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Is Herbal Essences Cruelty Free and Vegan? (2022 Update)

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Herbal Essences is not cruelty free. This means that their products are tested on animals.

Additionally, Herbal Essences is not 100% vegan as a brand. 

To learn more about this brand and find out why they’re not cruelty free, keep on reading!

And if you’re looking for new cruelty free products to add to your haircare routine, make sure to check out the last section of this post where you’ll find some of the best Herbal Essences cruelty free alternatives.

Let’s dive right in!

Is Herbal Essences cruelty free? Are Herbal Essences products tested on animals?

Herbal Essences is NOT cruelty free.

In order to be cruelty free, brands:

  • Must not test their finished products or ingredients on animals
  • Must make sure that their suppliers don’t test on animals
  • Must not commission third parties to test their products on animals
  • Must not sell their products in stores in mainland China, or other countries where animal testing is still required by law

Let’s look at Herbal Essences’s animal testing policy:

Herbal Essences is proud to be endorsed as PETA cruelty free brand

What does it mean to be PETA cruelty free?

Cruelty free means that our products and ingredients will not be tested on animals.

Herbal Essences is proud and excited to be recognized by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as a cruelty free brand. You might best recognize PETA cruelty free by their bunny logo.

Source: Herbal Essences

Although Herbal Essences is really certified cruelty free by PETA, I still don’t consider them cruelty free according to my criteria (and the generally accepted criteria within the cruelty free community).

And here’s why:

Herbal Essences is sold in mainland China, where animal testing still happens. 

Here’s what PETA has to say about this:

And even though Herbal Essences is sold in China, where tests on animals are required for many products, the brand has worked within Chinese regulations to make sure that will never happen.

Source: PETA

Even though there may be some loopholes that brands can use to sell in mainland China while avoiding pre-market animal testing, currently, there’s no way to avoid the risk of post-market animal testing.

Pre-market animal testing in China can be avoided by either manufacturing products in China (instead of importing them) or not selling “special-use” products (hair dye, hair removal products, deodorant, sunscreen, i.e. products that make certain claims).

But here’s the deal:

The problem is that in mainland China, post-market animal testing is still happening. In case of any concerns or customer complaints, products can be pulled from shelves and tested on animals at any time.

By selling in China, Herbal Essences has agreed to have their products tested on animals in some cases.

As of 2021, there are no loopholes that enable brands to remain cruelty free while selling in China.

Even though China has relaxed their animal testing requirements, brands that sell in China still can’t be cruelty free.

The PETA certification in this Herbal Essences case doesn’t mean much as they do have a history of approving brands that sell in mainland China. One such example is Dove (you can read more about their animal testing policy here).

If you’re confused by the different cruelty free certifications and want to learn about the differences between them, check out my post Cruelty Free Certifications Explained: Who Can You Trust?.

In conclusion, Herbal Essences is not cruelty free.

Keep on reading for more information!

Is Herbal Essences sold in China?

Herbal Essences is sold in mainland China where animal testing is still happening.

Why can’t cruelty free brands sell in mainland China?

Animal testing is still happening for products sold in physical stores in mainland China.

Pre-market animal testing is required for all special-use imported products, and non-routine post-market testing on animals may also be done in cases of customer complaints.

However, please keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to products sold in stores at the airports, or in Hong Kong.

Also, products can be sold online and shipped to mainland China without being tested on animals.

Is Herbal Essences owned by a parent brand? If yes, is it cruelty free?

Herbal Essences is owned by Procter & Gamble, a company that tests on animals.

P&G also owns other non-cruelty free brands including: Pantene, Olay, Head and Shoulders, Gillette, Always, Ariel, Pampers and Gain, to name a few.

Is Herbal Essences vegan?

Herbal Essences is not 100% vegan.

They may have some products that don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products. 

However, please note that since Herbal Essences products may be tested on animals in China and are therefore not cruelty free, I wouldn’t consider them vegan-friendly.

Cruelty free and vegan alternatives to Herbal Essences

Herbal Essences is a drugstore brand focused on haircare. They sell shampoo, conditioner, various hair styling products and more.  

There are so many beauty brands that are cruelty free! That’s why, in my opinion, there’s really no excuse for supporting brands that test on animals.

Some of the best cruelty free alternatives to Herbal Essences are:




It’s A 10

Shea Moisture


Now it’s your turn!

What are your favorite cruelty free brands?

Let me know in the comments below!

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