Is CeraVe Cruelty-Free?

Whether popular skincare brand CeraVe is cruelty-free or not has been quite the misleading debate in the beauty industry. For vegans and animal rights activists, it’s important to invest in strictly cruelty-free cosmetics to avoid contributing to testing on animals. 

So, what about CeraVe? In short, no. CeraVe is not cruelty-free. 

The long answer to this question is slightly more complicated, so let’s delve into it!

What Does CeraVe Say? 

According to CeraVe’s FAQ section on their website, they claim to not test their products on animals. 

However, this does not mean that animal testing has not been involved throughout the production of their products. 

The term “cruelty-free” does not have a legal definition, meaning that any brand can technically say their products are cruelty-free if they do not provide an extensive list of ingredients for each product.

That’s the loophole that cosmetic companies can unfortunately make, because if they don’t offer the full list of ingredients, they can get away with claiming their brand is cruelty-free. 

So, CeraVe claims they do not test their products on animals. This could be true, but this statement does not consider third parties and suppliers in the production chain that could test on animals. This statement also does not consider the fact that some countries legally require animal testing on imported ingredients and sold products. 

CeraVe and China

China is one of the countries that requires animal testing on products by law. Even if the products have been put on the market, they can be taken away to test on animals. This is to prevent customer complaints and the possibility of brands shutting down if there are widespread complaints about the quality of the product. 

When cosmetic brands intend to sell their products in China, they are required to test these products on animals prior to putting them on the market. This can range from makeup to skincare products, and even other products such as sunscreen. 

Does CeraVe Sell Their Products in China?

CeraVe sells their products in mainland China, so they have to agree to these animal testing requirements. Whether you buy these products from China or not, there is an argument that these investments subsequently contributes to the animal testing trade. 

CeraVe is a popular and sought after brand in China. According to a China market study by L’Oreal (CeraVe’s parent company), Chinese people would pay extortionate shipping prices if the products were unavailable in their own country. L’Oreal then decided to sell more products in China due to the high demand, and put the products at a higher price also.

It is important to note that CeraVe’s products are not manufactured in China, but they are imported there. Testing foreign manufactured products on animals, in China’s view, is their way of justifying the quality of the product and whether it will affect their clientele’s health and skin. 

What About Other Countries? 

Unfortunately, the majority of countries globally contribute to animal testing. It’s not easy to find which countries legally require animal testing on imported products, however, but Brazil is in the same stance as China. 

L’oreal – The Parent Company

L’Oreal, a popular French cosmetics company, owns CeraVe. As with CeraVe’s claim, L’Oreal claims that their products are 100% vegan and they work to not test their products on animals, but this does not mean that imported ingredients and products are not. If they sell their products to countries that require animal testing, then this is unavoidable.

This also doesn’t mention the ingredients they buy from third-parties that do tests on animals. L’Oreal has to agree to these testing procedures, so they are effectively turning a blind eye to it.  

L’Oreal do sell their products and their brand’s products in countries such as China that do require animal testing on imported products. As a result of this, L’Oreal is subsequently on PETA’s official list of companies that tests on animals.

If we wanted to go even further, Nestlé has a 23.9% ownership stake in L’Oreal. Nestlé, sadly, is not a cruelty-free company, yet is the biggest food company in the world. If you are a strict vegan or animal rights activist, this research may be important to your ethical standards. 

Despite this, L’Oreal have made advancements to avoid animal testing. This includes owning multiple cruelty-free brands, as well as alternative methods such as Episkin which mimics human skin instead of testing on animals. Other cruelty-free brands they own include NYX Cosmetics, Urban Decay, and Pureology amongst others. 

Is CeraVe Vegan and/or Vegetarian?

As the majority of people who look to buy cruelty-free cosmetic products are vegan, let us answer the question: Is CeraVe vegan? 

It entirely depends on the product and its list of ingredients. Some products are vegan, but as others are not, CeraVe is not a 100% vegan brand. 

The ingredients in the non-vegan CeraVe products include glycerin, cholesterol, and other animal by-products such as beeswax. Despite this, the website states that their products are vegan – so this is something to consider if you are a strict vegan! Likewise, as these ingredients are involved in most products, CeraVe is not vegetarian either. 

However, just to confuse you even more, CeraVe products sold in the UK do not contain glycerin or cholesterol – which means it is a vegan brand in the UK. They use plant-based alternative ingredients instead. 

I’m a Strict Vegan and Animal Rights Activist, Can I Use CeraVe Products?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. It all comes down to ethical standards and personal preferences. In a world where very few products are 100% vegan, from the ingredients to third-parties, it’s not always possible to maintain a completely vegan cosmetics lifestyle.

In the same way that Oreos are technically vegan (if you don’t count the potential cross-contamination of dairy products and their use of palm oil), as long as you don’t buy the products in mass quantities, one could argue that your money is not contributing to animal testing.

However, if you are a strict vegan and animal rights activist, you are justified to avoid buying CeraVe products. Due to the countries the brand sell theirs products to that require animal testing of imported products, such as China, one could argue that purchasing a CeraVe product will subsequently be funding animal testing.

Likewise, as L’Oreal is not 100% cruelty-free or vegan, you could consider that CeraVe is subsequently not cruelty-free either. With Nestlé in the mix also, CeraVe is not vegan in the large scale chain of production and selling. 

Obviously, buying products from a brand that don’t directly test on animals is much better than contributing to brands and companies that definitely test their products on animals. It all comes down to ethical standards – for example, a vegan may feel less guilty buying a CeraVe product as they already dedicate their diet to actively avoiding animal cruelty. 

CeraVe’s Cruelty-Free Timeline 

CeraVe has never really been a vegan or cruelty-free brand. In the early years of the brand, they were fairly silent on their ingredients list and whether or not they tested their products on animals. 

In 2017, L’Oreal bought CeraVe and started selling their products in China. As we have explained, neither L’Oreal or China are cruelty-free. CeraVe, subsequently, have been funding the Chinese government to test their products on animals ever since. 

However, they have released a statement claiming that they aim to make every single product entirely vegan by 2021. This does not mean they will not stop selling their products to China or Brazil. 

Does Cruelty-Free Mean Vegan?

As the two terms mostly come hand-in-hand, it is important to remember that cruelty-free products don’t necessarily mean they are vegan, and vice versa.

Vegan products means they do not contain any animal by-products or derived products such as beeswax, honey, and gelatin. Cruelty-free products mean that no animals were harmed in the production of the products, but they can contain animal products. 

This is when personal ethical standards come in, because some vegans may feel comfortable buying vegan products that test on animals, and some may not mind buying cruelty-free products that contain honey or beeswax.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives to CeraVe

Fortunately, there are cruelty-free alternatives to CeraVe products! CeraVe is a skincare brand which specializes in cleansers and moisturizers that work to prevent and cure acne and sensitive skin. 

Cruelty-free and 100% vegan alternatives include: 

  • Acure
  • Pacifica
  • Milk Makeup
  • elf
  • Booda Organics
  • One Love Organics
  • 100% Pure
  • Skyn Iceland

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, it’s not easy to say that CeraVe is cruelty-free despite their claim on their website.

Whilst some of their products may be vegan and claim to be cruelty-free, this does not change the fact that they sell their products in mainland China and Brazil where animal testing is mandatory on imported products.

Also, L’Oreal is not 100% cruelty-free either, so it’s important to understand the chain of production and the business chain to know whether a brand is 100% cruelty-free. In the case of CeraVe, it is not cruelty-free.