Last Updated: March 1, 2024

How Ethical Is Shiseido?

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 Shiseido’s ethics and initiatives.

Ethical Analysis

Is Shiseido cruelty-free or vegan? We’ve got the answers here! Read below for more details on Shiseido’s policies.
Shiseido is NOT Cruelty-Free. Shiseido engages in animal testing by allowing its products to be animal-tested.
Yes, Shiseido sells its products in stores in mainland China under conditions where animal testing is still legally required.
Shiseido claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but because Shiseido engages in animal testing, we wouldn’t classify anything sold or produced by Shiseido to be vegan.


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Is Shiseido Cruelty-Free?

☠️ Shiseido is NOT cruelty-free in 2023. Shiseido allows its products to be tested on animals when required by law, including when selling in stores in mainland China.

Note there is Shiseido Company, a multinational corporation that owns several brands worldwide and then there is SHISEIDO, one of the brands it owns which is its founding label.

Shiseido’s Animal Testing Policy

When asking, does Shiseido test on animals? We must look beyond to ensure none of Shiseido’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 their website.

Shiseido claims on its website’s FAQ that they have ended animal testing for cosmetic products since April 2013 by establishing internal safety regulations based on alternative methods.

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

The part in Shiseido’s animal testing policy that caught my attention was the word internal.

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 itself, its suppliers, or any third parties.

So I reached out to Shiseido to ask for more information about their animal testing policy. More specifically, I wanted to know if they commission or allow others to test, not just their finished products but their ingredients on animals, including when selling in countries that require animal testing (like mainland China).

Thank you for the email and interest in Shiseido.

Shiseido does not test its cosmetic products or ingredients on animals except when absolutely mandated by law, or where there are absolutely no alternative methods for guaranteeing product safety. Shiseido’s mission is to provide safe and effective products to customers, and to comply with the cosmetics regulations in force, while understanding and respecting the principles behind animal protection.

Based on the response I received from Shiseido, the company admits to allowing its products to be tested on animals when mandated by law.

Policies stating, “except when mandated by law,” usually imply the company distributes its products in countries that require animal testing, like mainland China.

Is Shiseido Sold in China?

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

Below is a screenshot of Shiseido’s Chinese website and its store locator showing results in mainland China:

SHISEIDO sold in china - cannot be Cruelty-Free
China sold in stores in China, required to test on animals

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

However, it’s not stated anywhere that Shiseido has taken any steps to meet the above preconditions in order to avoid animal testing while selling in China.

Follow the highlighted lines in the graphic below to see why most cosmetics sold in China (like Shiseido) are still required by law to be tested on animals in 2023.

Because Shiseido 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 2023.

Although Shiseido may not be conducting these animal tests themselves, they knowingly allow Chinese authorities to test their products on animals in order to sell in China.

For those reasons, we would not consider Company to be cruelty-free by our standards.

☕️ Every week, I continue to reach out to new brands while trying my best to keep current brands updated. If you found any of my posts or guides helpful, consider Buying Me A Coffee! I would greatly appreciate it! ❤️

Cruelty-Free Policies

Many truly cruelty-free brands have chosen not to sell their products in China under conditions where animal tests may be required. Unfortunately, Shiseido 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, or by any third parties, including when required by law.

See below for our complete cruelty-free checklist. Since Shiseido already does not meet the last two, we cannot classify the brand as being cruelty-free.

Complete Cruelty-Free Checklist

Is Shiseido Certified Cruelty-Free?

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

Since Shiseido is not certified cruelty-free by a third party, no one is substantiating or auditing Shiseido’s cruelty-free commitments and claims.

Is Shiseido Owned By A Non-Cruelty-Free Parent Company?

Yes. Shiseido is owned by Shiseido Company, a parent corporation that still engages in animal testing in 2023.

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, Shiseido is NOT cruelty-free, and neither is its parent corporation, Shiseido Company.

Does Shiseido Test on Animals?

To wrap up, Shiseido allows its products to be tested on animals when required by law, like when selling in China. Therefore, we would NOT consider Shiseido to be a cruelty-free brand.

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

Is Shiseido Vegan?

Shiseido is NOT vegan. Shiseido claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but Shiseido engages in animal testing in some capacity, so we wouldn’t consider any Shiseido products 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.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives to Shiseido:

Looking to switch to cruelty-free products? Here are some cruelty-free brands to check out:

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What do you think

11 thoughts on “Shiseido”

  1. I am really disappointed to hear Shiseido are not cruelty free. It’s very simple-if they were committed to being cruelty free (clearly not) they would just ‘stop selling in china’.
    Do you know if any cruelty free products that are similar standard to shiseido ??

  2. Why does China care whether Shiseido test their products on animals? Do you see how these people live and their conditions? A lot of deadly viruses come from China mainly because of their abuse and cruelty of slaughtering these animals. Shiseido should cut their line with this country if they cannot leave out animal testing. Its ridiculous of China, of all country, require animal testing.

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