La Mer (Estee Lauder)

Last Updated: March 1, 2024

How Ethical Is La Mer (Estee Lauder)?

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 La Mer’s ethics and initiatives.

Ethical Analysis

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

La Mer is also owned by Estee Lauder, a parent corporation that does engage in animal testing.
Yes, La Mer sells its products in stores in mainland China under conditions where animal testing is still legally required.
La Mer does not claim or market itself to offer any vegan-friendly options. And since La Mer engages in animal testing, we wouldn’t consider anything sold or produced by La Mer to be vegan anyways.

La Mer (Estee Lauder)

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La Mer is NOT Cruelty-Free!

La Mer allows its products or ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law including when selling in stores in mainland China.

In addition, La Mer is owned by Estee Lauder, a parent corporation that is NOT cruelty-free.

La Mer’s Animal Testing Policy

While researching to learn more about La Mer’s cruelty-free status, I couldn’t find the brand’s official animal testing policy anywhere on its website.

So I reached out to La Mer to ask for more information about their animal testing policy. More specifically, I wanted to know if they commission or allow others to test their products/ingredients on animals, including when selling in countries that require animal testing (like in mainland China).

And La Mer responded by saying:

“La Mer does not test on animals and we never ask others to do so on our behalf. If a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment, an exception can be made. Our consumers can be certain that we are committed to producing only the highest quality beauty products which meet our exacting efficacy, safety and ethical standards.


We have a deep commitment to the abolishment of animal testing. Decades ago we were one of the first beauty companies to prove that safety can be validated by means other than animal testing. We continue that commitment today with likeminded partners that share our goal to support the acceptance of alternatives.

We have a strong partnership with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a non-profit research and testing consortium dedicated to the advancement of in vitro (non-animal) methods worldwide. IIVS develops and implements programs where in vitro testing is not accepted in order to educate scientists on the scientifically validated safety record of these methods.

We have consistently supported the research program coordinated by the European trade association, Cosmetics Europe, since its inception 20 years ago, for the replacement of animal tests. This broad program includes projects co-funded by the European Commission such as SEURAT (Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing).

We are members of the European Partnership for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EPAA), an initiative launched in 2005 by stakeholders from various industries, including the European Commission, to promote the sharing of knowledge across industries and facilitate the validation and acceptance of alternative test methods and strategies.

We are members of the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States, which serves as its coordinator.

We will continue to work in close partnership with industry, government and non-profit groups in countries that require animal testing to work together towards the elimination of this practice and the global acceptance of non-animal testing methods.”

Based on the response I received from La Mer, the company admits to allowing its products to be tested on animals if a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment.

Policies stating, “unless required by law,” 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.

La Mer Sold in China?

In my research, I discovered that La Mer products are indeed sold in stores in mainland China.

Below is a screenshot of La Mer store locator showing results in mainland China:

La Mer Sold in China, cannot be Cruelty-Free

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 stated anywhere that La Mer has taken this route.

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 La Mer) are still required by law to be tested on animals in 2022.

Because La Mer 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 La Mer 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 La Mer to be cruelty-free by our standards.

Cruelty-Free Policies

Many truly cruelty-free brands have chosen not to sell their products in China because of its animal testing laws. Unfortunately, La Mer 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 La Mer already does not meet the last two, we cannot classify the brand as being cruelty-free.

Complete Cruelty-Free Checklist

Is La Mer Certified Cruelty-Free?

La Mer is not certified cruelty-free by any third-party cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny or PETA.

Because La Mer is not certified cruelty-free by a third party, no one is looking into or substantiating La Mer’s cruelty-free commitments and claims.

Is La Mer Owned By A Non-Cruelty-Free Parent Company?

Yes. La Mer is owned by Estee Lauder, 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, La Mer is NOT cruelty-free and neither is its parent corporation, Estee Lauder.

Is La Mer Cruelty-Free?

To sum up, by choosing to sell in mainland China, La Mer must have its products tested on animals. Therefore, we would NOT consider La Mer to be a cruelty-free brand.

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

Is La Mer Vegan?

La Mer does not claim or market itself to offer any vegan-friendly options. And since La Mer engages in animal testing, we wouldn’t consider anything sold or produced by La Mer to be vegan anyways.

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 La Mer:

Looking for a cruelty-free option to La Mer, here are some of our recommendations:

or check out our list of luxury vegan skincare brands!

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What do you think

6 thoughts on “La Mer (Estee Lauder)”

  1. I’m very sad to hear that La Mer does not have a drawn in the sand line on animal testing. From what I understand from the posting of La Mer and Estee Lauder which owns La Mer, in regards to their stance on animal testing, they will adhere to the authorities requirements in order to sell products in the respective countries. China for example requires animal testing – therefore La Mer, this beautiful product submits animals to testing, to sell their products there., I understand it is all about profits. . I have used La Mer for many years, and I feel very bad about that now. I will discontinue use of this product and will try the ones you suggest above.. i will also ensure that the people I know who are using this product are made aware of it. I am one voice, however times are changing thank god, and people don’t want this kind of abuse in the name of beauty.

  2. I was looking at the web side of the brand that you recommended and May Lindstrom has honey ? like ingredient. That is not cruelty free and vegan

    1. Hey Anyelis,

      We define the term “cruelty-free” as no animal testing. So, May Lindstrom does NOT test on animals. And we define the term “vegan” as no animal-derived ingredients or by-products. So, although NOT all of May Lindstrom products are considered vegan, they do have SOME vegan options and they do NOT test on animals.

      If you wish to only support and buy from 100% vegan and cruelty-free brands, I have a full list of those brands here:

  3. Geinah Galaura

    I was planning of buying some La Mer products but after reading this, I changed my mind and won’t be buying any of their products. Instead I’ll be checking some of the brands you recommended.

  4. I never knew this La Mer are aminals cruelty!! I’m very very disappointed sad also this from China something con about I mean no wwonder this products is so expensive this La Mer should close thier business down it been there for many years we have now got very fewer wildlife aminals left I stand up for wildlife rather this cruelty brand of La Mer!!

  5. Hi I read your article and looked into the graph that you made on the Cruelty-free or non-Cruelty-free China route, I believe it’s not 100% required for the animal test if a foreign brand going into China, and I believe the certifications are not that hard to get since AEPSOS and other vegan brands are also sold here in China, it’s more of a matter if the brand choose to be or not. I will ask the brand for their comments and make it an awareness tomorrow. Good article.

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