Is Physicians Formula Cruelty-Free?

Is Physicians Formula Cruelty-Free?

Is Physicians Formula cruelty-free? Find out now! Logical Harmony helps make cruelty-free easy!

Physicians Formula is a really popular drugstore brand and a sister company to Wet n Wild. Best known for their Butter Bronzer, Physicians Formula has been around for a long time. There has been a lot of buzz about their cruelty-free status lately. The past few months have seen an interesting evolution for the brand, and I wanted to walk you through their current situation.

Curious to know what’s currently going on with Physicians Formula? Are they cruelty-free? Do they have any vegan options? Find out what their current stance on animal testing is in this post.

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Is Physicians Formula cruelty-free? No. Physicians Formula is not cruelty-free.

Physicians Formula does not meet the Logical Harmony standards to be considered a cruelty-free brand. They are on the Logical Harmony list of Brands to Avoid.

Physicians Formula used to be cruelty-free. It is always very unfortunate when brands are removed from that list.

In my opinion, the situation was not handled well by Physicians Formula. It appeared that the brand tried to keep it a secret from cruelty-free consumers. I always push for transparency from brands. If they make decisions, they should be transparent about them and stand by them. It’s very frustrating to see a brand avoid answering their customers’ questions.

Does Physicians Formula sell in Mainland China? Yes. Physicians Formula sells in China.

Physicians Formula does sell in stores in Mainland China. This means that required by law animal testing does take place on their products. In the situation that the brand is able to avoid pre-market animal testing, they are unable to avoid post-market animal testing.

Brands are able to sell in China via methods like e-commerce and remain cruelty-free. It’s sad that the brand did not explore this option first.

Physicians Formula began to sell in stores in China without letting customers know. Fellow Markwins Beauty brand Wet n Wild did the same earlier in 2019.

In my opinion, this was a poor decision on their part. When Wet n Wild was caught selling in China, it was a mess. There was a lot of backlash from the cruelty-free space and from the beauty community in general. You might recall that even up until the day they released an official statement, they continued to deny that they were selling in stores in mainland China. Many people did not appreciate the brand appearing to lie to customers.

I was immediately skeptical about the cruelty-free stance of other Markwins brands but hoped that the Wet n Wild situation would have been a good learning experience for the brand. In this day and age, transparency is key. There are so many brands out there to compete with. Respecting your customers is more important than ever.

Unfortunately, it does not seem like Markwins learned from the Wet n Wild situation. Instead, they seemed to repeat it.

So, what exactly happened with Physicians Formula? Let’s break it down.

Photos of in-store displays of Physicians Formula products first appeared on IG in October 2019.


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These photos were originally shared in a Facebook group, but the group was not mentioned in the IG post. The caption says in Polish that the photos were taken in a City Super Supermarket in Shanghai, China. City Super does have stores in Hong Kong, where animal testing is not required by law. There are also many locations in mainland China. Including several in Shanghai. It’s unclear when these photos were taken or which location they were taken at.

I reached out to the brand immediately and repeatedly when these photos surfaced but never received a response. I continued to reach out over the next several months without response.

I moved Physicians Formula off of the Logical Harmony Cruelty-Free Brand List soon after the photos surfaced due to the lack of response on their part. It was concerning to me as often brands want to address rumors quickly. Especially when the rumors are about their cruelty-free status.

Additional photos of in-store displays did not surface that I had seen. I still have not seen additional photos. But, at the time, I was not sure I trusted Physicians Formula due to their complete lack of response. What happened with Wet n Wild didn’t help either. They were first moved to the Grey Area list with an explanation about the displays in China, and then to the Brands to Avoid list.

What happened after the Physicians Formula product display photos appeared online?

Over the next several months I saw that Physicians Formula was consistently asked on IG about selling in China. They did not reply to these comments. Some of them were deleted, but it’s unclear to me if they were removed by the brand or the person asking.

Readers of Logical Harmony and another content creator had contacted me saying that they had asked the brand about this and were told the displays were not authorized.  I did not see screencaps to confirm that this is what the brand said.

When did Physicians Formula finally address selling in stores in China?

In February of 2020, the brand finally addressed the issue of selling in mainland China via private email with My Beauty Bunny. In their email exchanges, the brand confirmed that they had been selling in stores in China for some time.

As of publication in March 2020, Physicians Formula has yet to publically address selling in China. Physicians Formula has still not replied to my emails, DM’s, or comments asking them about this. Comments on their Instagram from customers asking them about selling in China are still being removed.

I have been told by others that Physicians Formula has started to admit to people through private communication that they are selling in stores in China, where they are subject to animal testing. A few readers of Logical Harmony have told me that the brand has confirmed this to them via DM and email.

They have not issued a statement on their social channels about it.

Just like Wet n Wild, the brand also claims that they are able to stay cruelty-free despite selling in stores in mainland China.

Why does selling in stores in China matter?

This means that the brand no longer meets the Logical Harmony definition of being cruelty-free. I do not consider Physicians Formula to be a cruelty-free brand. While there have been some changes that have allowed a decrease in pre-market animal testing, post-market animal testing is a reality for any brand selling in stores there.

What is pre-market animal testing?

Pre-market animal testing is when the products are tested on animals before going onto the market. It is often done by a 3rd party group, which is how so many brands that sell in stores in China maintain that they themselves do not test on animals.

It is not clear to me if Physicians Formula would be able to avoid pre-market animal testing. In order to do so, only specific products can be available for sale and they need to be manufactured in a specific way. Even if they were able to avoid pre-market animal testing, that does not remove the potential for post-market animal testing.

What is post-market animal testing?

Post-market animal testing is when the finished products are tested after they have been approved to be placed in the consumer market. This means that they are pulled from the shelves of stores to have testing conducted on them. This testing is done by 3rd parties. The brands are not required to be notified of it happening. Some brands state that they have requested to be notified of potential post-market animal testing, but there is no indication currently that this is possible.

Brands who currently sell in China have also told me that they preemptively agree to these tests when they enter the market in China and pay fees to cover them. I have not seen contracts that confirm this, but several brands have told me this in confidence independently of each other.

Looking for more cruelty-free brands?

Here on Logical Harmony, you can find a full list of cruelty-free brands as well as shopping guides to help you find the cruelty-free brands at Dermstore, Ulta, Nordstrom, Sephora, Beauty Bay, Beautylish, Cult Beauty, and tons more. There are also lots of vegan product lists for cruelty-free brands too.


  1. Hello dear
    I was trying so hard to reach to Physicians formula so long. I heard and saw they are using some not BENEFICIAL substances in their products. They are using Carmine, Cocineal, lanolin which are not BENEFICIAL and also Haram in a sense. These ingredients are harmful mostly filth of some animals.
    They aren’t transparent about their ingredients list as well.
    Thank you so much for taking a good stand. I was a physicians formula lover but nothing can compromise this devious act.
    Thank you for creating this blog post.
    Lots of love.
    Aliff Rahaman

  2. Hi Tashina,

    I no longer buy physicans formula butter bronzer. And just ordered the uoma beauty contour stick as a possible replacement because i just saw Rhian use it. But just curious, if they test in China does that mean they also test in the US. Doesn’t matter i won’t buy them again just trying to understand the whole process. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for clearing this up! They sure went about this clumsily, and don’t seem to care at all about their loyal CF customers. I emailed them and got an automated reply inviting me to buy their products. Which I shan’t!

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