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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? 

35 Responses
  • 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.

  • Summer
    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! (:

    • Vicky Ly
      August 19, 2016

      Heya Summer!!

      I’m so so SO happy to hear that you enjoyed this post! Especially to hear that from a cruelty-free blogger too! =) BTW, I am obsessed with your blog now! Such an amazing resource for finding cruelty-free beauty reviews!! Keep it up, girl!

      I know exactly what you mean! I was a little afraid that this post was going to attract a thread of comments where people were just going to bash on each other and shove their opinions down each other’s throats. But what I’m learning is that we’ve all experienced the same hateful comments elsewhere on social media and people who are probably reading this post wanted to find more clarity on this touchy subject.

      It’s great to see all of us support one another instead of fighting against each other! =)

      I’m in the same boat as you right now.. I choose NOT to support brands that are owned by a parent company that tests on animals so that includes both Tarte and NARS. If you asked me this a year ago.. my answer would have been very different. But I personally feel like there are so many other amazing cruelty-free brands to choose from and since I’m a little more comfortable with shopping only cruelty-free, it makes it easier for me to find alternatives to brands like Tarte, NARS, Urban Decay, or NYX!

      Ultimately, I think it’s important to just do what we feel is comfortable and no knows you better than yourself! So to everyone else out there… just do YOU!

      p.s. I heard Jordana’s liquid lipsticks are equally amazing as NYX! and also
      Physicians Formula has some of the best bronzers!! =)

  • Margaret
    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.

  • Cassidy Taylor-Memmory
    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
    http://www.theglamgreengirl.com

    • Vicky Ly
      March 24, 2016

      Aww, thanks Cassidy! I’m glad you liked it =) I’m looking forward to reading your post.. I love hearing from different perspectives about this hot topic!

  • 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.

    • Vicky Ly
      March 19, 2016

      Hey Taylor! Glad you asked that because a lot of people who are starting their cruelty-free journey get confused and overwhelmed with China’s animal testing requirements and what that means for products sold elsewhere.

      A company’s animal testing policy unfortunately isn’t just a yes or no answer since animal testing can happen at different stages of product development and by different companies or labs.

      For example, companies claim that their finished products are not tested on animals. However the individual ingredients may have been tested on animals. Also, some companies say “WE” don’t test on animals but may hire OTHERS to do it for them and in the case in which MAC sells in China.. the Chinese local authorities does the testing for them but MAC has to pay for this and they are well aware that this has to happen in order for them to sell in their country.

      So when finding products that are free of animal testing.. you want to make sure that the company in which you are buying from.. does not support, condone, or hire third parties to test their products and ingredients on animals during ALL stages of production.

      We gotta consider what goes on BEYOND just the finished product that we take home with us from the store… and making sure that the company we give our hard earned money to cares about animals enough to guarantee absolutely no animals were harmed in the making of the product.

      To bring it all back to MAC in your example… sadly they’ve chosen to sell their products in China and consequently agree to have their products tested on animals. Many companies refuse to sell in China until these laws change and I commend those brands because they are living up to their word of caring about animals and are truly against animal testing, and in my opinion, those are the companies I’d like to buy from! =)

  • 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 .

    • Vicky Ly
      February 24, 2016

      That’s an interesting point you bring up, Mel! But before I share my opinion on the matter, I think it’s important to say that there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to making ethical choices. It’s more about doing what you can with what you have and where you want to dedicate most of your efforts toward.

      I’m vegan and I buy all of my groceries at a store that also sells meat, eggs, milk, and all sorts of non-vegan items and to be honest, if a 100% vegan grocery store opened up in my city. I would still probably get my weekly groceries at my regular store but will make an effort to shop at the 100% vegan store whenever I can.

      I also dine at non-vegan restaurants but will make sure my order is 100% vegan to my standards. There are a ton of vegan restaurants in my city but I don’t exclusively just eat at those ones but I do whenever I can.

      My own personal goal is to live a life that hurts as few animals as possible. I am saving a lot of animals from pain and suffering by choosing vegan foods at the store regardless of where I get it from.

      It definitely would be nice to have my money support a 100% vegan grocery store that is owned by vegans but focusing my energy on these little details really isn’t saving that much more animals at the end of the day.

      So in my opinion, I don’t let myself get too consumed over where I am buying my vegan products from unless the company as a whole does or says something that is offensive. For example, there was that one restaurant in Dublin, Ireland that posted a series of comments on their Facebook page bashing and hating on vegans. So in that case, I will make sure to never set foot in that restaurant when visiting Dublin!

      • 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 🙂

        • Jennifer Drake
          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.

  • Kady
    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!

    • Vicky Ly
      February 4, 2016

      Hey Kady! Thank you so much, that means so much to me! I just checked our your blog and I also love what you’re doing with it!! It’s such a great resource for vegan makeup =)

  • Vivi
    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?

    • Vicky Ly
      January 7, 2016

      You bring up a great point, Chantel =) and it’s true that some companies feel that they can help change things by working on the inside. L’Occitane is another great example of a brand that feels they can help influence change by selling their products in China and thereby working closely with key decision makers and hopefully help put an end to their animal testing requirements. L’Occitane actually has the support from Humane Society International, one of the largest animal rights organization.

      My personal opinion on this matter is that I think other means can be done to help end animal testing and if a company chooses to sell in China and therefore must have their products tested on animals, but AT THE SAME TIME, saying they’re totally against it and care deeply about animals is completely hypocritical.

      It’s almost like saying I want to help raise awareness about how smoking is associated with lung cancer by smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day. And while I’m out there smoking, I will educate and inform other people about the dangers of smoking and lung cancer.

      It’s definitely a unique approach but not one that I would support likewise with L’Oreal and L’Occitane. I feel that there are better means to bring about change without having to sell their products in China. Also, it’s pretty tough to trust who is ACTUALLY working for change because I’ve heard from so many companies saying the same thing but when I asked for specifics about what they are doing, none of them got back to me. So, I’d be careful about what companies are saying because honestly, they’re just trying to sell us their products.

  • 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 🙂

    • Vicky Ly
      December 8, 2015

      Hey Sophie! Thanks so much for reading =)

      I know what you mean, especially when you have your own blog and other people tend to get very vocal about this topic in the comment section. I like your perspective on the issue and I’m with you on how we just need to support one another and the brands that are doing their part on fighting animal testing for cosmetics! =)

  • Amber
    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 🙂

    Amber
    amberbutbetter.blogspot.com

  • Suzi
    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! 🙂

    • Vicky Ly
      May 17, 2015

      I feel ya, Suzi! It’s such a touchy subject because we should all be allowed to have our own opinions about the issue and also decide on our own if we want to buy from these brands or not. And it’s heartbreaking when I read comments from people who are attacking or “shaming” others for wanting to buy these ‘cruelty free’ brands. We should be happy and show some words of encouragement to one another for even knowing what cruelty-free means!

      You made such a fantastic point about “businesses operates outside of ethics” and how even independent companies dream to be acquired from a huge company even if its L’Oreal or Estee Lauder!

      It’s like if you make and sell your own organic and cruelty free skincare products and Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew, or Neiman Marcus wants to carry your products but only on an exclusive basis. You’re going to take that opportunity without any hesitation even though they may sell fur, leather, and all sorts of other capitalist crap you don’t personally buy into. It’s strictly a business decision.

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