With rave reviews from dermatologists and skincare enthusiasts alike, CeraVe has become one of the most popular drugstore skincare brands. But does CeraVe test on animals or is vegan? The answers are more complex than they appear.
CeraVe states that “No, CeraVe products are not tested on animals.” But there is no evidence to support this claim. So, we decided to do our own cruelty-free research in the case of Cerave. And the results actually did not surprise us.
CeraVe is not cruelty-free because it tests on animals when required by law and sells its products in mainland China (where it is required).The Quick Answer
Let’s dive into the details and see why.
Overview of CeraVe
First, let’s start with some background. CeraVe is an American skincare brand developed in 2005 by dermatologists. Their products focus on ceramides, fatty acids that help strengthen and repair the skin’s protective barrier.
The brand has grown wildly popular for offering simple, fragrance-free formulas ideal for sensitive and acne-prone skin types. Top sellers include their Hydrating Facial Cleanser, Daily Moisturizing Lotion, and Healing Ointment.
But does CeraVe’s skin-loving reputation also extend to animal welfare?
Does Cerave test on animals?
This is where things get tricky. On their website, CeraVe states “CeraVe products are not tested on animals.” Sounds straightforward, right?
However, CeraVe is owned by pharmaceutical giant L’Oréal, which has come under fire for animal testing policies. PETA website (the official cruelty-free certification organization) has listed L’Oréal among the companies that test on animals. And secondly, CeraVe sells in mainland China where imported cosmetics require mandatory animal testing. We will talk about both of these points in detail as well.
Now, let’s take a quick look at the criteria given by PETA where the companies are certified under two designations. The first designation is “Global animal test-free”.
PETA states that “Global Animal Test–free recognizes companies and brands that have verified that they and their suppliers do not conduct, commission, pay for or allow any tests on animals for their ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and that they will never do so in the future.”
In other words, to be recognized as a cruelty-free brand, Cerave should not be testing on animals right from the ingredient level. Of course, it also must not allow third parties to do that for its products.
So while CeraVe may not conduct animal tests themselves, by selling in China they pay and consent for their products to be tested on animals by the Chinese government. This precludes CeraVe from being 100% cruelty-free.
Useful Reading: How to recognize a cruelty-free brand?
1. Cerave is owned by L’Oréal, a non-cruelty-free company
Usually, brands and their parent companies will have the same policy in terms of production and supply. So we decided to learn about L’Oréal, the company that owns Cerave.
L’Oréal is a big brand in France and has products that are popular around the world. We searched for its name on the PETA homepage, and here are the results:
Also here is the official statement published on the L’Oréal website which says:
“In 1989, L’Oréal completely ceased testing its products on animals, 14 years before it was required by regulation. Today, L’Oréal no longer tests its ingredients on animals. L’Oréal no longer tolerates any exception to this rule.
Certain health authorities may nevertheless decide to conduct animal tests themselves for certain cosmetic products, as it is still the case in China. L’Oréal is the most active company working alongside the Chinese authorities and scientists for over 10 years to have alternative testing methods recognized, and permit the cosmetic regulation to evolve towards a total and definite elimination of animal testing. Thanks to this, since 2014, certain products manufactured and sold in China like shampoo, body wash or certain make-up products are no longer tested on animals.”Source: L’Oréal Website
Now if you read between the lines, there is the point that you are looking for that “L’Oréal, despite its claims, is not cruelty-free”.
2. Cerave is sold in China
Now, moving on to the second point,
As you may already know, China is one of the remaining countries that require animal testing. However, this country relaxed this policy in early 2021. Accordingly, it allows general or ordinary products (such as shampoo, body wash, or certain make-up products) to be imported without testing on animals. But the products must meet certain conditions and pass the post-market test.
“The regulation also provides for routine post-market sampling inspections by provincial authorities, including for cosmetics with reported safety problems. It is unclear whether such inspections and investigations could involve animal testing. This uncertainty has long been a barrier to cruelty-free beauty brands entering the Chinese market.”– Humane Society International stresses
This emphasis shows how difficult it is for cosmetic brands to pass post-market animal testing.
Moreover, Cerave has an extremely diverse product portfolio including eye creams, cleansers, body cleaners, body moisturizers, facial serums, and sunscreen, non-general or ordinary products. Most of these products are sold in mainland China. This is the Chinese Cerave website that we found. And it is selling almost everything.
Cerave is forced to comply with the requirements of animal testing under Chinese law. And even though they might not be testing on animals themselves, they are okay with paying someone else to do it. Therefore, Cerave is not a cruelty-free brand.
3. Cerave is not recognized as cruelty-free by any organization
For additional proof, we seek confirmation from a cruelty-free verification organization. Unfortunately, Cerave is not recognized by any organization, including PETA.
CeraVe is not Cruelty-free as it tests on animals when required by law
Contrary to Cerave’s claims, evidence from reputable sources shows that the brand tests on animals when required by law. It is also marketed in China so animal testing is inevitable. Its parent company, L’Oréal is also not cruelty-free (confirmed by PETA).
Finally, we can say for sure that “Cerave is tested on animals (when required by law) and is not 100% cruelty-free.”
Is Cerave 100% vegan?
CeraVe products are not vegan either. While they may not contain obvious animal ingredients like beeswax or collagen, many likely use animal-derived chemicals common in skincare.
Examples include cholesterol, glycerin, emulsifying waxes, and fatty alcohols. CeraVe also does not claim or market any products as vegan-friendly.
And since CeraVe is not cruelty-free, that alone would disqualify them from being vegan under strict definitions even if they happened to use all vegan ingredients.
If you are an ethical consumer, Cerave is the brand to avoid.
Cruelty-Free Alternatives to CeraVe
Thankfully, there are many excellent skincare brands that are 100% cruelty-free and vegan:
If you love CeraVe but want to switch to cruelty-free skincare, plenty of excellent options exist:
1. The Ordinary
For those seeking no-fuss basics at drugstore prices, The Ordinary delivers. This brand offers straight-to-the-point serums, oils, treatments and more focused on key ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. The minimalist packaging and $5-10 price tags appeal to beauty minimalists who want quality actives without the bells and whistles. On a side note, The Ordinary is PETA certified as a company that does not test on animals.
Acure is a leader in plant-based, wholesome skincare. They offer a wide range of products including cleansers, moisturizers, serums, mists, masks and more infused with botanical ingredients like rosehip, squalane, strawberry seed oil, and chlorella. Products nourish skin with vitamins and antioxidants. The earthy, botanical formulas work well for sensitive skin types. Bright, environmentally-friendly packaging tops off Acure’s natural appeal. You can find Acure’s PETA certification here.
3. Paula’s Choice
Paula’s Choice ships straightforward multi-step routines for every skin type and concern such as acne, wrinkles, dryness, and redness. Their pH-balanced cleansers, treatment serums with key actives, and rich moisturizers help users target their specific issues. For those overwhelmed by expansive skincare lines, Paula’s Choice breaks it down into simple regimens. Their Resist line has become especially popular for anti-aging. This company also has PETA certification.
DermaE goes the natural route with plant oils and extracts packed into their serums, scrubs, masks and more and is certified by PETA. Their formulas contain buzzy ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, retinol, green tea, charcoal, and moringa. DermaE feels especially suitable for those seeking clean, eco-friendly skincare that makes your skin glow. Affordable prices are another plus. For more infromation, here’s the company’s own stance.
5. Herbivore Botanicals
For luxury, organic self-care, Herbivore Botanicals delivers. Their oils, masks, balms, soaps and mists contain ingredients like jasmine, rose, turmeric, pink clay and adaptogens. The beautifully minimalist packaging adds to the sensorial appeal. While on the pricier side, Herbivore treatments offer an indulgent, almost spa-like experience focused on relaxing and nourishing skin and body.
Pacifica makes quality clean skincare accessible with their affordable collections of vegan beauty products. Their offerings include face and body washes, lotions, serums, sheet masks, lip balms, and mineral makeup. Most products cost under $20. Pacifica combines effectiveness with playful, youthful branding. The variety and low prices make this a solid line for college students or those on a budget.
Shopping Cruelty-Free on a Budget
You don’t have to spend a fortune to go cruelty-free. Great skincare exists at the drugstore level:
- The Ordinary for actives and treatments under $10
- Pacifica for cleansers and moisturizers around $12
- Elf Cosmetics for vegan makeup under $15
- Acure for facial serums and mists typically around $20
With so many choices, cruelty-free self-care is possible for every budget.
The Takeaway: CeraVe Is Not Cruelty-Free or Vegan
When we parse through the confusing messaging, it becomes clear that CeraVe is not cruelty-free or vegan due to animal testing policies and ingredients.
CeraVe continues to exploit legal loopholes and mislead consumers about its participation in animal testing required to sell products in China. For consumers against animal testing, CeraVe is best avoided.
Thankfully, there are plenty of skincare brands that are 100% cruelty-free and vegan to choose instead. Companies like Acure, Pacifica, Derma E, and Herbivore prove it’s possible to make ethical, sustainable skincare.
By purchasing only from cruelty-free brands, consumers can push the entire cosmetics industry to enact meaningful reform away from outdated animal testing.