Is Kiehl’s cruelty-free and Vegan? (The Truth Behind The Brand)

Kiehl’s has built up a reputation for its natural ingredients and formula efficacy.

But, behind the brand’s ethos of honoring their pharmaceutical heritage, implementing strong brand values, and driving an emphasis behind ‘natural’ formulas, are they as squeaky clean as they market themselves to be?

You’ll have to read on to discover.

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Is Kiehl’s cruelty-free?

If a company states that they are a cruelty-free brand there is still a chance that a third-party company has tested the product on their behalf, which is a huge gray area that many consumers are unaware of.

Kiehl’s is a brand that many believe falls under this category.

At the time of writing, Kiehl’s is currently not a cruelty-free brand.

This is because Kiehl’s, at times, may choose to test on animals via a third party, themselves or a supplier, and it is entirely at their own discretion.

This means that Kiehl’s does not need to disclose which products have been tested and which ones haven’t, as well as what methods were used to undertake the testing.

In addition to this, it is very important to be aware that Kiehl’s may also fund animal testing because they sell products in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law.

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Does Kiehl’s test on animals?

Just by taking a look at their policy (which is available on their website) Kiehl’s state that:


“In 1989, L’Oréal completely ceased testing its products on animals, thus 14 years before the regulation required so. 

Today, L’Oréal no longer tests its ingredients on animals and no longer tolerates any exception to this rule. 

Certain health authorities may nevertheless decide to conduct animal tests themselves for certain cosmetic products, as it is still the case in China.”

Though this may seem as though Kiehl’s, as a company, do not conduct any animal testing, that doesn’t mean that they do not allow third-parties to-do so for them.

This is made clear in the second half of the extract we pulled from their website, in which they state that ‘certain health authorities’ may choose to conduct tests for ‘certain cosmetic products’ which can be assumed to be Kiehl’s.

Therefore, as Kiehl’s allows this, it can be said that Kiehl’s does allow animal testing on their products.

Is Kiehl’s vegan?

This is a little tricky, and we’ll explain why.

Though Kiehl’s does claim that some of their products are vegan, which means that the specified finished product will not contain any animal-derived ingredients, such as honey.

However, Kiehl’s does not feature any vegan labeling products across any of their products, and none of Kiehl’s products are certified as vegan via Leaping Bunny or Peta.

For these reasons, many people do not consider any of Kiehl’s products to be vegan-friendly as they are not a totally cruelty-free company.

Kiehl also uses many animal-derived ingredients throughout all its products and, to help you spot them in the future, here is a quick list of some of the most common animal-derived ingredients Kiehl’s and other brands may use:

  • Carmine - due to the vibrant color, carmine is used in tinted moisturizers and lip balms
  • Beeswax - commonly used in lip products for its nourishing properties
  • Hyaluronic acid - found in all types of skincare products
  • Retinol - commonly used in serums, peels, and night creams
  • Lanolin - can be found in moisturizers
  • Lactic acid - commonly found in AHAs
  • Squalene - often used in moisturizers and serums
  • Keratin - commonly used for nail and hair products

This is something to keep in mind if you yourself are a vegan, or if you were planning on purchasing a Kiehl’s product for someone you know who is.

Do Kiehl’s sell in China?

Yesm Kiehl's sell their products in mainland China where there is a requirement for animal testing.

Is Kiehl’s a clean brand?

Despite what their website copy and minimalist packaging might suggest, Kiehl’s are, unfortunately, not widely considered to be a clean brand as far as their ingredients go.

Though Kiehl’s are committed to using natural ingredients, sometimes this is not always the case, which can be seen from the way that many of their most popular products contain preservatives and other nasty ingredients.

For example, Ultra Facial Cream, which is one of Kiehl’s bestselling products contains phenoxyethanol, which is known to be both a neurotoxin and a skin irritant.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as Kiehl’s has shown steps that they are committed to being an eco-friendly brand.

They have made a promise to use more natural ingredients, work hand-in-hand with local producers to be able to sustainably source ingredients, as well as help give back to communities through initiatives and partnerships.

Another positive to be taken from Kiehl’s that all of their packaging is made of recycled materials where possible and, in 2019, they were able to spare 350 tons of plastic by switching to 30% post-consumer recycled materials in 82% of their product packaging.

Last update on 2021-04-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API