Is Skinny Tan Cruelty-Free and Vegan? (Yes, But There’s a Catch)

September 14, 2022

You know it, we know it, and Skinny Tan knows it – baking in the sun is out, and tanning creams are in! This brand was born to give us a healthy glow without risking too much sun exposure. But do they know how important it is to be cruelty-free and vegan?

Is Skinny Tan Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Skinny Tan 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. Skinny Tan is also 100% vegan and doesn't use animal-derived ingredients.

When Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton launched Skinny Tan back in 2012, they wanted to create a fake tanning product that did three huge things:

  • Give you a brown glow without turning you “whorange.”
  • Help you develop a streak-free finish without rubbing the product in for an hour.
  • Minimize the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks, and imperfections.

Talk about making bold claims! The hopes of MILLIONS rest on such statements.

But the duo was so confident about the product line that they decided to get the whole world’s attention by appearing on the hit TV series Dragon’s Den in 2013.

Their bravery paid off, and Skinny Tan has been a growing success.

We believe it’s because they’ve kept to their founding principles: making products that are 100% cruelty-free, vegan, and free of nasty chemicals.

But before we get too excited, let’s take a closer look and see if there’s a catch (spoiler – there is!).

Is Skinny Tan Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Skinny Tan Product Range

Skinny Tan 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.

Skinny Tan is passionate about its cruelty-free message and has Leaping Bunny approval to back it up (This is the best certification, and we’ll explain why shortly.)

The brand is also owned by InnovaDerma, a cruelty-free developer and marketer of personal care products.

This brings us to our next point:

Skinny Tan is Vegan

Yup – this well-priced and accessible skincare brand is entirely vegan. It does not use any animal-derived ingredients in any of its products.

If you’re ever in doubt – just check the little vegan stamp next to each product page on their website: 

Skinny Tan vegan claims

It's worth knowing that Skinny Tan is the exception, not the rule.

Most mainstream skincare brands are not 100% vegan. These are certain animal-derived ingredients to look out for in general:

  • Honey & beeswax – these ingredients pose many health benefits to your skin and wellbeing. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with essential vitamins.

    Just because beeswax isn't vegan, it doesn't mean it can't be cruelty-free. Find out more here: Can Beeswax Be Cruelty-Free?

    Lanolin –
    this ingredient, like honey and beeswax, is used in skincare and cosmetics because it is incredibly hydrating. It is basically the waxy oil that comes from sheep wool. Lanolin can be cruelty-free – follow this link for more details.

    Collagen –
     is an essential protein that plays an integral role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration.

    Naturally, collagen can only be found in connective animal tissue. But today, it's possible to make vegan collagen by genetically modifying yeast and bacteria.

    Carmine –
    this ingredient is the red pigment made from the crushed female cochineal insect. A little gross, no? But it is completely harmless and is used in makeup to get those rouge tones.

    To find out why carmine is so cruel and the shocking amount of products that use it, you need to read this: Is Carmine Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

    Squalane –
     is a cosmetic ingredient predominantly harvested from sharks' livers but can also be derived from plant sources. (Find the best vegan squalane products here.)

    Squalane is an excellent ingredient because it mimics your skin's natural oils. It's anti-inflammatory, packed with antioxidants, and non-comedogenic.

If you're interested in the best Skinny Tan vegan products or finding brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Skinny Tan's best vegan products

Animal Testing Policy and History

Skinny Tan is committed to making clean, effective products that are also 100% cruelty-free. You can rest assured the brand has never conducted animal testing.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

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

Skinny Tan cruelty-free website claim


Skinny Tan is Leaping Bunny certified

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn’t hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations. It only requires 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 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 deceive 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 Skinny Tan Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Skinny Tan does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.

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?

The Best Vegan Skinny Tan Products

Choosing one product from the Skinny Tan range is hard because they work so well together.

Ultimately, it’s not only about what kind of tan you’d like to achieve but all the products that help you maintain it.

To save you some time, here are some of their most popular tanning and skincare products:

  • Wonder Serum
  • Gradual Tanner
  • Exfoliating Mitt
  • Notox Beauty Face Tan Elixir
  • Dry Mist Finishing Spray

You can find everything on the website for a complete list of Skinny Tan vegan products.

Vegan Alternatives to Skinny Tan

Overall, Skinny Tan is an excellent option for vegans who want to get that summer tan look without compromising their values.

It's 100% cruelty-free, vegan, and affordable. Plus, users claim it to be effective too.

But if the brand is not easily accessible to you, here are some other options to choose from:

Is Skinny Tan Natural and Organic? 

Skinny Tan claims to be a natural brand. They state that all their products are 99% naturally derived!

Although Skinny Tan might use some organic ingredients, it is not certified organic, nor does it advertise itself as an organic cosmetics brand.

Skinny Tan’s Natural Claim Dilemma

Skinny Tan even named itself after the skinny latte – inspired by all that dark coffee goodness without any harmful fats.

Skinny Tan is free of nasties AND makes you look slimmer and more toned at the same time.

Clever, no?!   

We love all of this – BUT

While they state that all products are free from ‘nasties’ and made with up to 99% naturally derived ingredients… we need to face one sour fact: 

All these avowals are self-claimed.

Meaning they don’t actually have any certification to prove they’re natural.


We feel they need to up their game here and get some proof.

Skinny Tan’s DHA-Free Controversy

The natural claims are not all people have complained about.

In 2017 Skinny Tan took their advertising too far by claiming that its products were DHA-free!

DHA is the only effective self-tanning agent on the market. This popular chemical reacts with the surface of your skin cells to create a darkening effect.

Now, one of the things that set Skinny Tan apart from other brands is its use of naturally-derived DHA (dihydroxyacetone)… But it’s still DHA!

Luckily, this is all over, and the brand is very clear that it uses DHA, but it is a naturally derived one made from renewable vegetable material.

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 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. Skinny Tan 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.

A few naturally-derived ingredients Skinny Tan uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • Guarana Extract invigorates and revitalizes the skin. While rich in antioxidants and antimicrobial properties, this extract can reduce age-related skin damage, sagging, and wrinkles.
  • Aloe Vera is known for its amazing healing and moisturizing properties. It treats dry, itchy skin while reducing inflammation and redness.
  • Vitamin E helps your skin retain moisture while also protecting and repairing it. Those with dry skin especially benefit from using it.

Does Skinny Tan Use Safe Ingredients?

Unfortunately, only one Skinny Tan product is listed on Skin Safe, but it received a whopping 91% allergen-free ranking.

And after doing some digging on Skinny Tan’s ingredient policies – we feel comfortable stating that they have a generally high allergen-free ranking.

All of Skinny Tan’s products are free of allergens such as parabens, nickel, gluten, soy, propylene glycol, dye, and common preservatives.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Skinny Tan 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.

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

With personal care products, you want to avoid these ingredients:

  • PPG, PEG, and polysorbate
  • Butylated compounds (BHA, BHT)
  • Coal tar and benzene
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, and TEA)
  • Homosalate
  • Hydroquinone
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol

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 Skinny Tan Sustainable and Ethical? 

Here’s the catch – Skinny Tan doesn’t have much in their sustainability and ethical initiatives department.

For a brand that’s so big on going au naturale… this is highly disappointing.

They claim that they have “lots of plans in the pipeline” to reduce plastics and become more sustainable but have given little information to back it up.

They also claim to source their ingredients ethically and sustainably but provide no real information about their manufacturing process.

One of their biggest sustainable claims is that their natural DHA made from renewable vegetable materials minimizes their environmental footprint. 


We’re not sure.

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 Skinny Tan could take strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Working on sustainable packaging developments.
  • Ensuring that the plastic containers they use are recyclable.
  • Encouraging consumers to recycle their products.
  • Reducing their use of virgin plastic in their product and shipping packaging.
  • Avoiding extra packaging and only using sustainable or recycled materials (paper) when needed.
  • Using sustainably sourced paper (FSC certified) to create its packaging.
  • Having a net-zero greenhouse gas emission policy.
  • Using renewable energy in its manufacturing plants and offices.
  • 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

Skinny Tan had an exciting start and has become a fast-growing brand. Even with their big, hard-to-prove claims, Skinny Tan isn’t doing too badly for themselves.

They’ve been around for 10 years now and have become a well-developed cosmetics brand that takes various ethical factors into consideration.

The fact that they are cruelty-free and vegan is a step towards a more sustainable future in cosmetics.

The biggest criticism is that we would like to see a more transparent supply chain open to the public about its testing, purchasing, and distribution policies.

They like to state all the things they’re doing but haven’t taken steps to prove it to us.

Hopefully, we will see them take a more considerable interest in some sustainability and ethical initiatives in time. Especially since they would go hand in hand with their openly stated brand values.

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