Known for its fragrances and mists, Bath and Body Works is a brand that so many people have come to appreciate. Whether it’s for their candles, scents, shower gels or skincare, Bath and Body Works is a household name.
However, as consumer consciousness grows and the preference for more ethical products increases, it’s crucial to ask ourselves about the brand’s cruelty-free status.
If you browse online, you will find plenty of conflicting information about whether Bath and Body Works is cruelty-free. It seems that people have had varying responses from the company throughout the years, creating a lot of confusion.
With that being said, we’ll try to uncover accurate answers to Bath and Body Work’s cruelty-free status.
- Is Bath & Body Works Cruelty-free? No. There is simply too much confusion on the topic to confidently confirm their animal testing stance.
- Does Bath and Body Works test on animals? No. However, previous iterations of their policy indicate they would conduct animal testing where required by law.
- Is Bath and Body Works certified cruelty-free? No. Bath and Body Works is not a cruelty-free company and does not have relevant certifications to ascertain their cruelty-free status.
- Is Bath and Body Works sold in China? Uncertain. There seems to be plenty of confusion on the topic. However, BBW currently does not list any store locations in China.
- Is Bath and Body Works Vegan? No, and they do not claim to be. And since we can’t confirm they are cruelty-free, none of their products are vegan-friendly.
- Is Bath and Body Works owned by a parent company? No. In August of 2021, its previous parent, L Brands, successfully changed its name to Bath and Body Works.
Does Bath & Body Works Test On Animals?
On the Bath and Body Works website, you will find:
“Bath & Body Works does not test any of our products, formulations or ingredients on animals. Period. All of our personal care products are produced in North America, Europe and South Korea.”
This is the only animal testing policy available on their website, so it isn’t much to go on. From the brief statement, we can infer that they do not test their products on animals across all levels of production.
They are not vague about it, and the straightforward nature of their statement would otherwise be a point in their favor. Many of the beauty brands we’ve assessed in the past tend to skirt around the main topic, especially if they sell in Mainland China, where they require animal testing for certain products.
While Bath and Body Works uses clear language to get its point across, many people still doubt its cruelty-free status. And we completely understand.
Let’s explore more of why many think BBW isn’t cruelty-free.
Is Bath & Body Works Sold in China?
Selling in Mainland China is one of the most significant points in determining whether a brand is cruelty-free or not. Typically, brands that sell products in China are not considered cruelty-free because of the country’s policy on animal testing.
Animal testing is part of the Chinese government’s requirement for imported personal care products sold in physical stores in Mainland China. This means any foreign products sold in stores must undergo tests on animals for safety assessment.
However, these regulations don’t apply if the product is sold on an online marketplace or directly to the consumer.
One significant change in China’s regulations is that animal testing is no longer required for general cosmetics such as shampoo, body wash, and makeup. However, it is still necessary for special use cosmetics like sunscreen.
For instance, if a brand only sells makeup in Mainland China, their products need not be tested on animals. Of course, this means they will still have to comply with additional regulations to prove product safety.
The laws and regulations surrounding China’s testing policies are the reason why buyers are so adamant about asking if a brand sells in China or not. And with that:
Does Bath & Body Works Sell Physically in China?
Just like much of the things we’ve explored about this particular brand, there is conflicting information about whether or not Bath and Body Works sells in China.
First, there are some sources claiming that the Bath and Body Works policy included a stipulation for testing on animals on the rare occasions that it is required by law. However, this stipulation no longer exists in their current policy.
Here’s that previous policy we mentioned:
“Bath & Body Works policy prohibits the testing of our branded products, formulations and ingredients on animals except in rare cases when required by government regulations. Through our involvement in the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, we are supporting research to develop additional non-animal alternative methods which we believe will ultimately result in the elimination of animal testing worldwide.”
Their policy may have changed since the information was released online, as the current (2021) Bath and Body Works policy no longer reflects this stance.
Secondly, some online sources indicate that Bath and Body Works was part of a pilot selling products in China—allegedly allowing foreign brands to sell in the country without animal testing.
Here is a snippet:
“Bath & Body Works does not test any of our branded products, formulations or ingredients on animals. Period. The brand is expecting to pilot selling products in China during the summer of 2019. Any personal care products sold in China will be produced in China, which eliminates the Chinese government’s requirement for animal testing as that only applies to imported personal care products. Personal care products sold in the rest of the world are produced in North America, Europe and South Korea.
Our company continues to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) – a non-profit research and testing laboratory dedicated to the implementation and regulatory acceptance of non-animal methods. We share their mission to eliminate animal testing worldwide. As part of their work, IIVS is collaborating with the Chinese government to assist them in adopting non-animal methods.”
The pilot project for selling in China is actually an experimental way for brands to enter the Chinese market without their products going through pre-market animal testing. They can achieve this by manufacturing their products in the country rather than abroad.
Although it isn’t mentioned, we think this might be Cruelty-Free International’s project. However, this initiative also has its own share of issues. There have been conflicting reports about the pilot online, such as this one saying the government denies making agreements with CFI.
All that aside, some buyers would consider any brand selling in China not cruelty-free because of post-market testing. Unlike pre-market testing, which occurs before products hit the shelves, post-market testing is not routine and occurs whenever there are customer complaints or similar scenarios.
The logic is that brands should assume the risk of their products being tested on animals (after they hit shelves) because they willingly sold their products in a market where animal testing occurs.
However, this is more of a personal choice.
The Present Scenario
Everything we’ve already mentioned is relevant in uncovering why there is so much confusion surrounding Bath and Body Works and its cruelty-free status. But we still have not covered what is currently happening.
We took a look at the Bath and Body Works website to check if they listed any locations in China, and upon checking, there weren’t any in Mainland China in any of their Asian stores.
However, if we look at this article by the China Daily, it clearly states that Bath & Body Works opened a store in a physical location in China.
“For example, the mall introduced some trendy cosmetics brands such as Hermes Beauty, Laduree, the first online-to-offline or O2O concept store of GNC, and perfume vending machine concept store Perfume Box. US retailer Bath & Body Works also launched its first store in China at the mall.”
As the article explicitly mentions a physical location, the products would have to undergo animal testing. The only way they won’t undergo pre-market animal testing is if they only sell general cosmetics in China AND if they comply with all necessary documents.
What’s more conflicting is that some articles indicate BBW does not have a store in China. We made sure to choose articles published at a close interval so the comparison is as accurate as possible.
A Modern Retail article published in 2020 goes:
“Bath & Body Works has a lot of room left to grow as the brand simply has a lot more places where it can still open stores. Right now, the majority of is stores are still in the U.S. It has zero stores in the U.K., France, Germany, Japan or China. L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer said last week during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that Bath & Body Works plans to open more stores abroad, primarily through franchising, but did not say in which regions specifically the chain would focus on.”
We know this seems like a lot of information to take in. Unfortunately, BBW has not cleared up much on this topic. We also tried reaching out to them but did not receive a response.
As of the moment, we are putting the brand in the gray area. Unless we can totally confirm that they have no branch in China, then we have to make the conservative assumption that they still have a retail location in the country.
Is Bath & Body Works Still Owned By A Parent Company?
Bath and Body Works is no longer owned by a parent company.
Typically, having a parent company is vital in any cruelty-free discussion since a completely cruelty-free subsidiary will still remit profits to its parent company. Hence, conscious buyers are wary about cruelty-free brands with non-cruelty-free parent companies.
However, Bath and Body Works is now its own independent company. Previously, it was under the wing of L Brands, which also owned Victoria’s Secret and all VS sub-companies (e.g., PINK, Victoria’s Secret Beauty).
In August of 2021, Victoria’s Secret separated from the L Brands flag and is now traded independently.
Subsequent to this, L Brands is now just wholly Bath and Body Works. Hence, BBW no longer has a parent company and reports only to itself. Any online article indicating otherwise is not updated.
Is Bath & Body Works Vegan?
No Bath and Body Works is not a vegan company, and they do not claim to be.
The brand may have items that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products, but since they don’t make our list of cruelty-free brands, we would not consider them vegan-friendly.
If you’re looking for vegan alternatives and truly cruelty-free products here are some vegan perfumes from our favorite cruelty-free brands. Rest assured, these brands have a good animal testing stance and all the featured items contain no animal or animal by-products.
Navigating the world of cruelty-free beauty is unnecessarily challenging, and the amount of conflicting information online would make even seasoned buyers confused and unsure. But we hope our discussion helped clear up certain points of Bath and Body Works’ animal testing practices.
At the end of it all, is Bath and Body Works cruelty-free? No. The fact that there is so much confusion about its status indicates that they aren’t straightforward about their practices.
And despite what their website statement says, they don’t seem to clearly reflect the values you would want to look for in a cruelty-free brand. That is, be genuinely transparent to customers about testing practices.
If you want to still buy from the brand, that’s completely up to you! However, we do encourage you to at least check out some vegan and cruelty-free alternatives to their products.