Updated on June 12, 2023

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

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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.

The good news is 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 its 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.

Examples 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 some of the most popular animal-testing parent companies and some of the ‘cruelty-free’ brands they own.

Estee Lauder Companies Inc. is NOT cruelty-free, but they own Aveda, Smashbox, The Ordinary, and Too Faced Cosmetics.

Unilever is NOT cruelty-free, and they also own Dermalogica, Hourglass, Living Proof, Murad, Paula’s Choice, REN, Schmidt’s, SheaMoisture, St. Ives, and Tatcha.

L’Oreal is NOT cruelty-free, but they own Garnier, IT Cosmetics, NYX, Pureology, Urban Decay, and Youth To The People.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is NOT cruelty-free, and they also own Farmacy, Native, and OUAI.

Kendo is a cruelty-free division of LVMH consisting of several cruelty-free brands like Fenty Beauty, KVD Beauty, Marc Jacobs Beauty, and Ole Henriksen, but LVMH is NOT a cruelty-free corporation.

See here for a complete list of who owns what. (Only available to Ko-Fi supporters)

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 cruelty-free consumers choose to support or boycott 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 the 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 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.

If these large corporations see that their cruelty-free subsidiary brands are doing financially well, they might be inclined to market more cruelty-free products and 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 owned 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 somewhat 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 become 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 from another that consents and pays to have their products or ingredients tested on animals. 

We’re always encouraging caring consumers to do their best 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 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 payday.

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 your beliefs. 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.

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What do you think

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

  1. Cruelty-free products are better since they tend to be healthier, with lesser chemicals than regular products and are 100% vegan as well. It also helps you save animals, protect our planet, and be kinder to your skin by using a product that is more natural, gentle, and better for you.

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