Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free: The Brand Sells Its Products in China

Kiehl’s LLC is a cosmetics brand that was founded by John Kiehl in 1851 in the USA. The brand started as a pharmacy located in Manhattan, New York, USA. Still, it quickly expanded after it was purchased by a pharmacology student, Irving Morse, in 1921.

The brand remained nearly anonymous until the 1950s. It reached international recognition during the 1980s when it expanded into producing natural cosmetics for skincare. The brand’s fame grew so fast that they had to agree to L’Oreal’s purchase proposal in 2000, as its workers couldn’t deal with the production by themselves.

Until 2000, Kiehl’s owned only one store and exported its products to various distributors, pharmacies and retailers. Today, it sells its products worldwide, both in stores and online.

Is Kiehl’s Cruelty-Free?

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

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No, Kiehl’s isn’t a cruelty-free brand.

Kiehl’s on its own doesn’t test on animals. At the same time, none of its ingredients and formulations are tested on animals. However, the brand does pay for third-party testing in countries where testing on animals is required by law for imported products. Kiehl’s claims that it’s doing all it can to prevent animal testing and promote alternatives to animal testing, outdated practices, but we see little of this in practice.

If you like Kiehl’s products but can’t support a company that isn’t cruelty-free. You can always choose to contact its representatives and politely ask them to reconsider their animal cruelty policies. Just keep in mind that you need to remain kind, as hate speech never changes anyone’s mind.

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Are Kiehl’s products sold in China?

Yes, Kiehl’s sells its products 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.


Is Kiehl’s Vegan?

No, Kiehl’s isn’t a vegan brand, and it doesn’t claim to sell vegan products. This means that most, if not all, of its products contain animal-derived ingredients or animal-byproducts, such as carmine and lanoline.

At the same time, Kiehl’s isn’t gluten-free, and its products contain palm oil, which is deemed an unethically obtained ingredient.

Who owns Kiehl’s and does the parent company test on animals?

Ever since 2000, Kiehl’s is owned by L’Oreal, a cosmetics company that owns dozens of brands, which isn’t cruelty-free. However, L’Oreal does allow the brands it owns to choose their own animal cruelty policies. This means that the decision to test on animals was ultimately on Kiehl’s.

What products does Kiehl’s sell?

Kiehl’s sells various natural skincare and face care products. The brand claims that it spends a lot of time producing high-quality products that can still be bought at a somewhat affordable price. Some of its more popular products and lines include Crème de Corps, Original Musk Oil, Blue Astringent, and Facial Fuel. It is also well known for its night creams and toners.

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