Is amika Cruelty-Free and Vegan? (What’s Holding Them Back?)

amika is the hair care brand that was “kind and clean before it was a thing.” Although it claims to bend the rules for the greater good – is there a catch? Can we trust its loud and proud cruelty-free, vegan, or sustainability policies?

Is amika Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

amika is cruelty-free. It doesn't conduct animal testing on its products, nor does it distribute its cosmetics where animal testing is required by law. While amika does offer a range of vegan cosmetics, it is not considered a vegan brand.

amika started off in 2007 with a couple of hair tools – but it didn’t take long for the Brooklyn, NY brand to expand into a complete hair care brand.

From the minute you see an amika product on the shelf or click on their website – you get a sense of how important inclusivity and diversity are to the brand.

No matter your hair type, amika offers products for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or age. Oh yes – you heard us right. 

amika’s extensive range has everything you could need from shampoos, conditioners, serums, wavers, and straighteners (and their world-famous dry shampoo, of course).

But does sustainable and inclusive mean vegan? Not necessarily. Here’s what you need to know before you shop amika’s range.

Is amika Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

amika Hair Care range

amika is 100% Cruelty-Free

It does not:

  • Test any of its products or ingredients on animals;
  • Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain; or
  • Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.

The brand claim’s to be “kind before it was cool,” and it shows.

amika is Leaping Bunny certified – which is the global gold standard for cruelty-free certification.

On another good note, amika’s parent company is a US-based private equity company that isn’t associated with animal testing.

This brings us to our next point:

amika is Not Vegan

Come on, amika!

While the brand is not 100% vegan – it has an extensive range of vegan products from which you can choose.

Most of its products that used animal-derived ingredients have either been discontinued or reformulated into a vegan alternative.

In fact, the brand has completely switched from using keratin to hydrolyzed plant-based protein alternatives.

You can also easily identify amika’s vegan items on their online product pages. Each one is clearly marked to the right of its picture, like this:

amika vegan product website finder

The main animal-derived ingredients we could find that amika uses are:

  • Quaternium-26 – this ammonium compound is derived from chemically altered mink oil. It is used in hair care as an effective conditioning agent because it is abundant in fatty acids.

    Mink oil is harvested from mink animals that are cruelly bred and slaughtered on farms for cosmetic and fashion purposes. You can learn more about how to stop mink farming here: Can Mink Be Cruelty-Free?
  • Oleic Acid (Sorbitan Oleate) – this ingredient can be animal or plant-based. It is a common fatty acid extracted from beef or mutton fat (tallow). It is used as a cleansing and moisturizing agent in hair care.
  • Stearic Acid (Sorbitan Isostearate) – like oleic acid, this ingredient can be animal or plant-based. It is a common fatty acid commonly extracted from pigs’ stomachs. However, it can also be derived from cows or sheep.

    When formulated as sorbitan isostearate, it acts as a mild cleansing agent and emulsifier.

If you're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: amika vegan products.

Animal Testing Policy and History

amika wants to be seen as a kind, clean, and cruelty-free hair care brand. Although they claim to have never tested on animals – they only received Leaping Bunny certification in 2016.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

Here is a screenshot of amika's official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:

amika cruelty-free website claim

Certification

amika is Leaping Bunny and PETA certified.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations. It seems only to require a brand's written consent that abides by the PETA code of conduct.

Certification from Leaping Bunny is ideal because it holds rigorous standards and does regular audits to ensure they are upheld.

The Leaping Bunny association is very strict and reliable, which ensures that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products they sell.
  • No animal testing is conducted by the brand suppliers or on their ingredients or formulas.
  • No animal testing is done by someone else that the company itself paid for.
  • Any other form of testing (beyond ingredient and consumer safety), such as worker safety and environmental health, are considered and evaluated.

If you see a bunny stamp on the back of your product bottle – that's an excellent sign. But don't let the image itself fool you. A lot of brands are using fake logos to deceive consumers.

Do your homework and see which products are genuinely cruelty-free first. This article will help you: Which Cruelty-Free Logos Can You Trust?

Is amika Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

amika does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.

China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used per year.

However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes.

Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

What amika Products Are Vegan?

Most of amika’s products are vegan – in fact, only four items contain animal-derived ingredients. These include:

  • The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray
  • Supernova Moisture and Shine Cream
  • Supernova Blonde Moisture and Shine Cream
  • The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray

While amika doesn’t have a dedicated page for their vegan products, everything vegan is easy to find and clearly marked.

To save you some time, here are some of amika’s most popular and award-winning products to choose from:

  • The kure intense bond repair mask
  • The wizard detangling primer
  • Bust your brass cool blonde repair shampoo
  • Un.done volume and matte texture spray
  • Flash instant shine mask

Vegan Alternatives to amika

amika has a wide selection of vegan products, and their success is pretty indicative of their fan support.

But while the brand intends to go 100% vegan – they just aren’t there yet.

So, if you don’t want to support something that isn’t entirely vegan or if amika isn’t available in your area – there are some vegan alternatives for you to try.

Some options we love include:

Is amika Natural and Organic? 

amika does use some natural ingredients in their products, like their superstar sea buckthorn berry (which is in all their products). However, they are not considered a natural or organic brand.

Instead, amika focuses on highly effective, clean formulas that contain no “nasties .”This means no sulfates, parabens, or over 1300 other harsh or questionable ingredients.

Clean vs. Natural Ingredients

The term "natural" is not regulated for cosmetics and skincare. In other words, it doesn't hold one specific meaning.

Usually, it means a product is free of certain more toxic synthetic ingredients, including parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and more. But people also interpret "natural" to mean ingredients of immediate plant origin.

Here's the thing: "natural" is not necessarily good. Just because an ingredient is natural (take egg whites, for example) doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin and risk a salmonella infection!

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. amika is no exception – but it does choose to use better or clean synthetics.

If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it means it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.

A few naturally-derived ingredients amika uses to enhance its hair products include:

  • Sea Buckthorn – is amika’s star ingredient that you can find in all its products!

    The brand claims it’s an effective hair and scalp ingredient because it is a vital source of essential fatty acid omega 7. It also has 15 times more Vitamin C than an orange and three times more Vitamin A than a carrot.
  • Plant butter trio – amika combines borage oil, mango butter extract, and shea butter to create a powerful infusion of essential omega 6 fatty oils, potassium, folate, Vitamins A, C, and E – and more!

    All these nutrients are essential for good hair and scalp health as they have nourishing and moisturizing properties.  
  • Hyaluronic acid – this ingredient isn’t just great for your complexion; it has fantastic hydrating properties for your scalp and hair too.

    As it’s a natural humectant, it attracts water from the air around you into your hair and scalp – plumping it and reducing frizz.

Does amika Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, amika’s currently available and updated products have an 82 – 91% allergen-free ranking. Some of its discontinued products rank lower at 64%.

All amika products are free of allergens such as parabens, phthalates, sulfates (SLS, SLES, ALS), aluminum starch, and over 1300 ingredients banned by the EU.

amika also avoids all other allergens like nickel, dye, MCI/MI, soy, topical antibiotics, gluten, and soy.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because amika is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.

They have based their product lists on hair type needs and benefits rather than concerns.

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

We don’t want to scare you, but you HAVE to read up on any product’s ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States. The reason why will shock you.

The FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the country. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Although amika is an American-born brand, it prides itself in following European legislation as closely as possible. Its fantastic SkinSafe results prove it too!

But for good measure, it’s worth knowing that you should always avoid these ingredients in your hair care:

  • DEA, MEA, and TEA
  • DMDM Hydantoin and urea (that often release formaldehyde)
  • PEG (Polyethylene glycol)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • Triclosan
  • Formaldehyde

Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?

If you’re worried about how safe it is to use cosmetics not tested on animals – please relax and take a sigh of relief.

There is no reason why cruelty-free products shouldn’t be as safe as anything tested on animals.

Not only is it easy to test ingredients without using animals altogether, but there are so many pre-approved ingredients you can use to make cosmetics that there is no need.

If you’re interested, here’s more on the subject: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?

Is amika Sustainable and Ethical? 

Oh yes!

amika knows the environmental impact that a brand can make. So they put a lot of effort into their packaging, product production, and shipping.

They have many sustainability and ethical initiatives – which we always love to see from large brands.

amika’s main ethical initiative is its partnership with HairToStay.

This nonprofit organization raises financial aid for a treatment called scalp cooling that prevents hair loss in women undergoing chemotherapy.

To date, amika has helped over 400 000 cancer patients keep their hair and confidence!   

Pretty cool, right?

And it doesn’t stop there. 

It's no secret that the world has a huge waste problem, and cosmetic brands only make it worse by using unsustainable packaging and harmful ingredients.

Some of the ways amika is taking strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Pledging to be a net zero brand by 2030, meaning they are determined to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and energy.
  • Using up to 90% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic in their bottles.
  • Partnering with TerraCycle – an effective recycling program that other brands like The Ordinary and Glow Recipe.
  • Offering refillable product options for customers to help lower carbon emissions.
  • Being carbon neutral certified by Climate Neutral.
  • Using sustainably sourced sea buckthorn.
  • Partnering with CE Bright Futures to help communities build a clean energy plan.
  • Partnering with Tribal renewable Energy Fund to offset what they cannot reduce.
  • Partnering with Blackfeet Nation Community Solar Project to help increase offsets and save 34% of energy.
  • Banning air shipments as a method of product transportation.

Final Thoughts

amika’s commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive hair care brand that still considers the planet and its animals is refreshing!

Their products are reasonably priced (not cheap but not crazy), cruelty-free, and clean from harsh ingredients – it’s definitely worth checking out even if you’re vegan!

In saying that, amika is not yet perfect. At this point, they can only say they are working towards an entirely vegan product line.

In our view – the amount of ethical and sustainable efforts they’ve undertaken definitely takes the attention off their four non-vegan products. So please don’t discredit them!

We recommend sending amika friendly requests and messages sharing how much you’d value a fully vegan product range! The more we share our needs – the more likely they will be met.

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