Clinique (Estee Lauder)

Last Updated: February 25, 2024

How Ethical Is Clinique (Estee Lauder)?

Make a positive impact by supporting companies with the same values and ethics as what matters most to you. To navigate and find ethical brands, here’s a summary of Clinique’s ethics and initiatives.

Ethical Analysis

Is Clinique cruelty-free or vegan? We’ve got the answers here! Read below for more details on Clinique’s policies.
Clinique is NOT Cruelty-Free. Clinique engages in animal testing by allowing its products to be animal-tested.

Clinique is also owned by Estee Lauder, a parent corporation that does engage in animal testing.
Yes, Clinique sells its products in stores in mainland China under conditions where animal testing is still legally required.
Clinique claims to offer one or more items that are “vegan” but since we do not consider Clinique to be cruelty-free as their products are tested on animals when required by law, we also wouldn’t consider anything sold or manufactured by Clinique to be vegan.

Clinique (Estee Lauder)

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Is Clinique Cruelty-Free?

☠️ Clinique is NOT cruelty-free in 2023. Clinique allows its products to be tested on animals when required by law, including when selling in stores in mainland China.

Clinique’s Animal Testing Policy

When asking, does Clinique test on animals? We must look beyond to ensure none of Clinique’s ingredients or suppliers test on animals. And they don’t sell in any country or under conditions that may require animal testing by law.

To assess whether brands are cruelty-free, I always start with the company’s official animal testing policy on their website.

On Clinique’s website, they claim they do not conduct animal testing except when required by law and that they are committed to bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which they’re sold.

See below for a screenshot of what’s currently stated on Clinique’s website:

Is Clinique Cruelty-Free?
Clinique’s Animal Testing Statement

Policies stating, “unless required by law,” usually imply the company distributes its products in countries that require animal testing, like mainland China.

Is Clinique Sold in China?

In my research, I discovered that Clinique products are indeed sold in stores in mainland China.

Below is a screenshot of Clinique’s store locator showing results in mainland China:

Clinique Sold in China; Cannot Be Cruelty-Free
Proof of Clinique selling in mainland China where animal testing is required by law
Clinique sold in stores in China, required to test on animals
Clinique sold in China

But Doesn’t China No Longer Test on Animals?

With the recent changes to China’s animal testing laws, cosmetic companies can now export and sell some of their cosmetics in China without animal testing only if they meet ALL of the following preconditions first.

  • ONLY sell ‘general’ cosmetics (like makeup, skincare, haircare, nail polish, and perfumes)
  • must NOT sell any ‘special’ cosmetics like sunscreens, hair dye, hair perming, or other cosmetics claiming new efficacy
  • must NOT sell products designed for infants or children
  • must NOT sell products that contain a ‘New Cosmetic Ingredient’
  • AND if post-market testing is required, then the company must have a policy in place where it will RECALL its products rather than allow its products to be tested on animals

Also, products must meet ONE of the following in order to avoid animal testing in China:

  • manufactured in China, or the final assembly is in China
  • if manufactured outside of China and then exported to China, companies must obtain the proper product safety certificates and documents

However, it’s not stated anywhere that Clinique has taken any steps to meet the above preconditions in order to avoid animal testing while selling in China.

Follow the highlighted lines in the graphic below to see why most cosmetics sold in China (like Clinique) are still required by law to be tested on animals in 2023.

Because Clinique has decided to sell in mainland China stores, they must consent and pay to have their products tested on animals. That’s why most cosmetics brands selling in mainland China cannot be considered cruelty-free in 2023.

Although Clinique may not be conducting these animal tests themselves, they knowingly allow Chinese authorities to test their products on animals in order to sell in China.

For those reasons, we would not consider Clinique to be cruelty-free by our standards.

☕️ Every week, I continue to reach out to new brands while trying my best to keep current brands updated. If you found any of my posts or guides helpful, consider Buying Me A Coffee! I would greatly appreciate it! ❤️

Cruelty-Free Policies

Many truly cruelty-free brands have chosen not to sell their products in China under conditions where animal tests may be required. Unfortunately, Clinique refuses to do the same and therefore cannot be considered cruelty-free.

At ethical elephant, we always assess a company’s cruelty-free policy using our Cruelty-Free Checklist. This ensures no animal testing was performed by the brand itself, its suppliers, or by any third parties, including when required by law.

See below for our complete cruelty-free checklist. Since Clinique already does not meet the last two, we cannot classify the brand as being cruelty-free.

Complete Cruelty-Free Checklist

Is Clinique Certified Cruelty-Free?

Clinique is not certified cruelty-free by any third-party cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny or PETA.

Since Clinique is not certified cruelty-free by a third party, no one is substantiating or auditing Clinique’s cruelty-free commitments and claims.

Is Clinique Owned By A Non-Cruelty-Free Parent Company?

Yes. Clinique is owned by Estee Lauder, parent corporation that still engages in animal testing in 2023.

Some cruelty-free consumers may choose to purchase and support cruelty-free brands owned by animal-tested parent corporations as they hope it will convince the parent company to become cruelty-free.

But in this case, Clinique is NOT cruelty-free, and neither is its parent corporation, Estee Lauder.

Does Clinique Test on Animals?

To wrap up, Clinique allows its products to be tested on animals when required by law, like when selling in China. Therefore, we would NOT consider Clinique to be a cruelty-free brand.

Currently, Clinique is on our List of Brands to Avoid – Animal Tested.

Is Clinique Vegan?

Clinique is NOT vegan. Clinique claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but Clinique engages in animal testing in some capacity, so we wouldn’t consider any Clinique products vegan at this time.

In order for products to be considered vegan by ethical elephant’s standards, the products and their ingredients must not be tested on animals anywhere in the world. Also, they must not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.

I also noticed Sephora listing some of Clinique products in their “Vegan Skincare” category but note that Clinique is NOT cruelty-free. Clinique products are tested on animals.

I’m assuming Sephora is labeling products as “vegan” when they’re formulated without any animal ingredients or by-products. But “Vegan” Cosmetics should also consider whether the products or its ingredients were tested on animals, anywhere in the world.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives to Clinique:

Looking to switch to cruelty-free brands? Here are some cruelty-free options that are similar to Clinique:

Many of you have been asking for a cruelty-free alternative to Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm and I would recommend Farmacy’s Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm (it’s also vegan!).

Cruelty-Free Swap Clinique Cleansing Balm
Swap Clinique for Farmacy

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What do you think

8 thoughts on “Clinique (Estee Lauder)”

  1. Dorothea Swint

    I have stopped buying Clinique,because of China’s testing.Too often,money or profits win over,ethics and animal protection!

  2. I have been duped by companies such as Clinique and Mac into believing they do not test on animals, but no longer thanks to your research and information.

  3. I need an alternative to Clinique’s mild cleansing soap since I have very sensitive skin and have used it for years. I am willing to try something else if it is cruelty free. Thanks!

  4. thanks for the research! I wanted to buy a sunscreen from them but now I won’t. I read (I think a post by PETA) saying that china stoped the obligatory testing on animals in (I think) march 2021. Do you know anything about that? Does that mean that Clinique will become cruilty free, or are there other countries which insist on testing, in which they sell their products?
    PS if anyone has an idea for good suncreen for the face which is very light and vegan please let me know. Thanks!

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