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. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Sandi Marchetto

        The products are being tested on animals. Period.. That in turn makes the product “not cruelty free”.

  2. 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!!!!!!

  3. Stating that L’Oreal is committed to a future without animal testing, and that they have spent 25 years and a billion dollars on alternative testing methods, is laughable. When much newer companies have accomplished that very goal right out of the gate, that statement is nothing but fluff. If you’re committed to something or care about something, you DO something about it. They don’t care about animals; they only care about being greedy and selling to China so their execs can line their slimy pockets. There is an obvious disconnect between what they say and what they do, and it’s gross.

  4. Hi,

    Why do you recommend as an alternative to Kiehls a brand by Procter and Gamble that is described as NON cruelty free by PETA? I find it very misleading.

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