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. However that is highly misread. 

A product can be vegan and still be tested on animals and it is the responsibility of the company to specify so. 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. 

Teen makeup artist, Varsha Selva, is 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 explain 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. Therefore sometimes, while the product is animal ingredient free, the testing is not. 

Popular vegan makeup brand, MILK Makeup, 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. 

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 though the products may not have any animal derived ingredients that does not mean it is not tested on animals. 

However there is still a way to check on Sephora’s website to see if the product is cruelty free or not, though it is more tedious. If a user uses the vegan filter and opens each product and then clicks in the “about the brand” tab, the brand will specify whether or not its line is cruelty free. 

Regardless, Sephora is at no fault according to ethical elephant, a website specifically for vegan beauty, explains the misconception of vegan and cruelty free. 

“Some (not all) vegan products may have been tested on animals, making them not cruelty-free.” ethical elephant stated. 

The vegan beauty blog used the popular brand, L’Oreal, as an example, which 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.

As long as a company legibly mentions whether the product is cruelty free, presents all the ingredients (vegan or not) and mentions if the product is vegan or not, there should be no issue. 

This is also not to say that Sephora is no longer trusted or reliable. If anything it is the user’s judgement that should not be trusted. Instead research and a keen eye should be used first. 

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.