Parent companies and animal testing can be a confusing and tricky subject, especially if you're just beginning to shop cruelty-free.
Read on if you want to know what it means if a cruelty-free brand has a parent company, and what to do if they test on animals.
What is a parent company?
Without getting super technical, a parent company is one company that owns another or multiple other companies, the owned company being called a subsidiary or brand of the parent company. With regards to animal testing, a parent company, and its brands may have identical animal testing policies or completely different ones.
Here are some examples:
- The cruelty-free brands Alba Botanica, Avalon Organics and Jason are all owned by the parent company Hain Celestial - who are also cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny approved.
- Urban Decay is also Leaping Bunny approved, meaning Urban Decay products are certified as never tested on animals. But Urban Decay is owned by parent company L'oreal, who have always tested L'oreal products on animals and continue to do so.
What if a parent company tests on animals?
Does that mean the brand they own is still cruelty-free? Many people define the term cruelty-free in different ways. Some will say that if a brand has a parent company that tests on animals, that brand is not cruelty-free no matter what the brand's own animal testing policies are. However, I think this can be really confusing for people who are just beginning to look for cruelty-free brands and even deter them from trying.
When a brand is owned or bought by a parent company, often that brand will remain independent of the parent company in many ways. This means their products can be made entirely separately and without animal testing.
For example, The Body Shop are a company founded on the ethics of no animal testing. In 2006, the company was bought by L'oreal, one of the worst offenders of animal testing for cosmetics. This might seem jarring, but The Body Shop still retain their Leaping Bunny approval, meaning their own products, and the ingredients used to make them, are never tested on animals.
Which cruelty-free brands have parent companies that test on animals?
Here's a short list of well known cruelty-free brands with testing parent companies. The parent companies they are owned by are listed in brackets.
Bite Beauty (Kendo)
The Body Shop (L'oreal)
Burt's Bees (Clorox)
Liz Earle (Avon)
NYX Cosmetics (L'oreal)
Superdrug (A.S. Watson)
Urban Decay (L'oreal)
Should I buy from brands with parent companies that test on animals?
This is a very divisive issue in the cruelty-free community. On one side it is thought that supporting a cruelty-free brand, one with a testing parent company or one without, sends the message that a large number of consumers only want products that have not been tested on animals.
However, other people say that buying from these brands would be funding animal testing - because the parent company performing the animal testing will still receive the profits from its cruelty-free brand.
If you're just starting to shop cruelty-free, buying from brands with testing parent companies gives you more options. However, if you then decide to only use products from brands without parent companies, this does mean going through a second process of finding alternatives to the products you've been using.
It is completely up to you to decide which brands you feel comfortable buying from. It might help you to research the brand in question a little more.
- Were they a cruelty-free brand bought out by a larger company?
- Was that to prevent their brand being discontinued?
- What are the ethics of the brand now?
This way you can make an informed decision on who to buy from. Whatever you decide, the best way for consumers to help end animal testing is by boycotting the companies that do test on animals - so keep choosing cruelty-free!
What are your thoughts on brands with parent companies that test on animals? Do you buy from them or boycott them?