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Is Unilever Cruelty Free and Vegan? (2021 Update)

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Unilever is not cruelty free because their products are tested on animals where required by law (in mainland China).

Additionally, Unilever is not 100% vegan as a company. 

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

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

Let’s dive right in!

Is Unilever cruelty free? Are Unilever products tested on animals?

Unilever 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 take a look at Unilever’s official animal testing policy (I’ve highlighted the important part):

Every product Unilever makes must be safe for people to use and safe for our planet. We believe that animal experiments should not be used to make sure that our products are safe.

We use a wide range of non-animal approaches to assess the safety of our products. Since the 1980s, our scientists have been developing and using alternatives to animal tests, e.g. computer modelling and cell culture-based experiments. We regularly present and publish our work, and continually collaborate with others to share our knowledge and apply exciting new science to assure product safety.

For the last five years, Unilever scientists have been partnering with experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency on collaborative research, to develop ground-breaking scientific approaches to better assess the safety of chemicals found in some consumer products, without using animal data.

We also work closely with researchers in the EU ToxRisk programme, which is driving changes in safety science away from animal testing. Our scientists regularly participate in discussions with regulators and scientists in China to increase the use of non-animal approaches to safety. In 2019, in recognition of our work on alternatives to animal testing we received the Corporate Consciousness Award from the Humane Society of the United States.

Our long-term investment in non-animal safety science has enabled some of our brands to be certified by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as ‘PETA-approved’, including Dove, Suave, St Ives, Simple, Sunsilk, Zendium, The Good Stuff, Emerge, Love Beauty and Planet, Love Home and Planet & Cafuné. We now have 26 brands which comply with the criteria set out in PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies Programme.

Occasionally, across our wider product portfolio, some of the ingredients we use have to be tested by our suppliers to comply with legal and regulatory requirements in some markets; and some governments test certain products on animals as part of their regulations. Unilever supports calls for a worldwide animal testing ban on cosmetics by 2023, and we work with regulators, NGOs and our suppliers across the world to increase the acceptance of non-animal approaches.

Recent announcements from the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) could undo the continued progress that we – and many others – so want to see. We don’t agree that existing ingredients with a long history of safe use and manufacture need further testing on animals. We will continue to work for increased uptake of the new scientific approaches which we use to assure the safety of our consumers and our workers with no need for new animal testing.

We are an active member of the Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA) Collaboration coordinated by Humane Society International, where we work to accelerate the adoption of modern, human-relevant approaches to cosmetic safety assessment. All of this work, over more than 30 years, means that Unilever has been recognised by PETA as a company working for regulatory change.

Source: Unilever

In the highlighted point, Unilever is referring to mainland China, where animal testing is still required by law.

Since Unilever does sell their products in mainland China, their products may be subjected to animal testing there.

Although it’s great to see companies fight against animal testing, it’s kind of hypocritical in this case as they continue selling in China.

I would love to see Unilever join the boycott and stop selling their products on the Chinese market as that would really make a huge difference in saving animal lives.

In conclusion, Unilever is not cruelty free.

Keep on reading for more information!

Is Unilever sold in China?

Unilever products are sold in mainland China where animal testing is still required by law.

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 Unilever owned by a parent brand? If yes, is it cruelty free?

Unilever is not owned by a parent company.

Unilever also owns other brands that aren’t cruelty free, including Rexona and Axe, but they also own some cruelty free brands such as Shea Moisture.

Is Unilever vegan?

Unilever is not 100% vegan. Some of their products contain animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products. 

Also, please keep in mind that since Unilever products may be tested on animals in mainland China, I definitely wouldn’t consider them as a vegan-friendly brand.

Cruelty free and vegan alternatives to Unilever

Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company that sells all kinds of products including food, cleaning agents, pharmaceuticals, healthcare products, beauty and personal care products, etc.

There are so many brands that are cruelty free!

That’s why, in my opinion, there’s really no excuse for supporting brands that test on animals.

Since we’re mostly focused on cruelty free beauty, some of the best cruelty free beauty alternatives to Unilever are:

Benton
OUAI
Mario Badescu
Pacifica
Amika
Milk Makeup
LA Colors
Youth to the People
Paula’s Choice

If you want to discover more cruelty free skincare brands, check out my post on The 7 Best Cruelty Free Skin Care Brands in 2021 That Are Also 100% Vegan and Sustainable.


Now it’s your turn!

What are your favorite cruelty free brands?

Let me know in the comments below!

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