EltaMD (Colgate-Palmolive)

Last Updated: January 16, 2023

How Ethical Is EltaMD (Colgate-Palmolive)?

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 EltaMD’s ethics and initiatives.

Ethical Analysis

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

EltaMD is also owned by Colgate-Palmolive, a parent corporation that does engage in animal testing.
Yes, EltaMD sells its products in stores in mainland China under conditions where animal testing is still legally required.
EltaMD claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but because EltaMD engages in animal testing, we wouldn’t classify anything sold or produced by EltaMD to be vegan.

EltaMD (Colgate-Palmolive)

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Is EltaMD Cruelty-Free?

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

EltaMD’s Animal Testing Policy

When asking, does EltaMD test on animals? We must look beyond to ensure none of EltaMD’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 EltaMD’s website, they claim they do not conduct animal testing, however, “in rare instances, local regulation may require animal tests on our products at a contract facility that meets government standards and requirements.

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

Policies stating, “local regulation may require animal tests on our products,” usually imply the company distributes its products in countries that require animal testing, like mainland China.

Is EltaMD Sold in China?

According to this article from ChemLinked, EltaMD entered the Chinese market more than four years ago.

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, EltaMD sells sunscreens which are considered ‘special’ cosmetics in China and therefore, EltaMD is not exempt from animal testing while selling in China.

Follow the highlighted lines in the graphic below to see why EltaMD is still required by law to be tested on animals in 2023.

Because EltaMD 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 EltaMD 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 EltaMD to be cruelty-free by our standards.

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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, EltaMD 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 Company already does not meet the last two, we cannot classify the brand as being cruelty-free.

Complete Cruelty-Free Checklist

Is EltaMD Certified Cruelty-Free?

Sometime in 2021, EltaMD used to be PETA-Certified cruelty-free and was listed in PETA’s cruelty-free directory as “This company does NOT test on animals.”

Then, in 2022, EltaMD was on PETA’s blacklist and was labeled as “Warning! This company DOES test on animals.”

Now, in 2023, EltaMD is delisted from PETA’s directory and shows up as “there is no data for this company.”

See below comparing the screenshots from 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Since PETA doesn’t disclose when or why brands get moved from list to list, I don’t know the reason why EltaMD was considered cruelty-free by PETA at one point, but now they’re not.

At this time, EltaMD is not certified cruelty-free by any third-party cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny or PETA.

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

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

Yes. EltaMD is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, a 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, EltaMD is NOT cruelty-free, and neither is its parent corporation, Colgate-Palmolive.

Does EltaMD Test on Animals?

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

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

Is EltaMD Vegan?

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

See below for a screenshot of a page on their website claiming those products are “vegan”:

Is EltaMD Vegan?

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.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives to EltaMD

Looking to switch to cruelty-free products? Here are some cruelty-free brands to check out:

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