Cetaphil. You’ve probably heard of them. They’re a famous beauty brand that’s successfully carved itself a spot in the acne prone skin and sensitive skincare niche. Most people have tried the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Although this brand boasts dermatological testing to ensure its products cause minimum irritation, I wondered whether its testing extends to animals. More specifically, I want to know whether Cetaphil is cruelty-free.
Cruelty free brands doesn’t test or harm animals in their products’ sourcing, manufacturing, or production. So, with that said, I’m going to dig into some of their product ingredients and creation processes. Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you’ll be better positioned to decide whether Cetaphil marries up with your ethics.
There’s lots to cover, so let’s get to it!
My Bottom Line Upfront
Cetaphil is a cult beauty skincare line. They have a massive following. However, I think that based on the evidence, it appears unlikely that Cetaphil is 100% cruelty-free. Throughout this blog post, I’ll discuss how I came to this conclusion and some cruelty free brand alternatives you might want to consider.
As the intro mentions, Cetaphil is a skincare line designed for sensitive and dry skin. They sell a range of products, including:
- Face washes
- Body lotions
And much more…
Their products are popularly sold throughout the UK, Europe, and the US. They’re the child company of the Swiss brand Galderma, though Cetaphil was developed in the US.
One of Cetaphil’s best qualities is its claim to be oil and harsh chemical-free. Until recently, the recipe for their product contained the controversial addition of parabens, a preservative commonly used in cosmetic products. However, as of 2021, Cetaphil made sweeping changes to its ingredients, including the addition of Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), and Glycerin.
Below I’ll look at Cetaphil ingredients in greater detail and whether the overall Cetaphil brand is cruelty-free:
What Makes a Company Cruelty Free?
I touched on this in the intro, but before delving further into this review, it’s worth ensuring we’re all on the same page about what it means to be a cruelty-free brand.
According to Peta, a company can only be cruelty-free when it meets the following criteria:
“They do not conduct or commission animal tests on ingredients, formulations, or finished products, and they pledge not to do so in the future.”
This also extends to how the company’s supply chain, subsidiaries, and holding companies operate. With this in mind, let’s take a closer inspection of Cetaphil:
Since Cetaphil boasts an extensive range of products, not every ingredient listed below is included in each formula. I also want to point out this is by no means an exhaustive list of every ingredient used by Cetaphil. However, the ingredients I’ll cover below are present in many products. So let’s take a look:
Glycerin is found in Cetaphil moisturizers, cleansers, and most of their products. Glycerin is also known as glycerol. It’s a compound emanated from vegetable oil or animal fat. It’s commonly found in liquid soap, facial washes, cleansers, and skin cleaning products.
When used in cosmetic products, vegetable-derived glycerin is usually labeled as such. In the absence of this specification, it’s generally assumed to be derived from an animal source.
However, there’s no concrete way of knowing this is the case for Cetaphil. Still, as discussed, glycerin is commonly tested on animals. Therefore, without explicit clarification, there’s a good chance this ingredient doesn’t meet the above ‘cruelty-free’ criteria.
Tallow is found in Cetaphil cleansing bars. Tallow is grease rendered from melted-down animal fats, most commonly beef or mutton. Similarly, Tallowate is where tallow is added to sodium hydroxide (caustic acid). Needless to say, as tallow/tallowate is an animal-based product, PETA wouldn’t consider this ingredient cruelty-free.
Niacinamide is found in Cetaphil moisturizers, cleansers, and several products in their new range. Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, is another ingredient that can be derived from either animal or plant-based sources. It’s used for brightening the skin and reducing skin pigmentation.
Niacinamide extracted from nicotinic acid usually comes from seeds, cereals, and legumes. However, this isn’t always the case. However, as Cetaphil doesn’t state how it sources its Niacinamide, we can’t say for sure whether the use of this ingredient is cruelty-free or not.
Cetaphil’s Processes and Testing
Cetaphil states that none of its products or ingredients are tested on animals by themselves or its parent company Galderma. They elaborate that as part of their commitment to abstaining from animal testing, they’ve teamed up with Institute for Invitro Sciences (IIVS), an organization dedicated to providing alternatives to animal testing.
However, there are a few things worth noting:
The company says they do “not test Cetaphil products or ingredients used in Cetaphil on animals at any stage of our product innovation, development or manufacturing process.” But interestingly, there’s no mention of their supply chain or whether their suppliers test on animals.
Points of sale:
The brand actively sells its products in China, where, until 2021, animal testing was a prerequisite for selling cosmetic products. Although this testing is no longer mandatory, China still applies stringent laws for importing foreign beauty products to the market.
Companies who don’t qualify under these laws or who don’t apply for exemption are still required to test their products on animals. The policy of Cetaphil’s parent company, Galderma, states clearly that they test products on animals in countries where it’s required by law.
So, although Cetaphil participates in initiatives that pioneer alternatives to animal testing, Cetaphil isn’t exempt from testing requirements in China.
Cetaphil’s Pros and Cons
So far, we’ve covered a fair amount. So I’ll try and condense what we’ve discussed into a pro-cons list:
- Cetaphil works with animal alternative testing labs (IIVS).
- Most of its products can be derived from non-animal sources.
- Cetaphil doesn’t test on animals during the innovation, manufacturing, or development process (unless mandated by the country).
- Cetaphil’s cruelty-free statement isn’t accredited. For example, standard certifications in this field include PETA’s Beauty without Bunnies program, CCIC’s leaping bunny, or certificates from Cruelty-Free International.
- Cetaphil hasn’t announced whether it still conducts animal testing in China.
- Cetaphil hasn’t openly stated whether its suppliers conduct animal testing.
- Cetaphil itself doesn’t state that its products are vegan.
Based on this weigh-in, we’re inclined to put a question mark over whether Cetaphil is, in fact, 100% cruelty-free. But, if we had to make a choice – the evidence suggests it’s not. Most brands with cruelty-free practices are very open about what their products contain and how they achieved their cruelty-free status.
But, since there’s a lack of information and they don’t boast cruelty-free accreditation, we can only assume that Cetaphil isn’t able to claim 100% cruelty-free status. In short, if you’re looking for a cruelty-free beauty brand, we wouldn’t recommend Cetaphil to be on the safe.
Other Cruelty Free Alternative Brands
Fortunately, there are some promising cruelty-free alternatives. The options I’ve listed below are all certified by various animal rights initiatives and vegan-friendly.
1. Derma E
Derma E is a natural beauty product range specializing in vitamin-based skincare products. All their products are dermatologically tested and suitable for many skin types. Among other things, they sell:
- Body lotions
Their formulas aren’t derived from animal products. In fact, they’re 100% vegan. Derma E is also certified as cruelty-free by ‘leaping bunny,’ You can also see on Peta’s website that they recognize them as cruelty-free.
Osea is another nature-based beauty brand. Osea’s products are derived from seaweed. Their products include a range of anti-aging formulas and moisturizers. More specifically, their line includes products for:
- Eye care
- Body creams
Most importantly, they’re recognized as cruelty-free by ‘leaping bunny’ and certified vegan by Peta.
Pacifica is another beauty and skincare brand that sells vegan and cruelty-free makeup, makeup remover, fragrances, and cosmetics, certified by Peta. They market a range of products, including:
- Eye creams
And many more…
What’s good about Pacifica is that you can shop by skin type, so if you have sensitive skin, it’s easy to find the right products.
Question: Is there a difference between vegan and cruelty-free?
Answer: Although the two terms are often used synonymously, cruelty-free and vegan products aren’t the same. While both are interested in the protection of animals, their focus is on two distinct aspects of the cosmetic process:
Vegan: A product labeled vegan means that no animal ingredients or derivatives were used to create the product.
Cruelty-free: Cruelty-free products go a step further by ensuring the brand doesn’t test its products or ingredients on animals too.
Due to this difference, it’s possible for a product to be considered vegan but not necessarily cruelty-free.
Question: How do you know if a product is cruelty-free?
Answer:The best assurance is to always check the label for the relevant certification. The most renowned standards and labels come from:
• Leaping Bunny
• CCF (Choose Cruelty-free)
You should be able to see their logo on the product. Or you can check their databases to see whether the product is listed. Unfortunately, some nefarious brands add their label without consent. So, to assess whether a label is legitimate, check that the logo matches the one certified for use in your country.
Question: What would make Cetaphil cruelty-free?
Answer: If you’re a big fan of Cetaphil and were disappointed to hear our verdict, then now is the time to reach out and discuss your concerns. We believe Cetaphil could fully achieve cruelty-free status if it made these changes:
• Clearly state whether their ingredients are derived from animals.
• List their suppliers and whether they conduct animal testing.
• Provide evidence that it’s achieved an animal testing exemption from China.
• Seek certification from an established animal protection standard (such as the above).
Is Cetaphil Cruelty Free?
So, is Cetaphil cruelty free? As we’ve seen, this question is difficult to answer. On the one hand, Cetaphil doesn’t confirm or deny whether its products use ingredients derived from animals. Neither has it addressed whether its suppliers are cruelty-free or whether it’s gained exemption from animal testing in China.
On the other hand, while Peta actively supports IIVS laboratories, the institute which Cetaphil works with, notably, they’ve not extended this to Cetaphil itself. Moreover, Cetaphil isn’t listed as a Peta-approved brand. Nor is it listed as cruelty-free by any other accredited standard, such as leaping bunny or Cruelty-Free International. This raises a few red flags.
For all these reasons, we cannot claim with any certainty that Cetaphil is 100% cruelty-free. That’s all, folks! So, over to you – what are your thoughts on the subject? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments box below!
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