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Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free & Vegan? What You Should to Know

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Last updated: April 7, 2023

This high-end skincare brand carries a promise of radiant, youthful skin, but this might be off-limits for vegans.

Many people have been asking, ‘’Is Kiehl’s cruelty-free?’’ and what does it take for a company to even qualify as cruelty-free?

It took me days of detailed research to answer this dilemma and now all the answers are finally here.

So, to get to the bottom of this, we need to answer two crucial questions: ‘’Does Kiehl's test on animals?’’ and ‘’Is Kiehl's sold in China?” so keep on reading to find out more.

Quick Summary

  • Kiehl's isn't cruelty-free because it sells its products to countries that do mandatory animal testing on products.
  • Companies that conduct animal testing, pay others to test for them, or sell to countries with mandatory animal testing don't qualify as cruelty-free.
  • Kiehl has plenty of vegan products ranging from Amino acid shampoo, Amino acid conditioner, and midnight recovery face oil.

What You Should Know About Kiehl’s

A facial cleanser and a dark spot solution

Although, according to their president, the company is ‘’committed to sustainability and philanthropy’’, they are, unfortunately, not so diligent when it comes to animal welfare.

Despite Kiehl’s claims that they’re devoted to ending animal testing and are investing in non-animal testing technologies, there haven’t been any significant changes so far.

To be considered cruelty-free, a company must not:

  1. Sell their products in countries where animal testing is obligatory
  2. Test any of their products or ingredients on animals or ask others to conduct tests
  3. Allow others to conduct animal testing on their behalf

Sadly, it looks like Kiehl’s fails to meet some of these requirements. But this still doesn’t fully answer the question, ‘’Is Kiehl’s cruelty-free?’’

Do They Conduct Testing on Animals?

Kiehl’s is owned by L’Oreal. This French beauty and cosmetics giant pays for animal testing and is, therefore, not listed as a cruelty-free brand.

It goes without saing that Kiehl’s animal testing policy is the same as L’Oreal’s.

A rabbit in a background of beauty products

A bit of detective work is required to understand Kiehl’s animal testing policy.

Their official animal testing policy begins with these encouraging words:

‘’We at Kiehl's do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law.’’ [1]

But, we’ll have to dig deeper to find the answer to the question is Kiehl's cruelty-free.

Although they proudly emphasize that:

''In 1989, our parent company L’Oreal, voluntarily stopped using animal testing for the evaluation of its entire range of finished products.’’

This is a good start, but it’s not enough for a brand to qualify as cruelty-free and vegan. To be categorized as such, Kiehl’s would need to quit selling their products in countries where animal testing is required by law.

Despite the claims in their animal testing policy, Kiehl’s cruelty-free status is far from acceptable. Their products get tested on animals, either through their suppliers or through a third party.

In other words, they pay for their products to be tested on animals by a third party.

So, if you are going for cruelty-free, Kiehl’s is not the best choice.

However, we should mention that, despite not being cruelty-free, Kiehl’s still has a couple of products that qualify as vegan, but only in terms of ingredients.

But Kiehl’s is not alone in this mess. Companies around the world could also be financing animal testing by selling products in mainland China, where animal tests are required by law.

Is It Sold in China?

Skin care solutions of a known brand

Yes, Kiehl's sells in China where animal testing is required by law.

All companies that choose to sell their products in mainland China are required by law to conduct cruel and unnecessary animal testing.

So, despite their claims that their products are not tested on animals, Kiehl’s choice to sell in China, where animal testing is obligatory for all imported cosmetics, makes this beauty and skincare company not cruelty-free.

So, does this mean that all cosmetic brands sold in China test their products on animals? Basically, yes, unless the products are sold online only.

How to Check if a Brand is Cruelty-Free?

A girl searching and looking on a laptop

With today’s abundance of accessible information, it’s fairly easy to check if a company is vegan and cruelty-free.

The most reliable sources being organizations that issue cruelty-free certifications, such as PETA, Leaping Bunny, and Choose Cruelty-Free.

Unfortunately, you won’t find Kiehl’s listed as one of the cruelty-free vegan brands on any of these pages, which is the case with all other brands that are a part of the L’Oreal Group.

If you are in doubt about other brands, always check animal testing policies, or simply go straight to the list of cruelty-free companies and ethical brands.

Although most brands won’t fully disclose whether they test on animals or not, companies that state that they, their suppliers, or any third party test on animals, would fall under the "not cruelty-free" category.

Also, if you discover that a company sells their cosmetics in mainland China, that should be another red flag and a signal that their products have been tested on animals.

In case you’re still not convinced whether your money will be used to finance these cruel experiments, contacting the company directly is also something you can do for your own peace of mind.

The easiest option is to stick to trusted, certified cruelty-free brands that clearly state their policies on their product labels.

Are Any of Kiehl's Products Vegan?

Beauty products offered by a single brand

Although Kiehl’s is not cruelty-free, they do offer some products that are free from animal ingredients:

  • Amino Acid Conditioner
  • Amino Acid Shampoo
  • Midnight Recovery Face Oil
  • Creme de Corps (Contains: Glycerin)
  • Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (Contains: Glycerin and Stearic Acid)

Kiehl’s vegan products may be just the right choice for your skin, but is it worth animal suffering?

Given that Kiehl’s is owned by a parent company that is not cruelty-free certified, maybe the safest bet would be to avoid all of their products, even the vegan ones.

Kiehl's Cruelty-Free Alternatives

Other cruelty free alternatives beauty products

Now that you know that Kiehl’s is not cruelty-free, maybe it’s time to think of alternatives.

Luckily, there are some amazing vegan beauty and cosmetic brands available today.

For example, OSEA is a fabulous cruelty-free brand and 100% vegan that includes an array of organic products.

The concentrated formula absorbs beautifully and gives your skin a healthy youthful glow.

Here is a full list of cruelty-free brands where you can find an ethical replacement for almost anything you can think of; from beauty products, household items, and food.

Final Verdict - Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free?

So, here’s the wrap-up of Kiehl’s cruelty-free status.

Although they claim that they don’t test on animals, they do so when required by law. They sell in China, which is a red flag when it comes to animal testing.

To qualify as cruelty-free and vegan, Kiehl’s should stop selling products to countries where testing products on animals is mandatory.

Since they decided to sell in mainland China, they are willingly paying for tests on animals.

Kiehl’s does, however, offer some products that are vegan in terms of the ingredients, which still doesn't make them cruelty-free.

Do you agree that Keihl’s products should be boycotted? What are your go-to vegan alternatives? Let us know in the comments below!


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