Last Updated: May 23, 2021

Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Kiehl's is an American cosmetics brand that specializes in skin, hair, and body care products but is Kiehl's cruelty-free or vegan in 2021?

Ethical Analysis

Is Kiehl’s cruelty-free or vegan? We’ve got the answers here! Read below for more details on Kiehl’s policies.
Kiehl’s is NOT Cruelty-Free. Kiehl’s engages in animal testing by allowing its products to be animal-tested.
Yes, Kiehl’s sells its products in stores in mainland China under conditions where animal testing is still legally required.
Since Kiehl’s products are animal-tested, we wouldn’t consider anything sold or produced by Kiehl’s to be vegan.


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Does the popular, natural skincare brand, Kiehl’s test their products or ingredients on animals? or is Kiehl’s cruelty-free?

Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free?

Kiehl’s is NOT Cruelty-free. Kiehl’s pays and allows their products to be tested on animals when required by law. Kiehl’s also sells its products in stores in mainland China where animal testing is mandatory for most imported cosmetics.

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 states on their company website 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.

I later discovered that Kiehl’s is selling its products in China where animal testing is required by law for most imported cosmetics.

Below is a screenshot of what’s currently stated on Kiehl’s website:

Kiehl's Cruelty-Free Claims
Kiehl’s Animal Testing Statement

The general disclaimer of “except when required by law” is usually stated to imply that a cosmetic company is selling its products in mainland China where animal testing is mandatory for most imported cosmetics.

So.. is Kiehl’s selling its products in China?

Is Kiehl’s Sold in China?

I found out that Kiehl’s has a Chinese website ( where I discovered their store directory that lists several Kiehl’s store locations.

This is sadly proof that Kiehl’s is indeed selling their products in China, therefore, Kiehl’s must consent and pay to have their products or its ingredients tested on animals before they’re allowed to sell in these Chinese stores.

Below is a screenshot I took from Kiehl’s Chinese website’s store locator page:

Kiehl's Sold in China; Cannot be Cruelty-Free

Because of Kiehl’s decision to sell its products in-stores in mainland China, they must consent and pay the Chinese government to test their products on animals. That’s why most cosmetics brands selling in mainland China retail stores cannot be considered cruelty-free.

Although Kiehl’s may not be conducting these animal tests themselves, they are knowingly allowing Chinese authorities to test their products on animals in order to sell in China.

Many truly cruelty-free brands have chosen not to sell their products in China because of the country’s animal testing laws. Unfortunately, Kiehl’s refuses to do the same and has decided to put profits before the welfare of animals.

Summary: Kiehl’s is NOT Cruelty-Free!

Kiehl’s allows their products to be tested on animals when required by law. Also, by choosing to sell in mainland China, Kiehl’s must have their products tested on animals. Therefore I would not consider Kiehl’s to be a cruelty-free brand.

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” in which they 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 do not consider anything sold or manufactured by Kiehl’s to be vegan.

Below is what’s currently 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, and also must not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives:

For cruelty-free alternatives to Kiehl’s skincare products, we recommend the following cruelty-free skincare brands:

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What do you think

22 thoughts on “Kiehl’s”

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

  2. 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

  3. 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?

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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! =)

      1. 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

        1. 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.

    2. 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.


      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!

  5. 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.

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