Is Urban Decay Vegan or Cruelty Free?

With the colors of cosmetics in the first half of the 1990s being primarily hues of red, pink, and beige, two women were inspired to change the makeup scene.

Adding black to raspberry was the start of what has become a cosmetics company that has made an impact in the world of beauty. 

Urban Decay was launched in January 1996 and is cruelty-free

However, let’s look closer at this company and its position on animal welfare. 

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Inspired by their surroundings

The name of the company was influenced by the urban environment that Sandy Lerner and Patricia Holmes, Urban Decay’s founders, were encompassed by. 

The colors of the company’s cosmetics reflect the cityscape through names such as Smog, Rust, and Oil Slick. 

With that kind of in-your-face thinking, Urban Decay certainly looked to make a mark in the industry and…it worked.

The ownership has changed 

Since 2000, Urban Decay has been bought and sold several times. The first company to buy out Urban Decay was Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Then the Falic Group bought the brand in 2002.

It was then Castanea Partners turn to be owners of Urban Decay in 2009. Again, the company would change hands in 2012 when L’Oreal paid $350 million for Urban Decay. 

Through all the changes of ownership, one may wonder what Urban Decay’s animal testing policy was. Did it stay consistent all the way through or did change as often as the owners did?

Urban Decay’s view of animal testing

When you go over to Urban Decay’s “Commitments” page, the company has this to say regarding it being cruelty-free:


Urban Decay is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to ending animal testing. We do not test our products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf.

Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals. Our Brand is certified by PETA as cruelty-free.”

That’s a pretty clear statement. Urban Decay is a cruelty-free company.

They don’t test on animals and have their suppliers certify that they are also not using animals for testing. 

However, more astute people would pass the above statement off as a blanket PR claim to make Urban Decay seem like it acts ethically towards animals.

Nikki, from “” is one such individual. She contacted Urban Decay to get a clearer insight into their cruelty-free stance and she received this response:

“Dear Nikki,

Thank you so much for responding back!

Urban Decay is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to ending animal testing. We do not test our products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf.

Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals. Our Brand is certified by both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program (CCIC) as cruelty-free.”

That should settle the matter. In fact, it does for just all cruelty-free advocates.

Nikki was satisfied with the reply she got back from Urban Decay. 

But then, there’s always China. A country that still requires animal testing on cosmetics that are either imported into the country or sold in retail stores in China.

Does Urban Decay fall under either category?

Is Urban Decay available in China?

Urban Decay doesn’t sell in China. Back in 2012, the company contemplated going into China, but then pulled out of the idea. 

An article on cosmetics discusses Urban Decay in Hong Kong and states that the company won’t sell in China until alternatives to animal testing within the country are found. 

In saying that, Urban Decay was all for going into China. It was heavily criticized over its conflicting animal testing policies. 

Leaping Bunny claims that the reversal from Urban Decay was due to pressure from animal rights advocates. Urban Decay says that it was a decision based on the fact that selling in China goes against the company’s cruelty-free principles. 

Here is the statement from Urban Decay regarding not going ahead with its China plan: 

“After careful consideration of many issues, we have decided not to start selling Urban Decay products in China. While several factors were important in reaching this decision, ultimately we did not feel we could comply with current regulations in China and remain true to our core principles.

We know there are many progressive consumers in China who would embrace an opportunity to purchase non-animal tested products – our hope remains that we have the chance to offer Urban Decay products to these consumers someday in the future.

Following our initial announcement, we realized that we needed to step back, carefully review our original plan, and talk to a number of individuals and organizations that were interested in our decision.

We regret that we were unable to respond immediately to many of the questions we received, and appreciate the patience our customers have shown as we worked through this difficult issue.

Since our founding in 1996, we have been committed to ending animal testing in the cosmetics industry. As demonstrated by the renewed support we have received from organizations like PETA and the CCIC, this principle remains at our core.

Urban Decay does not test its finished products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf, and we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals. Urban Decay is proud to be100% cruelty-free.”

Even with this China debacle, there is no reason to doubt that Urban Decay is cruelty-free.

Urban Decay says that it is certified by PETA. Having a look at PETA’s website the company is listed as cruelty-free. 

PETA’s opinion

On top of that, Urban Decay is a PETA Business Friend. What does that mean? According to PETA, it’s a partnership:

“PETA Business Friends is an innovative partnership for compassionate companies willing to assist in PETA’s groundbreaking work to stop animal abuse and suffering.”

The only issue with the above is that to become recognized as a Business Friend requires merely a one-time donation. We don’t have any idea how recently Urban Decay donated to PETA. 

Also, Urban Decay is absent from PETA’s list of recognized Business Friends. However, the company is part of the Beauty Without Bunnies certification. 

Additionally, the company says that it is associated with Leaping Bunny. Yet, Urban Decay doesn’t appear on Leaping Bunny’s site.

That still doesn’t mean that the company isn’t cruelty-free, but a couple of claims that it makes about its official recognition needs to be updated. 

Going beyond not testing on animals

When it comes to deciding to buy from a company that is seen as cruelty-free, there is another consideration some people make. Are any of the products made using animal derivatives or byproducts? 

This pushes the envelope out further for some companies. That is, do they have purely vegan cosmetics?

Vegans love animals so much that they don’t want an ounce of anything that comes from animals within the products they consume or use. 

So our furry friends are given double protection: 

  • they aren’t exploited for ingredients that humans can use 
  • they aren’t used to test products on

A company can be cruelty-free but not vegan and vice versa. We know that Urban Decay doesn’t test on animals, nor does it allow its suppliers to do so.

Yet, is the company vegan? 

Urban Decay does have a vegan range

Looking again at what Urban Decay has to say about its commitments, we see that vegans are catered for:

“Urban Decay certifies that our products marked vegan do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Please note that within a product category, such as Eyeshadows, some shades will be marked as vegan, and others will not.

We have an ongoing initiative with our laboratories to not only create shades (and entire product lines) that are vegan from the start, but also to identify which of our non-vegan products can be converted.

In many situations, plant-derived or synthetic alternatives to animal-derived ingredients become available. As long as we can deliver the same high-quality products with rich color and texture, we will convert that product to 100% vegan ingredients, so be on the lookout for new offerings.”

As you can see, not all of Urban Decay’s products are vegan, but they are trying their best to increase the range to cater for this market. 

Here is a list of Urban Decay‘s vegan-friendly cosmetics:

As always, check the ingredients on the product to ensure that they meet your vegan standard.

Summing up Urban Decay

Since 1996 Urban Decay has made an impact on the cosmetics scene. People were provided with bold new colors in contrast to the pinks and beiges that were traditionally offered by makeup brands.

The company made several commitments when it was established. One of those was to never test on animals.

Something that Urban Decay has stringently adhered to. 

Even the company’s suppliers have to sign an agreement that forbids animal testing. 

Some concern was raised when Urban Decay contemplated selling in China. Would the company comprise its ethical standards and make its products available in a country that still allows animal testing? 

Urban Decay decided against the idea and released a statement that said that China violated the company’s cruelty-free standard. 

PETA does recognize Urban Decay as a cruelty-free company. Despite the claim that it is also Leaping Bunny approved, Urban Decay isn’t officially listed on Leaping Bunny’s website.

However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Urban Decay is cruelty-free.

The company also has a range of vegan products available.

That lets you know Urban Decay is all for animal welfare. Pop over to their site and buy yourself something amazing.

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