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Parent Company Animal Testing Explained

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It was a sad day for cruelty-free consumers when news broke of Estee Lauder’s acquisition of beloved cruelty-free makeup brand, Too Faced.

Although Too Faced has made a statement saying they’ll always remain cruelty-free, but lots of us have chosen to stop supporting and buying from Too Faced because now their parent company , Estee Lauder, continues to test on animals till this day!

But what’s the big deal about parent company testing? and how does this affect your decision to go cruelty-free?

I have a post here talking about the points for and against support cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals and since publishing that post, I’ve noticed the #1 reason why people choose not to support these brands is because they feel they’re indirectly supporting and funding more animal tests as their money goes back to the parent company.

Which is something I totally reason with and has been the deciding factor for me to no longer support these brands. But to give you an idea of the different structures of a business, here’s a complete breakdown because it’s ultimately your decision! =)

Parent Company + Animal Testing Explained

1. Independently Owned Brands

Cruelty-free brands that are independently owned include Pacifica, Makeup Geek, 100% Pure, Melt Cosmetics, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. Some refer to brands in this category as “Indie Brands”.


2. Owned by a Cruelty-Free Parent Company

Cruelty-free brands that are owned by a cruelty-free parent company usually starts off and will always remain to be cruelty-free. A prime example is Hain Celestial, they are cruelty-free and they also own several cruelty-free subsidiary brands like JASON, Alba Botanica, Avalon Organics, and Live Clean.


3. Owned by a Non-Cruelty-Free Parent Company

Cruelty-free brands that are owned by a non-cruelty-free parent company usually starts off as an independent cruelty-free brand but then gets acquired by a parent company who isn’t cruelty-free.

We’ve seen this happen time after time:

Too Faced –> Estee Lauder (2016)
BECCA Cosmetics –> Estee Lauder (2016)
Seventh Generation –> Unilever (2016)
Dermalogica –> Unilever (2015)
NYX Cosmetics –> L’Oreal (2014)
Urban Decay –> L’Oreal (2012)
Smashbox –> Estee Lauder (2010)
The Body Shop –> L’Oreal (2006)
Tom’s of Maine –> Colgate (2006)
NARS –> Shiseido (2000)
Aveda –> Estee Lauder (1997)

Non-cruelty-free parent companies also own several other brands that are not cruelty-free as well.

For example, L’Oreal is not cruelty-free however they own 3 cruelty-free brands: The Body Shop*, NYX, Urban Decay. But they also own some non-cruelty-free brands: Lancome, Maybelline, Giorgio Armani, Garnier.

*Natura bought The Body Shop from L’Oreal in June 2017


It might not seem like a big deal but your purchases ultimately make a statement. What sort of statement you want to make? That’s up to you! Just know that there’s always more going on in the inner workings of a brand, so it’s best to know what you’re truly supporting when trying to make ethical and cruelty-free choices!

I’d love to know, how do you feel about independently owned cruelty-free brands vs. brands owned by a non-cruelty-free parent company?

7 Responses
  • Kaitlyn
    March 7, 2018

    I loved this article, but I’m left with one question. Say I were to buy an item from NYX, no would my money go to NYX or would my money go to the parent company L’oreal?

    • Vicky Ly
      March 7, 2018

      Great question, Kaitlyn. Your purchase of NYX would financially benefit BOTH companies.. NYX and their parent company, L’Oreal.

  • Maxym Plouffe
    August 22, 2017

    Hi! This confuses me . If a parent compagny that isn’t cruelty-free owns a cruelty-free company, does it mean that the CF company test on animals? Or that the profit goes for animal testing? What I understood is that I have to make a statement but im confused. Plz answer xx

    • Vicky Ly
      August 22, 2017

      Hi there!
      To avoid any confusion, let’s use a real-life example here:

      Too Faced was an independent company and is cruelty-free.
      Then, they got acquired by Estee Lauder.
      Estee Lauder is NOT a cruelty-free company.

      Too Faced made an announcement saying that they will always be cruelty-free and that being acquired by Estee Lauder will not change that for them.

      Currently, Too Faced has stuck with their word and have remained to NOT test any of their products or ingredients on animals.

      BUT, since Too Faced is no longer an independent company and is now owned by Estee Lauder….

      Some consumers feel that by buying Too Faced products now, that their money will also be going to Estee Lauder, and since Estee Lauder pays to have their products tested on animals… some people are not okay with that.

      So if YOU feel that way too, then you might want to buy from another cruelty-free brand that isn’t owned by a company that test on animals.

      But, if that doesn’t bother you and as long as Too Faced remains cruelty-free after being acquired by Estee Lauder.. then you are free to make the choice to continue buying Too Faced products.

      I hope that clears things up! =)

  • Kellie Murtha
    August 3, 2017

    I was watching a YouTuber and she only buys cruelty free makeup, including brands that are owned by non cruelty free brands. Her reasoning is that the parent company might be able to see that more profits come from the companies that do not test on animals. I know it doesn’t make perfect sense but it’s not a 100% bad thought.

  • Franca
    April 19, 2017

    Hein Celestial have relations and investments in animal testing companies and meat distribution .

    • Niki R
      May 5, 2017


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