Is Vanicream Cruelty-free?

A couple of pharmacists created Vanicream in 1974. Working with dermatologists they wanted to create a skincare solution for their pharmaceutical customers. 

The company offers a range of FDA-approved products that take care of your face, hair, body as well as protect you from the sun when you’re outside.

Vanicream can be found in most shops within the US as well as internationally. Demand has increased so much for the products that the company has had to expand its warehouse by 9,250 square feet.

Also, it is making its way up Amazon’s bestseller list. Yep, it’s amazing stuff and has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance for several of its products.

But the main question animal lovers are wondering is…

Is Vanicream cruelty-free? No since the company states that it will test on animals if required to do so by either US or International regulations.

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What Vanicream says

On their website, Vanicream makes this statement about the testing of its products on animals:

“Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc. does not test our products on animals.”

However,  Leaping Bunny makes this comment about companies who claim to be cruelty-free:

“By 1996, ‘cruelty-free’ shopping had become popular, but it was also confusing, sometimes misleading, and ultimately frustrating. Companies had begun designing their own bunny logos, abiding by their own definition of ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘animal friendly’ without the participation of animal protection groups.”

On Reddit (under the subreddit “crueltyfree”), someone wanted to know if Vanicream was truly cruelty-free, so they contacted the company. The reply back that person received was this:

“Our products are not “certified” to be cruelty-free by any organization.  Here is our statement that our company has on animal testing:

Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc. does not test our products on animals nor do any of our products contain any animal ingredients.  The ingredients used in our products are either produced synthetically or derived from vegetable sources.

That’s not to say some manufacturers won’t use an animal source in times of shortage, although most of these ingredients can’t be extracted from animal sources.

It is our policy to avoid animal testing of our products unless there is no satisfactory alternative method to assure product safety, or if it is required by a government agency such as the Food and Drug Administration or Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When such tests are required, they are conducted by an outside laboratory that has appropriate credentials and is licensed and regulated by governmental agencies.”

So here we have a contradiction to Vanicream’s blanket statement that they don’t test in animals. 

The ingredients are either synthetically produced or sourced from plants, yet there are times when animals may have to be harmed or used for testing. These times are:

  • When there is a shortage in obtaining or creating the ingredients. Then it’s all animals to the rescue. 
  • Though animal testing is to be avoided, it is necessary to do so when required by government agencies such as the FDA or if international legislation requires it. 

Vanicream’s statement about third parties

Suzana Rose, who runs the website Cruelty-Free Kitty, also contacted Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc. regarding its policy in animal testing and she received this reply:

“Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us with your questions. We have not, nor will we ever, test on animals or use animal-derived ingredients.

All our products go through extensive testing as well as we collect all documentation to ensure this to be true. The founders of this company have felt very strongly about this since day one, and that will never change—we take great pride in being cruelty-free.

All of our sourced ingredients are selected based upon the ingredient manufacturers answering questions for us in regards to whether or not that specific ingredient has been tested on animals or is sourced from animals.

We do not sell in China, and any countries outside the U.S that want to sell our products do sign a contract from us in which we state that we strongly discourage any 3rd party animal testing on our finished products.”

So, Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc. may screen suppliers regarding animal testing, yet when it comes to the final product they merely “strongly discourage” importing countries from doing so.

Hardly a confidence booster for animal welfare advocates. 

Banning third parties from animal testing would be a game-changer.

Vanicream doesn’t sell to China, or does it?

We have just seen that Vanicream claims they don’t sell to China. You may be thinking so what?

The issue is that China still requires animal testing on specialist products such as skincare. 

However, on Vanicream’s website regarding shipping, they make this statement:

“At this time, we cannot process orders through our website that are shipping to Military addresses (APO/FPO/DPO), Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S.

Territories, or International destinations. Order through the online retail stores (.coms), or contact our customer service center for order and shipping information to these destinations.”

Now we have a loophole that allows for its products to be sold not only in China but other countries that legislate for animal testing (Hello, Brazil!). 

Though the company doesn’t do international shipping from its site, it is possible to do so using online retailers it lists such as Amazon. You can easily change the destination to China or any other country that requires animal testing.

Thinking about being certified as being cruelty-free

The best way to be known as a cruelty-free company is to be certified as such. The two most respected organizations that offer certification are PETA and Leaping Bunny.

Leaping Bunny Certification requirements

There is nothing too difficult to get the Leaping Bunny stamp of approval. The requirements taken from Leaping Bunny’s site is that a company be:

  • based in the US or Canada selling its own line of personal care or household products?
  • ready to ban animal testing on ingredients, formulations, and finished products?
  • using suppliers and manufacturers that do not conduct animal testing for the ingredients and formulations supplied to your company?
  • prepared to make a commitment against any new animal testing from this day forward?
  • excited to join the only program with an internationally recognized logo that is recognized as the gold standard of cruelty-free certification? 

PETA Certification

PETA offers its alternative cruelty-free certification program, Beauty without Bunnies. To be certified with PETA here are the guidelines:

“The cruelty-free certification is designated for companies that have signed our statement of assurance verifying that they and their suppliers do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for their ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and that they pledge not do so in the future”

You may be wondering what that all got to do with Vanicream? First, the company isn’t cruelty-free certified.

Second, they are simply considering the  idea according to a response the website Cruelty Free Only received from Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc.:

“We have had some other customers bring up the idea of getting certified with Leaping Bunny as well as of recent, and this is a request we have passed along to management.” 

So, maybe Vanicream could become certified or it might not. 

Vanicream skincare competitors that are truly cruelty-free

Vanicream may garner rave reviews from consumers who are amazed at the product’s efficacy as well as the extremely affordable price. However, the skincare products it offers aren’t winning over animal lovers who want to end animal testing.

For those of you seeking cruelty-free products that protect both your skin and animals, consider trying these brands.

The Honest Company

The Honest Company was founded by Jessica Alba who had a vision of creating a beauty company that was diverse, inclusive, and socially responsible.  

Its products range from baby care to skincare. They even have a clothing line so you can look beautiful and fashionable.

When it comes to the ingredients used, there are rigorous standards the company adheres to and they have a “No List” of components it won’t use in its products. 

Regarding testing, The Honest Company uses humans rather than animals. When it can’t test on humans, the company uses in-vitro solutions. It has been certified as cruelty-free by PETA.

Pacifica Beauty

Pacifica offers a vast range of beauty products, fragrances, nail care, skincare, and more.

Since its inception it has been both vegan and cruelty-free. It doesn’t use any animal derivatives in any of its product lines or market to countries that support animal testing. 

To prove the point, they are PETA certified

Youth To The People

Started in 2015 by a couple of guys, simply known as Greg and Joe, it was inspired by the pioneering women in their family.  The company is dedicated to offering 100% vegan products while also keeping the sustainability of the planet at the forefront of what they do. 

That social responsibility extends to animal welfare, too. Youth To The People are cruelty-free because, as they so eloquently state:

“We love our animal friends and will never test products on them.”

It is both Leaping Bunny and PETA certified, so you can shop with confidence knowing animals are being kept safe.


If you want a touch of Japanese in your daily skincare and beauty regime, then Tatcha could be the answer. 

It all began when Vicky Tsai, Tatcha’s founder, was looking for a way to deal with her acute dermatitis. The solution was found when she spent time in Kyoto, Japan where she could study natural Japanese remedies to help her with her skin condition. 

The formulas used in Tatcha’s products are skillfully crafted by a team of scientists in Tokyo, using only natural ingredients.

Along with being completely natural, Tatcha is also cruelty-free. All product testing is done using humans who volunteer and they do not allow third-parties to test on their behalf (just in case a third party sneakily uses animals). 

The company is part of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program. 

The Ordinary

The Ordinary is part of the DECIEM group. It strives to offer products that are made from a mixture of plant-sourced ingredients (though not all products are completely vegan), chemically and biochemically synthesized items. 

Its range of products covers skincare, haircare, and makeup. 

Regarding the company being cruelty-free, it states:

“DECIEM does not test on animals and does not ask others to do so”

Yeah, you might be thinking a lot of companies claim to be cruelty-free when they aren’t.

However, The Ordinary/DECEIM is PETA certified. They also claim to have certification from Leaping Bunny, but a look at Leaping Bunny’s database failed to display the company.

A Wrap on Vanicream

Vanicream is becoming more popular for skin care thanks to its support from dermatologists, its nearly ubiquitous presence throughout US stores, and its price that makes it an affordable option for people wanting to alleviate a range of skin conditions.

The question is whether Vanicream is cruelty-free. The company claims that it is, yet Leaping Bunny states that the term “cruelty-free” has become a marketing buzzword for companies that want to come across as ethically conscious. 

Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc., Vanicream’s parent company, says that it doesn’t use animal products in its ingredients, yet admits that it will do so if no other source is available. Additionally, the company states that it will test on animals if required to do so by either US or International regulations. 

Vanicream does say that it is pushing towards having 90% of its products completely vegan, which is a step in the right direction, yet there is no deadline set regarding when this goal is met. That also leaves a small portion of its products that are non-vegan (which animal welfare advocates may find abhorrent).

The company acknowledged the suggestion to become cruelty-free certified, yet there is no indication that it will do so. Until Vanicream becomes 100% committed to being cruelty-free (and certified as so), there are plenty of other companies that consumers can switch over to. 

More and more companies are taking up the gauntlet of not testing on animals or using animal derivatives in their products. The question is merely one of which of these cruelty-free companies you decide is the best substitute for Vanicream.

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