Shea Moisture (Unilever)

Last Updated: January 6, 2022

Is Shea Moisture (Unilever) Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Supporting companies that share the same values and ethics to what matters most to us is how we can drive positive change in this world. Here’s a quick summary of SheaMoisture’s ethics and initiatives.

Ethical Analysis

Is SheaMoisture cruelty-free, vegan, or sustainable? We’ve got the answers here! Read below for more details on SheaMoisture’s policies.
SheaMoisture is cruelty-free, but SheaMoisture is owned by Unilever, a parent company that is NOT cruelty-free.
Not all of SheaMoisture’s products are vegan but they have some vegan options.
SheaMoisture partners with women-led co-ops in Northern Ghana to source their fair trade shea butter.
SheaMoisture claims their mica is ethically-sourced without the use of child labor.
SheaMoisture products come in plastic packaging. I couldn’t find anything stating they’re working on reducing their use of virgin plastic in their product packaging.

About Shea Moisture (Unilever)

SheaMoisture offers natural products made with certified organic Shea Butter, created by a healer and crafted with care.
PRODUCTS MADE IN: USA, unless otherwise noted
PRODUCTS: Hair Care, Bath & Body Care

Shea Moisture (Unilever)

This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

You can find Shea Moisture’s cruelty-free products at Ulta, Target, Walmart, and on Amazon.

Is SheaMoisture Cruelty-Free?

SheaMoisture is *Cruelty-Free

Shea Moisture has confirmed they do not test their products or ingredients on animals or ask others to test on their behalf. Their suppliers also do not test on animals, nor do they allow their products to be tested on animals when required by law. And finally, their products are not sold in stores in mainland China or any other country that may require animal testing.

By our standards, we would consider SheaMoisture to be *Cruelty-Free.

*SheaMoisture is owned by Unilever, a corporation that is NOT cruelty-free because they allow some of their other brands to test on animals.

It’s your choice whether you want to support or boycott cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that is not cruelty-free. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to this. I encourage you to do what you’re comfortable with, but I think it’s important to disclose that Unilever owns SheaMoisture.

SheaMoisture Animal Testing Policy

SheaMoisture claims on their website “Tested on our family for four generations. Never on animals.”

SheaMoisture's Cruelty-Free Claims

However, this was not enough information for us to classify any brand as being cruelty-free to our standards.

So, I reached out to SheaMoisture asking if they test their products or ingredients on animals or ask others to test on their behalf. As well as, if they use ingredients or sell in situations that may require animal testing by law (like importing and selling in China).

Below is the response I received from a SheaMoisture rep:

“We appreciate the opportunity to respond. SheaMoisture is a cruelty free company. For over four generations, SheaMoisture has been tested on our family and friends, never on animals. We do not conduct animal testing nor do we ask others to do it on our behalf. We support suppliers and organizations that are developing alternative methods of testing without using animals.

We do not test on animals, we are not affiliated with any companies which test on animals, and we do not sell in parts of the world that require animal testing. In fact, in most parts of the world there is a trend towards the banning of animal testing, so savvy ingredient suppliers have provided cruelty-free ingredients for many years now.”

SheaMoisture has confirmed they do not test their products on animals, nor ask others to do so on their behalf. They also confirmed that their suppliers are cruelty-free as well and they don’t sell in markets that require animal testing.

SheaMoisture Acquired by Unilever

In 2017, SheaMoisture and their parent company, Sundial Brands was acquired by Unilever, a corporation that does test on animals when required by law.

I noticed in their email response that SheaMoisture claimed: “We are not affiliated with any companies which test on animals”. However, this statement is not true as SheaMoisture is owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

Aside from that misleading statement, SheaMoisture seems to be committed to being a cruelty-free brand.

Cruelty-Free Policies

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.

SheaMoisture is Not 100% Vegan

‘Vegan’ in cosmetics can refer to an entire brand that is 100% Vegan or a specific product is vegan.

In the case of SheaMoisture, not all of their products are vegan. But they have some products that are suitable for vegans.

Below is the response I received from SheaMoisture when I asked if they had a list of their vegan products:

“Currently we do not have a list of products that do or do not contain a certain ingredient. We do have a list of what animal by-products are used in some of our products. Here is a list of those ingredients that are derived from animals. Please use this list to see if the product you are interested in is vegan or not: Beeswax, Collagen, Conchiolin Protein, Honey, Keratin, Lactose, Lanolin, Milk, Pearl Protein, Silk, Yogurt.”

How to know which of SheaMoisture products are vegan?

Currently, only four SheaMoisture products are marked as “Vegan” on their website.

  • 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Vegan Salve
  • 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Vegan Lip Butterstick
  • Coconut & Hibiscus Vegan Lip Butterstick
  • Fruit Fusion Vegan Lip Butterstick

Since SheaMoisture doesn’t label their Vegan products, I think the best way to figure out whether a SheaMoisture product is vegan or not is to check the ingredients and see if it contains any ingredients from the list they provided us with, which is: Beeswax, Collagen, Conchiolin Protein, Honey, Keratin, Lactose, Lanolin, Milk, Pearl Protein, Silk, Yogurt.

Vegan Policies

Similar to ‘Cruelty-Free,’ there is no standard or legal definition for the label ‘Vegan.’ But it’s usually used in the context to describe something that doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products.

Some common animal products used 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 it’s sometimes 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’ve chosen to use were from non-animal sources.

Where are Shea Moisture products made?

“Unless otherwise stated specifically on the label, all of our products sold in the U.S. are manufactured in the United States.

The statement found on some of our packaging “Product of (Country)” is not a statement of where the raw material is from, but rather a statement of where the product is processed.”

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 SheaMoisture if their mica is ethically sourced without the use of child labor and they responded by stating,

“We appreciate the opportunity to respond. We have Mica only in our cosmetics products and are sourced from a mine in Hartwell, GA (USA). Our supplier, a responsibly and sustainably operating company, is a founding member of the UN Global Compact that condemns all forms of child labor.”

I hope this article helped you to understand SheaMoisture’s cruelty-free and vegan status and by choosing cruelty-free together, we can help end animal testing for cosmetics once and for all!

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What do you think

6 thoughts on “Shea Moisture (Unilever)”

  1. Do you have any information regarding palm oil involvement. Incredible blog by the way! So informative and well researched.

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