Is Clinique Cruelty-Free and Vegan in 2023?

Clinique is a brand that feels like it’s been around forever with its iconic chic packaging and science-based formulas. Unfortunately, when it comes to solid cruelty-free ad vegan policies we can trust, Clinique has still not made any major steps.

Clinique 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.
Clinique started when the daughter-in-law of the creator of Estee Lauder, Evelyn Lauder, came across a US Vogue article called “Can Great Skin Be Created?” in 1967.

This article had a huge influence and led to Clinique officially opening in 1968 with the idea that skincare needed a more focused approach. Clinique began selling their 3-step cleanser, exfoliating, and moisturizing method.

Seems simple enough, but 55 years ago, it was pretty much revolutionary.

Since then, this cosmetics giant has become associated with high-end stores and expanded into makeup and fragrances. And with the newest resurgence of their decades-old ‘Black Honey lipstick’, Clinique is still keeping up their popularity.

But while Clinique has been around for decades with its formulas, the brand has still not made an effort to be cruelty-free and vegan. What’s holding them back?

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

Clinique Product Shot

Clinique Ethical Overview

Cruelty-free: No

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

Clean ingredients: Yes

Sustainable & Ethical: High efforts

Mica Mining Policy: yes

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: Yes

Clinique 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.


Clinique might claim to be working towards getting animal testing banned worldwide, but that hasn’t stopped them from distributing their products where it’s required by law.

The brand is also owned by Estée Lauder, a cosmetics giant that, similarly to Clinique, allows animal testing when required by law.

Does Clinique Test on Animals?

After 55 years of creating and selling products, Clinique still has not become 100% cruelty-free.

Clinique has a stance on cruelty-free cosmetics, claiming to be completely against animal testing, but that stance apparently doesn’t apply when it comes to mandatory testing by law.

Clinique still sells products in mainland China where animal testing is required by law, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

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

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

Clinique cruelty-free status

Clinique Has No Cruelty-Free Certification

Without a clear and solid stance on animal testing, Clinique won’t get any certifications soon.

As long as Clinique continues selling products in mainland China, no reputable company can stand behind them.

A 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.

Is OGX Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?

Yes, Clinique 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?

Clinique is Not Vegan

Beyond the fact that Clinique still uses many animal-derived ingredients in its products, none of the products can ever be considered vegan when the brand still allows animal testing on its products.

It’s not enough for a product to be free of animal-derived ingredients. In our opinion, brands can only be vegan when they are 100% cruelty-free too.

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that Clinique uses are honeybeeswaxlanolin, squalane, carmine, 7-dehydrocholesterol, cholesterol, glucosamine, and oleic acid.

Vegan Alternatives to Clinique


price range

100% vegan


$10 - $50


Leaping Bunny

$30 - $80


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$20 - $90


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$9 - $65


Leaping Bunny

$5 - $180


PETA, Choose Cruelty Free

Clinique is Not Natural or Organic

Being natural or organic isn’t a big priority for Clinique. You won’t find many naturally derived ingredients in most of the formulas, nor are they highlighted by the brand.

Clinique is not for those who are looking for formulas with ingredients that they can easily say.

This isn’t to say the synthetic ingredients Clinique uses regularly are necessarily bad.

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

Clinique Has an 82 – 100% Allergen-Free Ranking.

According to Skin Safe, Clinique has an 82 – 100% allergen-free ranking for each product.

Many of Clinique’s products are free of allergens such as fragrance, coconut, nickel, top common allergy-causing preservatives, lanolin, paraben, topical antibiotic, MCI/MI, soy, balsam of Peru, oil, and SLS.

Clinique 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!

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

Clinique Is Highly Sustainable and Ethical

Clinique is very involved in social causes. Many of the organizations the brand supports are all about women and children, focusing on education, gender equality, and health.

Clinique has partnered with the organization's Room to Read, Kiss it Better, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Plan International, CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, Smile Foundation South Africa, Children International, Lichtblick Hasenbergl, and Stiftung Lesen.

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.

Clinique takes environmental accountability by:

  • Working on sustainable packaging developments that include post-consumer recycled materials and plant-derived plastic.
  • Aiming for 75% of packaging to be “recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled, or recoverable” by 2025.
  • Encouraging consumers to recycle their products.
  • Reducing the use of virgin plastic in their product and shipping packaging.
  • Prohibiting the use of synthetic microbeads that pollute our waters and harm marine life since 2016.
  • Using ethically mined MICA sourced without the use of child labor.
  • Using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified).
  • Using sustainably sourced paper (FSC certified) to create its packaging with the aim to use 100% by 2025.
  • Pledging to halve direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
  • Using renewable energy in manufacturing plants and offices.
  • Introducing carbon-neutral e-commerce shipping.
  • Having carbon footprint offsets purchased in regions where energy can’t be sourced directly.

Final Thoughts

Clinique is a cosmetics giant that was born from another. They have been around long enough to be among the most respected brands.

But with all the popularity comes a lot of criticism. They are a popular target for complaints about their lack of natural ingredients and, more importantly, their lack of cruelty-free and vegan policies.

Saying you are actively working on stopping animal testing worldwide yet still continuing to sell in China, where it’s required by law, is a total conflict of interest.

At least when it comes to sustainability and involvement in social causes, Clinique is putting some of its time and massive net worth into improving social and environmental welfare – we just wish that would include animal welfare as well.