Is Kenra Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

March 13, 2022

Kenra's hair care empire has made a mark in the industry over the last 100 years. But did this beloved brand keep up with the times? Here's what you need to know about its cruelty-free and vegan policies.

Kenra 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. Kenra does offer a range of vegan cosmetics, but it is not considered a vegan brand.

Although Kenra had a very humble beginning – starting with a single product back in 1929 called "No Tweeze" wax – things changed when a man named Henry J. Meyers bought it in 1959.

Meyers was a Dutch immigrant who came with America to pursue a better life after WWII. Through years of hard work, Meyers was not only able to buy Kenra – but he also shaped it into the professional haircare brand you love today.

You can say his entrepreneurial venture was successful when Henkel bought the brand in 2014 for $370 million US.

We like to believe this cruelty-free brand is rooted in the possibility of freedom and the American dream.

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

Is Kenra Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Kenra 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.

Kenra is PETA certified. It does not test its products on any animals and does not commission any third parties to do so on its behalf. The brand has committed to never deviating from this policy.

The brand is also owned by Henkel, a German consumer goods company that isn't considered cruelty-free.

This brings us to our next point.

Kenra is Not Vegan

Unfortunately, Kenra is not suitable for vegans. Although it may have some vegan products, the brand doesn't actually have a list of vegan-friendly products.

If you've recently gone vegan and want to know if you can still use your favorite Kenra product – we recommend sending their customer care a message. They will be able to answer your questions on specific products.

 The three most common animal-derived ingredients that Kenra uses include:
  • Bee propolis – bees don't only make honey! They also make a substance called propolis that they use to mend holes in their hives.

    Propolis is has been used for centuries to treat things like wounds, acne, or even stimulate hair growth! Today they've proven these old school remedies are backed by science.

    Propolis is good for hair growth, strengthening the hair root, and reducing damaged follicles.

    If you want to learn whether bee-based products can be cruelty free - read on here: Can Beeswax be Cruelty-Free?
  • Hydrolyzed silk – this may seem strange, but silk isn't only for pillowcases and scarves! It's used in hair care because it contains two ingredients that help maintain hydration and moisture levels.

    However, this may not always be the most cruelty-free ingredient: Can Silk Be Cruelty-Free?
  • Keratin – another essential protective protein, is naturally found in our skin, hair, and nails. When it comes to your skin, keratin keeps it from becoming dull, dry, and less supple.

If you want to explore vegan alternatives to Kenra, look at our Recommended Vegan Alternatives listed below.

Animal Testing Policy and History

Although we can't say for sure if Kenra was cruelty-free in 1929, it has been cruelty-free for as far back as we can trace – long before Henkel acquired it in 2014. The company is also PETA certified.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

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

Kenra cruelty-free claim


It would be nice to see more certification from Kenra since it's a proudly cruelty-free brand.

Currently, it's PETA-approved which is not a bad start.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations out there. It seems only to 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 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.

If you see a little PETA bunny stamp at the back of your product bottle – that's a really good 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 Kenra Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Kenra 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?

Vegan Alternatives to Kenra

While Kenra may have some vegan products – it does not actively market them, nor does it make it easy for consumers to find out.

  • They do not have any vegan labeling or search filters on their website.
  • They do not put any vegan labeling on their products.
  • They do not have any vegan product lists available.

The only way to find out if something is vegan is by contacting the brand directly and making a product-specific query. They should be able to advise you if the product is vegan or not then.

This is not an ideal setup for ethical shoppers, and it's understandable if you're reluctant to support them.

Luckily, there are many certified cruelty-free and vegan alternatives from which you can choose.

Here are some nature-inspired haircare brands within a similar price range that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

  • Acure hair care and beauty  
  • Cake beauty and haircare
  • Meow Meow Tweet beauty and haircare
  • The Wonder Seed beauty and haircare
  • Rahua beauty and haircare (splurge purchase)

Is Kenra Natural and Organic? 

Kenra is not natural or organic and doesn't claim to be. However, they do claim to use high-quality, clean ingredients.

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 a good thing. Just because an ingredient is natural doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin. Poison ivy is natural – but we wouldn't recommend rolling in a field of that stuff!

Most products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas, and Kenra 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.

Does Kenra Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, Kenra has a 73-91% allergen-free ranking for each product; however, some can drop as low as 64%.

While this isn't the worst ranking – it's also not the best.

Some of Kenra's products are free of allergens such as gluten, coconut, nickel, common preservatives, lanolin, MCI/MI, soy, irritants/acid, oil, and dye.

However, the brand is not completely free of these ingredients, and it still uses parabens, SLS (sodium laurel sulfate), and propylene glycol. This doesn't mean you can't find paraben-free shampoo from Kenra – you just need to look for it carefully. 

Kenra is also not 100% hypoallergenic, and they do not claim to be, so reading the ingredient list is crucial because

Certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your hair needs.

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

A common example is lanolin, which has many benefits to your skin too. Find out more here: Can Lanolin Be Cruelty-Free?

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!

Kenra is a US-based brand with relatively strict ingredient policies – but this doesn't mean you shouldn't check what's written at the back of the bottle.

For good measure, here are some of the ingredients you really want to avoid with hair care:

  • Benzophenone
  • Butylated compounds: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Coal tar
  • Ethoxylation
  • DEA, MEA, and TEA
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs)
  • Fragrance

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 Kenra Sustainable and Ethical? 

Kenra Hair Color in Recycled Packaging

Taken from @kenraprofessional

Kenra does not have a strong sustainability stance and doesn't see eco-friendly beauty as a key focus.

However, the brand has a page that encourages consumers and stylists to focus on sustainability when using their products.

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.

One of the main ways Kenra has tried to be an upstanding brand is by collaborating with OceanBound Plastic.

This organization takes materials and plastics at risk of ending up in the ocean and recycling them to be used again.

Kenra's Sugar Beach collection is made up entirely of OceanBound plastic.  

Some of the ways Kenra is asking its consumers to take accountability for this issue is by:

  • Joining and utilizing a recycling program in your area. This way, old products are not just discarded in dumps when they're used up.
  • Donate before you eliminate – by ensuring your used products (or anything around your home for that matter) are given to someone else if you don't want to use them anymore.
  • Be a conscious consumer that supports brands with sustainable initiatives.
  • Encouraging salon professionals to join the Green Circles Salon program which helps people turn their salons and spas into sustainable businesses.

    The program manages to do this by giving registered salons to recycle and dispose of almost everything they use daily.

While all this brand encouragement is great – it would be far more commendable to see Kenra apply more sustainable and ethical practices to its own business too.

Final Thoughts

Kenra is a great brand if your primary concern is using cruelty-free products. It has an inspiring back story and produces high-quality products.

However, the brand:

  • Doesn't offer readily available vegan products, making it hard for consumers to know what they're buying.
  • Doesn't have a strong sustainability focus. It spends more time urging customers to be eco-friendly than actually implementing these structures themselves.
  • Only has PETA certification.

We would like to see Kenra commit to the gold standard of cruelty-free certification and upgrade to Leaping Bunny.

We also feel that introducing recyclable packaging is an important starting point for reducing its environmental impact.

If you love their brand but feel strongly about using vegan products ­– contact them and let them know.

Change has to start somewhere, and in our view, it always begins with the people who care most.

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