Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Eco Elsie
Neutrogena is a big name in American skincare, with products distributed in over 70 countries worldwide.
In fact, Neutrogena ranks among the top-selling skincare brands worldwide. It’s also the number 1 recommended skincare brand by dermatologists.
Given the popularity of Neutrogena’s products, many animal-loving skincare enthusiasts have found themselves asking, at one point or another, whether Neutrogena is cruelty-free.
Today, we’re going to be discussing whether or not Neutrogena can be considered a cruelty-free company, as well as the vegan status, ethics, and dermatological safety of Neutrogena’s products.
Is Neutrogena Cruelty-Free?
The short answer, unfortunately, is no: Neutrogena is not a cruelty-free company. The company does not hold a cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny) certification.
In order to meet the requisite standards for cruelty-free certification, cosmetic and drug companies are required to sign PETA’s statement of assurance in acknowledgment that none of their products are tested on animals at any stage during production or in completed form.
Neutrogena has not signed this statement for reasons that will become clear relating to their animal testing policies.
Is Neutrogena Vegan?
Neutrogena is not considered a vegan company because many of its products contain animal-derived ingredients or byproducts.
Despite Neutrogena’s efforts to use as many plant-based ingredients as possible, the company incorporates ingredients such as beeswax and gelatin.
Beeswax is, of course, a byproduct of honey production found in the abdominal glands of bees. Gelatin, meanwhile, is obtained from the bones, tendons, and ligaments of animals like pigs and cows.
While some of Neutrogena’s products may be plant-based, none are officially certified as vegan, so Neutrogena cannot be considered a vegan brand.
Is Neutrogena an Ethical Company?
Assessing a cosmetic company’s ethics is always going to be a complex and multi-layered process because the ethical standards of any business need to be measured according to several different factors.
We’ve already established that the majority of Neutrogena’s products are not suitable for vegans. Therefore, from a vegan perspective, Neutrogena cannot be considered an ethical company.
As we will explore shortly, Neutrogena’s animal testing policies are also complex on an ethical level.
Moreover, records suggest that Neutrogena’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson knowingly continued to sell products containing asbestos in the period between 1971 and 2000, following scientific confirmation of the fibers’ harmful health effects.
This is clearly a violation of the ethical standards customers would expect from a company that claims to be committed to dermatological health.
Neutrogena has also faced several lawsuits related to false advertising of their products, including marketing creams containing oil-based products as ‘oil-free’ and claiming that their makeup-removing wipes are safe for all skin types despite numerous reports of allergic reactions.
With that being said, Neutrogena seems to have learned from past mistakes, as exemplified by the company’s decision to voluntarily remove talcum powder from its formulas in response to research linking the substance to ovarian cancer and other diseases.
Additionally, Neutrogena has donated $100,000 to the Black Lives Matter movement as well as $100,000 to the NAACP.
Does Neutrogena Test on Animals?
Neutrogena states in its Animal Testing Policy that the company does not conduct animal testing as part of the research for or manufacture of any of its products. From this statement, it would be logical to conclude that Neutrogena does not test on animals.
However, before you go rushing off to buy Neutrogena out of all of its skin creams, there are some things you should be aware of.
As we’ve already mentioned, Neutrogena is not officially cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny) certified. How can this be if Neutrogena itself does not test on animals?
Well, in short, it’s mostly to do with Neutrogena’s parentage. Parent companies are companies that integrate with other companies for the purposes of controlling said company’s managerial operations.
Neutrogena is parented by Johnson & Johnson, a multinational American medical and pharmaceutical company. Johnson & Johnson manufactures and sells its products in China, where animal testing is still a legal requirement.
Therefore, by extension, Neutrogena’s products are tested on animals in certain situations and can’t be considered cruelty-free.
Earlier this year (2021), however, the NMPA (National Medical Products Administration) announced that China will be rolling back its animal testing laws in May of 2021 so that imported cosmetic and drug products will no longer have to be tested on animals.
The only exceptions to this will be for products that contain raw ingredients that haven’t yet been approved. Hopefully, given this change in policy, Neutrogena will be considered more cruelty-free in the near future.
Are Neutrogena Products Toxic?
There has been some debate in recent years surrounding the dermatological safety and potential toxicity of Neutrogena’s skincare range.
As we’ve already discussed, Neutrogena products used to contain asbestos during the last 3 decades of the 20th century, after it was revealed that the substance was unsafe for human contact.
However, this is no longer the case today. Moreover, Neutrogena has voluntarily removed talcum powder due to links to certain forms of cancer.
So, since Neutrogena has rectified these particular issues, are the company’s products now completely non-toxic?
Unfortunately, the scientific evidence suggests otherwise. Research conducted by the Environmental Working Group has revealed that Neutrogena’s setting powders score very poorly in terms of toxicity, ranking 8/10 in their score system.
The Environmental Working Group’s score system goes from -10 to 10, but contrary to what you might expect, the higher numbers on the scale represent the greatest danger.
A score of -10 indicates a confirmed lack of association between a product and certain health conditions. A score of 10, on the other hand, represents a confirmed association. So, as you can see, a score of 8 is far from reassuring.
Again, however, it’s possible that this will change in the future. Neutrogena has recently launched a paraben-free campaign through its ‘Neutrogena Naturals’ range, which is a step in the right direction when it comes to manufacturing dermatologically safe and non-toxic skincare products.
Hopefully, Neutrogena will continue to improve the ingredient content of its products going forward.