ZOYA is famous for being committed to creating non-toxic, 'BIG10 Free' beauty products. But their vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainability policies might confuse you a bit – here's why.

ZOYA 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. ZOYA does offer an extensive range of vegan cosmetics, so it is not considered a vegan brand.

ZOYA was founded in the USA, in 1986, by Zoya and Michael Reyzis, a cosmetologist and advanced chemist from Ukraine.

The brand grew out of Zoya's determination to find products for her patients that were high-quality, healthy, and used natural ingredients.

Zoya and Michael worked closely to develop a range of products that are 100% non-toxic and 'BIG10 Free' while remaining long-lasting, breathable, and pregnancy safe.

To top it off, they ensured that all their products were cruelty-free and sustainable and that the vast majority were vegan friendly.

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

Is ZOYA Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

ZOYA 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.

ZOYA confirms that it follows a strict cruelty-free policy, ensuring that none of its products, or the ingredients used to make them, are tested on animals.

It also does not sell its products in any country that requires animal testing by law.

However, there is something to consider: the brand has no cruelty-free accreditation, which would help verify its public claims.

This brings us to our next point. 

ZOYA is Not Vegan

Although the brand is not entirely vegan, ZOYA has a decent range of vegan products from which to choose.

Unfortunately, its vegan labeling is a bit ambiguous and misleading.

None of its vegan products or ranges are marked on its American website. In contrast, all of its products are labeled as "vegan" on its British website, which is also incorrect.

Additionally, none of its products have ingredient lists on the website, so all ingredient research had to be done by looking at the physical products.

For example, its Healing Hand and Body Cream is listed as a vegan product while it clearly contains beeswax. See below.

Zoya Vegan Claims

The animal-derived ingredients that ZOYA uses are:

  • 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.

A note on glycerin: Although it's unclear what type of glycerin Zoya sources, it's worth knowing that while you can get vegetable-based glycerin, it mainly comes from animal fat.

This clear, runny, and odorless liquid is a moisturizing agent (humectant) that allows your skin to maintain its own moisture and breathe.

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

Animal Testing Policy and History

At the forefront of the conscious beauty movement since 1986, ZOYA has always been committed to providing sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic products that cause no harm to the client or the environment.

They aim to work with the cleanest and safest ingredients available on the market today and continually update this as new options become available.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

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

Cruelty-Free and Vegan Claims Zoya


Zoya has no cruelty-free certification, and it would be nice to see some given it's such a proudly cruelty-free brand.

Certification is ideal, primarily through Leaping Bunny, because it helps verify from a reputable outside party 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, are considered and evaluated.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations out there. So having certification from an association like Leaping Bunny or Choose Cruelty-Free, is ideal.

If you see a bunny stamp at 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 fool 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 ZOYA Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

ZOYA 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.

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? 

What ZOYA Products Are Vegan?

If you're here to find out if your favorite ZOYA nail polishes are vegan – you're in luck because they are!

However, there are two unfortunate things to consider:

  • Most of its other cosmetic products are considered vegetarian but not vegan – this includes their lipsticks, lip glosses, cuticle oils, hand and foot treatments.
  • None of ZOYA's products are marked on their website. So it's difficult to know by looking at their product list alone.  

To save you some time, and share some of its most popular vegan nail polishes here:

  • Light pink and nudes: Rue, Evelyn, Cami, Kayleigh, Birch, Jack, Joss, Bela, Madeline, Rumor, Jordan, Vivian, Joni, Dove, and Colleen.
  • Glitter and shimmer shades: Alicia, Leia, Brighton, Godiva PixieDust – Textured, Etta, Andrea, Summer, Olivera, Blu, and McKenna.
  • Reds and corals: Desi, Polly, Lola. Darla, Kristie, Sonja, Maxine, Greta, Carmen C Carmen, Courtney, Dakota, Alyssa, and Lisa.
  • Blues, purple and dark shades: Rachel, Bentley, Tara, Sharon, Emerson, Mateo, Maren, Harbor, and Sailor.

You can find everything on the website for a complete list of ZOYA's vegan nail polishes, you can find everything on the website.

Vegan Alternatives to ZOYA

Overall, ZOYA is a great option for vegans looking for high-quality nail polish.

However, if you feel strongly about not supporting a brand that isn't entirely vegan – ZOYA might not be your first choice, especially if you're looking for other cosmetic products like hand and foot care.

Luckily, some excellent vegan nail polish hand and foot care ranges in the same price range will still give you that sense of luxury.

 Here are some of our favorites:
  • Ella and Mila (Top pick)
  • Londontown Lakur
  • Tenoverten
  • Static Nails
  • Sienna Nail Polish

Is ZOYA Natural and Organic? 

ZOYA is a natural brand. One of its core focuses is providing healthy and safe products that are natural and non-toxic.

Although ZOYA might use some organic ingredients, it is not certified organic, nor does it consider itself an organic cosmetics brand.

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 chili peppers, for example) doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin.

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas, and ZOYA is no exception – but it can 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.

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

  • Butyl acetate, also known as butyl ethanoate, is an ester that is a colorless, flammable liquid at room temperature.

    It is found in many types of fruit, where along with other chemicals, it imparts characteristic flavors and has a sweet smell of banana or apple.
  • Ethyl acetate is an organic compound. This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell and is used in glues, nail polish removers, and the decaffeination process of tea and coffee.
  • Acetyltributylcitrate is an organic compound that is used as a plasticizer. It is a colorless liquid that is soluble in organic solvents.

Does ZOYA Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, ZOYA has a 71-91% allergen-free ranking for each product.

ZOYA's products are free of allergens such as Gluten, Coconut, Nickel, Lanolin, Paraben, Topical Antibiotic, MCI/MI, Soy, Propylene Glycol, Oil, Irritant/Acid, and Dye. It is also considered Teen Safe.

ZOYA is also famous for being "Big10 Free". This means it does not use any of the following toxic or harmful ingredients:

  • Toluene
  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde Resin
  • Camphor
  • Ethyl Tosylamide
  • Xylene
  • Parabens
  • Animal by-products
  • Fragrance

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because while ZOYA is largely hypoallergenic, their products are not fragrance, preservative, or balsam of Peru free.

They are also not non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.

It's also important to note that not all common allergens are harmful ingredients.

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, has banned 1,328!

While ZOYA has made great efforts to ensure that it is non-toxic and 'BIG10 Free', it is a USA-based brand, and the country does have less strict ingredient policies. As such, we have provided a few brief guidelines below.

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

  • Butylated compounds,
  • Benzophenone compounds,
  • Triclosan,
  • Phenoxyethanol,
  • Formaldehyde, and
  • Lead or other heavy metals.

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.

Here's more on the subject if you're interested: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?

Is ZOYA Sustainable and Ethical? 

ZOYA's sustainability and ethical initiatives are a little tricky to follow because they don't have any clear landing pages that talk about their holistic approach.  

But with some digging, we were able to find some cool things.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Encourages customers to either send in their old/unwanted nail polish bottles for proper recycling or donate them to a local cause. Then you get a lovely discount when you buy six nail polishes or more!
  • Is known to hold other eco-friendly drives and initiatives to encourage consumers to recycle their nail polishes.
  • Is an advocate for creating clean, non-toxic formulas that are safe for people and the environment.

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 ZOYA is taking strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Creating biodegradable formulas and natural ingredients safe for the environment when disposed of.
  • Ensuring no microbeads are in any of their hand or foot spa treatments that pollute our oceans.
  • Relatively sustainable packaging that can all be recycled after you've finished using it.

While they've got some great sustainable initiatives going for them, a few things that might make you raise your eyebrow.

  • They use Mica as their natural form of glitter – which is great because it's far better for the environment.

    However, Mica is mainly mined by child laborers in India, and Zoya has no transparent supply chain proving or even publicly stating that they source their Mica ethically.
  • Zoya still uses palm oil derivatives in its products, and just like the Mica debacle – it makes no apparent effort or claims that its palm oil is sourced sustainably.
  • Finally, Zoya also clearly advocates recycling its products after use, but they don't share any information about where they source their packaging and whether they use sustainable materials.  

Final Thoughts

ZOYA is a beauty brand that has always made clean and healthy beauty the forefront of its vision.

Although it is not 100% vegan, all its nail polishes are vegan-friendly. Since the brand is mainly about its polish – it's an excellent step.

But it could also do a much better job at including ingredient lists on its online store and stating which spa products they make are vegan.   

ZOYA is also 100% non-toxic, cruelty-free, and supports certain initiatives that protect the planet – not just those that fall within the beauty industry.

Unfortunately, it doesn't have a transparent supply chain and does not mention where it sources some of its ingredients that deserve to be clearly labeled – like Mica or palm derivatives.

Since ZOYA is not 100% vegan – it might not be the best choice for activists who go the extra mile, especially since it doesn't label any of its products.

Finally, it would also be amazing to see some third-party, cruelty-free accreditation for this brand. For having such an animal-friendly ethos – it's a pity there's no label to prove it.

As a cruelty-free community, it's our job to help change this issue. By reaching out to the brand, kindly making suggestions, and explaining what you want as the consumer – we can push to make that happen!

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