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Olay has been one of the most prestigious drugstore skincare brands for as long as I can remember. My mom and other women in my family have used Olay products since I was young. Today, Olay is still one of the biggest skincare brands in the world, and they make various products that target different skin conditions.
But is Olay cruelty-free? This is also something I wondered. I’m actually using one of Olay’s anti-aging moisturizers now and have used their other products in the past. For this article, I dug into Olay’s animal testing policies to discover if they’re really cruelty-free.
Bottom Line UpFront
Olay isn’t cruelty-free. Even though they don’t test their products on animals themselves, they still sell their products in China.
Since many Olay products contain SPF, there’s a good chance they have to abide by China’s special cosmetic animal testing requirement. Many Olay products are also made with animal-derived ingredients such as lanolin, so they’re also not considered a vegan brand. I suggest looking at my alternative brand recommendations.
Olay is a South African brand that was originally called Oil of Olay (a spin on the ingredient lanolin, which was a key ingredient for the brand). Unilever chemist Graham Wullf formed Oil of Olay in 1952 and created an anti-aging moisturizer. This product became popular, and Wullf increased its product line.
Today, Olay is one of the most popular drugstore skincare lines. Olay sells its products worldwide and has amassed a devoted following. Ever since its inception, Olay has specialized in anti-aging products. But they added general products that anyone can use, such as daily moisturizers and body lotions.
Is Olay Cruelty-Free?
No, Olay is not cruelty-free. While Olay doesn’t directly test its products on animals, it does sell its products in countries where animal testing may be required. In addition, I’m unsure if other third parties, such as suppliers, test ingredients and final Olay products on animals.
What Their Website Says
A trend I’m noticing with these companies is their website will make it look like the company doesn’t conduct animal testing.
But when you read the fine print, you’ll see that the company sells its products in jurisdictions that require animal testing. This is the case with Olay; while they don’t test their products directly on animals and invest in alternative methods, they state they still sell their products in countries where animal testing may be required.
Alternative Testing Methods
So since Olay doesn’t test its own products on animals, how do they test their products for safety? As with many companies, Olay uses something called a “lab skin.” This “skin” is prosthetic but has the same physical properties as natural human skin.
Olay also said they test their products on women all over the world. This sounds weird, but it’s not unheard of. I have colleagues who own beauty brands and test their products on volunteers. I’m not finding any more information about this, but I’m curious how they find people willing to perfect these tests.
Olay’s Parent Company
Olay is owned by Procter & Gamble, whose cruelty-free status is also misleading. On their website, P&G states they invest in alternative testing methods and partner with various animal rights activist groups, including PETA. However, they’re not cruelty-free because many of their products are also sold in China. But why is China so significant to cosmetic animal testing?
Olay and China
First, let’s answer this question: yes, Olay is sold in China. But why is this significant? China has always had strict safety testing laws for imported cosmetics. Previously, foreign brands had to comply with animal testing to sell their products in mainland China (not online).
China did change these laws, so now they no longer test all imported cosmetics on animals. However, they test what is known as “special cosmetics” on animals, including sunscreen, hair perming and dyes, anti-hair loss, whitening products, and new ingredients. Some Olay products are made with sunscreen, so there’s a good chance they have to undergo animal testing.
Olay and Veganism
Olay isn’t vegan. Its namesake derives from the ingredient lanolin, which is a moisturizing wax derived from sheep’s wool. I’m also reading that Olay gets its retinol from animals. This doesn’t mean that Olay doesn’t have vegan products. I still don’t recommend buying any products from Olay, even vegan ones, since this company isn’t cruelty-free.
It’s unfortunate that Olay isn’t cruelty-free. I always liked their moisturizers. Fortunately, there are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives to Olay. I researched each of these companies to ensure both the brand and their parent company (if applicable) are cruelty-free. Keep in mind that I couldn’t find the animal testing status for all of these parent companies.
The main Olay alternative I’m recommending is Soap and Glory. I’ve been using this brand for years — they used to sell Soap and Glory at Sephora when I worked there, and I always got their body care products. Now, Soap and Glory is available at numerous drugstores, so they’re cheaper and more accessible than they were before.
Why is Soap and Glory a cult favorite? First, their products smell amazing. Soap and Glory offer numerous scents for their washes and lotions. Their products also get the job done. For example, I get eczema on my hands during the winter, and their Hand Food makes my skin feel so much better.
As I said, their products are affordable. I can usually find their products for $10 or less. I also love the retro packaging. Soap and Glory is cruelty-free. They’re owned by Alliance Boots, and I can’t find their cruelty-free status.
2. Tree Hut
I’ve wanted to try this brand for a long time. I once smelled their Watermelon Body Scrub at Target, and it smells AMAZING! But that’s not the only reason I’m mentioning Tree Hut here. They’re a great Olay alternative, especially if you’re a fan of their body products.
Tree Hut is most famous for its sugar scrubs, which I’m reading make your skin feel amazing. In addition to their watermelon fragrance, they offer other lovely scents. I’m also reading great things about their Tropic Glow fragrance. Tree Hut is cruelty-free. They’re owned by Naterra, which is also cruelty-free.
3. Pupa Milano
I’ve never heard of Pupa Milano, but I see that this brand is getting a cult following. Pupa Milano sells various personal care products, including makeup, skincare, and sun products. The products are pretty pricey (more expensive than Olay), but I’m reading that they’re high-quality and are worth the price.
My only issue with the company is its restrictive shipping. Pupa Milano is an Italian company, so shipping isn’t a problem if you’re located in any major EU country. They don’t ship many places outside of the EU, though they do have an American website.
However, I spent half the year in Canada, so I’m concerned I won’t be able to get Pupa Milano products while I’m here. Otherwise, Pupa Milano is cruelty-free. They’re owned by Micys Company Spa, but I can’t find their cruelty-free status.
4. Skyn Iceland
Skyn Iceland is a brand I recently discovered and another one that has gained a cult following. Their products are not only effective but are made for different users.
Skyn Iceland’s product catalog ranges from general moisturizers for all skin types to specific solutions for dry and oily skin and even specific problems such as aging, acne, and discoloration. This isn’t a miracle brand, don’t get me wrong, but their products do work. I’m noticing the products in their anti-aging and dry skin line are especially effective.
My main issue with this brand is they’re expensive — pricier than all of the other brands on this list. That’s why I listed this company farther down on the list. But from what I’m reading, you get what you pay for. Some users also reported bad side effects, so I wouldn’t use this brand if you have sensitive skin.
Skyn Iceland is cruelty-free and has certifications from Cruelty-Free International and PETA. Their whole line is also vegan and natural. From what I’m reading, it doesn’t look like Skyn Iceland has a parent company.
Mario Badescu was one of the first premium skincare brands I ever used. While I wasn’t impressed with his products, they are a good Olay alternative.
Mario Badescu has been making skincare products ever since 1967. Badescu is a Romanian pharmacist and chemist. He moved around throughout his life, creating his first skin laboratory in Vienna before moving to New York City in 1966. He created facial treatments from fruits and vegetables, offering his services from his NYC apartment. His brand grew from here and is still successful over 50 years later.
I like Badescu because his brand is versatile. In addition to classic skincare products, such as cleansers, he also offers a wide range of toners and men’s grooming products. While Badescu’s brand is good for sensitive skin, be sure to read the ingredients since some of his products contain harsh ingredients like glycolic acid.
Mario Badescu is cruelty-free, and this brand doesn’t have a parent company (at least, I can’t find one).
LilyAna Naturals is another skincare brand I recently discovered. LilyAna Naturals get its name from two precious girls: Lily and Anna Belle, the daughters of the husband-and-wife Directors of Manufacturing Operations team. Both girls were babies when the brand was born. As they grow older and flourish, so does the company.
LilyAna Naturals is a Mississippi-based company that received success on Amazon. Since then, they have partnered with different retail outlets to expand their company. Even still, this is a family-owned business owned by siblings Menna Samaha and Retta Abraham. As two first-generation American individuals, they founded the business on inclusivity.
If you’re a fan of Olay’s anti-aging products, this is the brand I recommend the most. With bestselling products such as Retinol Cream, many users report an improvement in their skin’s texture.
LilyAna Naturals is a clean beauty brand that’s cruelty-free. They’re owned by RDM Partners, but I can’t find their cruelty-free status. Even though LilyAna Naturals is a clean brand, they still use strong ingredients such as retinol that may irritate sensitive skin.
I’m wary of calling a brand a “miracle” company, but TruSkin Naturals is the closest thing to an HG skincare brand that I can find. Reviewers say their products, specifically their serums, are “life-changing.” While this brand is on the pricier side compared to Olay, it definitely seems like your dollars go to good use when you use TruSkin products.
TruSkin is a company that doesn’t include any additives in its products. However, I am reading that they habitually change product formulas, especially now that they’re expanding.
They are cruelty-free, and many of their products have earned best-selling status on Amazon. TruSkin Naturals is owned by Wellbeam Consumer Health, and I do think they’re cruelty-free (there aren’t many sources that claim they are or not, I’m just getting this information from interviews).
Question: My country doesn’t require animal testing. Does that mean Olay is cruelty-free in my country?
Answer: No, Olay still isn’t cruelty-free. The company may not test on animals themselves, in your country or any other country, but you’re still buying into a company that allows other jurisdictions to test on animals for them.
Question: I like Aveeno better than Olay. Do they test on animals?
Answer: Aveeno has a similar animal testing policy as Olay. They don’t test on animals themselves, but they still sell their products in China and other countries that require animal testing.
Question: I like Dove better than Olay. Are they cruelty-free?
Answer: They are! Dove is certified cruelty-free by PETA and is included in its Beauty Without Bunnies program. You may even notice that Dove packaging now includes PETA’s cruelty-free logo. However, Dove is owned by Unilever, a company that isn’t cruelty-free.
Is Olay Cruelty Free: Bottom Line
It’s a shame that a prestigious skincare brand like Olay isn’t cruelty-free. On their website, they explain that they don’t test their products on animals and instead use their own lab skin that replicates human skin. But this company sells its products in countries like China, where animal testing may still be required.
Even though Olay doesn’t test its own products on animals, they’re still not considered cruelty-free. Olay is also owned by Procter & Gamber, a company that isn’t cruelty-free. Plus, many of its products aren’t vegan. I suggest looking at my alternative recommendations and not supporting Olay.