Is Cetaphil Cruelty-Free? Don’t Be Fooled by False Statements

The Cetaphil brand needs no introduction. Known for its gentle, scent-free, and effective formulas, the drugstore skincare brand has been a foremost choice for consumers and experts alike.

There is no denying the reliability of the brand and the efficacy of its products. But as an increasing number of people become more concerned about animal welfare and more conscious of the environmental impact of their choices, there are questions and concerns about Cetaphil’s animal testing policy.

A large number of consumers want to know if Cetaphil is a cruelty-free skincare brand or not. And this is exactly what we’re going to discuss today!

Read on to get answers to all your questions regarding Cetaphil’s cruelty-free status!

Is Cetaphil Cruelty-Free?

Bad news for all Cetaphil lovers – the brand is sadly not cruelty-free.

Cetaphil was not among the brands that received cruelty-free certification by one of the three global organizations that aim to end animal testing.

What Is Cetaphil’s Animal Testing Policy?

This is where things can get confusing, and many consumers get tricked into believing that Cetaphil is a cruelty-free skincare brand.

The company claims, on its official website, that it doesn’t test on animals.

While this statement tells us that Cetaphil does not perform animal testing for its products, it doesn’t show us the complete picture. Does Cetaphil allow third parties to test its products on animals? Does Cetaphil test its ingredients on animals? Does Cetaphil sell its products in any country (read: China) where the law requires animal testing?

The skincare brand does not provide answers for them.

To be classified as cruelty-free, a company shouldn’t be involved in animal testing, whether directly or indirectly, at any stage of its product manufacturing and sales processes. Given Cetaphil’s lack of a definite response, however, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Cetaphil’s animal testing policy is incomplete and vague.

If you have recently transitioned to the cruelty-free world and do not know much about cosmetic animal testing, check out the following video to learn what it is all about:

So, How Do We Know That Cetaphil Is Not Cruelty-Free?

I know what you’re thinking. Just because Cetaphil doesn’t have a comprehensive and clear animal testing policy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s involved in animal testing, right?

I wish that were the case!

When I dug a little deeper, I figured that Cetaphil doesn’t fully meet the criteria for a cruelty-free brand. While there is no information available regarding animal testing of its ingredients and if its suppliers test on animals, the company does allow animal testing when required by law.

Does Cetaphil test on animals

Does Cetaphil Sell in China?

Yes, Cetaphil does sell in China. The skincare brand even has a dedicated website for the country…

In case you didn’t already know, Chinese law requires animal testing of all imported beauty products.

But Hasn’t China Ended Mandatory Animal Testing?

If you’re an ethical consumer actively keeping an eye on animal testing policies of various brands and countries, you must have heard the news that China has decided to end the “mandatory animal testing” policy of imported “general cosmetics”, effective May 1, 2021.  

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn’t completely end animal cruelty.

There are a few factors that need to be considered here:

  1. To be exempted from animal testing, a company’s products have to be categorized as “general cosmetics”. General cosmetics include products that do not make claims, such as anti-acne, anti-aging, skin whitening, or sun protection. They also include products like shampoos, lotions, body wash, and makeup.
  2. The new regulation has also set out certain conditions that include:
  3. Being able to provide certifications of product quality from the manufacturing country;
  4. The products not containing any raw material that’s not on China’s list of approved raw materials; and
  5. The products not targeting infants and children.
  6. China also has a post-market animal testing policy, and brands must agree to it to sell their products in China. This gives authorities the right to pull off any product from the shelf and test it for safety and efficacy.

Although it doesn’t happen too frequently, the policy still applies. Whether locally manufactured or imported, any brand that sells in China, has to agree to the country’s post-market animal testing policy.

  • You can refer to my article “Is Dove Cruelty-Free?” for a detailed discussion on China’s post-market animal testing policy.

Where Does Cetaphil Stand in This New Scenario?

Cetaphil’s “general cosmetic” products will be exempted from animal testing in China starting May 1, 2021. However, the drugstore skincare brand also sells products that do not fall into the “general cosmetics” category and products for babies. Hence, many of Cetaphil’s products will still be subjected to animal testing in China.

So, What’s the Verdict – Is Cetaphil a Cruelty-Free Brand or Not?

Even if we ignore the fact that the company might be testing its ingredients on animals, paying third parties to test its ingredients and/or products on animals, or working with suppliers that perform animal testing, Cetaphil cannot be classified as a cruelty-free skincare brand. The primary reason is that it agrees to China’s animal testing laws.

Many of Cetaphil’s products will continue to be tested on animals in China, even after May 1, 2021, because they do not fit the criteria for exemption. Furthermore, by selling its products in China, Cetaphil has also agreed to the country’s post-market animal testing. Even though it now only happens occasionally, the possibility is there as long as the policy exists.

In view of all these factors, Cetaphil cannot stand as a cruelty-free skincare brand.

Is Cetaphil Vegan?

The company doesn’t provide any information regarding the vegan status of its products on the U.S. website. However, it briefly addresses the question on its Canadian website:

Unfortunately, the response isn’t detailed enough to enable us to identify vegan-friendly Cetaphil products.

Although the company doesn’t list vegan products, many online sources assert that all but one Cetaphil products are vegan-friendly. And that non-vegan product is the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar. It is the only product that contains sodium tallowate, an ingredient that comes from animal fat.

But there seems to have been a misunderstanding or oversight here!

In its response on the website, the company mentions sodium tallowate as an example of non-vegan ingredients found in its products. It doesn’t state that it is the only non-vegan ingredient. It says that the brand uses “a few” non-vegan ingredients, which means there are some other non-vegan ingredients as well.

While researching, I found one other non-vegan ingredient in a Cetaphil product: beeswax, which is present in the Deep Hydration Refreshing Eye Serum.

This leaves us only with the old-school option of checking the ingredient list of every Cetaphil product and then doing our own research to determine its vegan status. But who has the time for that, especially when there are alternatives available on the market?

Vegan and Cruelty-Free Cetaphil Alternatives

The following are some cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands that can make good alternatives to Cetaphil:

  • Acure
  • Pacifica
  • Derma E

All these brands are 100% vegan, so no more spending hours evaluating the source of these companies’ ingredients.

Users also provided some cruelty-free alternatives to the Cetaphil cleanser on Reddit:

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Cetaphil’s cruelty-free and vegan status to settle this discussion once and for all:

§ Does Cetaphil do animal testing?

Cetaphil asserts that it doesn’t perform animal testing. However, as we have discussed earlier, this doesn’t make the brand cruelty-free because it may be testing its ingredients on animals, or it may be involved in third-party animal testing. The skincare brand also sells its products in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law for all imported beauty products.

§ Is Cetaphil made in China?

No, Cetaphil doesn’t manufacture in China, which means its products are subject to animal testing, as per the country’s law.

§ Is Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser vegan?

Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser is vegan. However, its Gentle Cleansing Bar is not.

§ What Cetaphil products are vegan?

There is no comprehensive list of Cetaphil vegan products available. You have to check the ingredients of each product you’re buying to figure out if it’s vegan or non-vegan.

§ What non-vegan ingredients does Cetaphil use?

There is no list of Cetaphil animal ingredients available. However, we do know that are a few, including sodium tallowate and beeswax.

§ Is Cetaphil cruelty-free and vegan?

Cetaphil is not cruelty-free. While the company offers some products that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, many vegans avoid using Cetaphil products altogether. This is because animal welfare is one of the core values of veganism. A brand involved in animal cruelty, directly or indirectly, cannot be termed as genuinely vegan, even if it doesn’t use animal ingredients in its products.  

Did you find this cruelty-free resource useful? Are you interested to learn about the cruelty-free status of other brands? Read my article “Is Olay Cruelty-Free?”for a similar analysis of the famous skincare brand.

Want to Learn More

We have a lot of guides that are suitable for both beginners and expert vegans.