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Is CeraVe Cruelty Free?

I have received quite a few emails and blog comments over the last few months asking if Cerave is a cruelty-free brand. Initially, I thought it would be easy to find out with a bit of Google research but I found lots of conflicting reports that took me down a rabbit hole to find the real answer. The short answer is that CeraVe is not cruelty-free or an animal welfare product. However, there are many shades of grey when determining if something is truly cruelty-free. Before you jump to any conclusions I ask that you read this entire post before making a purchasing decision. We’ll give you all the verified research you need to make a confident choice about any Cerave product. 

CeraVe is a skincare line created by dermatologists in 2005. As a brand Cerave is not known to promote that the brand as a whole is cruelty-free or vegan. However, Cerave is considered to be a trustworthy, reputable product that specializes in facial skin ailments including acne, itchiness, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions. In fact, Cerave’s rise in popularity over the last few years is due to its multiple sensitive skin formulas. I have used several Cerave products in the past and agree that many of Cerave’s products work great for sensitive, acne-prone skin.

CeraVe is Not Cruelty-Free

I found several conflicting opinions when researching Cerave, but after reading the FDA’s definition of “cruelty-free” it was very clear that CeraVe is not a cruelty-free brand. Cerave is required to test on animals in order to legally sell their products in China. Additionally, the Cerave brand is owned by L’Oréal which frequently tests animals. So even if Cerave stopped testing their products on animals it could be argued that they are benefitting from research done on animals with certain active ingredients or ingredients from suppliers. Additionally, Cerave uses dozens of international suppliers that are required to test various ingredients, formulas, and products to stay compliant with current Chinese regulations.

L’Oréal has worked with Chinese authorities and scientists for over 10 years to develop multiple testing approaches for cosmetic regulation. Currently, L’Oréal is working to develop testing approaches with the Chinese government that would allow them to sell all of their products without having to rely on animal testing. However, this has not yet happened so at the moment L’Oréal and its subsidiaries are not cruelty-free.

Why People Question if Cerave Product is a Cruelty-Free Product

The big confusion about Cerave is because most of their product line is vegan. Because of this many people online believe that the brand is “cruelty-free”. However, the FDA defines cruelty-free based on how the products are tested, and Cerave sells their product in countries that mandate animal testing. Some people do not want to use animal products while other people refuse to use products that test on animals. At the end of the day, the most “ethical” choice may not be the choice that works best for your skin.

Loreal’s Animal Testing Policy

Please read L’Oréal’s Animal Testing Policy copied directly from their website

“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.”

L’Oréal Group

Why Does This Matter to You as a Consumer

Animal testing has a significant impact on the cosmetics industry as a whole. The animal testing industry is estimated to be worth over $10 billion dollars a year. There are lots of incentives at play to make sure that many companies both in and out of the cosmetics industry continue testing their products on animals.

This could mean that other companies use these same practices for selling their products which can lead to serious consequences such as animal testing by out-of-control supply chains or consolidation of power among big players because smaller competitors cannot afford to do animal testing.

As a result, we must be conscious of what goes into our items. There are several cruelty-free brands that are giving up millions in sales in other countries in order to stay true to their mission of being “cruelty-free”. Bliss World is a company I have used over the past few months that makes great products, is 100% cruelty-free, and vegan.

Is CeraVe 100% Vegan?

CeraVe is NOT vegan, nor is Cerave organic friendly, but has several vegan product lines. The company currently utilizes lanolin honey and animal sources of proteins used in fishing and insects to process most of its products, making the statement cruelty-free and vegan untrue. 

You should check the ingredient description if you’re looking to find vegan CeraVEs. In addition, you could contact their customer service department to have specific information regarding specific products. 

Additionally, the company plans to change its vegan strategy to increase its eCO-friendly products to meet its vegan range. Although, there is no news on any alternative testing methods. They have developed a very rigorous safety evaluation procedure of its products, backed by research.

Is CeraVE Paraben Free?

In addition to the questions around Cerave’s cruelty-free status, I’ve had several questions come in about the chemicals Cerave uses in its products, primarily regarding the use of parabens.

The majority of Cerave Products contain parabens. Parabens are chemical compounds that increase the shelf life of many soaps and cosmetic products. Although parabens are completely legal and used by the vast majority of cosmetics companies there have been multiple reports that parabens disrupt normal hormone function in both men and women. Because of this many paraben-free products cost more and have a shorter shelf life.

Despite the fact that many skincare businesses have eliminated using parabens, CeraVe has not done so yet for the majority of their product line. This is due to the ability of parabens to extend product shelf life and hinder bacterial growth.

However, it is important to note that Cerave has created several paraben-free baby lotions. The company manufactures hundreds of products and is continuously creating new cosmetic products so you should always check the product’s label if paraben content is a dealbreaker for you.

Are CeraVe Products Toxic?

Parabens are a chemical preservative present in most beauty treatments and are harmful to a person’s health when exposed and could even lead to cancer. CeraVe products are unlikely to be the best for overactive face or skin users.

Is CeraVe Sold in China?

Yes, CeraVe is sold internationally, including in China. Because Cerave sells its products in China they are required by law to test their products on animals. However, this does not make Cerave unique. Skincare brands like Neutrogena, Olay, and Old Spice are all required to conduct animal testing in order to sell their products in other countries.

According to the Chinese regulator, most cosmetic products are still required to undergo animal testing and pay for the products’ certification to comply with the mandatory obligations.

How Can You Find out if a Company is Cruelty-Free

If I learned anything from writing this post it is that the term “cruelty-free” means different things to different people. For the purposes of this article, I used the FDA’s definition. If you are curious about a particular product’s cruelty-free status the first thing you should do is look at the ingredients used for their products. If an element does have animal derivatives, it will usually be listed on the product’s label. Additionally, products must comply with the FDA’s definition of “cruelty-free” in order to put the words on their products and packaging. Because “cruelty-free” has become such a hot topic lately most brands that are cruelty-free are letting you know on their packaging.

Another easy way to tell whether or not a brand tests on animals is to look up whether they sell in China or not. Most companies that test on animals also sell in China, making finding information much easier. A third way would be checking through lists online with reputable sources like Leaping Bunny and PETA, which list cruelty-free brands. 

Another helpful tip I figured out is that you can check through a company’s FAQ page and their website to find out if they are cruelty-free or not.  Most cruelty-free companies have this listed in their FAQs.

As a last resort, you can always contact the brand through email or phone. If you do contact them, make sure that any information you receive from them does come from an official representative of the company because there could be fake accounts online pretending to represent companies without actually having authority to speak for those brands.

What are The Benefits of Being Cruelty-Free

There are a ton of benefits to being cruelty-free! One of the most important is that you are not supporting animal testing companies. You can help make a difference by boycotting these brands and buying products from those who do not test on animals. 

Another benefit of choosing cruelty-free brands is that they tend to be much better for your skin and much more gentle, which means less irritation and breakouts! This happens so often because there won’t be any harsh chemicals in their products that will irritate your skin.

As a general rule, most cruelty-free brands are absent from harmful chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, and all kinds of other chemicals that are found in many non-cruelty-free products.

How Does This Affect Purchasing Decisions in the Future?

While it is unfortunate that Cerave could not remain cruelty-free, they do offer several great products for people with sensitive skin conditions like eczema and acne. Their products are also very affordable for people on a budget.

Additionally, if one were to look closely at their ingredient list, they would find that the majority of the products are vegan and comprised entirely of several plant oils and extracts. It will be interesting to see how this affects purchasing decisions as more companies choose profit over ethics. 

Is CeraVe PETA-Approved?

CeraVe (as a subsidiary of L’Oréal) tests animals and is therefore not approved as a cruelty-free brand by PETA. Since its inception in 2005, the product range has not been cruelty-free.

Many companies make their arguments that animal testing is unnecessary. Because a company doesn’t perform animal testing at their private laboratory, some brands hire third parties for these experiments. Sometimes brands use items from suppliers who conduct animal tests independently.


CeraVe tests its products on animals because they sell in mainland China where the law requires animal testing for specific products. Unfortunately, that means they aren’t cruelty-free. 

They’re working on removing any animal ingredients from their formulas to allow all their products to be vegan. 

We hope you learned something valuable this afternoon regarding this skincare line.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does the Term “Cruelty-Free” Mean?

A company’s cruelty-free status is defined by adherence to one or more of these three cruelty-free standards: FDA, Leaping Bunny certification, PETA accreditation, and Choose Cruelty-Free Certification.

How do I Know if a Product is Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

You can determine if a product is vegan and cruelty-free by looking at each product’s label. The “ingredients” section will include both animal-derived ingredients and plant-derived, though it’s essential to be aware that some plants may have been tested on animals or harvested in ways that can be seen as cruel.

Is CeraVe Cruelty-Free Alternative?

Cerave is not a cruelty-free brand. Cerave is owned by L’Oreal, which tests many of its skincare products on animals due to international requirements in other countries.

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook! I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health. I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on. This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it. As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”. After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts. In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy. Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself. After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅 While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently. To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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