to the Brand (ex Too Faced)? If the money goes to the parent company, is it still cruelty free? In Europe, brands are not allowed to test on animals so technically the products that are sold here are cruelty free since the finished product and the ingredients haven’t been tested on animals. Only the products they sell in China have.

    Sorry for the very long comment!

    Thank You very much

  • Dw says:

    Thanks for this post, the post along with all the comments helped me make a decision on whether or not to buy from cruelty free (CF) companies owned by non-CF. It’s a tough decision, but at the end of the day I agree with the sentiment of supporting companies that are cruelty free even if their owned by non-CF companies. Hopefully one day the standard will be Cruelty free for all companies.

  • Sin says:

    Great post!

    Everything comes down to *supply and demand*. If more people buy cruelty free products, that sets a higher demand for those products, which the outcome will be an increase in cruelty free brands.

    Furthermore, I don’t understand the logic behind those who choose not to buy cruelty free products simply because the parent company is not cruelty free and/or not vegan. I am a vegan, and I shop at Giant, Walmart, etc. for my vegan products. I buy gas for our car, we own TVs/cellphones (screens have animal by-products in them) and really, this list could go on and on. There is absolutely no such thing as 100% Vegan/cruelty free. The only perfect vegan, is a dead one.

    Bottom line; everyone needs to support as many cruelty free/vegan companies and products as often as possible and avoid/boycott products/companies that are not.

  • Compassion says:

    absolutely no!tarte or nyx are unable to go to another company parent that is cruelty free?!?! my money is not going toward animal cruelty in any way shape or form.there are many cruelty free products besides those aforementioned. I personally purchase elf. extremely affordable cruelty free cosmetics that stand up to comparison (dupes) to overpriced, unecessary fancy packaged beauty products.

  • Chloé says:

    I only buy from brands that are vegan or have a high majority of vegan products and they must be cruelty free and there parent company must he cruelty free. And if that company has a parent company, overall parent company must be cruelty free. I’m not gonna fund animal testing.

  • Ale says:

    I just joined cruelty free animal products. I decided protecting innocent animals is more important than my looks and my way of shopping for products of companies I have purchased from many year. If I can contribute to make a change and support laws to protect defenseless creatures.

  • Diane says:

    I choose to not give any source of money to a brand that is going to use my money on torturing an animal. Thats just me ! I understand that it can send a message to the parent company but it is also sending them money so that they keep testing on animals 🙁 and my goal is to show that other companies that do not test on animals are getting more than the ones that do ! I wish NYX wasn’t owned by a not cruelty free brand tho’ but I will stan by what my heart and mind is telling me… much love ?

  • Dylan Frazier says:

    I don’t agree that if we only support a company’s cruelty-free brands and boycott the non-cruelty-free ones (as you mentioned in Lancôme v. Urban Decay) that it “sends a message” to the company that we disagree with animal testing. There could be any number of reasons why people choose to buy Urban Decay over Lancôme. It’s edgier, trendier. We would all have to let the company know why we were boycotting Lancôme and other animal-tested brands.
    With that said, as a vegan I draw the line somewhere. I am not willing to give up nearly every makeup brand I love because they’re owned by a non-cruelty-free parent company. That line also applies to ingredients. I often overlook silk, carmine, and potentially animal-based glycerin so I don’t drive myself crazy. We all have to do the best we can.

  • paulette vint says:

    i have for many many yrs used Olay now regenerist..Just spent quite a bit of money updating..but after last night i intend to throw it out..am shocked and so disappointed at all the products not animal free..Here is a quote i saw while meditating which is SO true…IT IS EASIER TO FIGHT FOR ONES PRINCIPALS THAN TO LIVE UP TO THEM..I could not bring myself to ever use that again..unless they change ..I have been told what a great complexion I have(and i am 72) but i could never abuse an animal.for it

  • Lucy says:

    Hi Suzi,

    This is a great resource, thanks for all the time and effort you put into it!

    Regarding buying cruelty free brands that are owned by parent companies that do, I wouldn’t support them. Why would a company buy a cruelty free brand in the first place? The cruelty free brands are taking money out of the big corporations business so they buy them to get the money back in their own pockets. It’s an anti-competition measure.

    It’s a nice idea that by continuing to buy the cruelty free brand that was aquired by a parent company you are sending a message that their cruelty free line is more important than their animal testing brands. In reality the people who don’t give a toss about animal testing will outnumber the ones that do and the company won’t even notice if their cruelty free brand is being supported by people who do care. What they will notice though is if once the aquire a cruelty free brand (which they know full well the profit margins of) that the sales numbers drop dramatically. Unfortunately this probably wouldn’t work either because many people wouldn’t know of the take over so unknowingly continue to buy the products. And also if it did work the company would more than likely just drop the brand anyway.

    In my opinion a company is more harmful to animals if it sells out to a big company that tests on animals than if it sells its products in China. In all reality though animal testing should be a thing of the past, period! I’m confident one day it will be.

    On a side note, why is Yves Rocher on the NOT cruelty free list and do you know anything about Doterra’s animal testing policy?


  • Klaudia says:

    That is why, before buying any product I check if the company is truly cruelty free in few resources. Besides. if we think that buying NYX or Urban Decay is ok, because they do not test on animals, then we should also feel ok with buying any cosmetics in Europe. For few years now it is banned to test on animals in Europe so theoretically all the cosmetics are cruelty free. But in the reality brands such as repeatedly mentioned L’oreal is far from being cruelty free.

  • Franca Palombi says:

    I wish all these companies who test on animals go bankrupt.

  • Franca Palombi says:

    We should ABSOLUTELY BOYCOTT all these parent companies who own cruelty free companies. This is no more than another loop hole. Again more BS to deceive people. These are even bigger cowards/losers who hide behind what used to be an ethical company & want to come across that way. Grow some balls and do what’s right. Either become totally cruel free as a parent company or STFU and be like the rest of the greedy money grabbing giant scums that you are.

  • Getting Better says:

    I am appreciative of all your research and effort you put into your website and use it regularly as a resource. Reading this and the comments has given me a renewed desire to stop supporting the non-cruelty free parent companies. These companies are reaping the financial rewards of their acquired cruelty free companies but still practicing cruelty. The sellout companies should be ashamed to sell to a company that doesn’t put their values to work.

  • Jaz says:

    How do we know that cruelty free Brands owned by parent companies that are not cruelty free, are really cruelty free?
    The parent company does the testing instead of the cruelty free brand and then, the cruelty free brand uses the same ingredients etc tested by its parent company.
    Or how does it work?

  • Curiouser49 says:

    Cruelty is cruelty free – on every level. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Barnbub says:

    I think that as long as the brand is cruelty free it’s ok and as you say going in the right direction. Yes the parent companies get the money but if everyone followed suite then the people at the top who will also get reports about where the money is coming in from. Will see that the money is coming from the cruelty free sales. Hopefully that will then push them in that direction. If sales stop on the non cruelty free products they will decommission them as they won’t be worth their time. They want to make money that’s what it’s about. So if they make it from a product we support then they may turn in the right direction. So I see it as a way to win the war….the bigger picture!

  • Jan says:

    I’m really interested in learning more about this. Are you aware of any parent companies that have changed their animal testing policies after acquiring cruelty-free brands? I guess if there is evidence that this is happening that would be good, but I can’t think of any that have actually ever changed their animal testing policies. A lot of people seem to assume that companies would eventually do this… but have any ever? For e.g. L’oreal bought out the Body Shop ten years ago and still test.

    • Tami S. Miles-Banda says:

      Hi Jan! I know your post was from months ago, but I just saw it and wanted to provide a quick response – even though you very well might never see it. ?

      Your question is a good one. It would be nice to see companies changing their stance in the right direction. Unfortunately, we the opposite far more often, as cruelty-free brands keep getting acquired by testing companies (looking at you, L’Oreal and Estee Lauder ?).

      However,one victory immediately sprang to mind when I saw your post: Stila. Quick version: they used to be cruelty-free, but in 2013, their policy changed to testing where required by law. They started selling in China. (Super bummer.) The good news: Stila pulled completely out od the China market, and by early 2017, their status returned to cruelty-free. They no longer sell in any market that requires testing.

      I don’t know what prompted the switch, of course. Regardless, it’s good to see a company changing their policies for the better.

  • Ashlee Tomlin-Byrne says:

    I have screenshot this in case you choose to delete it rather address the issue.

  • Ashlee Tomlin-Byrne says:

    Wow, you literally said that buy those products funds companies who test on animals.. and yet you choose to still buy those products. You have picked apart INGLOT cosmetics for POSSIBLY (no proof, just your accusation) purchasing ingredients from someone who tests on animals and deemed INGLOT not cruelty free, also slamming PETA for listing them as cruelty free. But here you encourage people buy brands who give profit to animal testing companies! You’re a hypocrite and have lost all validity.

    • Lori says:

      Actually genius she encourage she is to make up our own minds and choose for ourselves. Congrats for your choice, now brush up on your reading skills before you get on a high horse in social media again

  • Louise says:

    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.

  • Thanks for your support Marta. I totally agree, of course. 🙂

  • seymourLlama . says:

    “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.

    • Anna says:

      Not true. Buying fries from McDonald’s (which, incidentally, aren’t even vegetarian, as they have meat flavoring) or other non-meat products from McDonald’s supports McDonald’s finances and therefore, the killing of animals. But buying products from a cruelty free subsidiary (such as Tarte) doesn’t finance animal testing at another Ester Lauder subsidiary. The parent company just owns stock in both companies. They don’t funnel money from one subsidiary to another.

  • Hannah says:

    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 says:

      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.

  • Katherine says:

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

    • Conchita Quilt says:

      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 says:

        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.

    • Shweta says:

      Many people raise that concern, actually. However, being made in China and being sold in China are two different things. Products sold in mainland China are required by law to be tested on animals, but those made in China are not. It’s a bit tricky, but I believe this site has some info on that exact topic.

      • Carolyn Gunn says:

        Only products made outside of China are required to be tested on animals. The products MADE in China can be cruelty free and still be sold in China.

    • Imogen Mai says:

      Wet N Wild are cruelty-free because although products are made in China, they aren’t sold in China so they don’t have to abide by the animal testing law

  • Suzi says:

    You have a good point!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *