Is The Inkey List Cruelty-Free & Vegan? (How Is It So Affordable?)

August 30, 2022

The Inkey List is an active ingredient-centric, ‘knowledge-driven’ brand that builds individual skincare routines. But how do they make effective, cruelty-free, and even vegan products at a low cost?

The Inkey List 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 Inkey List does offer some vegan products, but it is not considered a vegan brand.

The Inkey List is built on the ethos that “knowledge powers better decisions – and we agree! In 2018, the brand launched to demystify skincare and help people in the process.

After four years, they attribute their success to making formulas with active base ingredients. They also provide ample customer information on how to find the products best suited to their needs and layer them correctly.

What’s most impressive is that you can get a 4-step skincare regime from The Inkey List for under $40. How do they manage to keep costs so low and ethics so high?

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

Is The Inkey List Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

The Inkey list Cruelty-Free product range

The Inkey List 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.

The Inkey List is proudly cruelty-free with certification from Leaping Bunny – the only internationally recognized certificate that guarantees a brand is cruelty-free. 

While the brand is privately owned, Unilever and John Mills Ltd have invested in them. Both companies are known to be associated with animal testing.

This brings us to our next point:

The Inkey List is Not Vegan

Although the brand is not entirely vegan, The Inkey List has an extensive range of vegan skincare options.

You’re more likely to find a vegan item than not!

Luckily, it’s also very easy to spot whether something is vegan once you’re on its product page. You’ll see a vegan “stamp” underneath its picture:

The Inkey list Vegan Product Finder

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that The Inkey List uses are:

  • Beeswax – this ingredient poses many health benefits to your skin and well-being. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is 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?
  • Tribehenin – is an emulsifying ingredient composed of glycerin and behenic acid. It works as an effective thickening or gelling agent that  

    While it can be derived from plant fats, it is also commonly extracted from tallow (beef or mutton fat).

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

Animal Testing Policy and History

The Inkey List confirms that they have been committed to creating effective skincare that’s also cruelty-free since it was founded.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

Here is a screenshot of The Inkey List’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products.

(Taken from a direct email conversation.)

The Inkey List Cruelty-Free Website Claim


The Inkey List recently became Leaping Bunny certified and is in the process of adding the logo to its packaging.

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 The Inkey List Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

The Inkey List does not distribute any of its products in retail stores in mainland 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?

Which Products From The Inkey List's Are Vegan?

The Inkey List has an extensive range of vegan products that continues to grow.

All their vegan products are also marked clearly on their website, so it should be easy to find what you want.

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

  • The Peptide Moisturiser
  • The Retinol Serum
  • Oat Cleansing Balm
  • Hyaluronic Acid Serum
  • Fulvic Acid Cleanser

Unfortunately, The Inkey List does not have a dedicated page for its vegan products, nor does it have a ‘vegan’ search filter.

So if you want an extensive list of vegan products – your best bet is to reach out to the brand directly via their askInkey online chat.

Vegan Alternatives to The Inkey List

We love the vegan product options that The Inkey List has released. What’s even better is that they do their best to be transparent with their consumers.

They know what it takes to get modern skincare advocates on their side!

Unfortunately, if you won’t support a brand that isn’t 100% vegan or if The Inkey List isn’t available near you – there are some similar alternatives you can definitely try instead:

Is The Inkey List Natural and Organic? 

The Inkey List is not considered natural or organic. However, it claims to use safe, simple, clean ingredients.

The brand will always use synthetic ingredients where it’s best for the formula and consumers (like you).

Its whole ethos is to make clean formulas and products that work for specific needs.

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 Inkey List 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 Inkey List 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 The Inkey List Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, The Inkey List has an 82- 100% allergen-free ranking across 42 products.

The Inkey List products are all free of parabens, nickel, soy, dye and gluten. They also avoid common preservatives, propylene glycol, and irritants and fragrances.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because The Inkey List is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.

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!

Given The Inkey List is a UK-based brand with strict ingredient policies – you don't need to worry too much.

For good measure, here are some of the ingredients you really want to avoid with skincare:

  • Ethoxylated ingredients (PPG, PEG, and polysorbate)
  • Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, and TEA)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, aka teflon®)
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • Polyacrylamide
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan
  • 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 The Inkey List Sustainable and Ethical? 

The Inkey List has some sustainability and ethical initiatives as it ties in with the company values.

They want to be transparent with customers regarding their ingredient sourcing, social justice projects, environmental policies, and packaging standards.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Creates ethically developed products.
  • Focus on lessening the impact it has on the planet.
  • Helps people through their #changemakers program.

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 The Inkey List is taking strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Developing formulas with natural ingredients that are kinder to the environment.
  • Prohibiting the use of synthetic microbeads that pollute our waters and harm marine life.
  • Using up to 74% recyclable packaging for all its products.
  • Ensuring that all its product bottles are fully recyclable.
  • Keeping recycling instructions on the website to make the process easy for customers.
  • Using sustainably sourced paper cartons (FSC certified).
  • Incorporating renewable energy in its head office.
  • Becoming a certified carbon net neutral business.
  • Founding The Inkey Impact Fund to create a positive impact in communities.

Final Thoughts

The Inkey List is a well-developed skincare range that considers various ethical factors. The fact that they are cruelty-free is a step towards a more sustainable future in cosmetics.

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

Of course, since The Inkey List is only 93% vegan – it might not be the best choice for activists who go the extra mile. Especially since the brand also uses palm oil as an ingredient. (And gives no word on whether it's sustainably sourced.)

But we wouldn't shut it down so quickly if we were you. This young brand is developing and listening to your needs, so keep following its movements.

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