Is The Honest Company Cruelty-Free & Vegan? (Can We Be Sure)

At the core of celebrity-founded beauty companies is The Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s passion brand that evolved into an all-rounded lifestyle organization.

It’s meant to be safe, clean, and … honest! So can we trust their cruelty-free and vegan policies? Or is there more greenwashing to watch out for?

Is The Honest Company Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

The Honest Company 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. The Honest Company does offer a range of vegan cosmetics, but it is not considered a vegan brand.

Safety and transparency are the highest priorities for The Honest Company – and a personal story tells us why.

During the nesting phase of Jessica Alba’s first pregnancy, the star washed some baby clothes with a mainstream detergent. She was left with painful, red welts on her hands.

Jessica reflected on her childhood illnesses and wondered what this would do to her baby girl…

So she built a brand she could trust for all her needs. Enter The Honest Company (otherwise called Honest).

Since launching in 2008, they have had strict safety standards for all their in-house developed and sourced products.

The company started with baby care and household cleaning products free from synthetic fragrances and petrochemicals. At the time, the alternative market was comparatively small.

In 2015 they came out with cosmetics, skincare, and SPFs (yay)!

But we need to know if The Honest Company has managed to maintain its ethical standards as it grew.

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Is The Honest Company Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Honest Beauty Cruelty-Free Lipstick

The Honest Company 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.

Honest is PETA accredited. Although it’s a good start – it’s not the most recognized certification to guarantee that a brand is cruelty-free. But we’ll explain why under Certification

Luckily, the brand is privately owned, so there is no need to worry about a parent company with iffy animal testing policies.

This brings us to our next point:

The Honest Company is Not Vegan

Although the brand is not entirely vegan, The Honest Company has an extensive range of vegan products from which to choose.

Seriously – you are far more likely to find a vegan product than anything with animal-derived ingredients.

You can also quickly identify Honest’s vegan items on their online product pages. Each one is clearly marked underneath its picture, like this:

The Honest Company vegan product finder

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that The Honest Company uses are:

  • 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?
  • Caprylic Triglyceride – is usually vegan but can also be Lacto-vegetarian as caprylic acid is a fatty acid naturally found in goat’s, cow’s, or sheep’s milk.

    When combined with triglycerides, it works as an excellent antioxidant that leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.
  • Glycerin – although you can get vegetable-based glycerin, it mostly comes from animal fat.

    This clear, runny, and odorless liquid is a moisturizing agent (humectant) that allows your skin to maintain moisture and breathe.

If you're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: The Honest Company vegan products.

Animal Testing Policy and History

Honest has been committed to creating clean, effective, affordable, and cruelty-free cosmetics since it was founded. YES!

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

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

the honest company cruelty-free website claim

In our opinion, this statement is a little gauzy and lacks specifics we’re looking to confirm. But, with PETA certification, we can trust them – right?

Certification

As we mentioned, Honest is PETA-approved which is not a bad start.

But it would be nice 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. It seems only to 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 is very strict and reliable, which ensures 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 was The Honest Company Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Honest does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law. We emailed and received this response to confirm it.

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 Products From The Honest Company Are Vegan?

Honest uses very few animal-derived ingredients in its products.

It also advertises its vegan products clearly – which is incredible given that’s most of their range!

To save you some serious scrolling time, here are some of Honest’s most popular products to choose from:

  • Tinted Lip Balm
  • Honestly Healthy Brow Gel
  • Honestly Healthy Lash Serum
  • Hydrogel Cream
  • More Moisture Body Butter

You can visit The Honest Company’s website for a complete list of its vegan products.

Vegan Alternatives to The Honest Company

Honest has been leading the clean and cruelty-free movement for over a decade.

From what we can see – it’s getting closer to a 100% vegan range (but we can’t verify that yet).

We also appreciate that they pride themselves on being honest with their consumers. For a multi-million dollar brand – it's commendable.

But if you will not support a brand that isn't entirely vegan Honest might not be your first choice.

Is The Honest Company Natural and Organic? 

So this is interesting…

Honest is actually not considered a natural or organic brand.

Their ethos is to make a conscious, clean lifestyle easier for anyone by making safe products with clean ingredients.

But it does use a high amount of natural ingredients. When they claim a product is organic, it will be USDA Organic Certified.

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 to fry yourself like a chicken breast!

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. The Honest Company 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 The Honest Company uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • 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.
  • Niacinamide, or Vitamin B3, has been shown to reduce the appearance of blemishes and skin congestions. It also repairs the skin barrier, increases smoothness, and boosts radiance.
  • Appel AHA’s is a blend of citric, lactic, and glycolic acid that works as a gentle but effective chemical exfoliator.

    Combining these ingredients helps eliminate dead skin cells, clear any trapped dirt or grease, and promote faster skin cell turnover.

Does The Honest Company Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, The Honest Company has a 91- 100% allergen-free ranking across 76 products.

Honest has a list of over 2500 ingredients they won’t use. This includes parabens, formaldehyde, PEGs or other petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances, and dyes.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because the brand 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!

You don’t have to worry too much about Honest’s ingredient choices (anymore). But it’s still worth knowing that you should always avoid these ingredients in skincare and makeup:

  • Benzophenone, oxybenzone, and other related compounds
  • Butylated compounds (BHA, BHT)
  • Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, and TEA)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, aka teflon®)
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  • Carbon black
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Coal tar and benzene
  • Untreated mineral oils
  • Homosalate
  • Lead and other heavy metals
  • PPG, PEG, and polysorbate
  • 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 The Honest Company Sustainable and Ethical? 

Honest has strong sustainability and ethical initiatives that align with the company's values. The brand strives to be transparent with its customers while reducing its effect on the planet.

‘Honest’ is in the name, after all!

But we have to address a few controversies… and lawsuits.

  • In 2015, Honest reformulated its SPF and received WAVES of complaints from sunburned customers who’d used the product per its directions. Luckily, this has since been resolved.
  • In 2016, the brand’s baby formula came under fire for not being organic, even if it was. Their USDA Organic certification helped show that the product was organic, as its claims.
  • In 2017, The Honest Company paid $1,55 million in a class-action lawsuit claiming they misled customers by stating no products contained a chemical surfactant called SLS.

    The brand uses SCS (Sodium Coco Sulphate) but settled out of court to avoid a dragged-out and costly court case.
  • In 2017, The Honest Company paid $7.5 million for labeling products ‘natural’ when synthetics were used.

    The company website now describes what the terms natural, naturally derived, plant-derived, and plant-based, mean using regulatory definitions.

But on to better and more positive things!

As it stands, the brand:

  • Help create sustainable, ethically developed products.
  • Focus on lessening the impact it has on the planet.
  • Strive to do more to help people.

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 Honest is taking strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Developing some biodegradable formulas and using a high percentage of natural ingredients.
  • Prohibiting the use of synthetic microbeads that pollute our waters and harm marine life.
  • Developing tree-free paper using upcycled sugarcane by-products.
  • Ensuring that sustainable packaging is implemented throughout its products.
  • Using mono-materials where possible for easier recycling.
  • Using as many PCR (post-consumer recycled) materials as possible.
  • Providing recycling instructions to make the process easier for customers.
  • Attaining ‘B-Corp Certification,’ with performance standards to ensure positive impact across parts of businesses.
  • Attaining ‘Green Seal’ certification to ensure the highest benchmark of health and environmental leadership.
  • Constantly investing in community service and providing product donations.

Final Thoughts

Honest is a well-developed brand that takes various ethical factors into consideration. The fact that their beauty division is cruelty-free is a step towards a more sustainable future in cosmetics.

We appreciate that it has a reasonably transparent supply chain and is open to the public about its testing, purchasing, and distribution policies.

We have to admit that since 2017, The Honest Company has been using more… um… honest, language in product names and descriptions.

Of course, since the brand isn’t 100% vegan, it might not be the best choice for activists who go the extra mile.

Plus, some extra cruelty-free accreditation from The Leaping Bunny would be AMAZING. So, let's push to make that happen!

We hope to see a change in this issue, but it is unlikely without us sharing your thoughts.

As consumers, it is up to us to stand for what we will and won't accept from the brands we support. So if you want to see more from Honest, then make it clear!

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