Is L’Oreal Cruelty Free: The Truth Behind This Beauty Powerhouse

L’Oreal stands as a colossal figure in the beauty industry, encompassing a vast array of makeup, skincare, and hair products, and owning major brands like NYX. The cruelty-free status of many of its subsidiaries leads to questions about L’Oreal’s own practices. I’ve spent months researching this, initially believing L’Oreal to be cruelty-free based on their website claims. However, the truth about L’Oreal’s cruelty-free status is more complex than it appears. Here’s what I found out about whether L’Oreal is cruelty-free.

Bottom Line Upfront

L’Oreal is not cruelty-free. Despite not conducting animal testing on their products, they market in China where certain products, including hair dyes which L’Oreal manufactures, are subject to mandatory animal testing.


Is L’Oreal Cruelty-Free?

L’Oreal’s stance on animal testing is nuanced. They employ alternative testing methods like Episkin, which replicates human skin, but they also sell in markets where animal testing is required. The intricacies of their approach and third-party involvement raise questions about their cruelty-free claims.

L’Oreal’s Official Statement

L’Oreal’s website has long claimed that they ceased animal testing since 1989 and are at the forefront of alternative testing methods. This statement, however, is misleading when considering their market presence in regions with mandatory animal testing policies.

L’Oreal’s Market in China

China’s animal testing laws, revised in 2021, exempt most foreign beauty products from mandatory testing. However, “special cosmetics” like hair dye still require such testing, affecting L’Oreal since they produce these products.

loreal paris

L’Oreal and Vegan Products

While L’Oreal may offer vegan products, they are not a certified vegan brand. Given their non-cruelty-free status, those seeking ethical products might reconsider purchasing from L’Oreal.

L’Oreal Ethics

Beyond animal testing, ethical considerations extend to ingredient safety and labor practices. L’Oreal’s commitment to sustainability is commendable, especially in sourcing ingredients like palm oil responsibly.

Natural and Organic Ingredients

L’Oreal does not claim its entire range is organic but does incorporate naturally-derived ingredients in some products. Subsidiaries like Garnier are notable for leaning more towards natural beauty solutions.

Dangerous Ingredients

The safety of L’Oreal’s ingredients varies. While some products are free from parabens and phthalates, others are not. It’s worth noting that some of their products are rated favorably by environmental groups for lower risk of harmful ingredients.

L’Oreal’s Manufacturing and Sourcing

L’Oreal’s production is primarily based in France, with 11 factories and offices in Paris and Clichy. They also operate international plants, including in the USA, sourcing ingredients globally.

loreal lipstick

Supporting Brands That L’Oreal Owns

The question of whether to support brands owned by L’Oreal, particularly those that don’t test on animals, is a complex one within the beauty community. On one side, many who advocate for cruelty-free practices hesitate to purchase from these subsidiaries, arguing that doing so indirectly supports the parent company, L’Oreal, which is not cruelty-free. On the other hand, some contend that many of these subsidiaries operate independently and have their own cruelty-free certifications, suggesting that supporting them doesn’t necessarily equate to endorsing L’Oreal’s practices.

Here’s a look at some of the notable brands under the L’Oreal umbrella:

  • Atelier Cologne
  • African Beauty Brands
  • Biotherm
  • Biolage
  • Carita
  • Cacharel
  • Clarisonic
  • CeraVe
  • Diesel
  • Decleor
  • Garnier
  • Essie
  • Guy Laroche
  • Giorgio Armani
  • House 99 by David Beckham
  • Helena Rubinstein
  • Keratase
  • It Cosmetics
  • Lancome
  • Kiehls
  • La Roche Posay
  • Maison Margiela
  • Magic
  • Maybelline
  • Matrix
  • Niely
  • Mizani
  • Paloma Picasso
  • NYX
  • Pureology
  • Proenza Schouler
  • Redken
  • Ralph Lauren Fragrance
  • Sanoflore
  • Roger & Gallet
  • Shu Uemura
  • Seed Phytonutrients
  • Urban Decay
  • SkinCeuticals
  • Viktor & Rolf
  • Vichy
  • YSL Beauty
  • Yue Sai
  • Youth to the People

Cruelty-Free Alternatives to L’Oreal

Discovering that L’Oreal is not cruelty-free can be disheartening, especially if you favor their products or those of the brands they own. Fortunately, there are numerous cruelty-free alternatives that don’t compromise on quality. Here are some commendable options, each with their own unique offerings:



A top recommendation for a cruelty-free alternative to L’Oreal is Milani. Known for its affordable yet high-quality makeup range, Milani products are widely appreciated for their pigmentation and durability. Available in stores like CVS and online, Milani is certified cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny. Its parent company, Gryphon Investors, however, has an unclear cruelty-free status.


elf cosmetics

ELF is a well-established brand in the cruelty-free market, offering a wide array of makeup products. Their Jelly Pop Primer is a notable favorite. Certified cruelty-free by PETA and boasting a vegan product line, ELF has a strong ethical stance. While their return policy may be strict, their affordable pricing makes them a great choice. ELF products are readily available at Target and online.



Colourpop is celebrated for its vibrant and pigmented makeup range. Their Blowin’ Smoke palette, for example, has garnered considerable praise. Although their products are primarily available online, their cruelty-free status and quality make them a compelling choice. Owned by Seed Beauty, which is also cruelty-free, Colourpop stands as a strong L’Oreal alternative.



Pacifica, offering both makeup and skincare products, is a brand gaining popularity for its gentle and effective formulations. Products like the Vegan Collagen Moisturizer and Blow Baby Eye Bright Eye Cream are well-received, especially for sensitive skin. Pacifica is entirely cruelty-free and vegan, with no parent company found. Their products are available at Target and online.

Milk Makeup


As a mid-tier prestige brand, Milk Makeup offers both makeup and skincare products. Their lip and cheek tint is a fan favorite, though some products like their mascara might not meet everyone’s expectations. Milk Makeup is cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified, owned by Waldencast, which is also cruelty-free and confirmed by PETA.

Faith in Nature


A UK-based natural hair, skin, and body care brand, Faith in Nature also offers cleaning products. Founded with a passion for nature and avocados, the brand has gained traction in the U.S., available in stores like Target, Walmart, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. With most products priced under $10, they’re an excellent alternative for those seeking natural, affordable options. Faith in Nature is cruelty-free and operates independently without a parent company.



Weleda offers a range of effective skincare products that are a bit pricier than others on this list but still more affordable compared to high-end alternatives. Known for their clarifying face wash and other skin care items, Weleda’s products are available online and at Costco. They are certified natural by NaTrue and adhere to ethical production standards. However, the complexity of their corporate structure makes the cruelty-free status of their parent companies somewhat unclear.

These alternatives provide an array of options for those looking to switch to cruelty-free beauty products, covering everything from affordable drugstore brands to more prestigious options, catering to a wide range of beauty needs and preferences.

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