CeraVe is a budget-friendly skincare brand that has become one of the better-known beauty brands for moisturizers and cleansers.
CeraVe products are well-known for being effective while not drilling a hole in your pockets, especially for those with sensitive skin or skin problems. Their specialty lies in protecting the skin barrier by using skin-identical ceramides.
Still, the value of skincare products lies in so much more than just cost or effectiveness. What about the brand’s ethics?
As consumers become more and more aware of the ethical costs of products, the need and demand for animal-friendly brands are also on the rise. No one really wants harm to come to innocent animals.
Unfortunately, CeraVe does not pass our test. CeraVe is not a cruelty-free brand. Though the brand states they are, there are some loopholes to their statements that we find don’t make their claims credible.
Here is a quick rundown of the questions we’ll be answering, and some other common questions related to the topic
- Is CeraVe cruelty-free? No. We think CeraVe is not cruelty-free. Our assessment is further explained below.
- Are CeraVe products tested on animals? Yes. The finished products may be tested on animals where required by law.
- Is CeraVe vegan? No. They may use animal-derived products such as animal fats and lanolin (from sheep’s wool) in their products.
- Does CeraVe have the relevant certifications? No. CeraVe does not have cruelty-free and vegan certifications.
- Is CeraVe sold in China? Yes. CeraVe sells in Mainland China.
- Is CeraVe organic? No, CeraVe products are not organic, and they do not claim otherwise. However, they use some natural ingredients in their products.
What It Means to Be a Cruelty-free Brand
To fully understand the confusing and conflicting nature of CeraVe’s cruelty-free status, we have to understand what makes a brand or company cruelty-free in the first place.
Cruelty-free is Not Regulated
The term is not regulated by any authoritative body. There are no government institutions that actively regulate and ensure the word means what it means.
As such, it can be difficult to just accept everything a brand says as true. After all, there are no legal ramifications to making claims even if your brand isn’t really cruelty-free.
Basically, brands could claim that they don’t do animal tests all they want, and there would be no higher authority to call them out on it. Thus, we have to perform our due diligence as conscious customers.
Generally, a brand is cruelty-free when it does not test on any animals, its ingredients are not tested on animals, and its suppliers do not test on animals. They must also not hire third-party laboratories to do the testing for them.
However, those definitions aren’t set in stone. Brands can easily claim that they don’t test on animals but hire another company to do it for them. This is especially true when selling products in areas where animal testing is required by law (more on this later).
Some brands take the term cruelty-free to mean that their final products are not tested on animals. This often results in misleading customers to believe their products are free from animal tests when they actually are not.
Does CeraVe Conduct Animal Testing?
According to the FAQ section of their website, CeraVe claims it does not test on animals. Here is the full answer:
“No, CeraVe products are not tested on animals.”
But as we’ve explored in the previous section, that doesn’t always mean what we think it does.
Since the brand does not further elaborate its stance and practices regarding animal tests, it would be false to assume that they are a cruelty-free skin care brand.
Sure, CeraVe products might not be tested on animals by the brand itself. But the final products may still be tested by other bodies or in other areas where post-market animal testing is legally mandated.
Not to mention, we have no confirmation on whether the ingredients are tested on animals or if the suppliers are free from animal tests.
When deciding if a brand is cruelty-free or not, it’s important to be a little bit on the conservative side of things. Especially considering that CeraVe sells worldwide and most likely has a complex supply and value chain.
This would require active effort on their end to make sure they don’t source from suppliers that conduct animal tests—something that is not evident in the information they provide.
Does CeraVe Have Certifications?
Since CeraVe claims it doesn’t do animal tests, the next thing you should look for is certifications. Certifications may be provided by third parties (e.g., PETA, Leaping Bunny) with varying rules and levels of credibility.
Some certifications require supplier audits, while others will merely require supplier confirmation that they do not conduct tests on animals.
CeraVe does not have any certifications proving that they are a cruelty-free brand. As CeraVe is a pretty large brand, it would probably be easy for them to afford the fees that come with the certifications if they actually fit the criteria.
The lack of certifications isn’t actually the end all be all for a brand’s status. However, when large brands such as CeraVe claim they’re cruelty-free but don’t have the certifications, we consider it a red flag.
Is Cerave Owned by a Parent Company?
Yes, CeraVe is owned by the popular french cosmetics company L’Oréal.
L’Oréal is not cruelty-free and vegan.
Although the parent brand is not cruelty-free, it does have some skin care brands under its umbrella that are officially cruelty-free.
However, since it still has subsidiaries that conduct animal tests, some may be against supporting any brands under the company.
Even if we operated on the assumption that CeraVe is cruelty-free, some people might still not consider them as such because a portion of the profits goes to a non-cruelty-free company.
CeraVe's Animal Testing Policy
CeraVe does not have an official animal testing policy on its website.
They responded with L’Oreal’s animal testing policy when we contacted them, so that we will use that as a baseline instead.
First off, let’s make it clear that the parent’s animal testing policy is not always reflective of the subsidiary. Such is true in the fact that L’Oreal is not cruelty-free, but some of its subsidiaries are.
But since CeraVe responded with their animal testing policy upon further questioning, we can use that to explore CeraVe’s products further.
“At L’Oréal, we care for animal welfare and do not test on animals. We are for a world without animal testing. The L’Oréal Group, which includes CeraVe, has always made our consumers’ health and safety an absolute priority. Since 1989, we have not tested the safety of our products on animals, 14 years before regulations required us to do so.”
But there’s more.
“Certain health authorities may nevertheless decide to conduct animal tests themselves for certain cosmetic products, as it is still the case in China.”
In their email, they responded with the first excerpt, which would indicate that they are cruelty-free, right? Well, not exactly.
On the L’Oreal website, you will also find the second excerpt. Added at the very end only after they’ve put their best foot forward regarding animal testing.
This conflicting and intentionally misleading phrasing is exactly what you want to look out for in skin care brands. For a company to be totally cruelty-free, it must not practice animal testing on all levels.
This means everything from ingredients to the final product is not subject to tests on animals.
Since they do tests when required by law, this does not fit properly into the generally accepted criteria of being completely against animal cruelty.
Is CeraVe Cruelty-free and Vegan?
Along with asking: ‘Is CeraVe cruelty-free,’ come other questions such as: Is CeraVe vegan? Does it have vegan products? Is CeraVe vegetarian?
No, CeraVe is not completely vegan. Although they may have products that have no animal-derived ingredients, they still have some products that do.
For example, the CeraVe mineral sunscreen stick contains beeswax, which is an animal-derived product. For vegan alternatives to sunscreen, check out our guide on vegan sunscreen.
We have also seen some sources indicate that the UK version of CeraVe products is vegan. However, we could not find any confirmation on this, and the UK website no longer has pertinent information on the brand’s vegan status.
Even so, some vegans would nevertheless avoid brands that do animal tests. Since the cruelty-free stance of CeraVe products is doubtful at best, we would not recommend them even if some products are vegan.
Is CeraVe sold in Mainland China?
One of the most relevant questions in determining if CeraVe is a cruelty-free brand is whether CeraVe is sold in China. Mainly because products sold in Mainland China must undergo animal tests required by law.
However, this isn’t a simple matter of yes or no, and certain conditions apply.
For example, a product that is manufactured in China no longer has to undergo animal testing. Since Cerave manufactures in the USA, CeraVe’s products are classified as imported, and animal testing is required.
But while CeraVe sells its products in Mainland China, this is no longer as relevant as before. Just recently, China came out with updated regulations regarding animal tests.
As of May 2021, imported general cosmetics no longer need to undergo post-market animal testing. Still, this comes with certain requirements and should not be assumed to be the default stance. Certain cosmetics such as sunscreens and whitening products are not general cosmetic items.
Brands wishing to sell in physical stores within the Chinese market will still have to submit pertinent documents and proof of the product’s safety before they fall under the right category in the new law.
As such, it would be unwise to completely remove selling in China as one of the determinants of a brand’s status regarding animal cruelty.
Since this is a relatively new regulation, we can reasonably expect that brands have only begun the process of submitting the requirements.
So, is CeraVe cruelty-free? Not to us.
Reflecting on all the available information, we would say that CeraVe is not cruelty-free. There are too many factors that were not accounted for.
But no need to worry. There are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives to CeraVe from cruelty-free brands! Take a look at our guide on vegan cleansers and face wash for some cruelty-free, vegan alternatives.
We hope this guide helped you decide whether to buy CeraVe’s products or not. The cosmetics industry can be challenging to navigate sometimes.
But being mindful of what we buy is one of the easiest ways to contribute to a better world.