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Estée Lauder Brands – Which Ones are Cruelty-Free or Sold in China?

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Is Estée Lauder cruelty-free?


No. Estée Lauder is not a cruelty-free corporation as some of their brands are sold in Mainland China where animal testing is required by law for all imported cosmetics.

However it should be noted that 6 of Estée Lauder brands are PETA certified cruelty-free: Aveda, Becca Cosmetics, Bumble and Bumble, Le Labo, Smashbox, and Too Faced Cosmetics.

Estee Lauder’s Animal Testing Statement (2018)

Source: Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder states that they do not test on animals or ask others to do it for them unless “a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment.” 

This implies that Estee Lauder is selling their products in countries that require animal testing, most likely in Mainland China, where animal testing is required for all imported cosmetics.

Interestingly, Estee Lauder omitted a lot of information from their current animal testing statement compared to what they had on their website 3 years ago. Thank goodness for screenshots, because I have a copy of what was written on Estee Lauder’s website in 2015 which explains a lot more about their stance on selling in China and testing on animals.

Estee Lauder’s Animal Testing Statement (2015)

Below is a screenshot I took on November 13, 2015 of Estee Lauder’s animal testing policy:

Estee Lauder's Animal Testing Statement

China’s animal testing laws that require all imported cosmetics to be tested on animals still applies in 2018 so not much has changed but it’s interesting that Estee Lauder has updated their animal testing statement and removed all of the details about China.

As explained by Estée Lauder, they are a global company and therefore some of their brands and products are sold internationally, including in China where it is required by law to test all imported cosmetics on animals.

Therefore, I would not consider Estee Lauder or any of their brands that are sold in Mainland China to be cruelty-free.

It should be noted that throughout the years, Estee Lauder has acquired 6 cruelty-free brands: Aveda, Becca Cosmetics, Bumble and Bumble, Le Labo, Smashbox, and Too Faced. These 6 brands are not sold in China and are not required to be tested on animals. These 6 brands are in fact, certified cruelty-free by PETA.

When a corporation, as large as Estee Lauder, has over 30+ brands in its portfolio, it’s sometimes hard to tell which brands are selling in China, or certified cruelty-free, or brands that naturally inherit their parent company’s animal testing policy.

List of Estee Lauder Brands

I wanted to list out all of Estee Lauder’s brands to help with:

  • Figuring out which of Estee Lauder’s brands are cruelty-free
  • Knowing which of Estee Lauder’s brands are sold in Mainland China
  • If you don’t want to support anything associated with Estee Lauder, then use this list as a reference as you should avoid all the brands on this list

Sold in China – This brand distributes its products in China where animal testing is required by law

PETA Certified – This brand is PETA Certified Cruelty-Free

No notes – It has not been confirmed whether this brand sells in China, buy or boycott at your own discretion.

Makeup Brands

  • Becca Cosmetics – PETA Certified *acquired in 2016
  • Bobbi BrownSold in China
  • Estée LauderSold in China
  • MAC Cosmetics – Sold in China
  • Smashbox – PETA Certified *acquired in 2010
  • Tom FordSold in China
  • Too Faced – PETA Certified *acquired in 2016

Skin & Hair Care Brands

  • AvedaPETA Certified *acquired in 1997
  • Bumble and Bumble – PETA Certified *acquired in 2007
  • Clinique – Sold in China
  • GLAMGLOWSold in China
  • La MerSold in China
  • Lab Series – Sold in China
  • OriginsSold in China


  • Aramis – Sold in China
  • Darphin
  • DYNY Fragrances – Sold in China
  • Donna Karen Cosmetics – Sold in China
  • Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
  • Ermenegildo Zegna – Sold in China
  • Jo Malone London – Sold in China
  • Kilian
  • Kiton Fragrances
  • Le Labo – PETA Certified *acquired in 2014
  • Michael Kors – Sold in China
  • RODIN olio lusso
  • Tommy Hilfiger Fragrance – Sold in China
  • Tory Burch – Sold in China
14 Responses
  • Melissa
    November 28, 2018

    Hello, thank you for this. Though I am thoroughly confused. Please excuse my ignorance. I’m thinking: if it’s China that demands that EL’s products be animal-tested before being sold there, then isn’t that done as a previous stage, where maybe, let’s suppose, China orders (super simplified example) 10 lipsticks, so maybe those 10 lipsticks only will be animal-tested somewhere. My question is: are you saying that regardless of where EL’s products are sold, are they all animal-tested everywhere as soon as they are finalized, as a matter of practicality? Basically, for logistical reasons, does EL then animal-test all of their products, since they can’t control which ones will end up in China?
    Thank you.

  • Nieza
    July 12, 2017

    Hi. What a nice post! Do you know if Estee Lauder, especially the Double Wear foundation is a vegan product or not? I saw many great reviews from Youtube, etc about it but I’m a vegan…

    • Vicky Ly
      July 12, 2017

      Hi Neiza,

      I wouldn’t consider any products from Estee Lauder to be vegan because they’re a brand that test on animals and is not cruelty-free so I personally wouldn’t consider their foundation to be vegan because Estee Lauder test on animals.

      If your only concern is whether the foundation has animal ingredients (and choose to look pass how they test on animals) then you’re best bet is to ask Estee Lauder about the source of their ingredients for this foundation directly =)

  • Joshua
    June 6, 2017

    Hey! I know this is a couple years old, but Le Labo is actually not distributed in China specifically for this reason. They are against animal testing and refused to sell in China. Please update your list to reflect that. Currently it says they are in China.

    • Vicky Ly
      June 7, 2017

      Hey Joshua!
      Thanks for letting me know! I’ve updated this list to reflect those changes =)

  • Joanna Spooner
    November 29, 2016

    Mind, look at the way they go on with animals,(dogs), in China. It really doesn’t surprise me. It’s about time testing on animals stopped. Disgraceful to think that a product that is designed to help make a person look beautiful, is infact, something very ugly indeed .. .makes you think !

  • Dominique
    December 31, 2015

    RE: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle (In Hong Kong)
    just want to clarify that, selling cosmetic in Hong Kong does not require Animal Testing.
    Aveda is selling in Hong Kong too.

    • Vicky Ly
      January 4, 2016

      Yes, you’re absolutely right about Hong Kong not requiring companies to test on animals and that’s why I’ve made the note that they only sell in Hong Kong as some caring consumers don’t like the idea of products beings old anywhere in China period.

      Does Aveda really sell in Hong Kong? I couldn’t find any concrete answers on that and in an email response, they told me that they don’t sell in China. It’s tough trying to get a solid and consistent answer from them. If you have any information that they do, please send it my way vicky@ethicalelephant.com as I’d love to verify that claim and update this list =)

      • Ado
        May 19, 2016

        Love how through you are with your investigations =D
        We need certainty and specifics in this world of assumptions and beliefs.

  • Vivi
    December 9, 2015

    Great article (!) on Estee Lauder, which highlights the most important issue – China money. As long as companies keep putting profit ahead of animal well-being (which basically means always), animals will still be suffer.
    Smashbox is so disappointing because they were so anti-testing, and lately I found out about L’Occitane as well, which was the company I used for practically everything and I’m having a hell of a time finding a replacement.

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