Is Herbivore Botanicals Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Herbivore Botanicals (otherwise known as Herbivore) is a clean, all-natural skincare brand with a humble founding story. Today, they have a solid view of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics, and we've done some serious research into what that means for you.

Is Herbivore Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Herbivore 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. Herbivore is also 100% vegan – it doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients.

Herbivore's founding story is a side hustle fairy tale. Julia Willis and her boyfriend Alex Kummerow developed the brand in their kitchen in Seattle.

The pair were determined to build a toxin-free soap that could help Alex with his chronic eczema. Since Julia is a natural medicine graduate – her job was to make the formula.  

In the end, Alex loved the product so much that the pair started sharing their creation with friends and family.

In 2011, the brand officially launched and grew into a privately owned, natural personal care empire that brings in an estimated annual revenue of $5 million.

Every aspect of Herbivore's branding is thorough – from its sustainable packaging to its simple ingredients.

Before deciding on what to buy, here's what you need to know about Herbivore's current animal testing policies, vegan ranges, formulation, and sustainability.

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Is Herbivore Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Herbivore 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.

Herbivore has a solid cruelty-free message, and it shows. It is both PETA and Leaping Bunny certified.

While PETA is a reasonably reliable certification – Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognized certification that guarantees a brand is cruelty-free. So we're happy that they go the extra mile here.  

The brand is also privately owned and funded by two private firms not associated with animal testing.

This brings us to our next point:

Herbivore is Vegan

All vegans with sensitive skin – today is your day! We have found one of the best vegan, all-natural and planet-centric skincare brands. This includes all their cosmetic tools too.

While it does not use any animal-derived ingredients in any of its products, it's worth knowing that Herbivore is the exception and not the rule.

Most mainstream skincare brands are not 100% vegan.

These are certain animal-derived ingredients to look out for in general:

  • 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?
  • Carmine – this ingredient is the red pigment made from the crushed female cochineal insect. A little gross, no? But it is completely harmless and is used in makeup to get those rouge tones.

    To find out why carmine is so cruel and the shocking amount of products that use it, you need to read this: Is Carmine Cruelty-Free and Vegan?
  • 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.
  • Collagen – is an essential protein that plays an integral role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration.

    Naturally, collagen can only be found in connective animal tissue. But today, it's possible to make vegan collagen by genetically modifying yeast and bacteria.

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

Animal Testing Policy and History

Herbivore has been Leaping Bunny certified since 2017, but it claims to have made clean, effective, and cruelty-free products since it launched.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

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

Herbivore Botanicals Cruelty-Free Website Statement

Certification

Herbivore 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 to only 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.

Leaping Bunny certification proves that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products it sells.
  • 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 be fooled by the image itself. A lot of brands are using fake logos to mislead 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 Herbivore Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

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

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

Please note that while Herbivore's facial tools are manufactured in China, this does not mean they test on animals at all.

This law is purely enforced on international cosmetic products entering China and not on products made within the country itself.

However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes to be aware of. Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

The Best Vegan Herbivore Products

Herbivore has grown a lot since it launched 11 years ago. Today, it has a pretty extensive range of vegan products that continues to grow.

It prides itself in developing a product with you (the consumer) and the planet in mind.

To save you some time, here are some of its most popular skincare products:

  • PINK CLOUD Rosewater + Tremella creamy Jelly Cleanser
  • Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum
  • Blue Tansy Invisible Pores Resurfacing Clarity Mask
  • Phoenix Rosehip Anti-aging Face Oil
  • Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil

You can find the complete list of Herbivore's vegan products on their website.

Vegan Alternatives to Herbivore

We love what Herbivore represents.

It's 100% cruelty-free, vegan, and users say it’s effective too.

But if the brand is not easily accessible to you, or if you find that its prices are out of your budget, here are some alternatives we recommend.

Is Herbivore Natural and Organic? 

Herbivore is proud to be a natural brand that uses absolutely no synthetics. It might use organic ingredients where possible, but it is not an organic brand, nor does it market itself as such.

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.

In Herbivore's case – it means both!

Here's the thing: "natural" is not necessarily good. Just because an ingredient is natural (take chili peppers, for example) doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin.

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

While many brands safely use clean synthetics in their products – Herbivore chooses to level up and use no synthetic formulations at all.

A few naturally-derived ingredients Herbivore uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • Tremella Mushroom is a superfood with a jelly texture found to hold up to 500x its weight in water.

    This helps boost skin moisture, and its humectant quality retains hydration to give skin a bouncy, plump feel.
  • Vegan collagen helps skin stay supple and youthful-looking. Herbivore does not disclose the source of their vegan collagen, but some skincare brands use marine sources like seaweed, and others look to yeast and bacteria (which are then processed for safety).
  • Rosewater extract is excellent for sensitive skin because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

    It's been used for thousands of years, and now that we know how it reduces breakouts and puffiness, it's no surprise.

Does Herbivore Use Safe Ingredients?

Herbivore has a 91% allergen-free ranking for each product, according to Skin Safe.

Herbivore's products are free of synthetic ingredients, dyes, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, mineral oils, and petroleum.

They use plant-based food-grade cold-pressed oils, steam distilled therapeutic-grade essential oils, GMO-free soy wax, and many certified organic ingredients.

Herbivore also avoids allergens like alcohol, nut oils, and fragrance.

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

In saying this, most of their products are entirely safe for people with sensitive or highly reactive skin, 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!

Given Herbivore is an all-natural skincare brand – you don't have to worry about finding harmful chemicals in any of their products. But for good measure, here are some of the ingredients you 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

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 just as safe as anything tested on an animal.

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 Herbivore Sustainable and Ethical? 

We keep asking tough questions, and this brand consistently delivers the best answers.

Yes! Herbivore is a sustainable and ethical cosmetics brand that you can feel good about using.

Herbivore spends a lot of time improving its environmental imprint and ensuring its consumers are contentious.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Help create sustainable, ethically developed products
  • Focus on lessening the impact it has on the planet
  • Strive to do more to help people

One key example is that Herbivore supports LGBTQI+ youth through their involvement with The Trevor Project.

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

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

  • Using more natural ingredients and biodegradable formulas that are kinder to the environment
  • Prohibiting the use of synthetic microbeads that pollute our waters and harm marine life
  • Avoiding extra packaging and only using sustainable or recycled materials (paper and plastic) when they are needed
  • Not using any MICA in any formulas
  • Having clear recycling instructions for each of its products when you purchase online
  • Using glass packaging for most of its products and recycled paper cartons when necessary

Final Thoughts

Herbivore is a thoughtful and conscientious skincare brand that considers various ethical factors.

They are cruelty-free and 100% vegan, which is a massive step toward a more sustainable future in the beauty industry.

We appreciate that it has a transparent supply chain and is open to the public about its testing, purchasing, and distribution policies.

Herbivore takes its environmental responsibility seriously – whether it's through minimal packaging or encouraging simplified skincare routines.

The only thing that would be nice to see is more effort put into using sustainable energy practices to run their factories.

Herbivore wants to see a shift towards having healthy skin and a healthy planet – which is a message we receive through their products.  

So if you want to add some Herbivore products to your beauty cabinets – we're two steps ahead of you!

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