Aussie haircare is a good example of a questionable cruelty-free brand with "vegan" products. Even though it does not test its products on animals, it still sells its products in mainland China. So, how can Aussie be PETA certified?
Aussie 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.
Redmond saw an opportunity for ingredients like blue gum leaves, mint balm, and jojoba seed oil to make good haircare. The brand grew steadily and was bought by Proctor & Gamble (P&G) in 2003.
Although Aussie is PETA approved, it does not necessarily mean the brand is genuinely cruelty-free.
So if you want to make an educated decision to support them or not - we cover everything you need to know about Aussie below - we also offer some alternatives if you no longer want to support this brand.
Aussie's Ethical Overview
Aussie Is Not 100% 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.
Aussie Tests on Animals When Required by Law
Although Aussie might seem cruelty-free, there is still a chance its products could be tested on animals. Here’s why.
By definition, following these points would make almost any product cruelty-free.
However, Aussie does not earn this status in our eyes because it still manufactures certain non-special use products in China for the local market.
While all locally made, non-special use products in China are NOT required to undergo animal testing by law – they can still be pulled off the shelves and used for animal testing in the case of a product complaint.
This means there is always a chance that an Aussie product could be tested on animals.
By our standards, any products that could be tested on animals anywhere in the world cannot be considered cruelty-free.
Another brand that’s selling in China with a similar manufacturing process is Herbal Essences.
There are two other important things to consider as well:
What is Aussies Cruelty-Free Status in 2023?
Here is a screenshot of Aussie's official statement regarding its cruelty-free policy, taken from its website:
Aussie is PETA Certified
Aussie is a PETA-certified cruelty-free brand. It still manages to have a presence in China and keep this status by:
While this is a good start, it's still not enough for Aussie to be an internationally recognized cruelty-free brand because animal testing can still occur.
The best way to ensure no pre-market or post-market testing can occur is to ship directly to customers by selling products online.
PETA Certification Doesn't Guarantee a Product is Cruelty-Free
Why Leaping Bunny Certification is Better?
Currently, Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognized cruelty-free organization. It sets the highest standard for any brand that was accreditation. This includes random audits throughout the brand's supply chain.
Here are its requirements:
If you want to know more about Leaping Bunny and cruelty-free labels you can trust – you need to read this article: What Cruelty-Free Logos Can You Trust?
Aussie Is Sold Where Animal Testing Is Required By Law?
Aussie manufactures non-special use products in China that are sold within the local market. Although no animal testing is required here, a product can still be taken off the shelf for testing in case of a customer complaint.
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.
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?
Aussie is Not 100% Vegan
Although Aussie claims to have some vegan products, it's hard to consider any of its products that are free of animal-derived ingredients as "vegan" because it's not 100% cruelty-free.
That's because no animals can be harmed in a product's production or distribution to be considered truly vegan.
Unfortunately, Aussie doesn't fulfil these criteria, so we cannot consider it 100% vegan.
Does it have products that are free of animal-derived ingredients? Yes.
Are these products considered holistically vegan? Not in our opinion.
All its products that are free of animal-derived ingredients are marked on its website. You can see this information once you've selected the product of your choice.
If a product is vegan, you'll find the information underneath its picture.
Most of Aussie's products contain the following animal-derived ingredients:
Vegan Alternatives to Aussie
Not only does Aussie use animal-derived ingredients in most of its products, but it’s very expensive and doesn't have a 100% cruelty-free status either.
So, if you are vegan or a strong advocate of cruelty-free cosmetics, Aussie is not the right brand for you.
Luckily, there are many alternatives you can find that are certified cruelty-free and vegan to choose from.
If you're looking for hair care brands that are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and within the same price range at drugstores – here are some great options.
Aussie Is Not Natural, or Organic?
Aussie claims to use certain naturally derived and safe ingredients and source organically where it can.
Aussie has received criticism in the past for not openly disclosing its ingredient lists to the public. But today, it has an entire page on its website dedicated to its ingredients and the purpose each one serves.
The brand is also manufactured in various places across the globe (just not Australia) – mainly in the USA, UK, Denmark, Finland, and Germany.
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, on the other hand, has banned 1,328!
With haircare, some ingredients you want to avoid:
Aussie Has a 73-91% Allergen-Free Rating
As a more affordable drugstore haircare brand, Aussie has a decent spread of ingredients. It also avoids using common allergens where possible.
According to Skin Safe, Aussie usually has a 73% - 91% allergen-free ranking for each product.
Some of Aussie's products are free of allergens such as gluten, nickel, phthalates, soy, and propylene glycol. While Aussie's older products may still contain parabens, all new items are completely paraben-free.
Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Aussie is not natural and preservative-free. So if you have sensitive skin – these products are not suitable for you.
Lawsuit Filed Against Aussie
In December 2021, Proctor & Gamble announced a recall on its Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences, Waterless, Old Spice, and Hair Food aerosol products produced in the USA.
It claimed that these aerosol products (including all dry shampoos and conditioners) were contaminated with unexpected levels of benzene, a known carcinogen.
Although P&G claims that the levels of benzene aren't high enough to cause health issues – a lawsuit has still been filed against the company by an individual.
The plaintiff claims that it is difficult for consumers to return contaminated products as the recall doesn't go far enough to compensate consumers.
She argues that the P&G refund offer is "largely illustrious" and that the company has made it "virtually impossible" to submit a claim.
It's worth noting that all other aerosol products like mousses and hair spray are 100% safe.
Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?
If you're worried about how safe it is to use cosmetics that are 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, if not safer, than 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 really is no need.
If you're interested, here's more on the subject: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?
Aussie Is Sustainable and Ethical?
All of Aussie's products are inspired by and use native Australian ingredients – so it's good to know that it gives back by taking its sustainability initiatives seriously.
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.
Aussie claims that:
So far, the information provided is great; however, we'd like to see more on the brand's code of conduct and supply chain transparency act because there is currently nothing available on their website.
The brand claims to use ethically sourced ingredients – but it would be ideal to walk their consumers through this process.
A supply chain transparency act includes:
Aussie has grown a great deal since its launch in 1979 – it has even become PETA-certified cruelty-free.
Although these are reasonable steps forward, we cannot ignore the fact that Aussie:
Let's not kid ourselves for a drugstore haircare brand with super affordable pricing – it's not that bad. But it could do better with the things we mentioned above.
Since Aussie is not 100% cruelty-free or vegan – it might not be the best choice for any activists.
However, if you love this brand, the best thing you can do is contact them directly and explain your concerns politely.
The more Aussie is made aware of customer concerns, the higher its chances of taking action.