Dilemma: Cruelty Free Brands Owned by a Company that Tests on Animals

This is a hot topic and I’ve been going back and forth on whether I should continue to support cruelty free brands owned by a parent company that does test on animals or to boycott them all together.

My motto is ethical yet practical lifestyle choices. So boycotting all cruelty free brands owned by a company that tests on animals isn’t practical in some instances. For those who live in remote areas and unfortunately don’t have a variety of cruelty free brands to shop from, it’s unreasonable to suggest you don’t buy anything until cruelty free brands become available in your area.

I’d rather encourage you to buy from NYX, Urban Decay, or The Body Shop despite being owned by L’Oreal, than buying from brands that have admitted to testing on animals like Almay, MAC, or Neutrogena.

At the same time, there are so many incredible cruelty free brands that are independently owned that make quality and affordable products. So if given the option- there’s really no need to support brands that are affiliated with a non-cruelty free company.

Before you decide which side you’re on, here are some points to consider for and against supporting cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

Reasons to Buy from These Brands

1. They’re still cruelty-free!

Some of these brands are still deeply committed to their no animal testing policy despite being acquired by a parent company that tests on animals. Some brands have even maintained their cruelty-free certification with Leaping Bunny which means they have to meet a set of standards and show proof of documents that they don’t test on animals anywhere in their supply chain.

In order to be certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, these brands must promise to operate as stand-alone subsidiaries with their own supply chains and must continue to meet the requirements of the Leaping Bunny Standard in order to remain on their list.

2. Sends a message to the parent company!

Some caring consumers believe that if the parent company can see first hand that there is a growing demand for cruelty-free products and that it can be incredibly profitable, then they might want to consider going cruelty-free overall.

3. Still working towards eliminating animal testing!

When it comes down to it, if these cruelty-free brands are telling the truth and not testing their own products and ingredients on animals, then this ultimately means fewer animals are used in labs and for testing. As we mentioned earlier, we’re better off supporting these cruelty free brands than unconsciously buying from other brands that do continue to test on animals.

Reasons to Boycott These Brands

1. Our money is financially supporting the parent company! 

When purchasing from these cruelty free brands, the money from our purchase are essentially going into the pockets of their parent company and financially supporting them.

2. We are indirectly funding animal testing! 

At the end of the day, whichever brand (cruelty-free or not) you purchase from a parent company… the money is all under one big ass umbrella and you have no control over how and where they spend that money, which can go back to funding more animal tests!

3. Support more independent cruelty free brands!

Some of these giant cosmetic brands have ridiculous amount of resources and marketing budgets and they’ll strive with or without our support. Instead, we should really be giving our money to independent cruelty free brands that need our support in order to survive!

4. They’re sell-outs!

Some people believe that these cruelty free brands sold out for a fat paycheck and that if they really do care about animals as they originally claimed, then they shouldn’t have accepted an offer to be bought by a company that is doing something they don’t agree with.

Ultimately, It’s your Decision

We want to encourage you all to make your own decision of whether you want to support these brands or not. Consider which of these points speak to you and are aligned with what you believe in. Also keep in mind that your opinions may change as you grow more comfortable and mindful about being and shopping cruelty free –and that’s okay. We’re all evolving and trying to be a better, kinder person.

I also want to make an incredibly important note here that we need to be more kind and gentle with one another when it comes to people’s personal choices. There is absolutely no need to degrade someone who is consciously trying to make better choices; we’re all entitled to purchase whatever the heck we want so don’t scare people away with discouraging comments or pointing out how they’re making the ‘wrong’ choices. Show compassion and kindness!

Let us know in the comments below if you’re for or against supporting cruelty free brands that tests on animals and why? Did we miss an important point? 

Vicky Ly

I'm Vicky! I've been a vegan for 4 years and want to do my small part in making the world a kinder place. When I'm not on my laptop creating or designing, I enjoy running, vegan chocolate chip cookies + ice cream, and the occasional Simpsons marathon.

  • georgia green
    November 13, 2016

    i love this post a lot! i buy from urban decay and nyx but i feel a bit bad do you think i should change what i buy and not buy from urban decay and nyx and nars?

  • Paulomee Deb
    October 18, 2016

    Hi Vicky,
    Lots of love from India. I love your website. It has changed my POV towards so called branded products. I stay in India and not all products are available in our country. Can you please suggest me some good cruelty free products that I can buy in India. I can’t think of stepping out without a good eye pencil /liner and lipstick. Thanks in advance.

  • August 18, 2016

    Great post Vicky! I wish I saw this earlier. I have definably bought some products to find out parenting companies test. I am a cruelty free blogger and have been looking more into parenting companies recently. I am personally going to cut them off unless the parenting companies become cruelty free or they leave that company. It’s sad because I would love to try NYX liquid lipsticks and I really liked The Body Shop before I knew about the parenting companies. (It’s so sad, I love my brownzer from there!) I really like how you worded it! It’s amazing. Like, it’s really great! (Sorry I am saying like a lot, haha!)

    I someimes find other bloggers can sometimes be harsh and almost judgy if you do support brands with parenting companies. Not all, but some. It kills me to see people hate on others instagram post because they are using brands with parenting companies that test. I strongly dislike hurting peoples feelings and don’t support anyone being mean to anyone so I would never judge someone for using parenting companies or even brands that do test..

    This is honestly a great post! You seem to have an awesome mind set on this!

    What do you think about Tarte being owned by KOSE? Also what do you think about NARS being owned by Shiseido? Do you consider them as cruelty free? Have you done a 2016 Update for brands that are owned by parenting companies? Will you be doing one?

    Great post again, and great blog/website. It’s so nicely done! Hope you have a great day! (:

  • April 11, 2016

    Great points! I prioritize the product being vegan, and work my way from there. I think aiming for progress, not perfection is good for us, and for companies. I only purchase items that don’t contain animal products. As more
    consumers buy only vegan, companies will get the message.

  • March 24, 2016

    Such a great post Vicky! I support brands who are cruelty free even if their parent company is not cruelty free. It’s a grey area and I will be writing about it soon but just wanted to let you know how informative this post was 🙂

    Cassidy xXx

  • Taylor
    March 19, 2016

    This may not be the right area for this question, but I was wondering about companies like MAC who (from what I’ve gathered) do not test on animals except in China unfortunately. So the products I hypothetically buy from them here in Canada where I live would not be tested on animals, right? I guess I’m trying to figure out the ethics behind it all. I am new to finding animal testing free products.

  • Mel
    February 24, 2016

    Do you think it’s wrong to by things like bags for example that are vegan (I’m a vegan ) but that test on animals on products like perfume for ex: Micheal Kors that sells bag shoes etc but test on animals on products like eprfume .Or Victoria secret for ex : they sell s mainly lingeries but also sells perfume etc . Isn’t like going to a store that sells meat and vegan vegeterian stuff ?Do you think it’s wrong ? By the way I buy only cruelty free and vegan products since I am a vegan .Just would like to know other opinions to do the right thing .

      • Mel
        February 25, 2016

        Wow thank you so much for your response I feel so much better now ! And you are so right . I was not sure about what to do in some way and didn’t want to do something contradictory , didn’t know if I could still buy from some brands like Michael Kors if I should buy from a brand 100 % vegan and not tested on animals etc .And that is really helpful just like your blog 🙂

        • August 27, 2016

          Mel I just wanted to throw in the fact that there is a difference between a cosmetics company and a grocery store. Orange juice is not required to be tested on animals to be sold in the shop fridge because an orange is not a chemical ingredient. Cosmetics are different in this regard because it is common practice to test the numerous ingredients before it can be sold so I personally feel that we need to take a different approach to the two different kinds of businesses.

          • Mel
            November 18, 2016

            I understand that .Grocery store and cosmetics are differents. Maybe I wasn’t clear with my question.What I was asking is if I buy for example a vegan bag from a company that also have perfumes (those are tested on animals but I don’t buy them) , Isn’t the same as going to a grocery store and picking some vegan thing ? Is it bad , should I just don’t buy anything from them as a vegan ? I don’t know if you understand what I’m trying to say.

  • February 4, 2016

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it so much, you can really tell how much effort and work you put into each and every post!

  • January 24, 2016

    Hey Vicky,

    This is a very tough subject and I liked that you talk about it with such candour.
    And I think Suzi also described it well before – I don’t believe that even the most well intentioned small company wouldn’t be thrilled to be sold in a Big department store right next to companies that test.
    Which is why I believe that as long as a company stays comitted to its status they’re ok by me.
    Take smashbox for example – they were very anti testing but then got bought by L’Oreal and now have added the “test only when required by law” statement. Now that’s selling out.
    NYX on the other hand have remained committed which is why I continue to buy from them.
    By the way I don’t agree with you on L’Occitane. I stopped using them once I heard and I have been using them for years. Working from the inside is an excuse in my opinion.
    Unfortunately the animal rights community will keep fighting within itself I think. Everyone is doing their part and we all care about the same thing which is why it’s so frustrating. I guess that’s how it is when people are so passionate about a certain subject.

  • Maria
    January 19, 2016

    How can we write to these major companies and ask them to stop testing on animals?

  • Chantel
    January 6, 2016

    When it comes to L’Oreal, they made the commitment to not test on animals unless regulated by the country (I.E. China for products, and US for sunscreen). The tests however are not conducted by L’Oreal themselves. Apparently, they also work with the Chinese regulatory to try and bring about change (as mentioned on their website. Thoughts?

  • sophie
    December 5, 2015

    Hi Vicky really enjoyed your article! 🙂

    i have my own blog and this is something i am quite concerned of bringing up as it is such a devide of opinons. i personally believe that companies like urban decay, nyx,nars and others that ARE cruelty free (even though owned by a parent company that does test on there products) we should support them regardless, as like you said they are still a cruelty free brand and are still fighting against animal testing regardless. i dont think i should turn these make up brands down 🙂

  • October 29, 2015

    This is a great post, I really enjoyed the balanced view and arguments for each side. Often times this subject causes people to get judgemental and harsh.

    I for one, am for supporting cruelty-free brands even if they are owned by larger non-cruelty-free brands. I think that it’s great to show those companies that cruelty-free can be profitable too!

    Thank you again for a great post 🙂


  • May 16, 2015

    Great article, Vicky. I look at it this way: the “business world” is a lot more complex than parent companies and companies they own. All big brands work with a ton of retailers, distributors, and other companies. Walking into Sephora and purchasing from Hourglass but not from Tarte because you “don’t want to finance animal testing” is a bit of an arbitrary line.

    Business is business and an independent brand that claims they wouldn’t sell to L’Oreal if they offered them millions and millions is full of crap. Building a company from scratch and reaching a point where it’s successful enough to be sold is hard work. Think of the people behind the small companies that worked their butts off.

    I keep seeing hate for those that have “realistic” views about this topic, and it pains me. Animal testing is what we’re fighting here. Our goal is for GOVERNMENTS to outlaw the practice, because businesses operate outside of ethics. There shouldn’t be any hate within the cruelty-free community.

    Kinda went off on a tangent here! Good post! 🙂

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