Lately I have been receiving a lot of emails and social media comments asking if the rumors were true – had L’Oreal changed their animal testing stance? Is L’Oreal cruelty-free? Many people who emailed me were asking of the laws in China had changed to now allow brands like L’Oreal to avoid animal testing.
Because of the large number of these inquiries, and the questions included in them, I decided that creating a blog post about this would be the most informative response for everyone. In this post, I will answer all of the questions that I have been receiving. This post is long and has a lot of information. The goal is that you will be able to have any of your questions answered by the time you are done reading it.
Editor’s note: This was originally posted on November 8, 2015 but I have continued to get a lot of questions about L’Oreal and their cruelty-free status. Because of this, I wanted to update the original article to help answer the questions of many confused consumers out there. This post has been updated to reflect any current changes or updates.
For those who don’t want to read through this entire post, the plain and simple answer to the question I kept getting, “Is L’Oreal cruelty-free?” is no. L’Oreal is not cruelty-free. Here are a few bullet points to explain why.
- L’Oreal states that they allow for their products to be tested on animals to comply with regulatory laws in place around the world.
- The changes to animal testing laws in China do not change the animal testing policies for all beauty products. Animal testing is still required for many of the products that L’Oreal produces.
- The changes to animal testing laws in China do not impact international brands in the same way that they impact brands who manufacture and sell only in China.
- L’Oreal manufactures their products in many countries around the world, not only in China. China still requires animal testing for all beauty items that are imported into China for sale.
The first place to start with any brand is to find out their official stance on animal testing. L’Oreal includes their animal testing stance on their own website. It reads,
Does L’Oreal test on animals?
L’Oréal no longer tests on animals any of its products or any of its ingredients, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others. The rare exception allowed is if regulatory authorities demand it for safety or regulatory purposes.
What do you mean by ‘an exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes’?
The exception is very rare and stems from the variety of regulations worldwide. Certain authorities have not yet accepted alternative methods in their country and could hypothetically require us to conduct safety evaluations on animals. Also, in response to questions raised by the scientific community and by civil society, local authorities could choose to reexamine the safety data of a known family of ingredients, and could require new safety data.
What about China?
In China, the regulatory authorities carry out within their evaluation centers animal tests for finished cosmetics products before these are placed on their market. We think these tests are unnecessary but we cannot prevent them.
The key thing to take away from this statement is, “The rare exception allowed is if regulatory authorities demand it for safety or regulatory purposes.” This statement means that, when required to, L’Oreal does test on animals or allow their products to be tested on animals.
Currently, L’Oreal does sell their products in China where animal testing is still mandatory and required by law for the large majority of cosmetics.
In their statement about China, L’Oreal is accurate when they state that regulatory authorities carry out the animal tests within their evaluation centers. However, what they are leaving out is that the brands that create these products are responsible for paying for the tests to occur. To enter the Chinese market, brands sign an agreement to allow their products to be tested on animals and the brands also pay the fees for these tests to occur.
Many people have asked if the recent changes to laws in China about animal testing mean that L’Oreal is cruelty-free. Sadly, they do not.
The post China Takes First Steps Towards Ending Animal Testing, details what products and brands have potentially been impacted by these changes. Please read that post for more in-depth details. To summarize some important key points –
- The changes made in China impact ordinary use cosmetics only. As defined by the Chemical Inspection Regulatory Service (CIRS) in China, ordinary cosmetics include general hair care, nail care, cosmetics, perfumes and skin care.
- Non-ordinary cosmetics will still be required to be tested on animals. According to CIRS, these are products that claim to have a functional use on the label (such as hair growth, hair dye, hair removal, deodorizing, sun block, skin whitening, skin pigmentation & more). Take a peek at your beauty stash, and you are sure to see statements all over that would make items “non-ordinary”.
- Only ordinary cosmetics that are manufactured and sold only in China will be allowed to use alternatives to animal testing. They are not required to use alternative methods and can continue to test these items on animals if the brand desires.
- Non-ordinary cosmetics that are manufactured and sold only in China are still required to be tested on animals. They are not allowed to use alternative testing methods to prove the safety of these products.
- Both non-ordinary and ordinary cosmetics that are manufactured outside of China and imported into China for sale are still required to be tested on animals.
- If a brand makes both ordinary use and non-ordinary use cosmetics, the brand cannot be cruelty-free as they are still making products that require animal testing.
While these changes can mean a reduction in animal testing for some brands, post-market animal testing requirements in China were increased after the initial law went into effect. Brands who sell in China will still be required to submit their products to regulatory animal testing. This also means that ordinary cosmetics may still be tested on animals by the Chinese government. In fact, the chances that a finished product of any kind will be tested on animals is now higher.
Leaping Bunny also issued a great press release about this topic.
Many people have also asked if because L’Oreal manufactures their products in China if that means that they are cruelty-free. This is not the case. For starters, L’Oreal does not manufacture items only in China. According to L’Oreal, they own 41 manufacturing plants on all continents. Recent additions are in Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Egypt. While some animal testing may have been reduced for brands who manufacture in China, all items imported into China still require animal testing to occur.
This issue is very confusing for many of us. I strive to make sure that you are getting the most accurate and credible information out there. As consumers, it can be a tricky world to navigate at times and very confusing. My goal is to make sure that you know what brands you can trust to be cruelty-free.