Virtue's leading keratin repair technology has made unmatched progress in the haircare industry since 2013. It's recently updated its cruelty-free and vegan claims so let's find out how ethical this brand is in 2022.

Virtue 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. Virtue is also 100% vegan – it doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients.

When you look at Virtue, you may not immediately think of a military-funded biotechnology brand, but that's precisely where it originated.

Yup, this is no ordinary hair care brand. It's a biotech company that repairs damaged hair.

It developed after a regenerative medical lab found a new way to collect human keratin in its purest form. They named it Alpha Keratin 60ku®.

At the heart of this operation, retired US Army Colonel Dr. Luke Burnett was working fastidiously to develop ways to treat injured soldiers. And Alpha Keratin 60ku® could heal burn wounds and help with tissue regrowth.

It seemed beside the point that Alpha Keratin 60ku® could also help regenerate human hair – but a few savvy entrepreneurs saw massive potential for this in the beauty industry. Enter Virtue.  

Melisse Shaban officially founded the brand in 2013 and has seen it grow from strength to strength. Today, Virtue's estimated revenue sits at about $9 million. Not bad, huh?

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

Is Virtue Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Virtue Hair Care Vegan and Cruelty-Free

Virtue 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.

Keratin is an ingredient commonly sourced from animals, but Virtue has only ever sourced it from humans.

Even better, the brand is also Leaping Bunny certified and privately owned with venture capital funding.

This means you don't have to worry about a pesky parent company with a dodgy animal-testing history.

This brings us to our next point:

Virtue is Vegan

We don't often say this about haircare brands, but Virtue is entirely vegan!

This tech-savvy, forward-thinking haircare brand has not used animal-derived ingredients in any of its products since late 2021.

However, it's worth knowing that Virtue is the exception and not the rule.

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

  • Collagen an essential protein that plays an integral role in strengthening your hair as well as firming and strengthening the roots.

    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.
  • Glycerin – although you can get vegetable-based glycerin, it comes from animal fat most of the time.

    This clear, runny, and odorless liquid is a moisturizing agent (humectant) that allows your skin to maintain its own moisture and breathe.
  • Keratin another essential protective protein that helps protect your hair against structural damage. Keratin in haircare often comes from the feathers, horns, or wool of different animals.

    But you can also find plant keratin made from a solution of wheat and soy amino acids.

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

Animal Testing Policy and History

Virtue is upfront in its commitment to creating clean, effective, cruelty-free hair care that goes above and beyond.

Its felt strongly about these values from its research and development stages, right up to its launch.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2021

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

Virtue Cruelty-Free Website Claim


Virtue is Cruelty Free International and Leaping Bunny certified.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations out there. It seems to only 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.

Leaping Bunny certification proves that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products it sells.
  • 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.

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 mislead 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 Virtue Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

Virtue does not distribute any of its products to 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?

The Best Virtue Vegan Products

Virtue has an impressive range of premium vegan products that continues to expand.

They find premium vegan alternatives to some of the most common animal-derived ingredients. Overall, the brand prides itself in developing a product with you (the consumer) in mind.

To save you some time, here are some of its most popular hair care products:

  • Recovery Shampoo
  • Full Conditioner
  • Restorative Treatment Mask
  • Moisture-defining Whip
  • Volumizing Primer

For a complete list of Virtue vegan products, you can find everything on their website.

Vegan Alternatives to Virtue

With their patented vegan Keratin, Virtue has some great vegan hair treatments and products that other brands cannot make.

The brand does have strong cruelty-free and environmental advocacy principles – which act strongly in its favor.

Virtue is 100% cruelty-free, vegan, and its star-studded ambassadors like Jennifer Garner give it raving reviews. 

But if the brand is not easily accessible to you, here are some alternatives we recommend:

Is Virtue Natural and Organic? 

Virtue is not a natural or organic brand, and they do not claim to be. Primarily since they use a lab-developed and derived protein as their star ingredient in every product.

However, their goal is to use safe and clean ingredients to make effective formulas. And they do use some natural ingredients where it's the best choice.

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 doesn't mean you should rub it on your skin. Poison ivy is natural – but we wouldn't recommend rolling in a field of that stuff!

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas, and Virtue is no exception – but it chooses to use clean synthetics.

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

A few ingredients Virtue uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • Alpha Keratin 60ku® is pure human keratin that Virtue claims can heal. Born from regenerative medicine, this human-derived form of keratin is known to bind to and repair damaged hair.
  • Hydrolyzed Quinoa is a complete plant-based protein that helps your hair retain moisture. So any dry or brittle hair can feel more lush and supple over time.
  • Baobab Seed Oil comes from the African Baobab Tree known for its ability to store water. The seed oil extract is a rich emollient that can moisturize dry, damaged hair.

Does Virtue Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, Virtue has an 82-91% allergen-free ranking for each product.

Virtue's products are free of allergens and harsh chemicals such as sulfates, gluten, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, and dyes.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Virtue is not 100% hypoallergenic, and they do not claim to be.

However, certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs.

This is pertinent to haircare as the same allergies may affect the scalp. Remember that our shampoos, conditioners, and styling products make contact with our skin.

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!

For good measure, here are some of the ingredients you really want to avoid with haircare:
  • Benzophenone
  • Butylated compounds: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Coal tar
  • Ethoxylation
  • DEA, MEA, and TEA
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs)

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 Virtue Sustainable and Ethical? 

While Virtue is very transparent with its customers about ingredients, testing methods, and the supply chain, they don't claim to be sustainable or ethical or represent itself as such.

Virtue doesn’t speak about many environmental, sustainable, ethical, or social initiatives online.

 Here's what we do know. The brand:
  • Details plastic packaging types to assist customers who recycle.
  • Uses ethical Mica is mined in the US. Meaning there is no concern that child labor is involved.
  • Acts as hair care partners with powerful female entities like The North Carolina Courage.

It's 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.

Some of the ways Virtue could take strong environmental accountability is by:

  • Using more natural ingredients and biodegradable formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Using sustainably sourced paper (FSC certified) and PCR (post-consumer recycled paper).Creating sustainable packaging. Josie Maran uses 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.
  • Having an active recycling program where customers can send used products back to the brand.
  • Offering haircare refillable tubes for conscious customers.  

Final Thoughts

Virtue is a female-founded, cruelty-free, and vegan company. So we're already off to a great start.

As a haircare brand, it broke biotech boundaries when it built all its formulas using one key component: Alpha Keratin 60ku®.

This ingredient was initially used to help wounded soldiers in the US military and is still doing exactly that. But, its functions have extended to repairing damaged hair too.

While one might be worried that any lab-developed product may have a dark history of animal testing – that's not the case here. Alpha Keratin 60ku® was developed from people, for people.

The brand is entirely cruelty-free and is backed by Leaping Bunny – the most highly recognized accreditation in the world.

While we appreciate that it has a transparent supply chain and is open to the public about its testing policies – Virtue really needs to up its sustainability game.

We'd love to know more about what the brand is doing to improve its recycling efforts, scale back on packaging, and whether it's working towards becoming carbon neutral.

If this concerns you, please reach out to Virtue and let them know your thoughts.

All customers have a voice, and the more you speak up, the more likely it is for Virtue to respond positively.

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