Sephora’s vegan version is not furry friendly

Sephora’s display for makeup brand Urban Decay at the Irvine Spectrum. Sangeetha Koomar/Lariat

Sephora has finally opened its arms and embraced the addition of a vegan filter for its products. There is a filter for vegan haircare, skin care, fragrance and bath and body care. But is it really cruelty free? 

The common understanding is that if a product is labeled vegan— which means no animal derived product is put in the product, users can safely assume that no animals would be used for testing. Boy were we wrong. 

Apparently a product can be vegan and still be tested on animals and it is the responsibility of the company to specify so. Shockingly enough, a product that is labeled vegan does not necessarily mean that it is cruelty free. 

In fact Sarah Villafranco, M.D., doctor and founder of Osmia Organics, helps influence this misconception and defines vegan as, “a product does not use animal-derived ingredients, and it should mean that the product has not been tested on animals.”

While the definition of vegan is correct the statement is still incorrect. Yes, if a product is vegan it means that no animal derived ingredients are present, but in no way does that mean the product has to or should be cruelty-free. 

Basically the animals aren’t in the bottle but are still tested to make sure it is safe to use the bottle. Of course no harm is done either way to anyone or anything and everyone’s happy. Unless, everyone includes the animal or teen makeup artist, Varsha Selva, a devout vegan— both beauty and lifestyle wise.

All her videos, tutorials and posts showcase her using products that Sephora would label vegan.

“I feel so dumb,” Selva said. “I was under the impression that vegan would mean no animal testing, I mean if the product is made with animal-free products, why would they test on animals?”

As a makeup artist for over seven years Selva continues to express her guilt over the products she used that she thought to be cruelty free. However though vegan they were tested on animals. 

“For seven years I would tell my following that by using vegan products we would be saving animals’ lives,” Selva said. “I just found out that I made such a little difference. This goes to show that we need to really read more closely and pay attention to every detail, otherwise we could do more harm than help to a population.”

Many brands that claim to be vegan are actually manufactured in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law. Which of course, would be marked in the teeny tiny print of the bottle, that the very few percent of people actually take time to read.

Therefore, while the product is animal ingredient free, the testing is not and therefore, really brings up the question of what does anything even mean anymore?

Thankfully, popular vegan makeup brand, MILK Makeup, saw the Bat Signal and gave a definition on what it means if a product is vegan. 

“A product that is vegan does not contain any animal ingredients, nor animal-derived ingredients,” MILK Makeup stated on their website page. “This includes honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin and many others.”

MILK is a vegan beauty brand, on top of that the brand is also cruelty free and is also not owned by any company that tests on animals— all of which is presented on its website. 

Sephora does just that but also doesn’t do just that. 

Sephora’s vegan statement for their filter on the website. Sephora/Screenshot

“Vegan Beauty to Love,” The company’s line for their vegan category said. “High-performance formulas with no animal products or by-products.” 

The main difference between Sephora and a brand like MILK is that on Sephora’s end there is no mention that the products are tested on animals. In other words it’s time to stop trusting and start pulling out the trusted phone to confirm each and every ingredient is not animal derived. 

If only hiding wasn’t a thing, then consumers would really know what they’re buying.

Turns out Sephora isn’t the only one either, L’Oreal has done the same. According to ethical elephant, L’Oreal has a line of “100% Vegan” shampoo. L’Oreal is also a brand that pays and allows their products to be tested on animals. So although L’Oreal’s shampoo may not contain animal-based ingredients and is theoretically “100% Vegan” the company allows their products to be tested on animals and isn’t cruelty-free.

It’s at this point that the realization is the only person you can trust is a Google search, your thumbs, your electronics and yourself. 

Typically, a website as popular as Sephora would have its users complete and utter trust. Yet, just like a significant other, trust can sometimes last for so long. In Sephora’s case, they decided to make it even harder to discover the truth rather than be upfront and legible about it.

After going through each brand’s cruelty-free policy the following is a list of some products that are vegan but not cruelty-free from Sephora: Origins, Clinique, Klorane, Laneige, Algenist, Bobbi Brown, Caudalie, Eve Lom, GLAMGLOW and Sephora’s private collection.

Moral of the story is, read the whole website, the brand’s statement and the fine print or just give up and use the product, $70 was lost anyways.