Is SkinCeuticals Cruelty-Free and Vegan? (And Is It Worth It?)

September 30, 2022

SkinCeuticals is one of the ultimate medical grade skincare brands made professional products available to the public. But besides its hefty price tag – we can’t understand why it’s not cruelty-free (never mind vegan!)

SkinCeuticals is not cruelty-free. While it does not conduct animal testing, it does distribute its products where animal testing is required by law. While SkinCeuticals has products free of animal-derived ingredients, it is not considered a vegan brand.

SkinCeuticals uses innovative technology to help antioxidant blends and high potency active ingredients penetrate the skin as effectively as possible.

It was developed by Dr. Sheldon Pinnell after years of skin cancer research. By combining medicine, science, and beauty, SkinCeuticals became a brand that could be used in both plastic surgeon offices and at home.

Yes – there’s more than one cosmeceutical brand like this. But we can’t deny there’s a touch of sass that filters through as SkinCeuticals claims to do it better than their competitors.

So we want to know whether you can confidently spend your money knowing animal welfare and the environment are considered too.

In the end, you'll know whether to click "add to cart" for your next SkinCeuticals purchase or if you need to fill out a feedback form with the words, " we think you can do better."

Is SkinCeuticals Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

SkinCeuticals Product Line Up

SkinCeuticals is NOT Cruelty-Free

It does not:

  • Test any of its products or ingredients on animals.

It might: 

  • Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain.

It does: 

  • Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.

SkinCeuticals is quick to say it does not conduct animal testing on its products or ingredients – but that doesn’t necessarily make it cruelty-free.

SkinCeuticals is also owned by L’Oréal, which is also not a cruelty-free company.

This brings us to the next point:

SkinCeuticals is Not Vegan

SkinCeuticals may have products free of animal-derived ingredients, but it does not mark any item as vegan.

We cannot consider anything vegan because the brand is not 100% cruelty-free.

Does it have products that are free of animal-derived ingredients? Yes.

Are these products considered holistically vegan? Not in our opinion.

One of the only active animal-derived ingredients that SkinCeuticals uses is:

  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)is proven to strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier and reduce the appearance of blotchiness.

    It’s naturally found in animal sources like meat, fish, milk, and eggs. But it can also be found in green vegetables, beans, cereal grains, or yeast.

The brand claims to use plant-based glycerin, dioic acid, and fatty acids.

If you're interested in the best SkinCeuticals products that are free of animal-derived ingredients or vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Vegan SkinCeuticals Products

Animal Testing Policy and History

SkinCeuticals has been clear that it conducts animal testing when required by law as it ships to countries like China. However, they still have a stance on cruelty-free cosmetics.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

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

SkinCeuticals Cruelty-Free Website Claim


SkinCeuticals 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.

Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognized certification that ensures a brand adheres to the following strict criteria:

  • 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 want to support a brand that doesn’t conduct animal testing – ensure that they have the cruelty-free symbol at the back of their products, usually marked by a rabbit.

If you see a bunny stamp on the back of your product bottle – that's a 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 SkinCeuticals Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Yes, SkinCeuticals 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?

What SkinCeuticals Products Are Vegan?

If you go by the ingredients list, SkinCeuticals does have some vegan formulas. Still, they do not market any products as vegan.

We don't consider SkinCeuticals vegan ranges holistically vegan because the brand is not 100% cruelty-free.

It does have some products that are free of animal-derived ingredients. But the biggest issue is that it chooses to sell in a country where animal testing is required by law.

To save you some time, here are some of SkinCeuticals' most popular products that are free of animal-derived ingredients to choose from:

  • C E Ferulic with15%
  • L-ascorbic Acid
  • Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
  • Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
  • Hydrating B5 Gel
  • Phloretin CR with Ferulic Acid

SkinCeuticals does not have a dedicated page for its vegan products, as they don’t market any products as such. Because of this, they also don’t indicate if a product is free of animal-derived ingredients

However, you can email customer service, and they will send you an extensive list telling you exactly what you want to know.

Vegan Alternatives to SkinCeuticals

If you are vegan or are a strong advocate of cruelty-free cosmetics – SkinCeuticals is not the right brand for you.

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

Here are some vegan and cruelty-free cosmeceuticals that we recommend:

  • Liberty Belle (except for three products with beeswax)
  • iS Clinical
  • Aesthetics RX
  • ESK
  • Derma E
  • The Ordinary

Is SkinCeuticals Natural and Organic? 

SkinCeuticals isn’t considered natural or organic.

However, his advanced skincare brand is “backed by science.” It also claims to use clean and safe ingredients.

It may use some natural ingredients when it's best for the product and you, the consumer, but there are high amounts of synthetics.

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 olive oil, for example) doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin and sit in the sun, so you fry like a chicken breast!

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. SkinCeuticals is no exception – but it does choose to use 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 SkinCeuticals uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • Vitamin A, also called retinol, is an anti-aging boon. It’s another antioxidant powerhouse that refines pores and minimizes signs of aging. Please always use an SPF with this active ingredient or, ideally, use it at night.
  • Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance in our skin that helps maintain moisture and boost tissue regeneration and wound healing.

    As we age, we produce less hyaluronic acid – making it an essential ingredient in our beauty products.
  • Ceramides are lipids (or fats) found in skin cells. Ceramides ‘hold together’ the topmost layer of skin and keep any environmental nasties out.

    Including them in your skincare protects and repairs the skin barrier, which boosts hydration, speeds up healing, and improves texture.

Does SkinCeuticals Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, SkinCeuticals has an 82- 100% allergen-free ranking across 129 products.

SkinCeuticals uses minimal fragrances, dyes, and preservatives. It also strives to be dye and paraben-free whenever possible.

The brand has also leveled up its game by being completely 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!

While SkinCeuticals products are guaranteed to be non-toxic, you should remember to always avoid these skin care and cosmetic ingredients:

  • Ethoxylated ingredients (PPG, PEG, and polysorbate)
  • Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, and TEA)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, aka teflon®)
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nitrosamines
  • Polyacrylamide
  • P-phenylenediamine
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Homosalate
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan
  • Butylated compounds
  • Formaldehyde

Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?

If you’re worried about how safe it is to use cosmetics not tested on animals – please relax and take a sigh of relief.

There is no reason why cruelty-free products shouldn’t be as safe as anything tested on animals.

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 is no need.

If you’re interested, here’s more on the subject: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?

Is SkinCeuticals Sustainable and Ethical? 

SkinCeuticals has some strong sustainability and ethical initiatives as it ties in with the company values.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Prevents waste and incorporates sustainable packaging solutions.
  • Correct and reduce their environmental footprint.
  • Protect and advance the sustainability profile of their formulas.”

The ethical cause SkinCeuticals supports is pioneering female surgeons, especially in reconstructive surgery.

They have collaborated with ReSurge International to advance female surgeons in underserved communities, so they can transform lives with life-alternating surgeries.

It's no secret that the world has a huge waste problem, and cosmetic brands only make it worse by using unsustainable packaging and harmful ingredients.

Some of the ways SkinCeuticals is taking strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Developing biodegradable rinse-off formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Reducing water footprint in formula development and manufacturing.
  • Sourcing more renewable ingredients.
  • Working on sustainable packaging developments.
  • Reducing their use of virgin glass in their serum bottles which now use recycled glass.

They have committed to the following by 2025:

  • Minimizing virgin plastic by using 50% post-consumer recycled or bio-based plastic packaging

But we would like to suggest further actions, such as:

  • Avoiding extra packaging and only using sustainable (FSC) or recycled paper materials when needed.
  • Using ethically mined MICA sourced without the use of child labor.
  • Using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified).
  • Using renewable energy in its manufacturing plants and offices.
  • Introducing carbon-neutral e-commerce shipping.
  • Having carbon footprint offsets purchased in regions where energy can’t be sourced directly.
  • Developing some refillable, long-lasting packaging and reduced plastic refills.

Final Thoughts

All in all, SkinCeuticals is a well-developed cosmeceuticals brand that delivers highly effective products. We appreciate that it has a certain amount of transparent supply chain and is open to the public about its policies and eco-efforts too.

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

As much as SkinCeuticals claims to be actively against animal testing, they choose to distribute to China, which is a direct conflict of interest.

For this reason, we cannot consider its products 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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