is unilever cruelty free

Is Unilever Cruelty-Free?

Does Unilever test on animals or sell in China?

Unilever is a well-known personal care company that can be found all over the world. But is Unilever cruelty-free or do they test their products on animals?

For a company to be considered cruelty-free they have to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Do not test any of their products or ingredients on animals
  • Don’t allow others to test on their behalf 
  • Do not sell in a country where animal testing is required. 

After doing a bit of research, I found that Unilever doesn’t meet the above cruelty-free requirements and is not considered to be a cruelty-free parent company. 

Let’s look into what all of that really means and what you can do about it.

Is Unilever Certified Cruelty-Free?

When researching a brand’s cruelty-free status my first stop is the certified cruelty-free list. There are three organizations that give official certifications to brands around the world; Leaping Bunny, Peta, and Choose Cruelty-Free.

Unilever is not found on any of these organizations’ cruelty-free lists. However, they are found on Peta’s list of brands working on change

unilever peta

Does Unilever Test on Animals?

The next step in my research is going directly to the company’s animal testing policy to see where they stand. Unilever’s policy can be found in the ‘Sustainable Living’ section of their website. Here is an excerpt of what it states:

“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. Our recent video further explains our approach and we publish more information on our scientific research on a dedicated Safety Science in the 21st Century website.”

“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.”

unilever animal policy

Unilever’s animal testing policy contradicts itself. It states that they do not test on animals and they use alternative methods. However, they will make an exception to satisfy a country’s health authorities. Therefore, Unilever does allow animal testing on their products.

What About China’s New Animal Testing Laws?

China has announced that as of May 1, 2021, general cosmetics such as shampoo, body wash, lipstick, lotion, and makeup can be sold without being tested on animals. However, a company is required to jump through various hoops for this to happen. As of now, Unilever has not been exempt and their products can still be tested on animals by the Chinese health authority. Even if an exemption happens it is still possible that the products can be subjected to post-market testing.

What Brands Does Unilever Own?

Unilever is a multinational company that owns several popular personal care and cosmetic brands. Below is a list of all the brands owned by them. 

Many people in the cruelty-free community choose to completely boycott any brand owned by a non-cruelty-free parent company. So, I try to provide as much information as possible so that you have the resources to make your own decision. 

So, I’ve indicated which brands are sold in China or are certified cruelty-free. I would err on the side of caution for any of the companies that don’t have additional information.

*This list includes brands mainly available in the US. You can check out Unilever’s full list of brands here. 

  • Axe
  • Caress
  • Clear
  • Degree
  • Hourglass – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Kate Somerville
  • Lever 2000
  • Love Beauty and Planet – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Love Home and Planet – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Madam C.J. Walker
  • Nexxus
  • Noxzema
  • Nubian Heritage – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Nyakio
  • Pond’s – SOLD IN CHINA
  • Schmidt’s Naturals – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Seventh Generation – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Shea Moisture – PETA CERTIFIED
  • Tatcha
  • The Good Stuff – PETA CERTIFIED
  • The Laundress
  • TIGI
  • Vaseline- SOLD IN CHINA

Wrap Up: Is Unilever Cruelty-Free?

No, Unilever is not a cruelty-free personal care company. Even though they claim to not test on animals, they choose to sell in a country that requires imported cosmetics to be tested on animals.

Therefore, Unilever is not considered to be cruelty-free. They will be added to my list of brands that test on animals. 

However, they do own some Peta certified cruelty-free beauty brands. But the choice is yours on whether you feel comfortable using them.

Now I’d like to hear from you…What are your thoughts about Unilever? Will you boycott them completely or use some of their cruelty-free brands? Please leave your comments below!

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  1. I think what I find most disturbing is PETAs willingness to say some of the products are cruelty free when they do allow testing. To me you are either cruelty free or not. Put your money where your mouth is and stop selling in China. I have had this conversation with Mary Kay cosmetics too and have stopped using them. There are plenty of good cruelty free companies out there that have great products. To me this is a marketing ploy on the part of Unilever and I am truly disappointed in PETA.

    1. Peta’s certification process is non-existence. Which is why I always do additional research for brands certified by them.

  2. Hi!
    Love your list, great for my kids thanks. I am confused though, how can Dove be PETA certified and sold in China?

    1. Peta doesn’t do a thorough investigation with the brands on their list. For example, Wet N Wild is still showing certified cruelty-free on their list but a Cruelty-Free Kitty reader in 2019 had evidence that the company sells in China. So I always err on the side of caution with Peta brands.

  3. Wait, does this mean that Suave is not cruelty free also cuz I heard some other sites saying that they are cruelty-free.

    Did Unilever get Suave to animal test also ?

    Sincerely, Koshka

    1. I haven’t researched Suave’s cruelty-free status yet but will soon.

  4. Thank you for this thorough and thoughtful article. I will not buy brands whose parent company is Unilever (not even those that are ‘leaping bunny certified.’) This policy appears like it was written specifically to confuse consumers. Like you said, Unilever WILL allow animal testing and therefore they contradict themselves. It is also impossible to know or trust just now much they will allow their suppliers of governments to do. This is not a cruelty-free company regardless of their tricky wording and regardless of what Peta or Leaping Bunny say about some of their portfolio. When you buy a Unilever brand a portion of your money is funneling up to support animal testing. I will absolutely avoid that.

  5. Hi there,

    I haven’t been into animal cruelty free research for years now. You make very specific mention of products being sold in China.

    Can you please explain to me what problem is with products being sold there and why it should be considered when you want to consume goods that are not tested on animals?

    Thank you.

    1. China is one of the few countries that can require post-market animal testing on cosmetics.

  6. Does anyone know of an unscented cruelty free hairspray? The only ones I can find are extremely perfumed.

  7. Creo que la empresa hace lo suyo para producir y crear productos sin la necesidad de testearlos en animales es obvio que no van a dejar de vender en China porque ahí el gobierno tiene que hacer las pruebas, no creo que de repente todas las empresas dejen de vender en China. Así que en este mundo yo me conformo que la marca no haga pruebas al crear elnproducto y que mi país no necesite de esas pruebas para venderlos, así que al menos en México si son cruelty free.

  8. Thank you this was very helpful I used an app that I have that’s insane I was not cruelty free and I was confused because there was a bunny on the bottle. I still didn’t buy it but I will use up whatever I have that’s left..

  9. Interesting to see Unilever owns the Vegetaran Butcher brand too although the adverts on the TV do not make any mention of Unlilever (other Unilever ads end with a little Unlever logo top right normally). Anither one to avoid, especially when there are so many alternatives now. I’d rather stick with the vegan brands that have been around for ages!

  10. kristin dina plowes says:

    Thankgoodness for people like you doing this research. Companies pay millions for product research. You are worth millions.

  11. Ann Elizabeth says:

    Hello, thank you for all this helpful information.

    If I could just add one more thing because I’ve noticed it happening more and more, some of these small companies that were cruelty free when you originally started purchasing from them are being bought out by the bigger companies that are not cruelty free. It’s happening more and more and it’s not something you would ordinarily know about unless you periodically rechecked. So if you’re like me and will not buy a product even if that company is cruelty free but the parent company is not, please consider rechecking their status from time to time. Thank you!

    1. I do try to review a brand’s policies at least once a year or whenever there is new information in the news. Then I update the post accordingly.

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