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Glossier is one of the biggest beauty companies right now. At the time of writing, they have 2.6 million Instagram followers. While digging into the brand, they rose to fame by working with top models and influencers. Glossier’s products are simple, but the cute packaging wins many people.
I’ve never tried Glossier, but this brand has been on my radar for a long time. Before buying a new brand, I always like to check its cruelty-free status. So, is Glossier cruelty-free?
Bottom Line Upfront
Glossier is cruelty-free and even holds a certification from Cruelty-Free International’s Leaping Bunny Program. However, Glossier has other ethical concerns. For example, they have been accused of racism and harnessing a toxic work culture.
Glossier is a relatively new company — only founded in 2014 by Emily Weiss. This company actually formed from a website called Into the Gloss, where beauty enthusiasts raved about products they love.
The website inspired them to create a beauty brand with its consumers in mind — creating products that people will love. Weiss has been quoted as saying the beauty industry has told its users how they should look, and she aimed to create a beauty brand based on personal style.
Glossier’s claim to fame is the “no makeup look.” They capitalized on the “I woke up like this” movement, offering simple beauty products to those who just want something simple in their makeup bags.
Glossier’s claim to fame is their Boy Brow. This is a brow wax that shapes, thickens, and grooms brows in one step. Even if you don’t use Boy Brow, you can find something you’ll like in Glossier’s catalog. The products all have fun packaging but are effective. Glossier makes all types of products to create the perfect beauty routine. In addition to makeup, Glossier also sells skincare, body care, and even fragrance.
Glossier blew up on social media and developed a significant online presence.
Is Glossier Cruelty-Free?
You’ll be pleased to know that Glossier is cruelty-free. Not only that, but the brand has been cruelty-free ever since its inception. Cruelty-free means Glossier doesn’t test its ingredients and final products on animals. They also don’t work with suppliers and other third parties that test on animals.
Glossier’s Cruelty-Free Certifications
Glossier is certified by Cruelty-Free International’s Leaping Bunny Program, the only internationally recognized certification. Cruelty-Free International certified Glossier in 2019, and you can find the Leaping Bunny logo on Glossier’s product packaging.
Glossier’s Parent Company
Glossier doesn’t look like they have a parent company, and they’re a direct-to-consumer beauty company. Glossier mainly uses content and community support to market its products to generate sales.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes. Unfortunately, Glossier isn’t doing well. The company laid off 80 staff members early this year, and Weiss claimed the brand “made some mistakes.” Customers also complained, saying the brand wasn’t releasing many new products, and the ones they released veered off the brand’s namesake.
Many parent companies aren’t cruelty-free. However, they do assist smaller brands in numerous ways. These parent companies have the capital to help brands in marketing, advertising, and propelling them by sourcing product ingredients and packaging.
In another section, I will discuss some of the details concerning in the Refinery 29 article. Still, Glossier needs a total makeover (pun intended) if they want to survive.
Glossier and China
Glossier’s products aren’t sold in mainland China or any country that requires animal testing. This is a big deal — many brands claim they don’t test on animals themselves, but they still sell their products in China, which may require animal testing.
China did remove the requirement for imported cosmetics to undergo animal testing. However, special cosmetics such as sunscreen still require animal testing.
Glossier and Veganism
Glossier isn’t a vegan brand but offers a handful of vegan products. Make sure you read the ingredients before purchasing one of their products. Referring to that Refinery 29 article, I’m reading that consumers bought a mascara marketed as “vegan,” only to see “beeswax” in the ingredients list.
Glossier: Ethics and Flaws
Animal testing isn’t the only ethical concern that a brand may have. As I’m digging more into Glossier for this article, I’m uncovering some alarming details about this company and its treatment of employees.
I worked at Sephora when I was in college and understand the pressures of working in retail — especially in the beauty industry, where you’re expected to look a certain way to represent the brand. Sephora wasn’t discriminatory on skin color, gender, and skin concerns. Still, I did have to wear a full face of makeup as part of the uniform.
While I look at animal testing when buying from a new brand, their corporate policies are also a big concern. Now that I’m discovering Glossier’s internal politics, I don’t think I will be supporting this brand.
Racism is Glossier’s biggest scandal to date. Many former Glossier employees have come out, stating that the concerns of BIPOC employees were never taken seriously. Some employees said they spoke to management about experiencing racism, and the administration didn’t do anything.
Glossier’s racist practices extend past their office culture. This brand has come under fire for offering limited shade ranges. Their Perfecting Skin Tint, one of their most popular products, only offers 12 shades. As I write this article, they’re sold out of the two darkest shades. For comparison, I looked at the ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40. This tint is available in 30 shades, over double what Glossier offers.
Unfortunately, Glossier isn’t the only beauty brand that has come under fire for racist business practices. Beauty guru and entrepreneur Huda Kattan have also been at the height of the controversy, even offering tutorials to make your skin look lighter.
Another famous beauty guru and entrepreneur, Jeffree Star, has made racist remarks in the past. In that same article, former beauty entrepreneur Kat Von D was accused of being anti-Semitic.
Toxic Work Culture
Glossier has also been accused of having a toxic work culture in its corporate office and storefronts. Former employees reported the company had a cult-like (my words) office and retail culture. Yet, they paid the same and even lower than their competitors. Their headquarters are based in New York, where the cost of living is 155% higher than in the rest of the country.
Even though they experienced mass corporate layoffs, they have opened more storefronts in LA, Seattle, and London. This makes me question the business practices and where Glossier wants their dollars to go — toward their employees or to profit their business.
I mentioned this before, but Glossier received hype and criticism for its minimalist makeup. The main reason behind the complaint is that Glossier is creating beauty standards. Even aestheticians have said Glossier’s advertising is exclusive and doesn’t extend its message to consumers with skin concerns.
Because Glossier uses influencers and models in their marketing, they’re creating a specific image of how one should look — which goes against the brand’s initial message. I’m scrolling through their Instagram now, and I can’t help but wonder how many of these pictures have been edited and polished.
Even though Glossier offers skincare products, the products I’m seeing are very minimalist. Besides their Zit Stick and Universal Pro-Retinol, their skincare products are fundamental and don’t improve severe conditions. This tells me that Glossier only targets consumers with normal skin, not those with specific skin types.
I mentioned in the vegan section to check the ingredients to ensure your Glossier product is actually vegan. That’s because consumers complained that Glossier incorrectly labeled products as “vegan” when they contained animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax.
Looking at Glossier’s returns page, only certain items are eligible for a return. Not only that, but they don’t mention which ones are eligible for returns on their website — you won’t find that out until after you order their products. So even if your product was incorrectly labeled, there’s a chance you won’t be able to return it.
This is my personal complaint, but I’m not too fond of the Glossier website. First, you can’t filter their products. Glossier separates its products into general categories, such as skincare and makeup. After that, you’re on your own. For example, I need a new eye cream.
I was looking at their skincare products to find an eye cream, and I can’t even filter out eye products. I had to scroll through all of their skincare products, only to realize that Glossier doesn’t offer an eye cream (why?!).
Plus, their website is so wonky. I click the link and have to wait for the website to load. I actually clicked a page and set a timer, and it took 13 seconds for the web page to load. 13 seconds?! The average website should load within three seconds — two seconds if you own an e-commerce website! For a company that generates $20 million annually, they have the funds to invest in a better website.
Alternatives to Glossier
Glossier is cruelty-free, which is a great thing. But this brand has other ethical issues, such as racism, promoting unrealistic beauty standards, and harnessing a toxic work culture. Because of these problems, I won’t be supporting Glossier, and I also urge you to stop supporting this company.
Luckily, countless ethical beauty brands are excellent alternatives to Glossier. These brands are also cruelty-free and owned by a parent company that doesn’t test on animals.
If you love Glossier’s skin and body products, I recommend you try Lush. Lush is a British personal care brand founded in 1995. They were founded on specific principles, such as handmade products, eco-friendly packaging, ethical ingredient sourcing, and creating vegetarian products. Plus, Lush is cruelty-free, and I don’t see a parent company for this brand.
I like to call Lush “cozy beauty.” They offer a variety of bath bombs and holistic products, so you feel comfy and luxurious. In addition to their bath and body products, Lush sells fragrance, hair, and skincare products.
There are a couple of downsides to Lush. Nearly all of their ingredients are scented. While I see they use fresh ingredients, I’m not seeing any claims about using clean ingredients.
Tower 28 is a makeup and skincare brand. I received their ShineOn Lip Jelly as a Beauty Insider gift from Sephora. I have the clear gloss; though it’s nothing remarkable, I will try the same product in another color.
The main reason why I’m mentioning Tower 28 is the brand is inclusive. They make skincare products that fit a range of skin types — their founder, Amy, has said she also struggles with sensitive skin. I really like how Tower 28 features BIPOC models in its marketing. I do wish their tinted moisturizer was available in more shades. Still, it is available in more shades than other brands offer.
I also like Tower 28 because their products are decently priced. Most products are around $15, which is cheaper than Glossier. Tower 28 is certified cruelty-free by PETA, and they’re also a vegan and clean beauty brand. All of their products are both dermatologist and allergy-tested.
I can’t find a parent company for this brand, but I don’t think they have one. Tower 28 is based in California, but they ship internationally. Tower 28 offers a 30-day return policy.
3. Milk Makeup
Before saying anything about Milk Makeup, I have to say I’m so-so about this brand. I love their Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick, but that’s it. I tried their mascara, which was goopy and the product leaked all over my makeup bag.
It stained my brushes and other makeup products. I also got their eyeshadow primer, which I don’t like. If you don’t like any of your Milk Makeup products, they offer a 90-day return policy.
However, there are other reasons why I’m recommending Milk Makeup. Their products are cruelty-free and vegan. Milk Makeup is owned by Waldencast, a company that doesn’t test on animals. All of their products are free of parabens. They’re also inclusive and make products for various skin types.
I had never heard of Kosas before, but I definitely want to try this brand. Kosas has many of the same goals as Glossier — they make cosmetics for skincare enthusiasts, and their products all offer skincare benefits. I’m also reading that Kosas products are very effective.
Like Glossier, Kosas is a relatively new brand; it only launched in 2015 but is now sold in Sephora and other major retailers. The brand’s founder is Sheena Yaitanes, who studied Biology at the University of California in Irvine. Her products are formulated for sensitive skin types, and all formulas are clean. Kosas is cruelty-free, and I don’t think a parent company owns them.
Typology is another brand I had never heard of. They’re new, and I mean new. This article states that Typology was launched in 2019. But don’t be fooled. They’re now the top online brand in France. This Paris-based company did get some help — owner Ning Li also founded the company Made.com.
So, why is Typology so great? Well, their products are nearly perfect. From self-tanners to hair care, Typology’s line is very effective. Their products aren’t magic, but they seem better than most personal care products. I have to say they are a little pricey, even compared to Glossier. I still added this company to my “need to buy” list.
Spectrum Collections is a brand that actually specializes in makeup brushes. Still, they also have a whole collection of makeup products.
From reading reviews, it seems this brand developed a cult following for their brushes alone. Reviewers are saying the brushes are durable but are still soft. They also last for years, which says a lot because their brushes are pretty affordable. Like Glossier, Spectrum has fun and girly packaging, and they even collaborated with Disney.
Spectrum Collections is cruelty-free, and their brushes are vegan. I can’t find a parent company — I honestly don’t think they have one. The only issue is the shipping. Spectrum Collections is based in the UK, which is fine if you’re in that region. While they offer affordable international shipping, receiving your product can take as long as ten business days.
Since Glossier also sells fragrances, I want to recommend a perfume brand — especially since it’s hard to find cruelty-free perfumeries. I stumbled across Lolita Lempicka when I was looking for cruelty-free fragrances.
Lolita Lempicka’s fragrances are unique; the signature fragrance features licorice, ivy, vanilla, and violet notes. It seems like a cross between gourmand and floral, which is intriguing (though I am reading that the gourmand notes are there to blend in the powerful scents).
The packaging is also gorgeous; Lolita Lempicka’s perfume bottles vary from fairytale designs to very sleek, like a combination between Nina Ricci and Vera Wang. However, I am reading that some of these fragrances are too strong. I appreciate unique fragrances, but I know many people are picky about their perfumes.
10. By Rosie Jane
By Rosie Jane is another cruelty-free fragrance company. I was just looking around their website, and their fragrances look fantastic. By Rosie Jane offers various fragerances that fit different preferences.
While the scent’s results and strength depend on your pheromones, I’m reading that all of these scents generally smell great and have incredible lasting power. By Rosie Jane is not only cruelty-free but is also clean. I can’t find a parent company, and I don’t think By Rosie Jane has one.
Question: I like Clinique better than Glossier. Are they cruelty-free?
Answer: No, Clinique isn’t cruelty-free. Clinique sells its products in mainland China, which requires animal testing for special products. Since Clinique sells sunscreen (considered a special cosmetic), there’s a good chance they have to undergo animal testing.
Question: I like NARS more than Glossier. Are they cruelty-free?
Answer: No, NARS isn’t cruelty-free.
Question: I like Dior more than Glossier. Are they cruelty-free?
Answer: No, Dior isn’t cruelty-free. Generally, I don’t buy cosmetics from prestigious brands like Dior. Most also make other items, such as handbags, that are often made with leather.
Is Glossier Cruelty Free: Bottom Line
Glossier dominated the beauty sphere at one point. Their minimalist products, influencer promotion, and fun packaging caught the attention of many beauty enthusiasts.
You’ll be happy to know that Glossier is cruelty-free. Glossier is certified cruelty-free by Cruelty-Free International’s Leaping Bunny Program, and they don’t have a parent company. They also don’t sell their products in China or other countries requiring animal testing. This isn’t a vegan brand, but some of their products are vegan.
Unfortunately, Glossier has received some criticism for its racist allegations and toxic work culture. Because of this, I won’t be supporting Glossier, and I suggest you consider the cruelty-free alternatives I recommended.