• Ellie Stennett

L'Oreal: Are They Really Cruelty Free?

So recently, there have been some rumours that L’Oreal, one of the biggest known brands for animal testing, have changed their policies and are now 'cruelty free'. They have also released products that have ‘vegan friendly’ labels on the packaging. Well, in this blog post we’re going to uncover the truth and give you a definitive answer to the question: Is L’Oreal really cruelty free and vegan-friendly?

L'Oreal's Background

Lets start from the beginning...

L’Oreal changed their animal testing policy in March 2013; meaning from March 2013 to present day L'Oreal has claimed not to test any its finished products or raw materials on animals at all. Before March 2013, L’Oreal still defended that they were cruelty free... EXCEPT for having to “base less than 1% of its ingredients safety evaluations on a few tests conducted on laboratory rats or mice."

But, why did they have to do this? Well, L'Oreal claims it was to answer “certain specific questions from the international health authorities” because their “alternative and predictive approaches do not yet fully provide a satisfactory safety evaluation."

Stay with me for a second, because it's about to get a WHOLE lot more interesting! Grab your popcorn! I'll wait...

L'Oreal claims that:

“when a supplier proposes us an ingredient, we ask to examine its safety dossier. If the dossier contains data generated by means of animal testing before March 2013, L’Oréal can retain the ingredient. If the data was generated after March 2013 and was for a cosmetics application, L’Oréal cannot retain the ingredient. If the data was generated after March 2013 but was for a usage other than cosmetics, then L’Oréal can retain the ingredient."

AND, just like magic we have found L'Oreal's loophole for animal testing!

The above statement suggests that L’Oreal does not use ingredients that have been tested on animals for after March 2013 and if they have been tested for cosmetic use… NOT MEDICAL. This is their loophole. Hence why many of their products in their adverts suggest "clinical and scientific studies were used to test these products."


Firstly, if you're thinking 'oh this image says 'people agree' in the bottom, it must be tested on humans" well, you're right. The product was tested on human volunteers... AFTER being tested on animals. Clinical testing on humans can only begin after a pre-clinical phase, involving laboratory studies and tests on animals, which has to show that the ingredient(s) are considered safe and effective.

Secondly, 'Clinical Study' shows L'Oreal's loophole perfectly and how they are using medical tests as a way around animal testing. L’Oreal actually has a history of disguising its cosmetics as drugs, and has been sued by the FDA over misleading ads regarding this. The FDA claimed that L’Oreal products “were intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body, rendering them drugs under the Act (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).” This is proof that some of L’Oreal’s products were indeed marketed as drugs.

So, now lets answer some questions.

Does L'Oreal have a parent company?

A bit random, but Nestlé owns 23% of L'Oreal. Other than that, L'Oreal does not have a parent company.

L'Oreal is the parent company to SO many brands, both drugstore and high end, including NYX, Maybeline, Georgio Armani, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics and the list goes on.

So NO, L'Oreal does NOT have a parent company (for 77% of it anyway.)

Does L’Oreal sell in china?

When I first started writing this specific blog post a few months back, this whole section was different. This is what I originally wrote:

(let's ignore any grammatical or spelling errors, which I know a certain someone would have picked up on *cough cough*)

It's a good thing I did not post this version because all of that which is quoted from L'Oreal's FAQ section is GONE. I can not find this quote ANYWHERE on ANY L'Oreal websites, FAQ, separate pages, interviews... NOTHING. L'Oreal have changed their whole FAQ theme to focus on why they sell in China and how it's a good thing

(Mind = BLOWN)

All the Frequently Asked Questions are about selling in China, helping to stop animal testing in China, PETA and China. If you want to have a look, click here

L'Oreal continuously reinforce the notion that they are helping toward ending animal testing in China, which, by the sounds of it, it seems they are by investing into a new skin-cell replica... but at what cost?

We are all aware of the Chinese law for foreign cosmetic items and how they must be tested on animals before being sold in main land China. Therefore, because L'Oreal is selling in main land China, they are agreeing to have their products tested on animals before sale. Now, although L'Oreal manufacture and sell their products in China, which could dismiss them from any pre-market animal testing (important word - COULD - they would still have to follow a huge list of other demands before being excluded), it will not exclude them from any post market animal testing in China.

So YES, L’Oreal DOES sell in China and are not shy about it.

Does L’Oreal Conduct any third-party testing?

As already discussed, L’Oreal sells in China, therefore they have to pay the Chinese government to test their products for them before sale in China (Being excluded from pre-market sales does not start till 2020, so currently L'Oreal are funding animal testing for their products through the Chinese Government .)

On the L’oreal website, under 'How We Evaluate the Safety of our Products' it states that:

The studies are always conducted in third party specialized centers and are undertaken in a very strict methodological and ethical framework.”

(See that first highlighted line... remember what I said about 'Clinical Testing' aka animal testing :) :) :) )

There is no comment here to say that the third-party testing is done through a company that does test on animals, but it also doesn't state that they do not...

So YES, L’Oreal DOES conduct third-party testing through China.

Does L’Oreal have any certifications?

L’Oreal is still not on PETA’s cruelty-free list because“L’Oreal refuses to adopt a company-wide policy against tests on animals for both its ingredients and finished products, and because it sells cosmetics products in China that are required by law to be tested on animals by government agencies." L'Oreal also address this subject in their FAQ's.

Then again, we know from recent news not to trust PETA, so even if L'Oreal were certified by them, I don't think it would make much difference.

L’Oreal are not Leaping Bunny Approved either because L'Oreal does not reach their standard to be cruelty free.

Since the demand for vegan products is growing, many brands may adopt the vegan label as a marketing tactic. L’Oreal, like many other brands, have been using fake vegan logos to market their products, but it's not illegal.

Under American Food and Drugs Administration [FDA] there is no legal definition for terms pertaining to animal testing. According to the FDA: " The unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetic companies is possible because there are no legal definitions for these terms." So when brands slap 'against animal testing' or 'not tested on animals' it's not illegal and can be applied even if a product is tested on animals. (This makes me so angry).

This means that, although L'Oreal still test on animals and sell in China, certain items may not contain any animal product or by-product, which technically does make them vegan. BUT, they are stilled tested on animals therefore are NOT vegan. PLEASE don't be fooled by fake vegan logos.

However, one good thing is that when I was trying to find proof of L'Oreal labelling their products with 'vegan' I couldn't find any in stores! It's good because that saves people accidentally stumbling across the products, believing that they are 'vegan' and buying it! BUT, if you googled it, sadly quiet a few pop up.

So NO, L’Oreal does NOT have any certifications.

All In All - Are L'Oreal cruelty free and vegan?


L'Oreal are not a cruelty free company as they have been selling in China where it is unavoidable to escape post-marketing animal testing. L'Oreal have been using 'medical' and 'drug' ingredients to sneak around testing on animals. L'Oreal also use third-party testing (whether this is on animals or not is still unclear, but they do fund animal testing in China).

L'Oreal is one of the biggest known brands for animal testing and if they gave awards for lying to their customers, then L'Oreal would take the gold medal 1000 times over.

What can you do?

1) Support real cruelty-free and vegan brands, big or small! Look out for cruelty-free logos (maybe not PETA, try for Leaping Bunny or Vegan Society).

2) Do your research and let brands know that being cruelty-free, not selling in China and having vegan-friendly options means a lot to you! Brands can’t make changes if we don’t give the feedback!

3) Let L'Oreal know you wont be supporting or buying their products anymore until they become completely cruelty-free and stop selling in China, whether this is by tweet, email, letter, Instagram, phone, ect! If you really want to send a message to L'Oreal (depending on your stance of parent companies - for me, if a brand doesn't test on animals, but has a parent company that does, I won't shop with either of them. I don't want any animal testing to be linked back to the makeup on my face) you can stop shopping with those brands too. There are so many great alternatives out there for NYX, Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics

4) Share this blog post and let others know the truth!

Thank you so much for reading I know was a long journey!

Hopefully L'Oreal can stop lying to customers soon about vegan products... or they could just stop animal testing all together, switch to vegan ingredients, pull out of China and then no one would have a problem with them slapping vegan across all their items....

So, let me know guys... what are your thoughts on L'Oreal labelling their products vegan? Do you think L'Oreal will ever pull out of the Chinese market?

Much love,

Ellie x

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