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Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free? or Does Kiehl’s Test on Animals?

This post may contain affiliate links.

Most consumers believe when a brand tends to use more “natural” ingredients in their products, that the company is also consciously against using animals to test their so-called “natural” products.

That’s a popular belief about the personal care brand, Kiehl’s. However after some digging, I discovered the truth about Kiehl’s stance on animal testing.

Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free?


No. Unfortunately Kiehl’s is not cruelty-free. Kiehl’s unfortunately sells in Mainland China and therefore they consent to have their products tested on animals by Chinese local authorities.

It should also be noted that Kiehl’s is owned by L’Oreal, a corporation that continues to test on animals.

Related: Reasons to Support or Boycott Cruelty-Free Brands Owned by Parent Company

Kiehl’s Animal Testing Policy (2017)

Let’s take a look at Kiehl’s animal testing statement found on their website.

Kiehl’s claims that they “do not conduct animal testing on [their] products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on [their] behalf, except when required by law.”

The statement “except when required by law” is the catch.

When is it required by law to test cosmetics and its ingredients on animals? Importing and selling cosmetics in Mainland China requires animal testing. So this begs the question, is Kiehl’s selling their products in Mainland China?

Kiehl’s Selling in China?

Kiehl’s has a website dedicated for Chinese consumers and on this website is where I discovered a store directory of where Kiehl’s products are available in China.

This sadly is proof that Kiehl’s is indeed selling their products in China therefore they must have their products tested on animals before being allowed to sell in these Chinese stores.

Kiehl’s is NOT Cruelty-Free!

I’m sure both Kiehl’s and L’Oreal are doing some great work to help eliminate the use of animals for cosmetic testing however at this time, since Chinese laws require all imported cosmetics to be tested on animals before being allowed to sell in their country, and any company agreeing to this practice should not be considered cruelty-free. And sadly that is the case for Kiehl’s and they are not cruelty-free.

17 Responses
  • Toni Bourg
    February 4, 2019

    Thank you for your research. I had no idea Chinas law stated any makeup produced had to be tested on animals. I will no longer by their products and surly will spread the word how we all are being deceived by the statement “unless required by law” SHAME ON YOU KIELHS!!!!!!

  • Claudia
    February 6, 2018

    Thank you very much for your work. It answered my doubts. I didn’t buy Kiehl’s products before because I didn’t know if they were vegan and tested on animals and now with your information I will continue not buying their products.

    • Rio
      September 1, 2018

      Kiehl’s or L’Oréal does not test on animals. The testing is done by the government of countries that require it. So while the products may be tested on animals in mainland China the testing is not done by Kiehl’s or L’Oréal.

      • Eliza
        September 5, 2018

        They consent to animal testing unlike brands like The Body’s shop…selling in China makes you not cruelty free

  • MiaPia
    December 30, 2017

    I stopped using all of their products and went to 100% Pure and couldn’t be happier. Although, I miss the Hand Salve most of all especially in the winter. There is nothing better.

  • Dylan Frazier
    December 13, 2017

    Their policy must have been updated. It says they’re certified by PETA/Leaping Bunny on their website. Maybe you could update this? If I’m wrong let me know.

    • Vicky Ly
      December 13, 2017

      Hey Dylan,
      Oh wow! I just checked their website and they did update their animal testing statement. So I checked Leaping Bunny’s database and Kiehls is NOT listed. I also checked PETA’s database and Kiehls is still marked as “Warning! This company DOES test on animals.”

      Not sure what’s going on… usually Leaping Bunny and PETA’s list are updated to reflect these types of changes, especially when it’s a popular brand like Kiehls… they would usually make an announcement of some sort.. I’ll follow-up with this as I do some more research. Thanks so much Dylan for letting me know! =)

      • Ps
        January 28, 2018

        Thanks for this article !
        I have just gone off “animal tested products ” and ” leather ”
        So i keep doing my lil research before doing anything .
        Kielhs is launching in my city and i have been invited !
        And i stumbled upon this
        THANKYOU !!! ❤️
        Im obviously not going xx

      • Rio
        September 1, 2018

        PETA is a for profit company. You have to pay to have the bunny in the product.

        • FlyNerd
          December 23, 2018

          Yep in many different fields you need to pay to get certified – eco, organic, fair-trade all certifying organizations take money for it. Remember that you’re paying for the job, and social trust, and still all standards are very tense & strictly focused on animal welfare, so what is bad that they earn money to keep the organization? Today PETA is big association, prepare many pro-animal campaigns many of them go viral. They have expenses, and it is difficult to keep up only from sponsors’ donations.
          Personally, I see nothing wrong with the fact that companies pay for the PETA bunny symbol, like in all certifying institutions.

    • Vicky Ly
      December 14, 2017

      Hey Dylan,
      Kiehl’s says the information on their OWN website is incorrect… they are NOT affiliated with PETA or Leaping Bunny and the current status of their animal testing policy is that they are still selling in Mainland China where animal testing is required by law so they are NOT cruelty-free.

      Source: https://twitter.com/Kiehls/status/941392321547067393

      Thank you so much Dylan for bringing this to my (and Kiehl’s) attention.. hopefully they’ll change what’s on their website asap so they’re not misleading any more consumers!

  • Chris
    August 31, 2017

    I really like Kiehl’s products. I was disappointed to read that they allow their products to be tested for sale in China. I’m inclined to not use them anymore. But is it really Kiehl’s or is it China to blame? Yes, of course, Kiehl’s and others could choose to not sell there. And eventually that might make a difference on China’s policy. But my US purchased products are not tested on animals. So in that respect, they are cruelty-free, right?

    • Melissa St Moore
      October 16, 2017

      That’s how i think of it. But Chris has a good point that if you boycott those brands, maybe China will change their policies. I mean, as a vegetarian I don’t buy leather but im not going to shop at only places that carry non leather things right? But with products and clothes im more inclined to go with the vegan & cruelty free brands. I love the kiehls moisturizers and consider it a lot more ethical then wearing neutrogena or johnson & johnson products.

      • marcela palau
        October 16, 2018

        HI! I just saw your link and they are being well with the not cruekty free? right?

  • Adrienne
    August 25, 2017

    My husband just returned from a trip to Dubai with some products. I was horrified as I know they test on animals. The girl in duty free assured him they didn’t. Staff don’t even know!! Not a cheap mistake either and made me look so ungrateful

  • Amy
    July 7, 2017

    That’s disappointing. I do like their products, but I can’t bear the animal testing. Thanks for your good work.

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