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The Courtin-Clarins Family Just Acquired ILIA Beauty – Is It Still Cruelty-Free?

by Charlotte Pointing

May 6, 2022

Back in 2009, Sasha Plavsic set herself a task: to create cherry tinted chapstick, with conscious, carefully-selected ingredients. The “clean” beauty movement was just about to take off in the mainstream, but Plavsic was ahead of the game. She’d already started to become suspicious of the ingredients in the products she was using, and wanted to create cosmetics she could trust. So she became a beauty entrepreneur, and ILIA Beauty was born.

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Since the late 2000s, Plavsic’s cruelty-free, clean beauty brand—which uses sustainable packaging where possible, offers several vegan products, and only the safest, most effective formulas—has become a roaring success. The clean beauty industry has grown substantially in the last decade; it’s predicted to reach a global value of more than $22 billion by 2024. And ILIA, with sales of $100 million in 2021, is one of the market’s standout stars.

So it’s no surprise that ILIA has caught the attention of Famille C, the private investment fund of the Courtin-Clarins family (the owners of renowned international cosmetics company Clarins). Earlier this year, it was announced that the family is acquiring ILIA Beauty for an undisclosed sum. 

Is ILIA Beauty still cruelty-free?

This acquisition means that ILIA Beauty’s parent company is not cruelty-free. But ILIA Beauty itself remains cruelty-free.

In response to the question “Does ILIA test on animals?,” a statement on the ILIA Help Center reads: “We would never! We carry the Leaping Bunny certification which means none of our products are tested on our furry friends.”

The Leaping Bunny certification, created by Cruelty Free International, is confirmation that the brand does not test any of its finished products or ingredients on animals. It also does not request that suppliers or third-parties test on animals for them, and it does not sell its products in any countries where animal testing is required by law.

China, for example, is renowned for its animal testing laws. International brands used to be unable to bypass animal testing requirements, but things are slowly changing. In May 2021, it was announced that some companies that manufacture outside of China could bypass pre-market testing. (You can find a breakdown of the change in the law here.)

ILIA's acquisition will not change the validity of its cruelty-free certification. But if you prefer to avoid brands owned by parent companies that test on animals, you can find those using our list here. (Simply select refine and then tick the box that states “Parent company doesn't test on animals.”)

Acquisitions become more common in beauty

Many will feel disheartened by the news of ILIA’s acquisition. But as smaller brands grow their missions, their product ranges, and their customer bases, they are inevitably going to catch the eye of the older, more powerful, heritage companies. And these acquisitions are, evidently, not just a one way street. Smaller brands link up with the big giants in order to gain more funding and more resources to grow their missions.

Many of these parent companies are not certified cruelty-free, but this doesn’t mean that the policies of beloved smaller brands change. Superfood-focused brand Youth to the People, for example, is now owned by L'Oréal, but it remains cruelty-free.

Famille C has acquired ILIA because it was captured by the brand’s ethos, and it wants to help it grow, expand, and bring its clean and cruelty-free cosmetics to even more people.

In a statement to WWD, Famille C’s deputy chief executive officer, Prisca Courtin-Clarins, said: “It’s my role in Famille C to identify the brands of tomorrow and therefore diversity the family’s assets. Ilia is Famille C’s first major and strategic acquisition. The idea is to make it the worldwide leader in clean color [cosmetics].”

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About The Author

Charlotte Pointing

Charlotte is passionate about sustainable, cruelty-free beauty. She has spent more than 4 and a half years writing and editing in leading sustainable media, and has a degree in history and a postgraduate in cultural heritage.

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