Let it be known: PETA is not a reliable resource when it comes to confirming whether or not a company is truly cruelty-free. PETA is notorious for certifying companies that test on animals. Many of these companies sell their products in mainland China, where animal testing is still required by law for foreign cosmetics as of August 2020.
Although China will be ending pre-market cosmetic animal testing as of January 2021, post-market animal testing will still be in effect. Regardless, many of these companies continue to sell in mainland China despite cruel animal testing requirements. Check out 7 popular companies that are PETA certified but yet are not cruelty-free.
First Aid Beauty
First Aid Beauty is not cruelty-free. This company announced in July 2020 that it would begin selling products in mainland China. In a statement made by PETA, they claimed that First Aid Beauty products would be exempt from animal testing in China. According to PETA, “We’ve worked with the company to ensure that the products as manufactured and sold will not require tests on animals under Chinese government regulations.” Unfortunately, this statement is not valid. Although First Aid Beauty can produce products locally in China to avoid pre-market animal testing, this agreement violates Chinese law of post-market animal testing. First Aid Beauty will remain on the PETA certified companies list.
Dove was certified cruelty-free by PETA in October 2018. However, Dove continues to sell products in mainland China. In a statement made by Dove, they note, “We have changed which products we offer to Chinese consumers. The Chinese Authorities changed regulations in 2014 and now allow for certain cosmetics products that are manufactured in China to not require animal testing, and those are the products that we will be offering.” Like PETA’s statement regarding First Aid Beauty, this message omits the fact that post-market animal testing can still occur. Unfortunately, Dove will also remain on the PETA certified companies list. [source]
Wet n Wild
Thousands of consumers were angered by Wet n Wild’s decision to enter the Chinese market. Wet n Wild did not openly state their initial decision to enter the market in 2018. Instead, consumers made the discovery themselves. The company refused to address concerns over their cruelty-free status until May 2019. They continue to deny testing on animals. Wet n Wild is owned by Markwins International. This parent company also made the decision to move another well-loved, once cruelty-free company into China. PETA has not revoked its cruelty-free certification despite the market transition. [source]
Yes – Physicians Formula is also no longer cruelty-free. This Markwins International owned company also began selling products in mainland China in 2018 under the guises that their products would be exempt from any animal testing. Their response to loyal consumers was poorly executed and received. Their intentional lack of transparency has led to an intense backlash from the cruelty-free community. Physicians Formula is not cruelty-free but remains on the PETA certified companies list.
Freeman Beauty is yet another PETA certified company that is not cruelty-free. This company also sells in mainland China. Freeman Beauty products are made in the USA, categorizing them as “foreign” cosmetics. In turn, this subjects them to both pre-market and post-market animal testing in China. Freeman Beauty maintains that they are cruelty-free and do not test on animals. This company feeds consumers into believing that they can have a “clear conscious” when using their products. Freeman Beauty remains on the PETA certified companies list.
PETA certified Herbal Essences while they were actively selling in mainland China. According to PETA, “Even though Herbal Essences is sold in China, where tests on animals are required for many products, the brand has worked within Chinese regulations to make sure that will never happen.” Following, Herbal Essences stated, “We’re proud to have passed PETA’s stringent verification process to join their trusted list of cruelty-free brands.” PETA has a very lenient “verification” process. Therefore, it’s fairly easy for most companies to obtain a PETA certification.
We’re proud to have passed PETA’s stringent verification process to join their trusted list of cruelty-free brands. – Herbal Essences
Additionally, this company is an example of greenwashing. Greenwashing occurs when a company creates the illusion that its products are good for you and the planet through deceptive names, packaging, and marketing materials. Herbal Essences brand name, packaging, and marketing falsely leads consumers into believing that they are a cruelty-free and “green” company. Herbal Essences retains its PETA certification. [source]
UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2020
EOS is now 100% cruelty-free! In November 2020, EOS became Leaping Bunny certified after a rigorous audit of their entire supply chain from start to finish. Their products nor their ingredient are tested on animals. Furthermore, EOS can ensure that their ingredient suppliers do not test on animals. Finally, EOS has officially pulled out of the Chinese market and no longer sells in mainland China, where post-market animal testing still exists. [source] EOS is still PETA certified as well.
EOS is also a PETA certified company that still tests on animals. The company claims that all of its products sold in China are manufactured there using local ingredients. Thus, they are able to by-pass animal testing. As we are well aware of by this point, this is not the case. EOS is not exempt from the risks of post-market animal testing. Therefore, EOS is not a cruelty-free beauty company. They too remain on the PETA certified companies list.
Can PETA be trusted?
The short answer – no. PETA is not a reliable resource for determining whether or not a company is 100% cruelty-free. PETA states that all companies who are PETA certified and sell in China must withdraw their products if animal testing is set to occur. However, this method is based on a system of trust. Companies who are willing to enter the Chinese market in order to expand their own revenue cannot be trusted to withdraw their products in the event that animal testing may occur. [source]
That being said, having a PETA certification is not an indication that all PETA certified companies are not trustworthy. There are numerous companies that are indeed truly cruelty-free. Examples of trustworthy PETA certified companies include Function of Beauty (haircare), TULA (skincare), and Clove + Hallow (makeup). These comapies do not sell in mainland China and maintain full transparency about their animal testing policies. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
What can you trust?
There are plenty of honest, cruelty-free companies on the market. Being aware that two sides of the same coin exists will help you to make smarter, more informed decisions. Knowing which certifications you can trust is an important first step. First and foremost, you will want to check for certifications from organizations that specifically cater to the cruelty-free market. Examples of reputable certifications include Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free.
Additionally, if you are unsure of whether or not to trust a company’s cruelty-free claim, ask these questions to find out. Furthermore, you can reference our growing cruelty-free company database. We spend hundreds of hours of research to determine a company’s cruelty-free status. In the end, follow all of these steps and you’re well on your way to being a 100% cruelty-free consumer.