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2023 Update! As we now have a better understanding of the recent changes to China’s animal testing laws and there is currently a class action lawsuit against Paul Mitchell alleging the brand’s cruelty-free claims are misleading and false advertising, we have removed Paul Mitchell from our cruelty-free brand directory for the time being.
Is Paul Mitchell Cruelty-Free?
❓It is currently unclear whether Paul Mitchell is truly cruelty-free or animal-tested. Therefore, Paul Mitchell is listed as Grey Area – Brands with Unclear Policies.
To be a truly cruelty-free brand, companies must meet all of the following:
- Company does not test its products or ingredients on animals or ask others to test on its behalf
- Company can ensure none of its ingredient suppliers test on animals
- Company does not allow or sell its products under conditions where animal testing is required by law
Based on our research, Paul Mitchell has not met all of the above cruelty-free criteria. For those reasons, we are unable to classify Paul Mitchell as a truly cruelty-free brand.
Learn more about our findings and why Paul Mitchell’s cruelty-free policy is unclear below.
Paul Mitchell’s Animal Testing Policy
When asking, does Paul Mitchell test on animals? We must look beyond to ensure none of Paul Mitchell’s ingredients or suppliers test on animals. And they don’t sell in any country or under conditions that may require animal testing by law.
To assess whether brands are cruelty-free, I always start with the company’s official animal testing policy on its website.
Paul Mitchell claims on its website that none of its products are tested on animals.
See below for a screenshot of what’s currently stated on Paul Mitchell’s website:
However, animal testing for cosmetics can happen at various stages of product development, including at the ingredient level, and is often done by others and not the cosmetic company itself.
This is why we always assess a company’s cruelty-free policy using our Cruelty-Free Checklist. This ensures no animal testing was performed by the brand, its suppliers, or any third parties.
Unfortunately, Paul Mitchell’s statement that their products are never tested on animals is not enough information for us to classify Paul Mitchell or any other brand as being cruelty-free according to our standards.
Is Paul Mitchell Sold in China?
I also noticed on Paul Mitchell’s UK site, Paul Mitchell states since 2017, the brand sells some of its products in China without animal testing.
See below for a screenshot of what’s stated on Paul Mitchell’s UK website:
Also, the class action lawsuit against Paul Mitchell claims, “From May 2015 to May 2021, JPMS Beijing, as JPMS’s domestic responsible agent, registered 63 JPMS products for sale in China”.
But Doesn’t China No Longer Test on Animals?
With the recent changes to China’s animal testing laws, cosmetic companies can now export and sell some of their cosmetics in China without animal testing only if they meet ALL of the following preconditions first.
- ONLY sell ‘general’ cosmetics (like makeup, skincare, haircare, nail polish, and perfumes)
- must NOT sell any ‘special’ cosmetics like sunscreens, hair dye, hair perming, or other cosmetics claiming new efficacy
- must NOT sell products designed for infants or children
- must NOT sell products that contain a ‘New Cosmetic Ingredient’
- AND if post-market testing is required, then the company must have a policy in place where it will RECALL its products rather than allow its products to be tested on animals
Also, products must meet ONE of the following in order to avoid animal testing in China:
- manufactured in China, or the final assembly is in China
- if manufactured outside of China and then exported to China, companies must obtain the proper product safety certificates and documents
To get a better understanding of how Paul Mitchell is able to sell in China without animal testing, I reached out to the company and asked what steps they have taken to avoid animal tests in China.
Here’s a snippet of the email response I received from Paul Mitchell:
“Thank you for your inquiry. In 2012, John Paul Mitchell Systems® partnered with an American company that is at the forefront of tissue engineering and is a world leader in the production of innovative 3D reconstructed human tissue models. Their innovative use of non-animal (in-vitro) testing had the powerful synergistic effect of lower costs and significantly improved product safety.
John Paul Mitchell Systems® brought a group of respected scientists from China to work side by side and train with their team and, as a result, the China FDA accepted the impressive results and reproducibility of the non-animal test alternatives and agreed to test a small selection of products for approval without the normal animal testing required. Subsequently, we were granted approval to market a select offering of Paul Mitchell® and Tea Tree products in China—without animal testing.
Due to the hard work and dedication of the team, and in compliance with local laws, John Paul Mitchell Systems® is now able to service hairstylists and guests in China while maintaining its core corporate value of zero animal testing. Thanks to years of research and diligence, John Paul DeJoria’s steadfast commitment to providing the finest-quality, cruelty-free professional products continues today.
According to co-founder and Chairman of the Board John Paul DeJoria, “Since the Paul Mitchell brand was founded in 1980, we have always adhered to our strict no-animal testing policy and will continue to do so in the future. We are proud to be the first professional beauty company to announce that we don’t conduct or condone animal testing.”
My Thoughts On Paul Mitchell’s Cruelty-Free Claims
Paul Mitchell claims it sells a “select offering of Paul Mitchell® and Tea Tree products in China,” however, it’s not exactly clear what types of products they sell in China and if they meet all the conditions that would exempt those products from China’s animal testing requirements. Like classified as ‘general’ cosmetics only, not selling ‘special’ cosmetics or anything that contains a ‘New Cosmetic Ingredient’.
Paul Mitchell also claims they worked with China FDA to get them to accept and approve the use of non-animal test alternatives while agreeing to allow Paul Mitchell to register its products to sell in China using these non-animal test methods.
It’s my understanding that brands can only sell in China while avoiding animal tests if they are either domestically manufactured or if they’re exported to China then they must obtain the proper product safety assessments and documents.
It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how Paul Mitchell was able to get China FDA to make an exception for the brand to use non-animal testing methods. Wouldn’t all of the major brands and conglomerates like P&G and Unilever do the same if they could? They all could definitely afford it.
Is Paul Mitchell Certified Cruelty-Free?
It also doesn’t sit well with me that Paul Mitchell is no longer certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA.
In the past, Paul Mitchell used to be certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA. However, the brand has been delisted by both cruelty-free organizations. It’s not clear exactly when or the reasons why Paul Mitchell is no longer certified cruelty-free.
Since Paul Mitchell is not certified cruelty-free by a third party, no one is substantiating or auditing Paul Mitchell’s cruelty-free commitments and claims while selling in China.
Post-Market Testing on Animals
I also asked the brand how Paul Mitchell handles the possibility of post-market animal testing.
Paul Mitchell told me, “As long as the products are properly registered and shipped to approved outlets, they will not test.”
Again, it’s not clear if Paul Mitchell will recall its products if post-market testing on animals is needed or if the brand will allow its products to be tested on animals.
Does Paul Mitchell Test on Animals?
Unfortunately, it is unclear if Paul Mitchell is truly cruelty-free while selling in China.
As a result, we cannot classify Paul Mitchell as a truly cruelty-free brand until they are more transparent with their animal testing policy while selling in China.
Currently, Paul Mitchell is on our Grey Area Brands List – Brands with Unclear Policies.
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Note that there is no legal definition for the label ‘Cruelty-Free.’ It can mean different things to different people. But Cruelty-Free is generally used to imply no animal testing. More specifically, the ingredients, formulation, or finished product are not tested on animals at any stage of product development.
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.
Also, note that Cruelty-Free and Vegan don’t always mean the same thing.
Is Paul Mitchell Vegan
❌ Paul Mitchell is NOT vegan. Paul Mitchell claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but because Paul Mitchell’s cruelty-free status is unclear, we wouldn’t consider anything sold or produced by Paul Mitchell to be vegan at this time.
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.
Similar to ‘Cruelty-Free,’ there is no standard or legal definition for the label ‘Vegan.’ But Vegan is generally used to mean formulated without animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products.
Some common animal products in cosmetics include carmine, lanolin, snail mucus, beeswax, honey, pearl or silk-derived ingredients, animal-based glycerin, keratin, and squalene.
There are plant-based and synthetic alternatives to animal-derived ingredients. But unless a brand explicitly labels its ingredients or product as Vegan, it’s often difficult to know with certainty whether a product is vegan just by reading the ingredient list.
So it’s best to ask the company and manufacturers to ensure the ingredients they chose were from non-animal sources.
Cruelty-Free Alternatives to Paul Mitchell
Looking to switch to cruelty-free products? Here are some cruelty-free brands to check out:
- Aveda *owned by Estee Lauder
- Biolage *owned by L’Oreal
- Living Proof *owned by Unilever
- Pureology *owned by L’Oreal
- Kristin Ess
Where are Paul Mitchell products made?
I asked Paul Mitchell where their products are manufactured and they told me:
“Our styling tools are manufactured in China and our liquid lines are manufactured throughout the United States.”
*Note: Cosmetics made in China are not required to be tested on animals. Only cosmetics that are imported and sold in physical stores in mainland China are required to be tested on animals according to China’s animal testing laws.
Ethical Mica Mining Policy
Mica is a mineral that’s used in cosmetics to add a shimmery effect. But the mining of natural mica has been linked to child labor and human rights violations.
Unless the company discloses its mica mining policy, we have no way of knowing whether its mica is ethically sourced without child or forced labor.
So I asked Paul Mitchell if their mica is ethically sourced without the use of child labor and they responded by stating,
“We use Mica in 2 products currently, Tea Tree Grooming Pomade and Invisiblewear Pump Me Up. Our Mica source is from Germany and are both ethical and safely sourced!”
I hope this article helped you to understand Paul Mitchell’s cruelty-free and vegan status and by choosing cruelty-free together, we can help end animal testing for cosmetics once and for all!
0 thoughts on “Paul Mitchell”
the flexible spray wax says it’s vegan but it also says it has beeswax? idk….
Hey Juliet! This is frustrating because Paul Mitchell doesn’t list their ingredients on their website so I’ve been having a hard time verifying whether this beeswax is synthetic or not because it clearly says it’s vegan on their website but at the same time the product description says “flexible beeswax adds pliability.”
Hmm… I’ve removed the Flexible Spray Wax off this vegan list for the time-being. Thank you for letting me know!! =)
Hi there. It is disappointing to find that beeswax is included. Have you discovered yet if there is indeed synthetic beeswax?
Also trying to find which of their hair products are actually without beeswax. So tired of my grey and just impossible to get information from Paul Mitchell themselves. Hope you make a breakthrough!
I checked Leaping Bunny and they don’t come up on the list. It also stated that they didn’t recommit to the program. Of course, this was last year, so maybe it’s different this year. I’m not sure if that means anything or not. Ugh. What to do? Also, as a recent convert to veganism, I want to thank you for all the time and effort you put in to this site. It’s been soooo helpful to me.
Thank you for the great list! Now I know I can buy the vegan Platinum Blonde Shampoo 🙂
Super strong condition has silk amino acids… derived from silk… from silkworms or moths. How is this product marketed and listed as vegan?
Thanks for letting me know the Super Strong Conditioner by Paul Mitchell contains silk amino acids and it’s not vegan. I’ve removed it from this vegan list.