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Covergirl X Olay: When A Cruelty-Free Brand Collaborates With One That Isn’t

by Suzana Rose

Mar 3, 2020

Today, I'm going to address a question I often receive. Since Covergirl went cruelty-free, a lot of cruelty-free shoppers have noticed that the brand collaborates with Olay on a few of their products. And Olay, as you know, is not cruelty-free.

Spread the word.

Hi Suzi,

I was wondering why Covergirl is included in the cruelty free list. They collaborate with Olay for the Simply Ageless line, and Olay is not cruelty free. Olay says they do no animal testing in the US, but they allow their products to be sold in countries they know require animal testing. To me that means neither brand is completely cruelty free. What are your thoughts about this?

Thank you.

Thank you for your question, Jane!

In short, Covergirl is still cruelty-free despite this collaboration. They remain their own brand, and they're certified by Leaping Bunny.

Brand collaborations are an interesting topic, and it's not something we see that often (yet). For example, the Kat Von D Beauty and Too Faced palette. Another example would be Jeffree Star Cosmetics (a cruelty-free brand) collaborating with Morphe (not cruelty-free because of contradictory answers and refusal to provide answers to some questions) with exclusivity deals and by Jeffree Star himself having his own Morphe products (not related to Jeffree Star Cosmetics, but close).

But the best example I can think of must be Covergirl (a makeup brand) and Olay (a skincare brand). Both are owned by Procter & Gamble, which means that P&G is boosting both brands. The product in question is a Covergirl foundation which is "infused" with skincare ingredients from Olay. Covergirl gains from Olay's skincare expertise, and Olay gains from Covergirl's brand recognition.

Now, here's what P&G didn't consider: Olay is not a cruelty-free brand. By "infusing" Covergirl products with Olay skincare, are they infusing it with... animal testing?

Here's why Covergirl is still cruelty-free after this collaboration.

Are Olay's ingredients in Covergirl tested on animals?

First, it's important to note that the Covergirl/Olay foundation in question doesn't actually have Olay ingredients in it. After looking at the ingredients, I notice the usual: silicones, water, glycerine. But there's also Niacinamide, which might be the "skincare" part they market. Niacinamide is a common ingredient found in skincare, and it's in no way patented or used exclusively by Olay.

Is it possible that Covergirl and Olay used the same suppliers for their skincare ingredients? Yes, but this doesn't mean that they're tested on animals. Covergirl is Leaping Bunny certified, which is the highest standard of cruelty-free certification. When a brand becomes certified, they open themselves to audits performed by the Leaping Bunny programme. This means that their suppliers can (or were) visited and inspected to make sure that no animal testing is conducted or involved.

What does the Covergirl and Olay collaboration really mean?

Although both Covergirl and Olay are owned by the same parent company, we need to draw a solid line between brands. Covergirl and Olay are two different companies, and form separate entities. Procter & Gamble is also a separate entity. When Covergirl and Olay collaborate, it doesn't mean that the two brands fuse together. They remain their own brands. The collaboration is symbolic first and foremost. It's marketing.

What should we do about this?

Does that mean that we, as cruelty-free shoppers, should purchase products from the Covergirl and Olay collaboration? Absolutely not. Even though the products are cruelty-free, they're also symbolic: buying them would mean that we approve of Olay, and of the collaboration.

Instead, I suggest voicing your opinion to Covergirl and letting them know that you don't support any brands who test on animals where required by law, such as Olay, and that you're urging them to collaborate with a cruelty-free brand in the future, as to remain loyal to their values as a Leaping Bunny certified brand.

I hope this was helpful, and I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below!

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+ Show Comments (2) - Hide Comments (2)
  • Jaime Zurat says:

    Thank so much for this article! When I searched this question, I wasn’t sure if I would find an answer. Perfect explanation and great info. Thanks again!

  • Joan Lind says:

    When I saw that Olay was included in covergirl’s Simply Ageless make up, I contacted the following: Covergirl in New York City; PETA; crueltyfreeinternational.com; FDA & FTC…The FTC for false advertising, which is a felony (filed a complaint.) I have received no replies from anybody and I’m totally disgusted. Proctor and Gamble, who makes Olay, is the biggest cruelty company in the world, and I am appalled at Cover girl for saying they are cruelty free. They should not be allowed to get away with this and should be penalized with a hefty fine for false advertising….AND, shame on Leaping Bunny!

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