Is Cetaphil Cruelty-Free and Vegan in 2023?

Cetaphil has been a godsend for those with sensitive skin begging for moisture. For over 75 years, they have been a pioneer in the skincare world, but when it comes to their cruelty-free and vegan policies, they are still stuck in the past. 

Cetaphil is not 100% cruelty-free or vegan, as its products are sold where animal testing is required by law. It also cannot be considered vegan as it is not cruelty-free.
Cetaphil is one of the most well-known skincare brands out there with their dermatologist-recommended formulas that claim to be one of the best options for those with sensitive skin.

This brand was made by a pharmacist in Texas back in 1947 to help patients with very sensitive skin specifically. Since then, the focus has always been on gentle and effective skincare products.

But Cetaphil hasn’t kept up with the times when it comes to the growing demand for products that are free from animal testing and animal-derived ingredients.

However, if you are looking for alternatives to Cetaphil in the same price range with the same quality, click here. 
Cetaphil Product shot

Cetaphil Ethical Overview

Cruelty-free: No

Vegan: No (Cetaphil cannot be considered vegan if it is not cruelty-free)

Clean ingredients: Yes

Sustainable & Ethical: Moderate efforts

Mica Mining Policy: No

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: No

Cetaphil is Not Cruelty-Free

Test any of its products or ingredients on animals


Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain


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


Cetaphil has a lot to say about how much of a priority no animal testing is for the company but makes it sound like selling in China is completely out of their control as a company.

Further, the brand is owned by Galderma, a Swiss pharmaceutical company that is also not cruelty-free.

Does Cetaphil Test on Animals?

Cetaphil has never been considered cruelty-free, as animal testing has always been involved in some way.

Today Cetaphil has very careful wording to claim that they are wholly against animal testing as a brand, but this only applies to its own laboratories and factories.

Cetaphil still allows products to get tested on animals before approval for sale when the law requires it in mainland China.

The brand argues that they are involved in programs in China to change animal testing regulations. Still, it hasn’t stopped them from actually selling and benefitting from the Chinese market, regardless of the animal testing they claim to be against.

What Is Cetaphil’s Cruelty-Free Status in 2023?

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

Cetaphil Cruelty-free status

Cetaphil Has No Cruelty-Free Certification

It will be impossible for Cetaphil to get a reputable company to certify them as cruelty-free when they still willingly allow products to be tested on animals by selling in mainland China.

Without certification from a reputable company like Leaping Bunny or PETA, there is no real way to guarantee that standards and claims are being met and upheld. 

Leaping Bunny certification proves 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, is considered and evaluated.

Cetaphil Is Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?

Yes, Cetaphil 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?

Cetaphil is Not Vegan

You may find a vegan stamp in the product description of many of Cetaphil’s products. Still, a product that is free of animal-derived ingredients does not automatically make it vegan.

Cetaphil is not cruelty-free and, therefore, cannot be considered vegan in any way.

Does it have products that are free of animal-derived ingredients? Yes.

Are these products considered holistically vegan? Not in our opinion.

Vegan Alternatives to Cetaphil


price range

100% vegan


$20 - $50


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$3 - $24


Leaping Bunny

$20 - $80


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$5 - $15



$30 - $80


PETA, Leaping Bunny

Cetaphil is Not Natural or Organic

Cetaphil might have a reputation as being clean and gentle. Still, the brand isn’t natural or organic.

The brand highlights 12 key natural ingredients on its website, but beyond these ingredients making a few appearances in products, the majority of Cetaphil’s products are synthetic.

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. Cetaphil 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.

Cetaphil Has A 91 – 100% Allergen-Free Ranking.

According to Skin Safe, Cetaphil has a 91 – 100% allergen-free ranking for each product.

Many of Cetaphil’s products are free of allergens such as fragrance, gluten, nickel, top common allergy-causing preservatives, lanolin, topical antibiotic, MCI/MI, soy, balsam of Peru, propylene glycol, dye, and SLS.

While Cetaphil has a reputation for being safe and clean, it’s still worth mentioning that they still use parabens and propylene glycol in many products.

Cetaphil has also leveled up its game by being completely hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. 

However, we recommend reading a product’s ingredient list before purchasing, as formulas can be subject to change.

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 nationwide. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Luckily, Cetaphil sets a great example of what true clean beauty is meant to be, and you shouldn’t have to worry about any serious hidden nasties in its products.

With skincare and cosmetics, you want to avoid these ingredients:

  • Ethoxylated ingredients (PPG, PEG, and polysorbate)
  • Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, and TEA)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, aka teflon®)
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Triclosan

Cetaphil Is Moderately Sustainable and Ethical

One of the social causes Cetaphil supports is Children’s Skin Disease Foundation’s ‘Camp Wonder.’ Cetaphil is a long-time partner with this summer camp for children with chronic and life-threatening skin diseases. 

Beyond being a partner, since 2012, Cetaphil with Galderma has donated $1.5 million and over 50,000 products to this initiative.

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.

Cetaphil takes environmental accountability by:

  • Developing formulas that are kinder to the environment with biodegradable formulas.
  • Working on sustainable packaging developments.
  • Ensuring that the plastic containers they use are recyclable by using mostly mono-material containers and closures that are in part recyclable.
  • Using closure packaging that is easier to take apart and sort for recycling.
  • Encouraging consumers to recycle their products.
  • Using paper-based packaging made with renewable and biodegradable materials.
  • Reduced water consumption by 33% per ton of product using programs to recycle and reuse it in factories and research facilities.
  • Having reduced annual CO2 emissions from factories by over 60% with more efficient technology and renewable sources of electricity.
  • 95% of factories' electricity comes from renewable sources.

Final Thoughts

Love or hate them, Cetaphil has been around for a long time and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Cetaphil is claiming to be making steps towards making all of its formulas vegan, but without being certified cruelty-free, all of its claims will be wasted.

Unfortunately, the brand has a huge market in China, and while the country continues to require animal testing by law Cetaphil can never be considered cruelty-free or vegan.

If you’re an activist looking for brands prioritizing animal welfare, then Cetaphil won’t be on your list.