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Is Weleda Cruelty-Free? Animal Testing Policy Explained

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Are Weleda products cruelty-free?

Trying to figure out whether a brand is cruelty-free is not always easy and Weleda’s animal testing policy is definitely not an easy one to crack!

When you read Weleda’s animal testing policy, it all sounds peachy and clear that the company is against animal testing. However there have been rumours of Weleda selling their products in mainland China where animal testing is required by law. The response I got from Weleda addressing the sale of their products in China is unlike anything I’ve heard before.

Short Version: Yes, Weleda products are sold in mainland China. Are they cruelty-free? It’s a matter of your own personal judgement.

But here are the facts.

Weleda’s Animal Testing Policy (US Website)

On Weleda’s US website, it states how “Weleda currently does not carry out any animal testing in the manufacture, development or quality control of its natural and organic cosmetics, nor does it commission such testing. The company is fundamentally opposed to the use of animal testing”

In their US policy, it doesn’t say anything about selling in other countries or whether or not they sell in countries that may require animal testing, I’m specifically looking for answers about selling in mainland China.

Weleda's Animal Testing Policy Taken from their US Website

Weleda Animal Testing Policy via usaweleda.com


Weleda’s Animal Testing Policy (2015)

To address the rumours about Weleda selling in mainland China, I reached out to them and they responded with a statement confirming YES, some of Weleda products are sold in mainland China through an online shop and in regular shops. 

Here is a snippet of their statement which was dated on May 22nd, 2015:

In Mainland China, cosmetics sold online through shops located within free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo and Tianjin do not require registration involving animal tests, and the same applies to cosmetics delivered from Hong Kong. For this reason, Weleda is able to sell an assortment of its natural and organic cosmetics through a Chinese partner and a local online shop without compromising its position in regard to animal testing. Our local partner also runs the website www.weleda.com.cn.

In addition, there are still cosmetics for which registration involving animal tests is not required for sale in regular shops outside these zones, such as soaps and dental care products. Weleda sells a small assortment of these products through its local partner.

As of today, some of Weleda products are still available for sale in mainland China and those products include:

  • Calendula Toothpaste
  • Children’s Toothgel
  • Plant Toothgel
  • Ratanhia Toothpaste
  • Ratanhia Mouthwash
  • Salt Toothpaste
  • Calendula Soap
  • Iris Soap
  • Rose Soap
  • Rosemary Soap

So… Is Weleda Cruelty-Free or Not?

What we know for sure is that some of Weleda products are sold in mainland China and the company claims that none of these products are required by law to be tested on animals, as per Chinese laws.

However, this article says otherwise and states “a company cannot provide a 100% assurance of no new animal testing for the Chinese market. New animal testing can still be required or undertaken for new ingredient notification, and/or post-market surveillance by provincial [Food and Drug Administrations] or related authorities, who will conduct sampling inspection including animal testing randomly, no matter [whether] the submitted data is animal test reports or safety assessment reports.”

What does that mean for the “small assortment” of Weleda products that are sold in mainland China? According to the statement above, those products can still be required to be tested on animals and often done without the company’s knowledge. The fact that authorities can just randomly pick a product off the store shelf and test it on animals, without even telling the company is beyond shady to me.

Can we believe Weleda?

Here is what worries me about Weleda.

Weleda is not certified cruelty-free by a third party (like Leaping Bunny or PETA), so there is no one else looking into or substantiating their anti-animal testing claims.

Therefore, the answer of whether or not Weleda is cruelty-free really boils down to your personal judgement and if you personally want to take Weleda’s word and believe what they’re saying is true.

Maybe the fact that they are not certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny or PETA is suspicious to you and that is enough of a reason to not buy from them. Or maybe you appreciate their honesty and really do believe that they are doing everything in their power to making sure none of their products that are sold in China are tested on animals.

The Truth

The only people who know the truth on whether or not the small assortment of Weleda products that are sold in mainland China are tested on animals or not –are the Chinese authorities who are administering such tests. Sadly, I’m pretty sure they’re not available for comment.

So what do you think? Do you trust and believe that the small number of products Weleda is selling in mainland China are not required to be tested on animals?

Modifications of Photo by Maria Morri used under CC BY-SA 2.0

12 Responses
  • Viv
    September 5, 2017

    I hastily bought a Weleda product (in a small box so I couldn’t see the print clearly), thinking that their products were both vegan and cruelty free. Later, when I looked more closely, I saw that it had beeswax. I looked at their website, and they don’t mention animal testing or welfare at all. I certainly won’t buy their products again, and will make sure I see one of the cruelty-free logos before I choose an item again. Thanks for the informative article btw.

  • mevis
    June 18, 2017

    Hi, they are selling more than just soaps and dental care products. Can someone explain?

    Go to http://www.weleda.com/ and choose China, you will be directed to https://weleda.tmall.hk/
    and you will see they are selling face cream too. ( https://detail.tmall.hk/hk/item.htm?spm=a1z10.1-b-s.w5003-14449424119.41.EPjICz&id=43866312532&scene=taobao_shop&skuId=96186780046)

  • Helen Warner
    May 16, 2017

    China stopped the requirement of animal testing on toothpaste & soap in June 2014, this is fact and can be found on several ethical websites and cosmetic sites that do not test on animals. I don’t think any company should be held accountable for Chinese authorities pulling products off the shelf to test on animals. If this is going to be a Chinese policy then fair enough but if this argument is to be used then any random (sick) individual could do this themselves in any country. I feel it is important to at least try to support the companies that are trying to bring around change in China. L’Occitane ship to China, their products are not tested by them but by independent Chinese laboratories. This effectively allows them to wash their hands of the problem but when you consider they were instrumental in bringing about the change in testing for toothpaste/soap then I think a little understanding goes a long way. China is going to be a tough nut to crack and it’s not going to happen over night. However I do believe that western companies changing things within China is the only way things will improve. Having said that I will only buy leaping bunny products but I do think these companies should be applauded for there determination to change the situation and not berated for being there in the first place. You already show your disapproval by not buying their products.

  • Kayleigh Diggle
    May 5, 2017

    Brilliant response from the lady working for Weleda.. This article is crazy, to do so much research and not come across the fact Weleda are certified
    y NATRUE. Doh!

  • Frédéric Anklin
    April 27, 2017

    Hi Vicky,

    I work at Weleda in Switzerland and I just came across your article. I’m really sorry if our comments on this topic have come across as being vague. That hasn’t been our intention at all. I can assure you that we do our utmost to make sure that the products that we sell in China do not risk being tested on animals.

    Please allow me to clarify:

    First of all, there is no reason to believe that our soaps and dental care products would be subject to after-market testing in shops, since they are in no way classified as products (such as cosmetics) for which animal testing is seen as necessary by the Chinese authorities. We know that these products are not subject to testing based on our local contacts, and this has also been confirmed to us by a representative of Humane Society International working in China, as well as the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, which collaborates with PETA. We follow regulatory developments in China closely, and we react immediately to any developments. If the current situation should change, any affected products would immediately be withdrawn from the Mainland Chinese market.

    Our presence in China has always been small, but we do think that it is worth being there if it means that we can spread awareness of the benefits of natural cosmetics, and meet the needs of Chinese consumers for this type of product. We would not be selling any product in China if we had reason to believe that animals would be hurt because of this.

    As for third-party certification, please allow me to point out that we are a European company. Our headquarters are based in Arlesheim, Switzerland, and all of our cosmetics are produced in Europe. Animal testing on cosmetics and their ingredients has been banned in the EU since 2013. Our company’s history goes back to 1921, and we have always had a policy of no animal testing on our cosmetics. Weleda is in fact a pioneer of the natural approach to cosmetics.
    For all of these reasons, it is true that we have been slow to consider adopting the kind of certification that would be well known outside of Europe, such as Leaping Bunny, which we do regret. However, we are currently certified by NATRUE, one of the strictest labels for natural and organic cosmetics. Admittedly, it is perhaps still not very well known outside of Europe. NATRUE does not permit animal testing on its cosmetics, and also has a policy against animal testing in China.

    I hope that I’ve been able to answer your questions – if you have any more, please let me know. This is a topic we take very seriously.

    • Hana
      August 17, 2017

      Thanks for this information. However, I can’t seem to find information on NATRUE.ORG regarding their policies on animal testing. I have contacted them for further information. As a consumer I am disinclined, no matter how sincere a company’s statement may be, to simply trust what is stated without a reputable third party verification. Weleda seems to have outstanding products. Sadly, as a non EU consumer, I am not confident in continuing the use of Weleda products based on the information you’ve provided. Would you happen to have links to NATRUE’s requirements regarding animal testing?

  • Paul
    January 11, 2017

    Can anyone confirm this yet?
    Although I’m not a vegan myself, my partner is, and I do my upmost to buy products that are truly cruelty-free.
    Weleda’s vague statements don’t clarify anything and will potentially fool customers. That, to me, is not what a respectable company should do.
    Until I know otherwise I won’t be buying their products.

  • Susie Fairgrieve
    December 9, 2016

    If you research it fully you will find out that in China toothpastes and soaps are not categorised as ‘cosmetics’ so they are exempt from the animal testing requirements.

    • Vicky Ly
      December 9, 2016

      What concerns me is the issue of post-market surveillance testing and how the Chinese authorities can just take any product off the shelf and test it on animals without telling or asking the company. And I can imagine this is quite difficult to monitor when selling your products in a foreign country.

      I think it would give us all a peace of mind if there was a third party, like Leaping Bunny, verifying and looking into Weleda’s animal testing claims. I heard they were looking into becoming certified CF soon…so until then, I’m personally just a bit wary of simply taking their word for now!

      I really do hope they get certified cruelty-free sooner rather than later! =)

  • Raquel
    November 12, 2016

    They sound like they’re just trying to give “the right answer.” Was going to buy their deodorant because the ingredients look clean, but I’m gonna pass on them. No animal’s life is worth my armpit comfort.

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