Updated on January 11, 2022

Buy or Boycott? Cruelty-Free Brands Owned by Parent Companies That Test on Animals

This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

Did you know some cruelty-free brands are owned by a parent company that tests on animals?

As soon as cruelty-free consumers are made aware of this, they aren’t sure whether they should continue to support and buy from these brands or not.

In this post, I share some of the most common reasons why cruelty-free consumers may choose to support or boycott these cruelty-free brands that are owned by non-cruelty-free parent companies. Hopefully this will give you some insight to consider when deciding for yourself if you should support or boycott these brands.

Non-Cruelty-Free Corporations Acquiring Cruelty-Free Brands

Throughout the years, multinational consumer goods & cosmetics companies like Unilever, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Procter & Gamble (P&G) have acquired and bought several cruelty-free brands.

These corporations admit to allowing their products, ingredients, or formulations to be tested on animals and they also own other brands that test on animals.

So when these parent companies acquire a cruelty-free brand, that brand’s cruelty-free status is called into question on whether they’ll remain cruelty-free or if the parent company will influence them to no longer be cruelty-free.

For the most part, many cruelty-free brands have remained to operate and stay cruelty-free after being acquired by a non-cruelty-free parent company.

The only exception was NARS after being acquired by Shiseido. The formerly cruelty-free brand decided to start selling in China where all imported cosmetics are required by law to be tested on animals. As a result, NARS lost their cruelty-free status.

But now that these cruelty-free brands are owned by a parent company that does tests on animals, many cruelty-free consumers aren’t sure whether they want to continue to support and buy from them or not.

List of Cruelty-Free Brands Owned By Parent Companies Test on Animals

To give you an idea of who owns what, here is a list of cruelty-free brands owned by non-cruelty-free parent companies:

  • Aveda – *owned by Estee Lauder
  • Awake Beauty – *owned by Kose
  • bareMinerals – *owned by Shiseido
  • Bite Beauty – *owned by Kendo, LVMH
  • Botanics – *owned by Walgreens (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Buxom – *owned by Shiseido
  • CoverGirl – *owned by Coty (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Dermablend – *owned by L’Oreal
  • Dermalogica – *owned by Unilever (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • DevaCurl – *owned by Henkel (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Drunk Elephant – *owned by Shiseido (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Garnier – *owned by L’Oreal (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Hello Products – *owned by Colgate (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Hourglass – *owned by Unilever
  • Kate Somerville – *owned by Unilever
  • KVD Beauty – *owned by Kendo, LVMH
  • Kylie Cosmetics – *owned by Coty
  • Living Proof – *owned by Unilever
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty – *owned by Kendo, LVMH
  • Method – *owned by SC Johnson
  • Molton Brown – *owned by Kao
  • Mrs. Meyers Clean Day – *owned by SC Johnson (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Murad – *owned by Unilever
  • Native – *owned by P&G
  • NYX Cosmetics – *owned by L’Oreal
  • Oars + Alps – *owned by SC Johnson
  • Ole Henriksen – *owned by Kendo, LVMH
  • Oribe – *owned by Kao
  • Pureology – *owned by L’Oreal
  • REN – *owned by Unilever
  • Schmidt’s – *owned by Unilever (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Seed Phytonutrients – *owned by L’Oreal
  • Seventh Generation – *owned by Unilever (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • SheaMoisture – *owned by Unilever
  • Smashbox – *owned by Estee Lauder
  • St. Ives – *owned by Unilever
  • Tarte – *owned by Kose
  • Tatcha – *owned by Unilever
  • The Ordinary – *owned by Estee Lauder
  • Tom’s of Maine – *owned by Colgate
  • Too Faced – *owned by Estee Lauder
  • Urban Decay – *owned by L’Oreal

Now that you have a better understanding of which cruelty-free brands are owned by a parent company that tests on animals, here are some of the common reasons that I’ve heard from cruelty-free consumers for supporting or boycotting these brands.

Reasons for Supporting

1. They’re still cruelty-free!

You’ll be happy to hear that after being acquired, many cruelty-free brands stay cruelty-free. Many are committed to never allowing their products or ingredients to be tested on animals while maintaining their no animal testing policies.

Companies that are truly committed to staying and being a cruelty-free brand ensure this is part of the stipulations before signing their company over.

This was especially the case for cruelty-free skincare brand, Drunk Elephant.

During the announcement of Shiseido acquiring Drunk Elephant, the founder, Tiffany Masterson explained “we’ll remain cruelty-free. I wouldn’t have signed on for this unless both parties could agree. Fortunately, we wanted the same things; we share like values.”

In addition, some brands have even maintained their cruelty-free certification with Leaping Bunny even after being bought out by a non-cruelty-free parent company. These certified cruelty-free brands must continue to meet Leaping Bunny’s standards and are required to show proof of documents that they don’t test on animals anywhere in their supply chain, even after being acquired.

Leaping Bunny certifies cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that does test on animals but explains, “Leaping Bunny certified companies that were purchased by non-certified parent companies 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 our list.“

Some of these Leaping Bunny-certified brands include Drunk Elephant, Dermalogica, Hello Products, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Schmidt’s, Garnier, and Seventh Generation.

2. Sends a message to the parent company!

Some consumers believe that if we continue to buy from these cruelty-free brands then it will hopefully send a message to their parent company that there is money to be made in owning and operating a cruelty-free brand.

Large corporations speak one language, and that’s the language of MONEY. So if corporations see that their cruelty-free subsidiary brands are doing financially well, then they might be inclined to market more cruelty-free products, brands, and maybe just go completely 100% cruelty-free across the board. 

We’ve seen this happen with a few of Unilever’s subsidiary brands. Unilever is a corporation that admits to testing on animals when required by law but they have acquired and own a number of cruelty-free brands throughout the years like Dermalogica, Hourglass, REN Skincare, Schmidt’s, and Seventh Generation. Since then, we’ve seen more Unilever brands claiming to be cruelty-free and are PETA-certified cruelty-free including St. Ives, Dove, and Simple. 

This is similar to vegans buying their groceries at retail stores that also sell meat and dairy products or ordering vegan food at restaurants that are not 100% vegan.

If enough of us continue to buy vegan food products and order vegan dishes off the menu at these non-vegan establishments, we hope the business owners will see a rising demand for vegan options and as a result, offer more and more vegan products and maybe eventually becoming 100% vegan.

Note that companies won’t know you’re supporting them because of their cruelty-free values unless you tell them, so send them an email, slide into their DMs, or leave a comment telling them you’re happy they’re cruelty-free and hope their parent corporation will follow suit.

3. Limited Cruelty-Free Options

Cruelty-free consumers in some parts of the world don’t have access to the wide selection of cruelty-free and vegan brands to choose from.

As a result, their local stores may only stock a range of cruelty-free products and brands that are owned by a parent company that tests on animals. 

It’s better we buy from one of these cruelty-free brands than buying from another brand that consents and pays to have their products or ingredients tested on animals. 

We’re always encouraging caring consumers to do the best they can with what they have. If the best they can do is buy from these cruelty-free brands then that’s far better than buying from a brand that admits to testing on animals or doing nothing at all.

Reasons for Boycotting

1. Our money is financially supporting the parent company! 

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

Some cruelty-free customers have shared their personal shopping experience of how they bought something from NYX Cosmetics and noticed on their bank statements, it said the transaction was to L’Oreal.

Cruelty-free consumers want to make sure they’re supporting and buying from ethical companies but it can be hard to separate subsidiary brands from their parent companies when they appear to operate under one umbrella. 

2. We are indirectly funding animal testing! 

Some people feel when we buy from any one of a corporation’s subsidiary brands, that the money from our purchases will get funneled back to the parent corporation, and then we don’t know where or how that money is being spent by the parent company.

And if the parent company tests on animals, that implies our purchases from one of their cruelty-free brands are indirectly funding more animal tests commissioned by the parent company.

3. Support more independent cruelty-free brands!

Some of these cosmetic corporations have large amounts of resources and marketing budgets and they’ll manage to do just fine with or without our support. 

So instead, we should really buy from independent cruelty-free brands that need our continued support to stay and strive in business.

4. They’re sell-outs!

Some believe these brands are sell-outs because they sold their company to a corporation that goes against their values and ethics in exchange for a big pay day.

Some have expressed that if these brands did truly care about animals and being cruelty-free, then they wouldn’t have sold their company to a non-cruelty-free parent corporation.

And by doing so, we shouldn’t continue to support these brands and hopefully, it will also discourage other cruelty-free brands from selling out too. 

Ultimately, It’s Your Decision

We want to encourage you to make your own decision on 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, know that it’s okay if you change your mind as you continue on your cruelty-free journey. We’re all just learning and trying our best here.

Kindly Share
the Good Vibes

Inspire others to make a positive change by sharing this resource on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Email.

Share /

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

What do you think

35 thoughts on “Buy or Boycott? Cruelty-Free Brands Owned by Parent Companies That Test on Animals”

  1. For me, it’s the same to buy a non cruelty-free product, like you are giving money to them and you’re supporting that company! I don’t support this, it’s bad. Sadly Estee Laurer and L’oreal have a LOT of brands under them. This make buying so difficult

  2. Definitely feel that if we purchase products from a cruelty-free company that the money does go to the parent company and is supporting animal testing.
    Definitely BOYCOTT.

  3. Lovely article. This is something I struggled with myself but for the last few years I’ve had two feet firmly in the ‘don’t support them camp.’

    I think, sadly a lot of consumers don’t know these companies are owned by animal-testing parent companies and would be horrified to find out. I find it so hurtful and it makes me so angry when a brand I’ve supported for years (REN) sells out but continues to preach ethical credentials. It’s like they’re tricking the consumer. And the lady from Ethical Elephant saying she’d not have sold if she couldn’t retain her cruelty free status.’ She’s completely turned her back on her ‘ethical’ credentials and she knows that. She’s insulting consumers further with PR spin.

    I also think investment in these cruelty free brands, by the parent company, and allowong them to continue operating cruelty free, is purely because the parent companies can then get money from eithical and non-ethical consumers. It’s simply more market share. They’re not looking to change, which is deeply sad. It’s 2022 how is anyone still testing on animals! It shouldn’t be a brand or consumer choice, it should be illegal.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *