As a vegan, I’m as careful when choosing beauty products as I am when buying food. The question “is it vegan?” has two components. First of all, you need to be sure that the products in question don’t contain any animal ingredients. These are more common in beauty products than many people realise, with everything from wool fat to fish scales being mixed into your cosmetics and skincare products. Then there’s the cruelty-free aspect. A product can be entirely free of animal ingredients — yet still not be truly vegan because it is tested on animals. Depending on your motivation for becoming a vegan, you may also be concerned about the environmental impact of the products you buy.
Is Neutrogena vegan? No, Neutrogena products are not vegan. While they do try to use vegetable-based ingredients, some product lines may contain animal ingredients. Neutrogena also sells to China, which insists on animal testing on cosmetics and toiletries. Neutrogena’s parent company is not vegan approved.
If you’ve landed on this page, you probably have a lot of questions about vegan beauty products in general and Neutrogena in particular. Maybe you’re a recent vegan or are looking for a new product for your beauty regimen, and you want to make sure your choices are in line with your ethics.
- Are Neutrogena products vegan?
- What should a vegan look for in cosmetics, toiletries and beauty products?
- What makes a product vegan or non-vegan?
- How can you avoid non-vegan products?
- Where can you find alternatives to Neutrogena products?
Read on to find out the answers to these and other questions.
Is Neutrogena vegan?
I know some vegans who use Neutrogena. For me, though, these products are just not acceptable. Many people point to the lack of animal ingredients as making Neutrogena vegan; I beg to differ, however. For one thing, not all their product lines are entirely free of animal ingredients in all countries. Some may contain ingredients that are derived from dairy products. The Neutrogena line has been cleaned up a lot in recent years but as of 2018, the company was not guaranteeing their products as completely free from animal ingredients.
To be strictly fair, Neutrogena is one of the better product lines out there in terms of being free from animal ingredients. Other brands are far less careful and include all sorts of animal by-products, often without any proper warning on the label. Lanolin (fat derived from sheep’s wool) is used for its emollient and moisturising properties. Beeswax is used as a stabiliser and thickener, as well as for its supposed virtues as a treatment for dry skin. Fish scales provide the glitter in pearly lipsticks and eye-shadows, while shellac resin is used in everything from lipsticks to nail varnish. Many toiletries and cosmetics also contain ingredients such as stearic acid, which is often derived from pork or beef tallow. These are just some of the most common ingredients — a full list of animal by-products used by the beauty industry would fill several books.
One of the biggest considerations for any vegan is usually animal welfare. Although many of us first became vegan due to the health benefits of a vegan diet, we generally end up embracing the ethical aspects of the lifestyle too. That means avoiding any product that may have been tested on animals. This is an issue with Neutrogena products.
Nowadays it’s typical for cosmetics companies to tout themselves as cruelty-free. In some cases this is fairly accurate: recent years have brought a lot of push-back against animal testing and it has mercifully been outlawed in many countries. Unfortunately, animal testing continues in certain parts of the world. Some countries even have legislation in place that actively requires animal testing for any beauty products that are sold within their borders. This means that any company doing business in these nations must necessarily allow animal testing on its products.
One such country is China. In order to sell beauty products, cosmetics and toiletries in mainland China, companies have to acquiesce to animal testing. Many brands have responded to this requirement by withdrawing their products from sale there until the Chinese government sees fit to change its laws. Neutrogena is not one of these brands. Their products are available for sale in China and other countries that require animal testing. Neutrogena does make efforts to ensure that its products are not tested on animals when this is not legally required. Unfortunately, the decision to continue supplying Neutrogena products to countries that require animal testing means that anyone purchasing their products elsewhere in the world is somewhat complicit in this practice.
One further issue that may be of concern to vegans is the health impact of Neutrogena’s products. Some ingredients have a very dubious reputation, including parabens, mineral oils, sulphates and other constituents that have acquired an unsavoury reputation. Whether or not these ingredients have been solidly proven to cause health issues, you may want to avoid using them just to be on the safe side.
Who owns Neutrogena?
Even if Neutrogena products were not offered for sale in countries that mandate animal testing, there’s still the issue of the brand’s parent company. A product line can be dutifully scoured of all animal ingredients, subjected only to cruelty-free testing and offered for sale only in locations where animal testing is not required; yet it may not be completely acceptable from an ethical perspective if the company that owns the brand isn’t fully committed to a vegan ethos. In the case of Neutrogena, the brand is owned by Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson is a very large company. They are a multinational organisation doing business in many countries across the globe. While many of the brands under the Johnson & Johnson umbrella attempt to maintain a veneer of cruelty-free operation, the company as a whole is definitely not cruelty-free.
First of all, Johnson & Johnson conducts a great deal of animal testing. This is clearly not compatible with a vegan lifestyle. If you prefer to avoid buying products that have anything to do with animal cruelty, it’s reasonable to avoid Johnson & Johnson.
As well as being tested on animals, many Johnson & Johnson products are made using animal products. Materials used include stearic acid from beef or pork tallow, dairy products, beeswax and other animal derivatives. It’s also worth considering the environmental impact of the product that you buy as a vegan; Johnson & Johnson use ingredients such as palm oil from unsustainable sources and constituents that produce pollution.
If you’re a committed vegan, you may be okay with simply buying product lines that are cruelty-free without worrying too much who owns them. After all, it’s tough these days to find brands that aren’t owned by Johnson & Johnson or some similarly large and questionable companies. Compromise is pretty much inevitable and much comes down to what your resources are and what is available to you. It’s up to all of us to decide where we draw the line.
What can you buy instead of Neutrogena?
Initially, it could be difficult to get rid of all the Neutrogena products from your regular shop — especially if you have sensitive skin and need to be especially careful about what you buy. Luckily, there are plenty of really good vegan alternatives to Neutrogena. You can ask at your local wholefoods stores or shop online from companies focused on providing quality vegan beauty products.
Some brands recommended as vegan by various major organisations include the well/established Beauty Without Cruelty. Founded in 1963, this company was one of the earliest to embrace a cruelty-free ethos. Their range of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics is one of the most extensive out there, taking in not just skincare but hair products, cosmetics and nail varnish.
A big name in vegan skincare is Arbonne, a green-oriented brand whose products have never been tested on animals at any time in its 35-year history. Arbonne has an online store that makes it much easier to access their products.
Another brand that’s popular with vegans is Nature’s Gate. Not only are their cleansers, moisturisers, eye creams and other quality skincare products cruelty-free and vegan, the Nature’s Gate line is free from unsavoury ingredients like parabens and sulphates.
Pacifica is also a familiar name in the vegan community, with many swearing by their Kale Detox face wash. This makes a good replacement for the Neutrogena deep cleansing face washes that many vegans miss.
For mother and baby products, there’s Earth Mama Angel Baby. As well as gentle moisturisers and other goodies for your new arrival, you’ll find natural lotions and relaxing bath products. Earth Mama Angel Baby also offers teas to help you recover from your hectic life as a new mother. All their products are cruelty-free and vegan.
Men and boys needn’t feel left out either. Check out The Fanciful Fox, a New York company focusing on soaps and cleansers. Their range of products is cruelty-free and vegan and includes several formulated specifically to take care of male skin. These small-batch products might be a little more pricey than your run-of-the-mill Neutrogena products, but the quality is significantly better.
No beauty regimen is complete without a range of makeup tools. Some people overlook these when they’re ditching animal products but many beauty tool lines are not vegan or cruelty-free. Two quality makeup tool brands are Nanshy, with their cruelty-free sponges, brushes, applicators and accessories; and EcoTools, which offer a full range of makeup equipment plus hair-care tools, spa products and even false eyelashes.