Is CeraVe Cruelty-Free and Vegan? (We’re Shocked!) 

July 30, 2022

CeraVe is a dermatologist-who developed and recommended a skincare brand that uses the power of ceramides to support the skin barrier. It might come highly rated by medical professionals.

Still, its cruelty-free and vegan policies don't have the same stellar reviews.

We did the research, and you might be a bit disappointed.

CeraVe is not cruelty-free. It distributes its cosmetics where animal testing is required by law. CeraVe does not claim to have or market any products as free of animal-derived ingredients. Therefore it is not considered a vegan brand.

CeraVe was inspired by a successful breakthrough scientist made in developing skin identical* ceramides.  

Since 2005, this US-based brand has been creating products to protect the skin barrier and offer deep hydration.

Social media has also given the brand a considerable boost through viral TikTok's and skincare hauls. In 2017, CeraVe was acquired by L'Oreal along with two other brands for $1.3 billion.

Unfortunately, it seems like the company has prioritized other aspects of business over a cruelty-free status.

So if you're a dedicated CeraVe customer and cruelty-free activist – we urge you to read this before making your next purchase. 

*Skin identical ingredients are ingredients that are naturally found in your skin. When you introduce them into your skincare regimen, they're easily recognized and support your skin's natural function.

Is CeraVe Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

CeraVe Product Layout

CeraVe is Not Cruelty-Free

It does not:

  • Test any of its products or ingredients on animals.

It does:

  • Distribute its products to countries that require animal testing by law.

It might:

  • Purchase ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain. We cannot get information to establish where the brand stands on this matter.

Another unfortunate fact is that CeraVe is owned by L'Oreal, which is definitely not a cruelty-free company either.

This brings us to the next point:

CeraVe is Not Vegan

CeraVe does not claim to have any vegan ranges, but some products are free from animal-derived products.

However, it's hard to consider any of its products as "vegan" because it's not 100% cruelty-free.

It claims to only use:

  • Honey & beeswax – these ingredients pose many health benefits to your skin and wellbeing. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with essential vitamins.

    Just because beeswax isn't vegan, it doesn't mean it can't be cruelty-free. Find out more here: Can Beeswax Be Cruelty-Free?
  • Lanolin – this ingredient, like honey and beeswax, is used in skincare and cosmetics because it is incredibly hydrating. It is basically the waxy oil that comes from sheep wool. Lanolin can be cruelty-free – follow this link for more details.

If you're interested in finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Vegan Alternatives to CeraVe.

Animal Testing Policy and History

CeraVe claims not to conduct animal testing yet sells in regions where the practice is required by law, like China. However, they still have a stance on cruelty-free cosmetics.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

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

CeraVe Cruelty-Free Website Claim

Simple, right?  

Not so much. We cannot take a statement like that at face value. We can only understand its cruelty-free claims when we look at its certification and the regions it chooses to sell in.


CeraVe has no cruelty-free certification. As much as it would be nice to see cruelty-free certification – it cannot happen as long as the brand continues with its current animal-testing policies.

Besides PETA, a far more reputable organization you can trust is The Leaping Bunny association, which has strict (but excellent) standards.

Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognized certification that ensures a brand adheres to the following strict criteria:

  • 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 want to support a brand that doesn't conduct animal testing – ensure that they have the cruelty-free symbol at the back of their products, usually marked by a rabbit.

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 CeraVe Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

CeraVe distributes its products in China, where animal testing on cosmetics is required as products arrive at the border.

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 CeraVe Products Are Vegan?

We don't consider CeraVe's vegan products holistically vegan because the brand is not 100% cruelty-free.

While it does have some products that are free of animal-derived ingredients, many also include lanolin, beeswax, or honey.

Unfortunately, CeraVe does not have a dedicated page for its ‘vegan’ products, nor does it include this information in its product descriptions.

However, you can email customer service, and they will send you an extensive list of exactly what you want to know.

Vegan Alternatives to CeraVe

If you were a die-hard CeraVe fan who's justly upset by this news – please don't stress!

There are many ethical, vegan, and cruelty-free brand alternatives.

Here are some nature-inspired skincare brands within the same price range that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Is CeraVe Natural and Organic? 

CeraVe makes no claims about being natural or organic.

While it claims to use safe ingredients, we'll delve into how valid those claims are below.

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. CeraVe is no exception – but it does choose to use better or clean synthetics where possible.

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.

CeraVe focuses on dermatologist-developed ingredients to enhance its skincare, like:

  • Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in our skin that helps maintain moisture, and boost tissue regeneration and wound healing.

    As we age, we produce less hyaluronic acid – making it an essential ingredient in our beauty products.
  • Ceramides are lipids (or fats) found in skin cells. Ceramides' 'hold together" the topmost layer of skin and keep any environmental nasties out.

    Including them in your skincare protects and repairs the skin barrier, which boosts hydration, speeds up healing, and improves texture.
  • Urea is an ingredient your skin produces naturally as part of your natural moisturizing factor (NMF).

    It's a humectant, which means it draws moisture from the air and into your skin; and an emollient that protects your skin's barrier.

    Urea has the power to smoothen your skin and lessen the appearance of dry, scaly, and rough patches by reducing the build-up of dead skin cells.

Does CeraVe Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, CeraVe has between 82 -100% allergen-free ranking across 255 products. Which we've got to say is extremely impressive.

Most of its products receive a 100% allergen-free ranking – no wonder it's so loved by dermatologists!    

In saying that – CeraVe still uses chemicals that many people would consider avoiding, such as parabens, propylene glycol, silicones, common preservatives, and irritants in its products.

It's also important to note that not all common allergens are harmful ingredients overall. A typical example is lanolin, which also has many benefits to your skin.

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

However, certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs.

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

As a conscientious shopper, you must read up on any brand's ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States.

This is because 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!

While CeraVe has a decent range of ingredients, you should always check a product label before buying it. 

Here are some of the ingredients you really want to avoid with skincare:

  • DEA, MEA, and TEA
  • DMDM
  • Hydantoin and urea (that often release formaldehyde)
  • PEG (Polyethylene glycol)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • Triclosan
  • Butylated compounds
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead or other heavy metals.

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 CeraVe Sustainable and Ethical? 

CeraVe does not claim to be an ethical or sustainable brand. In fact, there's no mention of sustainability or environmental awareness anywhere.

Almost all their products come in plastic packaging; most aren't recyclable. There's no detail about where it sources ingredients or the places and people that sourcing could negatively affect.

In saying that, CeraVe has been involved in a few social initiatives that seem promising.

It has partnered with La Roche Posay and Dr. Amy Brodsky to develop Sun Heroes – a skin cancer awareness initiative for children.

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.

We usually list how brands are taking sustainable steps, but we can't do that for CeraVe.

Because they tell us, and conscientious consumers like you, nothing.

We suggest that CeraVe could take strong environmental accountability by:

  • Using natural ingredients and biodegradable formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Responsibly sourcing Palm Oil (RSPO certified).
  • Incorporating some sustainably sourced ingredients where possible.
  • Using some recyclable packaging for its product lines.
  • Developing some refillable, long-lasting packaging and reduced plastic refills.
  • Using 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) and FSC certified.
  • Developing a recyclable pump made of one plastic.
  • Having an active recycling program.
  • Using renewable energy sources for manufacturing, transport, and at head offices.

On the plus side – we know that the parent company, L'Oréal, has a few sustainability and ethical initiatives aimed at taking on more responsibility for global social and environmental impact.

The cosmetic house has committed to:

  • Research and development to help create sustainably developed products. For example, it has been reducing the weight of its packaging to save the number of resources it uses annually.
  • Donated millions to ecosystem regeneration funds, especially where the beneficiaries are women. This is also to help empower women in leadership roles.
  • Being more respectful of the environment. Apparently L'Oréall claims to have reduced CO2 emissions by 82%, water consumption by 44%, and waste generation by 35% since 2005.

Final Thoughts

While CeraVe may be a well-developed skincare brand that makes an effective product, it takes very few sustainable or ethical factors into consideration.

We appreciate that it has a certain amount of supply chain transparency, but it's not enough for our liking.

Our standards are pretty high here, and we have 0% tolerance for brands that support animal testing.

The fact that it is not cruelty-free takes a step in the wrong direction.

As much as CeraVe claims to be actively against animal testing, they choose to distribute to China, which is a direct conflict of interest.

For this reason, we cannot consider its products free of animal-derived ingredients as holistically vegan either.

We hope to see a change in this issue, but it is unlikely right now. As consumers, it is up to us to stand for what we will and won't accept from our cosmetics. This is something we cannot accept.

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