Beauty Edit
Is TRESemmé Cruelty-Free? Finding High-Quality, Cruelty-Free Hair Care

Is TRESemmé Cruelty-Free? Finding High-Quality, Cruelty-Free Hair Care

TRESemmé is a famous American hair care brand and a drugstore staple. This brand’s products, like shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and hair creams are affordable but perform pretty well.

However, for shoppers who care about animal welfare, this brand is unfortunately off-limits. As we’ll explain in this article, TRESemmé is not a cruelty-free brand. Don’t worry, thought, because at the end, we suggest some excellent alternatives that offer the same wonderful results but without animal testing. 

TRESemmé’s Animal Testing Policy

TRESemmé claims to be at the “forefront of research into non-animal approaches to assess product safety” and states that they “advocate effective, science-based regulation on alternatives.” Furthermore, their policy states that they are “legally obliged to commission animal studies, [they] ensure minimal numbers of animals are used.”

Owned by the consumer goods conglomerate Unilever, TRESemmé is not considered a cruelty-free brand. While TRESemmé may claim to be at the forefront of finding alternatives to animal testing and they themselves don’t test their finished products on animals, they do allow third-party testing to occur where required by law. TRESemmé’s parent company, Unilever, allows many of their products to be tested on animals as well. TRESemmé products are also imported and sold in Mainland China, where animal testing on imported goods is a requirement by law.

To read more about TRESemmé’s policy on animal testing, check out their FAQ’s.

What You Should Look For When Shopping Cruelty-Free

There are certain questions we ask to assess if a product is truly cruelty-free. This is what we considered when making our determination about TRESemmé.

What Makes a Product Cruelty-Free?

A product can be considered cruelty-free if the ingredients and the finished product are not tested on animals in any capacity or at any stage of the product’s development.

In most cases, cruelty-free products are not tested on animals via third party animal testing. Many products may claim to be cruelty-free but continue to test their ingredients or products on animals ‘where required by law’. This means that the product will be tested on animals in countries where testing and studies using animals are compulsory in order for a product to be sold within that country’s consumer markets — one such country is Mainland China.

Certification and Labelling – Are All Certifications Created Equal?

There are a number of different organizations that can issue a cruelty-free certification to beauty brands, presuming that they meet the established criteria. However, there is no universal set of rules that these organizations can follow, so each organization is slightly different in what they consider to be cruelty-free.

For example, the two most common certifications you’re likely to come across are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) or Leaping Bunny. The Leaping Bunny is currently the only internationally recognized certification organization and requires each brand to submit to independent audits to ensure that cruelty-free standards are being met. Leaping Bunny is usually considered more reliable and has a significantly smaller list of approved brands for this reason.

PETA is an organization that claims to advocate for animal rights across the globe but has caused some controversy. Their certification is less reliable, as they only require companies to submit a written agreement to become certified cruelty-free by the organization.  

While PETA may not be as ethical as Leaping Bunny, you will likely prefer to opt for PETA-approved brands over non cruelty-free products or products that have dubious/unclear cruelty-free labelling.

Selling in Mainland China

Mainland China is one of the few countries in the world that still requires imported beauty products to be tested on animals before they can be sold to consumers. This means that even if a cruelty-free brand chooses to sell their products to the Chinese market, they cannot truly label themselves as cruelty-free or gain certification from most cruelty-free accreditors. For this reason, some ethically minded companies choose not to sell in Mainland China in order to maintain their cruelty-free status.

As of 2014, China introduced new legislation that meant non-special use beauty products, such as nail polish or lipsticks, would no longer need to undergo animal testing as long as they are manufactured within Mainland China. In May of 2021, it was amended to also cover imported non-special use cosmetics.

This law also doesn’t apply to products like hair dye or sunscreen — these products will still undergo animal testing, and there is still a risk of post-market animal testing.

An important note on the Chinese market is that Mainland China and Hong Kong don’t follow the same animal testing policies. Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, maintains a different regulatory body and doesn’t require animal testing on imported beauty products. If a brand you’re interested in mentions that they sell in China, but they only have stores or sell their products in Hong Kong, they may still be cruelty-free!

Are Vegan and Cruelty-Free the Same Thing?

While these two labels may go hand in hand, a vegan product is not necessarily cruelty-free and vice-versa. A vegan product simply refers to a product that uses no animal by-products or animal ingredients, such as lanolin or beeswax. While vegan products are great, if the product isn’t cruelty-free, then animal testing could still occur throughout the process of making this product.

A cruelty-free label means that the product, and its ingredient, haven’t been tested on animals at any stage of its development. A cruelty-free label doesn’t guarantee that a product is vegan, so be sure to check the ingredient list to see if it includes any animal products.

Ultimately, whether or not you consider non-vegan products as cruelty-free is entirely up to you. If the brand isn’t vegan but is still cruelty-free, be sure to think about where the brand is sourcing their animal products.

Best Cruelty-Free Alternatives to TRESemmé

There is a wide range of effective hair care brands out there that don’t test their products on animals. Listed below are some of the best hair care brands that create ethical hair care products that will give you luscious locks without impacting the lives of innocent animals.


Though it’s a little more expensive than TRESemmé, Aveda is a wonderful alternative. The brand is a professional favorite and even associated with some of the best hairstyling schools in the US. From their Color Conserve range for dyed hair to their Firm Hold hairspray, you can’t go wrong.


Hask is a more budget-friendly, cruelty-free alternative to TRESemmé. This brand has a massive range of shampoos and conditioners with different scents and effects, at affordable prices. All of their products are sulfate-free and gentle on the hair.

Gotta Care About Ethical Hair

What goes behind the “cruelty-free” classification is a little more complicated than one would initially think. A bit of research shows that TRESemmé doesn’t fit the bill, but thankfully, there are plenty of amazing alternatives.