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Kiehl’s is NOT Cruelty-Free!
Kiehl’s allows its products or ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law including when selling in stores in mainland China.
In addition, Kiehl’s is owned by L’Oreal, a parent company that is also not cruelty-free.
Kiehl’s Animal Testing Policy
Kiehl’s recently updated their animal testing statement on their website’s FAQ page. It used to say, “We at Kiehl’s do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. As we continue to expand globally and reach our customers around the world, it is our practice to do our part towards advancing the science of safety and validated alternative methods that eliminate the need or requirement for any animal testing globally.”
See below of a screenshot I took of Kiehl’s animal testing policy in 2017:
But now, on Kiehl’s FAQ page, they’ve removed that entire section. It now only states their parent company’s, L’Oreal’s animal testing policy.
See below for a screenshot of what’s currently stated on Kiehl’s website in 2022:
Because Kiehl’s states L’Oreal’s animal testing policy on their website, we’re taking it that they have the same policy then. Both L’Oreal and Kiehl’s state they don’t test their products on animals but then state China’s animal testing regulations.
Policies stating China’s animal testing laws usually imply the company is selling its products in mainland China. That’s because cosmetics sold in stores in mainland China are required by law to be tested on animals.
Is Kiehl’s Sold in China?
In my research, I discovered that Kiehl’s products are indeed sold in stores in mainland China.
Below is a screenshot of Kiehl’s store locator showing results in mainland China:
But Doesn’t China No Longer Tests on Animals?
Companies can bypass China’s pre-market animal testing by choosing to manufacture their ordinary or general cosmetics in China, but it’s not indicated that Kiehl’s has taken this route for all of their cosmetics sold in China.
Additionally, the possibility of post-market animal testing is not completely ruled out and may be conducted on some cosmetics sold in physical stores in China.
As of May 1, 2021, cosmetic companies can also export and sell their ordinary or general cosmetics in China without animal testing only if they meet a set of preconditions first. However, meeting these conditions has proven difficult, and it’s still unclear what exactly is accepted according to the new regulations. So there’s no word yet of any company that has successfully done so.
Follow the highlighted lines in the graphic below to see why most cosmetics sold in China (like Kiehl’s and L’Oreal) are still required by law to be tested on animals in 2022.
Because Kiehl’s 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 2022.
Although Kiehl’s may not be conducting these animal tests themselves, they knowingly allow Chinese authorities to test their products on animals to sell in China.
For those reasons, we would not consider Kiehl’s to be cruelty-free by our standards.
Many truly cruelty-free brands have chosen not to sell their products in China because of its animal testing laws. Unfortunately, Kiehl’s 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, and by any third parties, including when required by law.
See below for our complete cruelty-free checklist. Since Kiehl’s already does not meet the last two, we cannot classify the brand as being cruelty-free.
Is Kiehl’s Certified Cruelty-Free?
Kiehl’s is not certified cruelty-free by any third-party cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny or PETA.
Because Kiehl’s is not certified cruelty-free by a third party, no one is looking into or substantiating Kiehl’s cruelty-free commitments and claims.
Is Kiehl’s Owned By A Non-Cruelty-Free Parent Company?
Yes. Kiehl’s is owned by L’Oreal, a parent corporation that still engages in animal testing in 2022.
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, Kiehl’s is NOT cruelty-free and neither is its parent corporation, L’Oreal.
Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free?
To sum up, by choosing to sell in mainland China, Kiehl’s must have its products tested on animals. Therefore, we would NOT consider Kiehl’s to be a cruelty-free brand.
Currently, Kiehl’s is on our List of Brands to Avoid – Animal Tested.
Is Kiehl’s Vegan?
Kiehl’s claims some of their products are “vegan” and don’t contain any animal ingredients, however, since we do not consider Kiehl’s 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 Kiehl’s to be vegan.
Below is a screenshot of what was stated on Kiehl’s website about their “vegan” product claims:
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.
For cruelty-free alternatives to Kiehl’s skincare products, we recommend the following cruelty-free skincare brands: