Is Physicians Formula Cruelty-Free and Vegan in 2022?

November 30, 2022

Physicians Formula is friendly on the pocket and aims to bring a spa-like experience to users. This stylist-founded hair care brand looks earthy-friendly online, but is it cruelty-free and vegan?

Physicians Formula 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.
Christopher Todd was born into a family of hairdressers. He dropped out of high school to work and opened his salon at 22. It took him over two decades of trial and error before he could launch Organix successfully in 2006, the brand that would later become OGX.

Before you get too excited about buying these cheap and cheerful products – you need to understand what you're buying (and it's not so pretty). Not only does the brand not have any certification, but they were involved with some questionable lawsuits. 

We cover all this and more below.
Physician's Formula

Physicians Formula's Ethical Overview

Cruelty-free: No (Physicians Formula sells products in China)

Vegan: No (Physicians Formula cannot be considered vegan if it is not cruelty-free)

Clean ingredients: Yes

Sustainable & Ethical: Moderate efforts

Mica Mining Policy: Ethical policy 

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: Yes

Physicians Formula Is Not 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.


Physicians Formula was historically cruelty-free, but in 2021, they started selling in China. The brand claims to have bypassed the animal-testing requirements through careful negotiation.

BUT Chinese government officials can practice post-market testing- pulling imported products off the shelf, often without the brand's knowledge.

Can you see the potential issue here?

Physicians Formula has responded to alarm over this by saying that they will pull distribution from China if they find out post-market testing has taken place. But how would they find out?

This brings us to the next point:

Does Physicians Formula Test on Animals?

Physicians Formula claims to escape the animal testing required by law when selling in countries like China. The probability of this working out in practice is low; however, they still have a stance on cruelty-free cosmetics.

What Is Physicians Formula's Cruelty-Free Status in 2022?

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

Physicians Formula Has No Cruelty-Free Certification

Physicians Formula has no cruelty-free certification.

As much as it would be nice to see cruelty-free certification – it cannot happen as long as the brand continues with its current animal-testing policies.

Besides PETA, a far more reputable organization you can trust is the Leaping Bunny association, which has rigid (but excellent) standards.

Is Physicians Formula Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?

Yes, Physicians Formula distributes its products in China, where animal testing on cosmetics is required as products arrive at the border.

China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most 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.

Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

Physicians Formula is Not Vegan

Although Physicians Formula claims to have vegetarian and vegan ranges, 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.

It claims to only use beeswax, lanolin, and carmine.

Vegan Alternatives to Physicians Formula


price range

100% vegan


$15 - $40



$20 - $50


Leaping Bunny

$20 - $60



$15 - $200


PETA, Choose Cruelty-Free

$20 - $50



$15 - $40



Physicians Formula Isn't Considered Natural or Organic

While Physicians Formula does have an Organic Wear® range, the brand isn’t considered natural or organic.

However, it claims to use safe, simple, clean ingredients.

Its whole ethos is to make clean formulas and products that anyone can use.

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. Physicians Formula is no exception – but it does 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.

Physicians Formula Has a 82-100% Allergen-free Ranking

According to Skin Safe, Physicians Formula has an 82- 100% allergen-free ranking across 250 products.

Many Physicians Formula products are free of allergens such as topical antibiotics, fragrances, parabens, lanolin, MCI/MI, nickel, gluten, and irritants.

Physicians Formula has also leveled up its game by being completely hypoallergenic but not non-comedogenic.

However, we recommend reading a product’s ingredient list before making your purchase, as formulas can be subject to change.

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

We don’t want to scare you, but you HAVE to read up on any product’s ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States. The reason why will shock you.

The FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the country. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Luckily, Physicians Formula sets a great example of what true clean beauty is meant to be, and you shouldn’t have to worry about any serious hidden nasties in its products.

Physicians Formula Has Some Sustainable & Ethical Initiatives

Some of the ethical causes that Physicians Formula supports include Earth Day and Dress for Success®.

Physicians Formula also takes strong environmental accountability by:

  • Developing formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Working on sustainable packaging developments.
  • Ensuring that the plastic containers they use are recyclable.
  • Encouraging consumers to recycle their products.
  • Prohibiting the use of synthetic microbeads that pollute our waters and harm marine life.
  • Using ethically mined MICA sourced without the use of child labor.
  • Using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified).

Final Thoughts

Physicians Formula – we expected more from you!

Yes, it’s a well-developed cosmetics brand that considers various ethical factors

However, the fact that it is not cruelty-free means it takes a step in the wrong direction.

As much as Physicians Formula claims to be actively against animal testing, it chooses to distribute to China, which is a direct conflict of interest.

For this reason, we cannot consider its products that are free of animal-derived ingredients as holistically vegan either.

We hope to see a change in this issue, but it is unlikely right now. As consumers, it is up to us to stand for what we will and won't accept from our cosmetics. This is something we cannot accept.

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