OUAI is the lovechild of two millennials who wants you to say YES to relatable, authentic, and socially-connected haircare. In developing this modern brand, has OUAI managed to hear us out and make its products cruelty-free and vegan?

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

OUAI was founded in California by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkins and dermatologist Dr. Lamees Hamdan in 2015. The objective was to develop simple products that consumers say they want.

While they may have started with haircare – they've now expanded to body, hand, and fragrance products—everything is designed to take you through a luxurious olfactory experience.

Fun fact, the word "OUAI" means "yes" in the casual Parisian way, and it's pronounced 'way.'

The brand does a play on words where it says, "we're here to give you the confidence to win life your ouai."

They must be doing alright since they sold to Proctor & Gamble in 2021 for $13.6 billion.

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

Is OUAI Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

OUAI 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.

OUAI is very clear that it follows strict cruelty-free policies. The brand prioritizes ensuring that none of its products, ingredients, or distribution relies on animal testing to verify safe use.

However, there are two things to consider. Firstly, the brand has no cruelty-free accreditation, which would help verify its public claims. Secondly, its new owner, Proctor & Gamble, is not a cruelty-free parent company.

This brings us to our next point:

OUAI is Not Vegan

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

Unfortunately, this doesn't extend much to their haircare. It’s mainly for their hand and body ranges.

All its vegan products and ranges are marked on its website. You can see the stamp once you've selected the product of your choice.

If a product is vegan, you'll find the information to the right of its image, under ingredients. 

OUAI Vegan Product Selection

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that OUAI uses are:

  • Honey & beeswax both these ingredients pose many health benefits to your skin and wellbeing. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with essential vitamins.
  • Fish Oil - fish oil has been found to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss due to high quantities of omega-three fatty acids.

    It has been found to provide essential proteins and nutrients to hair follicles and skin; prevent hair follicle inflammation (a factor that can directly contribute to hair loss), and promote circulation in the scalp that may trigger hair growth.
  • Hydrolyzed 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're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: OUAI vegan products

Animal Testing Policy and History

OUAI is very open about its cruelty-free history and testing policy. It has always ensured that its products, and the ingredients it sources from third parties, are not tested on animals.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

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

OUAI Cruelty-Free Website Statement


OUAI 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 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 OUAI Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

OUAI 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 OUAI Products Are Vegan?

OUAI has a wide range of vegan products that continues to grow. Unfortunately, most of their shampoo and conditioners are not vegan – but that doesn't mean they're not expanding in other directions.

To save you some time, here are some of OUAI's most popular and award-winning products to choose from:

  • High Gloss Hair Oil
  • Scalp and Body Scrub
  • Melrose Place Body Crème
  • Volume Spray
  • Chill Pill Bath Bombs
  • Hand Lotion

What must be the cutest new addition to their vegan range is their 'paw-some' pet shampoo Fur Bébé. It has got Cruelty Free Soul written all over it – no wonder it's a best seller!

For a complete list of OUAI's vegan products, you can find everything on their website: OUAI's Vegan Product List

Vegan Alternatives to OUAI

OUAI has a range of vegan products, from certain haircare products to most of its skincare.

However, if you came here to find out if your favorite OUAI shampoo was vegan – you might be disappointed when you find out that none of their shampoos or conditioners are vegan.

If you're also not willing to support a brand that is not 100% vegan, then OUAI is not for you.

Luckily, there are some incredible vegan hair care lines and skincare ranges in the same price range that will still give you a sense of luxury at a reasonable price.

Here are some of our favorites:

Is OUAI Natural and Organic? 

OUAI is not natural or organic and doesn't claim to be.

They strive to develop product formulas in partnership with their customers to enhance authentic beauty.

They aim to do this in a cruelty-free that is good for the planet. And they are open about their use of clean, synthetic 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 we buy today use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas, and OUAI is no exception – but it chooses 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 OUAI Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, OUAI has a 73-91% allergen-free ranking for each product.

OAUI's products are all formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

You'll also find that many of its products are free of allergens such as Gluten, Nickel, Lanolin, Topical Antibiotics, MCI/MI, Soy, and Oil.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because OUAI is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic. They primarily don’t claim to be because fragrance is at the pinnacle of their formulas.

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 overall.

A typical example is lanolin, which has many benefits to your skin. 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!

Given OUAI is a USA-based brand and doesn't have the strictest ingredient policies – you need to read each product label before buying anything.

For good measure, here are some of the ingredients you really 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

When it comes to hair care, you should always avoid:

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

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 OUAI Sustainable and Ethical? 

With a catchphrase like "save your hair, save the planet" you know that OUAI will not disappoint us on the sustainability front – and they don't!

Ouai has some strong sustainability and ethical initiatives that align with the company values.

This means that the brand:

  • Uses recyclable plastics whenever and as much as possible.
  • Works with vendors committed to sustainable methods.
  • Uses packaging and shipping methods that are as sustainable as possible.

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.

  • Ensuring that many of their products are entirely or at least partially recyclable. For example, their shampoo and conditioner bottles are 100% recyclable.
  • Manufacturing all their bottles and caps out of 100% recycled post-consumer resin (PCR).

    PCR is great because it has a smaller carbon footprint and can be recycled as many times as you'd like.
  • Offering refillable pouches for many of their products.

    We love this because pouches use 60% less plastic than rigid bottles, require less manufacturing and transport, generate less CO2 and take up less room in landfills.
  • While these refillable pouches are not made from recycled plastic, OUAI is working with a supplier to change this.

    Avoids using palm oil at all costs. Although they do not add any palm oil directly in their products, they source ingredients that might contain palm oil derivatives.
  • Does not use microbeads or microplastics that could pollute the environment, especially our oceans.

For a full breakdown of their product recyclability, you can find out more here: OUAI Environmental Sustainability

Final Thoughts

OUAI has taken an empowering approach to beauty while also focussing on being cruelty-free, kind to our planet, and offering a diverse vegan range.

We like that they are interested in developing products in partnership with their clients and always ask for feedback.

Unfortunately, OUAI is not cruelty-free certified by Leaping Bunny or PETA – and for such an ethical brand, we'd like to see more accreditation behind their claims.

OUAI is also not 100% vegan, so it might not be the right choice for people following a completely vegan lifestyle.

Luckily, their business model gives us hope that if more clients request cruelty-free certification and a broader range of vegan products, they will listen and deliver!

 So, get typing cruelty-free souls, OUAI's door is always open, and we're hoping that you're about to walk through and take them to new heights one voice at a time.
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