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Is Herbal Essences Cruelty-Free: Its Status is Debatable But Most Likely “Yes”

Herbal Essences is a haircare brand founded in 1971 when a personal care company Clairol created a single shampoo called simply Clairol Herbal Essence Shampoo. The front label of this single-product brand had a cartoon image of a girl in a natural pool. The official brand color was green, just like the color of that first product.

Since 2010, the company is doing its best to be nature-friendly and promote sustainability and eliminate unnecessary waste. In 2016, the company started Herbal Essences Sustainability Program, with the intent to expand its renewable energy production. Also, the brand partnered with TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company, to create packaging made up of 25% recycled plastic.

Today, the company is famous worldwide and is considered one of the most popular drugstore haircare brands.

Is Herbal Essences Cruelty-Free?

Not sold in China? No(*)
PETA Certified Yes
Leaping Bunny Certified No
Has vegan products No
Not owned by a Parent Company that does Animal Testing? No

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Herbal Essences’ cruelty-free status is debatable.

Herbal Essences doesn’t test finished products on animals, and none of its ingredients or formulations are tested on animals. The brand also claims that all of its suppliers are cruelty-free, and that it doesn’t pay for a third-party testing to be done on their behalf.

However, Herbal Essences does sell its products in mainland China, which creates somewhat of a debate about its claims to be cruelty-free. In 2014, China’s regulations allowed non-personal care products to be imported and sold without animal testing. This means that shampoos and other hair care items are exempt from mandatory animal testing laws(*). Despite all of this, some post-market animal testing may occur if the product’s safety is deemed questionable. This makes many people claim that Herbal Essences cannot be considered a cruelty-free brand.

Herbal Essences is approved by PETA, but it doesn’t have The Leaping Bunny label.

Best Selling Herbal Essences Products

Are Vichy products sold in China?

Yes, some of Herbal Essences’ products are sold in mainland China.

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What is the Deal with China?

Even though animal testing is proven to be an unnecessary and unethical practice, some countries still require it by law. This is the case with the second-biggest market in the world, China.

China requires any beauty product to be tested on animals before allowing importation and being sold in Chinese stores. Any company or brand that makes the decision to sell in China has also decided to test on animals – either by themselves or, usually, by paying a third-party company to test on their behalf. This is the main reason why a lot of brands can’t achieve a true cruelty-free status. After growing public outrage, China did lift some regulations in 2014, which allowed certain beauty products, such as shampoos and other skincare items, to be imported without testing, but this is still a small percentage.

A lot of brands that claim to be cruelty-free are being misleading thanks to these laws. Even if a brand doesn’t conduct animal testing on its own, by deciding to take the opportunity and sell in countries such as China, it is allowing a third-party to test the final product on animals. This is why PETA and the Leaping Bunny Program have forbidden brands that they certify to expand their market in this direction – and rightfully so.

A lot of companies are working with the Chinese government on lifting these regulations, and legislation was proposed in 2019 that should stop mandatory animal testing. However until today, no substantial progress has been made in this regard, we continue to wait patiently.

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Is Herbal Essences Vegan?

Herbal Essences isn’t a vegan brand and doesn’t claim that any of its products are vegan. In other words, most, if not all, of Herbal Essences’ products contain some kind of animal-derived ingredients, such as honey and beeswax.

Simultaneously, Herbal Essences products aren’t organic, but the brand claims that they are 90% natural.

Who owns Herbal Essences? And the parent company tests on animals or not?

In 2001, Herbal Essences was sold to Procter & Gamble (P&G), a multinational consumer goods corporation that is not cruelty-free. Luckily, Procter & Gamble allows the brands it owns to choose their own cruelty-free policy. However, it is up to each individual to decide whether or not they want to support a brand owned by a company that tests on animals.

What products does Herbal Essences sell?

Herbal Essence has around 30 collections of various hair care products, each created with a specific purpose. Its products are designed for all hair types and solve all common hair problems, such as dandruff, oily hair and damaged hair.

Best Selling Herbal Essences Products

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