Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Eco Elsie
Estee Lauder is one of the most iconic beauty brands on the market. Founded in the 1940s in New York City, the company is famous for pioneering its Advanced Night Repair serum, which offers a completely unique formula that has the power to repair aging and protect against environmental damage to the skin.
However, when it comes to big brands like Estee Lauder, you might find yourself asking where the company stands in terms of animal testing and their wider ethics. We’ve answered all the relevant questions so that you can make an informed decision before you purchase from Estee Lauder.
Is Estee Lauder cruelty-free?
Unfortunately, Estée Lauder is not cruelty-free as they may test on animals, either themselves or through their suppliers or a third party.
The reason for this is that they sell products in mainland China, where animal testing is required in order to sell on the Chinese market.
Estee Lauder’s official statement is as so:
“The Estée Lauder Companies does not test on animals and we never ask others to do so on our behalf. If a regulatory body demands it for its safety or regulatory assessment, an exception can be made. Our consumers can be certain that we are committed to producing only the highest quality beauty products which meet our exacting efficacy, safety and ethical standards.”
However, as we say, even if Estee Lauder themselves do not carry out animal testing, a company cannot receive cruelty-free status if it sells in China, as by doing so they are compliant with Chinese laws on animal testing.
Is Estee Lauder vegan?
Seen as Estee Lauder is not cruelty-free, even if some of their products do not contain animal-derived ingredients, it can’t be classed as vegan, as for many vegans, the wider ethical stances of the company are just as important as whether or not the ingredients come from an animal.
Without cruelty-free status, Estee Lauder cannot be classed as vegan.
Is Estee Lauder an ethical company?
Again, Estee Lauder isn’t rated as an ‘ethical’ company, and a lot of this comes down to the fact that they still test on animals. However, being classed as ‘ethical’ also includes aspects such as environmental initiatives and social responsibility.
Shop Ethical provides a rating system for companies that rates their ethical status on a ranking of A (praises, no criticism) to F (criticisms), and Estee Lauder scores an F on this, which is pretty disappointing considering their revenue was 14.29 billion USD in 2020.
Most of Estee Lauder’s criticisms stem from their sourcing of palm oil, use of microbeads, animal testing, tax avoidance, and deforestation – not good!
The company also scored 2.9% (weak) in their conflict minerals ranking, which is based on a 2019 report entitled As You Sow, which included a deep analysis of 215 companies’ human rights performance in relation to sourcing conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Estee Lauder scored well in a few areas in Shop Ethical’s report, with a CDP Climate Change Score of A and a CDP Water Security Score of A-. However, for such a huge corporation, we’d expect better.
Does Estee Lauder test on animals?
As we explained previously, Estee Lauder is not cruelty-free, meaning they are likely to test on animals, despite their statement on their website which contradicts itself.
On their website, the company states that their highest priority is the safety of their consumers. They go on to write that they “utilize the latest advances in non-animal safety testing and human volunteer testing to deliver products of the highest safety and quality to our consumers” which sounds great, however, they then contradict this by saying:
“We do not test our products or ingredients on animals, or ask others to test on our behalf, except where required by law.”
This of course refers to their selling in China, where it is the law to test products on animals.
On their website, Estee Lauder has stated the following:
“Our Company and all of our brands remain dedicated to the elimination of animal testing on all cosmetic products and ingredients worldwide. We believe that animal testing should not be needed to validate safety of cosmetic products or ingredients and we are encouraging the use of alternatives and the elimination of such animal testing globally.”
However, the fact that they still sell in China will be a massive issue for many, but sadly many corporations see the size of the Chinese market as a greater priority than avoiding animal testing, which loses them many customers domestically.
Are Estee Lauder products toxic?
Estee Lauder claims it is committed to ensuring their products are safe and say that the ingredients they use “have been tested and found to be safe when used as intended.”
They have a strict safety process for their products which they say includes “review, evaluation and testing of ingredients and finished products.”
Peer-reviewed scientific research plays a big role in their product development, and the brand says that they continually evaluate the use of their ingredients to ensure they are consistent with prevailing scientific opinion.
However, Estee Lauder isn’t a brand that is considered ‘clean.’ Clean beauty refers to products that are not only safe for your skin, but for the environment, too.
On EWG Skin Deep’s scale, Estee Lauder products generally score in the middle range, with some in the low end of the scale. For example, their Perfectionist Wrinkle Lifting serum scores a 7, their Advanced Night Repair Serum Complex II scores a 6, and the original Night Repair Ii a 5.
That said, everyone has different views on what is classed as ‘toxic’ and not. EWG is cynical of conventional cosmetic safety standards, and you can read more about why they believe this on their website.
It’s a rarity for a brand to tick every single box, but it’s safe to say that, from our research, Estee Lauder isn’t great in terms of its animal testing policies, social responsibility scores, and environmental initiatives. Here’s hoping they put more money into changing this in the near future!