Is Ulta Beauty Cruelty-Free and Vegan in 2022 (Partly – Here’s Why?

Ulta Beauty Collection is the in-house brand for Ulta Beauty Inc. – one of the largest chains of cosmetic department stores. We know they offer affordable alternatives to our favorite products ­– but do they compromise on ethics? Here are their cruelty-free and vegan policies you need to know.

Is Ulta Beauty Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Ulta Beauty 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. While Ulta Beauty does offer a range of vegan cosmetics, it is not considered a vegan brand.

Terry Hanson and Dick George launched Ulta Beauty Inc. in 1990 with 5 stores in Chicago. Their goal was to sell products at different price levels in one place.

Today, this department store:

  • Has over 1000 locations
  • Has its own private beauty label (Ulta Beauty)
  • Employs an estimated 37 000 employeesIs worth $16.63 billion

It’s no wonder their in-house brand is doing so well.

Before deciding on what to buy, here's what you need to know about Ulta Beauty’s current animal testing policies, vegan ranges, formulation, and sustainability.

Is Ulta Beauty Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Ulta Beauty 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.

We’re proud to say Ulta Beauty is entirely cruelty-free and has PETA accreditation to back up its claims.

The brand is independently owned with no known ties to animal testing.

However, it does have a set of makeup brushes made with animal hair.

We cannot confirm what animals are used in the process. We are also unsure whether Ulta Beauty sources its animal hair from reliable places that do not harm these farm animals in the process.

While its PETA accreditation should reassure us that no animals are treated improperly in the process – it’s not the most reliable accreditation, and we’ll tell you why shortly.

 This brings us to our next point:

Ulta Beauty is Not Vegan

Although the brand is not entirely vegan, Ulta Beauty has a range of vegan products from which to choose.

But before you jump for joy – you need to know that their website’s product filtering system is not accurate.

So if you want a vegan and cruelty-free product – don’t rely on the filter alone. We’ve seen multiple products containing animal-derived ingredients under their “vegan” section.

Doing this is not enough:

Ulta Beauty Website Vegan Filter

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that Ulta Beauty uses are:

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

So, if you're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Ulta Beauty vegan products

Animal Testing Policy and History

It's difficult to see what Ulta Beauty's animal testing policy was back in the 90s. But we can assure you that the brand has always aimed to create accessible cosmetics without harming animals.

This goal has only improved with modern research and advancements.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

While Ulta Beauty does not directly address its animal testing policy, the company has a page dedicated to all its cruelty-free certified brands. Here is a screenshot of their website:

Ulta Beauty Cruelty-Free Website Claim

Certification

Currently, Ulta Beauty is PETA-approved which is not a bad start. But we would love 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’s strict and reliable regulations stipulate 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, is considered and evaluated.

But some certification is better than nothing at all.

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 Ulta Beauty Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Ulta Beauty 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.

While Ulta is manufactured in China, it does not test on animals at all. This law is purely enforced on international cosmetic products entering China and not on products made within the country itself.

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 Ulta Beauty Products Are Vegan?

Ulta Beauty has a growing range of vegan products that are progressively more popular. This includes a range of makeup tools and brushes.

Unfortunately, their vegan products are tricky to find because the Ulta Beauty website page has an inaccurate filtering tool.

We will save you some time and list the brand’s most popular and award-winning products to choose from here.

Brushes

Although some brushes are made with animal hair, you will know which ones are vegan by looking at the description.

  • Brushes that use animal hair are made from natural fibers, whereas
  • Vegan brushes are made from synthetic fibers.

Their vegan brushes include:

  • Oval Foundation Brush
  • Retractable Kabuki Brush
  • Foundation Brushes #12, #13, #14
  • Contouring and Highlighter Brushes #20, #21, #22, #23
  • Concealer Brushes #30, #31
  • Eyeshadow brushes #41, #43, and #50

Products

  • Matte Face Primer
  • Juice Infused Lip Oil (All shades except for cranberry + pomegranate)
  • Full Coverage Liquid Concealer
  • Adjustable Coverage Foundation
  • New Heights Mascara

If you have a product you like, our suggestion is to reach out to Ulta directly and ask them if it is vegan.

Unfortunately, the online navigation system is rarely accurate. You’re unlikely to find an accurate representation of the brand’s vegan ranges.

Vegan Alternatives to Ulta Beauty

We love that Ulta Beauty is cruelty-free and affordable, and users claim it to be effective.

But if supporting 100% vegan brands is vital to you or Ulta isn’t available in your area – don’t stress!  

Here are some 100% vegan cosmetics that are in the same price range for you to choose from:

Is Ulta Beauty Natural and Organic? 

Ulta Beauty may use some natural and organic ingredients. Still, it is not an organic or natural cosmetics brand, nor does it classify itself as one.

The brand calls itself ‘clean’ rather than natural.

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.

For Ulta Beauty, it means a bit of both.

Here's the thing: "natural" is not necessarily good. Just because an ingredient is natural (take chili peppers, for example) doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin.

Almost all products use synthetic ingredients in their formulas, and Ulta Beauty is no exception. However, it can choose to use better or clean synthetics.

If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.

Does Ulta Beauty Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, Ulta Beauty has an 82- 100% allergen-free ranking over more than 200 products listed. 

Ulta Beauty’s products are free of parabens, sulfates, DEA, MEA, TEA, phthalates, and mineral oils.

They also stay clear of allergens such as gluten, coconut, nickel, MCI/MI, top common allergy-causing preservatives, lanolin, Propylene Glycol, and Balsam of Peru.

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

 However, certain products could assist your specific concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs.

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

As a conscientious shopper, you must read up on any brand's ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States.

This is because 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 Ulta has a good ingredient repertoire – you don’t need to worry too much, but it’s still worth checking every label.

With skincare and cosmetics, you want to avoid these ingredients:

  • Butylated compounds
  • Benzophenone compounds
  • Triclosan
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead or other heavy metals

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 just as safe as anything tested on an animal.

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 really is no need.

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

Is Ulta Beauty Hills Sustainable and Ethical? 

As a beauty distributor, Ulta Beauty Inc. (the chain store) does an excellent job at clearly showing which brands are clean, sustainably packaged, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Part of their ‘clean’ definition is not just ingredients that are non-toxic for humans but won’t harm the environment.

Ulta Beauty Inc. defines sustainable packaging as:

“Packaging that is made from bio-sourced or recycled materials, or is recyclable and refillable. At least 50% of a brand’s packaging must meet these standards to qualify.”

As per the brand’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) report, Ulta Beauty strives to:

  • Improve the lives of its workers by creating a diverse and inclusive workplace with competitive benefits and meaningful work opportunities.
  • Help the environment by managing their energy, water, and waste footprints to reduce their carbon emissions.
  • Support the community by having national foundation partners. These include The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Save the Children, and Dress for Success®.

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

Unfortunately, Ulta Beauty doesn’t disclose much about whether it has any recycling or waste reduction initiatives.  

Some of the ways they could take strong environmental accountability are by:

  • Using certain natural ingredients and biodegradable formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified).
  • Ensuring that the plastic containers they use are recyclable.
  • Working on sustainable packaging developments.
  • Working on decarbonizing their business and using alternative energy sources through Unilever.
  • Sourcing Mica responsibly and ethically to stop the use of child labor.

Final Thoughts

Ulta Beauty is a reliable cosmetics brand that can make an effective product for a very low price.

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

We would like to see more information about the private label on Ulta Beauty Inc’s website and social media platforms – particularly their transparent supply chains, environmental policies, and social support.

It seems like the brand has compromised sustainability for cost-effectiveness at this stage, and we believe there could be a better balance achieved.

Since Ulta beauty is not 100% vegan – it might not be the best choice for activists who will only support vegan brands. Especially since the brand also uses unsustainable packaging by its own parent company’s standard.

Finally, it would also be nice to see some further cruelty-free accreditation from other reputable organizations. So if you love Ulta’s products – make sure to reach out to the brand and tell them what you want!

 You’re only going to see change if you speak up.

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