Is CeraVe Cruelty-Free?

April 14, 2023
Fragrance free, sensitive skin

Drugstore skincare buffs swear by CeraVE, influencers have it on their vanities, and dermatologists recommend it relentlessly: If ever there was a brand that has received much hype on the internet, it’s this one. 

But while its simplicity and gentle formulations pass the doctor’s test, it’s not all praise for this affordable skincare line. 

Many wonder, is CeraVe cruelty-free? 

The short answer? No, CeraVe does not cut it for our ethical brands’ list

Owned by French cosmetic and personal care company L’Oréal, the brand has made recent efforts to become more animal-friendly—but they are not quite there yet. 

To what extent is CeraVe cruelty-free? And are they doing anything to offset their impact as an animal-testing brand? 

Here’s what you should know if you’re trying to decide whether to pick or ditch this much-loved skincare brand. 

What Criteria Did We Use? 

Cruelty in manufacturing takes many forms, and just because a brand claims to be cruelty-free does not mean it does exactly what it says on the pack. They may fulfill one obligation but fail to meet another. 

To vet products, we pass them through five key considerations: 

1. Ingredients

The company does not use any ingredient, formulation, or product from a manufacturer or supplier that conducts, commissions, or has been party to animal testing practices with said ingredient. Their parent company also does not use contentious ingredients. 

2. Finished Products 

Their finished products are not tested on animals by them or any other company. 

3. Suppliers 

Suppliers of the brand do not test ingredients or finished products on animals. 

4. Third Parties 

The company does not carry out testing of ingredients or products through third parties. 

5. Law Requirements

The company does not allow animal testing to be done by, or for regulatory requirements in foreign countries and is not sold in countries where animal testing is required. 

Why CeraVe Products Are Not Cruelty-Free 

The L’Oréal Group, which acquired the CeraVe brand in 2017, includes the following statements in their official animal testing policy: 

“The L’Oréal Group, which includes CeraVe, has always made our consumers’ health and safety an absolute priority. As is the support of animal welfare… L’Oréal has been committed to new methods of assessing safety that don’t involve animals… Today, L’Oréal no longer tests its ingredients on animals and no longer tolerates any exception to this rule.” 

Furthermore, CeraVe claims in their FAQ section that they do not test on animals. 

However, this is how the brand measures up against our points of reference mentioned above:

CriteriaTest/Tested on Animals
Finished productsYes
Third partiesYes
Where required by lawYes

*With possible exceptions. 

Let’s take a look at why CeraVe’s and parent company L’Oréal’s statements are misleading. 

Their Finished Products are Tested on Animals 

In its official statement, L’Oréal claims that it does not test on animals and does not tolerate any exceptions to the rule. 

But they mention exceptions in the very next sentence, stating: “Certain health authorities may nevertheless decide to conduct animal tests themselves for certain cosmetic products.”  

This statement makes it clear that they’re willing to allow tests on animals if mandatory. 

As you may know, China performs this procedure as a regulatory requirement. L’Oréal tries to minimize its involvement by claiming that “health authorities” perform these tests and not the company. 

They also fail to point out that they are required to fund the animal testing carried out on CeraVe products in these countries. 

Their Parent Company Does Not Specify if Product Ingredients are Cruelty-Free

Cruelty Free Logo
Source: Wikimedia and Flickr

According to the Leaping Bunny Program’s Standard of Compassion, a company is required to implement a supplier or third-party monitoring system. 

These parties must declare cruelty-free product and raw material compliance. 

If not possible, they must declare the following in their company’s purchase order agreement: 

“The supplier affirms by fulfilling this order that it does not conduct or commission animal testing of any cosmetics and/or household products, including without limitation, ingredients or formulations of such products, supplied to [relevant entity] after [Company’s Fixed Cut-off Date].”

Though L’Oréal claims to not tolerate any exceptions to their animal testing rule, they do not provide explicit information on their supplier policy, which is suspect. 

Most, if not all, 100% cruelty-free beauty brands are loud and proud about how they source their ingredients. 

They Sell In Countries That Require Animal Testing 

CeraVe skincare products are sold in China where animal-testing for any cosmetics sold in the country is required by law—the only country in the world to do so. This singular fact establishes it as a non cruelty-free brand.

Considering China is the world’s second-largest beauty economy after the US in terms of revenue and consumption, many skincare brands aren’t willing to stop animal testing and lose their market.

White rabbit
Source: Unsplash by Gustavo Zambelli

Fully cruelty-free cosmetics companies do not sell their products in China. Though some claim to use the loophole of manufacturing their products within the country as the Chinese government does not require cosmetics produced in China to be tested on animals. 

CeraVe products are not produced in China, so must be passed through animal tests. However, L’Oréal claims to be working towards an alternative. They refer to this in their policy statement, saying: 

“L’Oréal is the most active company working alongside the Chinese authorities and scientists for over 10 years to have alternative testing methods recognized, and permit the cosmetic regulation to evolve towards a total and definite elimination of animal testing. Thanks to this, since 2014, certain products manufactured and sold in China like shampoo, body wash or certain make-up products are no longer tested on animals.” 

Any steps taken towards the protection of animal welfare should be acknowledged and applauded, but we don’t believe this justifies Cerave’s cruelty-free statement. 

Is CeraVe Vegan? 

While there are some vegan CeraVe products, there are no cruelty-free CeraVe products. 

Keep in mind that “cruelty-free” and “vegan” do not mean the same thing. A brand can be cruelty-free but not vegan, meaning it is not tested on animals but its products contain animal by-products. 

It can also contain 100% vegan ingredients but not be cruelty-free as its products are tested on animals. 

CeraVe states that it is going to be 100% vegan by 2021 but has not given any clear direction on changing its cruelty-free status. 

Get it Right With Caring Consumer

There you have it. Though CeraVe claims to be a cruelty-free brand, our research determines that it is not. Furthermore, CeraVe is not certified as cruelty-free by any organizations. 

Until they can back their statements with reliable facts, we do not recommend CeraVe as an ethical brand.

If you’re looking for similar products from cruelty-free brands, you’ll find some great alternatives to CeraVe products on our list of brands that DON’T test on animals.

Photo by Eko Sunaryo / CC BY