Le Labo is a luxury fragrance brand with a celebrity cult following and ordinary well-to-do folk alike. While it always uses clean ingredients and has a strong view on handcrafted scents – does it consider the importance of making them cruelty-free and vegan in the process?

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

Founded by Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot in 2006, Le Labo set out to make niche fragrances with an emphasis on handcrafting and personalization.

In keeping with the brand’s vintage, New Yorker feel – you’ll find that all stores have a 19th-century apothecary handcraftsmanship feel to them.

Le Labo means ‘the lab’ in French. And this lab makes a range of products from fragrances, candles, hair, and body care, skincare lines, scented notebooks, and waxed tote bags.

With their founding belief that “there are too many bottles of perfume and not enough soulful fragrances,” – it’s no wonder Le Labo has done well. In 2014, it was bought by Estee Lauder for $60 million.

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

Is Le Labo Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Le Labo 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.

Le Labo clarifies that it has never conducted and will never perform animal testing on its products; nor has it used a third party acting on its behalf.

It’s also PETA-certified to back up its cruelty-free claims.

However, there’s one minor (big) issue. Estée Lauder owns it, which is not a cruelty-free parent company.

This brings us to the next point:

Le Labo is Vegan

We love seeing high-end, well-considered products with vegan formulations like Le Labo. Dispelling the association that handmade, vegan products aren’t professional and luxurious is lovely.

Unfortunately, most mainstream fragrance and candle brands are not 100% vegan or environmentally friendly.

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

  • Kasturi- is used as a fixative in perfumes and comes from males deers. The entire gland is removed from the animal to' extract' Kasturi.
  • Stearic Acid – this is a type of fat taken from pigs, sheep, and cows that is often used in candle making. A more ethical and harm-free way to get stearic acid is from coconuts, but don’t assume it’s vegan unless explicitly stated.
  • Castoreum – this ingredient is also called ‘artificial vanilla’ but is made from the anal secretions of beavers. A little gross, no? We’re too scared to Google how it's harvested from the beavers; we can’t imagine a humane way to do it.

If you're interested in Le Labo’s best vegan products or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Le Labo vegan products.

Animal Testing Policy and History

When it comes to animal testing, the most that can be found on Le Labo’s website is this line from their manifesto:

“We believe that it’s more humane to test on New Yorkers than on animals.” The manifesto sounds beautiful yet vague.

Luckily it has some certification to back it up.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

Here is a screenshot of Le Labo’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies, taken from their website:

Le Labo Manifesto
Le Labo PETA certification


Currently, Le Labo is PETA-approved which is not a bad start.

But we would love to see more certification from them since it’s a proudly cruelty-free brand.

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

The Leaping Bunny association’s strict and reliable regulations stipulate 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.

But some certification is better than nothing at all.

If you see a bunny stamp on the back of your product bottle – that's an excellent sign. But don't let the image itself fool you.

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 Le Labo Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Le Labo does not distribute any of its products to retailers in mainland China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.

Le Labo is available for shipping directly to shoppers in China. This means it will not be tested on animals upon entering the country.

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 Le Labo Products

Le Labo has a great range of vegan products that continues to expand. It prides itself in developing a product with you (the consumer) and the planet in mind.

Le Labo product formulations are vegan, and the brand goes above and beyond to ensure its ingredients are ethically sourced.

Here are some of Le Labo’s most popular and award-winning products to save you some time.

  • Le Labo Discovery Set
  • Santal 33 eu de parfum- if Beyonce uses a product in one of her videos, you know it’s good.
  • Neroli 36 Body Lotion
  • Thé Matcha 26 eu de parfum
  • Basil Hand Soap

For a complete list of Le Labo’s vegan products, you can find everything on the website.

Vegan Alternatives to Le Labo

Le Labo is an excellent option for vegans and provides vegan fragrances that other brands haven't cared to try yet, especially when looking at our luxury options.

But whether you believe Le Labo is 100% vegan and cruelty-free depends on how you feel about its parent company, Estée Lauder (which is not a cruelty-free company).

If you are vegan or a strong advocate of cruelty-free cosmetics, Le Labo may not be the right brand.

Luckily, there are alternatives you can find that are certified cruelty-free and vegan.

Is Le Labo Natural and Organic? 

Le Labo do not market themselves as natural or organic. However, it claims to use safe, simple, and clean ingredients. Some of these are natural essences and essential oils.

Its whole ethos is to provide handmade, personalized products made to order. When visiting a ‘Lab,’ as Le Labo calls their stores, a fresh batch of your product will be hand-blended.

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 always good. 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 Le Labo is no exception – but it can choose to use better or clean synthetics.

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

A few naturally-derived Le Labo uses to enhance its scents include:

  • Sandalwood is distilled from the bark of the Santalum Album tree and has been a sought-after scent profile for hundreds of years. It’s a long-lasting smell, warm and rich with creamy wood undertones.
  • Black tea leaves have been known for their energizing properties for hundreds of years (thanks, caffeine!). The herbaceous, sweet notes are another reason this leaf is treasured.
  • Rose Centifolia is handpicked in Grasse, France- one of the most famous distilling regions in the world. This rose variant is sweet and honey-like.

Does Le Labo Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, Le Labo has an 82- 100% allergen-free ranking across its product range.

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

However, certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs.

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, on the other hand, has banned 1,328!

Although Le Labo uses clean ingredients and avoids anything harmful, you should always try to avoid the following ingredients:

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

Luckily, most Le Labo products are free of these harmful ingredients altogether, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check. All ingredients are subject to change so keep your eyes open.

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 Le Labo Sustainable and Ethical? 

Le Labo don’t speak directly about their sustainability initiatives.

In fact, at the end of their manifesto, they say, “And we believe that explanation kills art. Therefore, forget about all of this!”

We can see that they’ve chosen sustainable alternatives to ingredients traditionally found in their product niche by reading between the lines.

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.

Luckily, press from multiple sources outside of Le Labo’s official websites and statements confirmed the following:

  • They use soy wax instead of paraffin wax. Paraffin is a crude oil by-product. In one way, using up by-products of fossil fuel is a good thing. However, when that becomes an industry in and of itself, the line gets blurred. Soy wax candles are a more environmentally friendly alternative.
  • They use wood and cotton candle wicks instead of zinc. Although zinc is allegedly non-toxic, there’s not enough research to prove it yet. Le Labo chooses to use something more renewable, including wood or pure cotton candle wicks.
  • They use natural, responsibly sourced ingredients. For example, they get their sandalwood from Western Australia and source black tea leaves from responsible and small-scale farms in Sri Lanka.

    However, their supply chain transparency ends there as there isn’t certification or traceability for ingredients.

    Brands like Aveda show us that it is possible to have complete supply chain transparency, and we encourage other brands to follow suit.
  • They were eco-friendly before it was cool.

    When the brand was founded back in 2006, they batch-made fragrance to order, sourced ingredients responsibly, and the only packaging was the bottle your eu de parfum came out.

    Fast forward to 2022, and the brand has only grown its offering.
  • They use recycled materials and encourage their consumers to recycle too.  

    Not only does Le Labo offer a 20% discount on fragrance refills to encourage the reuse of bottles, but it also makes its boxes, cartons, bottles, and bags from recycled or recyclable materials.

Le Labo could improve specific sustainability initiatives. For example, some of the ways other fragrance brands are taking strong environmental accountability are:

  • Using more natural ingredients and biodegradable formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Either using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified) or no palm oil at all.
  • Having green initiatives like net-zero greenhouse gas emission policy, carbon-neutral shipping, or renewable energy use in manufacturing.
  • Addressing the social welfare of their manufacturing workers and improving supply chain transparency.
  • Actively working towards bridging the pay gap.

Final Thoughts

Le Labo is a brand experience that is intoxicating at first. The products are beautiful, well-considered and batch making is the way of the future.

We love that the products have been cruelty-free and vegan from the start by PETA.

The only issues we may have are that:

  • Le Labo’s parent company is not cruelty-free.
  • It’s only PETA certified, and we were hoping for a more upstanding Leaping Bunny accreditation.

We would appreciate more transparency in its supply chain and policies on eco-efforts too.

The fact that its parent company is not actively cruelty-free is a step in the wrong direction.

As much as Le Labo claims to have always been against animal testing, this may mean it’s not the right brand for some readers.

We hope to see a change in this issue, but it is unlikely without consumers like you reaching out to the brand.

At Cruelty-Free Soul, we would never want to pressure any reader, but it is up to us as consumers to stand for what we will and won't accept from our cosmetics.

We love Le Labo, and if you love it too – get in touch with them and tell them the changes you’d like to see from this progressive brand. They might just listen.
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