The Dilemma: Cruelty-Free Brands Owned by Companies That Animal Test

April 21, 2015By 22 Comments


Nothing bursts a happiness bubble like discovering one of your beloved cruelty-free brands has been or is about to be acquired by a power hungry, gigundo mothah corporation that doesn’t seem to give a sh*t about our furry friends. Even though it’s totally a massive bummer, it is nice to know that cruelty-free companies that do get acquired often keep their cruelty-free stance. Whether or not you choose to continue supporting these CF brands is entirely up to you. Some peeps will continue to support these brands because it sends a message to the parent company that there’s a rising demand for cruelty-free companies and products, while others will boycott the parent company and all of their subsidiaries because they feel like they’re indirectly supporting animal testing.

Examples of cruelty-free brands owned by parent companies that animal test:

  • Aveda and Smashbox were acquired by Estee Lauder
  • Bare Escentials was acquired by Shiseido
  • Burt’s Bees was acquired by Clorox
  • NYX, Essie, PureOlogy, Urban Decay, and The Body Shop were acquired by L’Oreal
  • OPI was acquired by Coty
  • Tarte was acquired by Kose
  • Tom’s of Maine was acquired by Colgate

How do you feel about these brands? Please discuss in the comments below. 

Also, if you’re unsure about a brand’s cruelty-free status, Vegan Beauty Review has an extensive list of cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands that is constantly being updated. 🙂  xo

About Sunny ()

Longtime vegan, hardcore compassionate beauty junkie, serious cake aficionado, and lover of all things floofy and sparkly! If there's something in particular you'd like me to review, drop me a line at You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Google +.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Melody says:

    I try my hardest to avoid products that have been tested on animals and/or have a parent company that tests. I am wondering if there are any stats to support that this practice impacts the industry. Can anyone recommend anything?

  2. Carla Weems says:

    This is been a topic that’s been brewing for a while; I will say this though – I refused to bow to the companies who test their garbage products on animals—when they buy-up companies that are cruelty-free. As you mentioned in the article above – Aveda. I won’t use their garbage anymore. I didn’t know that much about the company until I purchased one of their shampoos, then when I learned they were cruelty free I still had my doubts about “third party testing.” So, in that regard, I stopped buying their junk. Same thing with Burt’s Bees. They weren’t that great to begin with – their moisturizers are crap, and I only used their hand creams. However, once I learned they got money hungry and sold to a company that is notorious for horrific animal testing (Clorix, of all companies)— my God in Heaven, I threw out my lip balm, and my 2 hand moisturizers and face towletts. NEVER AGAIN WILL I BUY FROM THESE COMPANIES. I do not care the circumstances of the sale of these cruelty-free brands.

    It is my opinion that if consumers continue to buy garbage like Burt’s Bees and Aveda and OPI, then they are saying “it’s okay to test on animals.” That is unacceptable. That’s like asking someone if they only want a little bit of cancer. These billion dollar conglomerates make me want to vomit. I will NEVER, EVER, EVER buy a cruelty free brand that is purchased by a company that is NOT cruelty free. Another case in point – the company DHC skincare, they SWEAR they don’t test on animals—however, when I asked the company, the company was transparent enough to admit that they HAVE TO TEST ON ANIMALS at their factories in Japan where they are based— because it is the LAW in Japan. That is still unacceptable, so, as nice as those products are – I refused to buy anything from them.

    So—THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DELIMMA ‘Vegan Beauty Review’ you’re either FOR ANIMAL TESTING (AND ITS GRAPHIC ATROCITIES) or you’re against it. Besides, who wants to slather on all that toxic waste on their face, when they can buy from a company that refused to hurt animals for human pleasure.

    Carla Weems
    Dallas, Texas

  3. Taryn says:

    Thanks for an interesting article! This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. My simple reasoning is that I want cruelty free companies to thrive whilst those still testing suffer dwindling numbers. If we all stopped supporting a cruelty free company after it was acquired by a testing parent, and the numbers of the cruelty free company then dropped, I suspect that parent co. may shut down the line altogether. Whereas if a cruelty free line is really flourishing, the parent co. may realise that there is a strong market for cruelty free products and hopefully choose to focus on this and adjust its decisions accordingly. Just my two cents!

  4. Rae says:

    I love Nyx’s products but try to avoid buying them now after finding out they are owned by a company that isn’t cruelty free 🙁 Still don’t understand how some companies can still be for animal testing…there are better ways to test than on poor innocent animals!

  5. Carolyn McEvoy says:

    I nearly vomited when I heard Burt’s Bees whored itself out to Clorox– yuck. I wasn’t a huge fan of the company anyway- I only used their lip balm–but once I heard Clorox bought them— Burt’s Bees went in the garbage. I feel extremely strongly about cruelty free brands being sold to animal testers– it’s immoral. I opt not to wear makeup, and I use Alicia Silverstone’s Juice Beauty Stem-Cellular moisturizer (I know she won’t sell out–she’s too cool and ethical). If she ever does– I know it would be to an animal friendly company. I hope others will recheck their cruelty free brands– make sure they’re still cruelty-free. The big companies want to stay big— no matter what.

  6. Vanniecrow says:

    My heart shattered when Urban Decay and Tarte were bought. But if there is something I feel like no other 100% cruelty-free brand offers that they can, they I will buy the product. At least they chose to remain cruelty free. My main issue with the individuals who choose to 100% boycott and attack others for their choice in not making the same choices who call themselves cruelty-free life-stylists. I strongly respect every ones point of view.

    But there is a lot of down talking, and aggressive responses towards others who don’t make the same choices. I strongly agree that money does speak very loudly to these companies. But I think if we choose to focus that energy towards encouraging others to be vocal, others would be more enthusiastic about joining the cause. A lot of individuals I’ve approached on it have said they support the cause but they were just getting spoken down to. Despite not making perfect choices, at least the effort is there by people like myself who are choosing to try to make a difference with their way of living. I think people need to start recognising that before they start attacking one another and acting as if buying one thing that is owned by an animal tested company someone makes the person bad.


  7. Annie says:

    Alas, I avoid these companies, because I simply don’t trust that their integrity will remain intact after the merger (having been through a few mergers, myself). Also, they will continue to thrive because they have the financial backing and marketing powerhouse of their parent companies. Finally, there are SO many wonderful, independent companies out there with AMAZING products that need our support! Great post – and great discussion, everyone!! Thank you, Sunny! 🙂

  8. Sharon says:

    respect the choice to continue to support these brands, to send the message to parent companies that there’s a strong market for cruelty-free products, but personally, I only support independent companies that are cruelty free, or are otherwise without a parent company that tests CaneSorriso e occhi a forma di cuoreConiglio

  9. Sharon says:

    I respect the choice to continue to support these brands, to send the message to parent companies that there’s a strong market for cruelty-free products, but personally, I only support independent companies that are cruelty free, or are otherwise without a parent company that tests.

  10. Cyndi says:

    We do the best we can in any context. In this one, it means I boycott them. If I had an all vegan grocery store I would shop there instead of my local supermarket.

  11. Francis says:

    I boycott them. I used to buy Tom of Maine until it was bought by Colgate. This is only my opinion, but for me if you buy from these companies even if they are cruelty free, the money will go to the parent company and consequently to animal testing. There are plenty of companies to choose from that are vegan and cruelty free.

  12. Trina says:

    I will still continue to support these brands. I do think it send a bit of a message to the parent company when/if their cruelty-free brands are getting more money than their brands that have animal testing. And the supermarket that Veronica used is a really good example. To be honest, I am just glad that these brands have stayed cruelty free (a bunch of my HG products are from them!) but I am a bit disappointed in UD as they seem to have a sharp decrease in the number of vegan products they carry in the past years.

  13. Veronica says:

    I’m in doubt about this and so for now I don’t buy from them. More reflection came in my mind…Do you not buy at the supermarket because it sells meats and any else derived from animal cruelty? Buying there your vegan food is not the same to buying cruelty-free products from parent company? You give the same support to animal cruelty. Sorry for my Grammar, however I hope my concept is clear. What do you think about?

  14. Tiffany says:

    I support them, in the hopes that continued support from vegans like myself will encourage them to break down the barriers from within.

    Not supporting them, when they are still committed to zero animal testing, is like saying I’m not vegan because my parents eat meat.

  15. Phyrra says:

    I choose to support cruelty free brands whether or not their parent company is cruelty free. I feel it helps in working towards eliminating animal testing.

  16. Sophie says:

    I boycott them. I don’t want my money to go towards animal testing and there are plenty of other brands I can buy from.

  17. Kelly Chambers says:

    I thought Essie and OPI tested on animals?

  18. Jenny says:

    I boycott them. I don’t want my money to go to their parent companies AND I think it tells something about the company if they choose to sell theirselves to cruel company only for more money.

  19. Megan says:

    It is a toughie and I respect everyone’s opinion on what to buy. I prefer to shop from CF companies without a non-CF parent, but I don’t feel especially bad about buying some things from those that are. For example, I buy Tom’s toothpaste because it’s the only CF brand sold at stores near me and the only CF brand I’ve found that includes fluoride. (My sister’s a dental student and strongly encourages me to still use a fluoride toothpaste because of the role it plays in tooth re-mineralization.) I know a lot of people prefer not to use fluoride for various reasons, but it’s a bummer for me that most CF toothpaste brands don’t at least have a fluoride option.

  20. Jessica says:

    I boycott them altogether. The money eventualy all funnels its way into the same hands.

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