Is Garnier Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

Garnier beauty products

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Garnier is a multinational beauty brand known for harnessing fruits and florals in its hair, skin, and body care. Remember Fructis, the shampoo and conditioner that spawned a range of unforgettable commercials during the early aughts? Well, the company has grown immensely since then—and in more than just its beauty offerings.

In 2021, Garnier received cruelty free certification from the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny Program. It has launched numerous vegan-friendly products, even packaged in recycled plastic bottles or recyclable cardboard. It makes shopping sustainably relatively easy with its product impact labeling system.

So, here's Treehugger's assessment of Garnier and whether the brand can rightfully be deemed cruelty free, vegan, ethical, and sustainable.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: Garnier

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny Program.
  • Vegan: Not fully vegan but vegan-friendly.
  • Ethical: L'Oréal continues to source mica from India but is a founding member of the Responsible Mica Initiative.
  • Sustainable: Garnier gives each product a score, from A to E, for sustainability.

Garnier Is Cruelty Free International-Certified

Garnier announced in 2021 that it had been certified cruelty free by the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny Program after having publicly opposed animal testing since 1989. The official accreditation means that the brand's 500-some suppliers must meet the program's lofty standards, too.

Garnier is not, however, certified cruelty free by the U.S.'s Leaping Bunny Program and has not been assessed by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies. It is owned by the cosmetics giant L'Oréal, which is on PETA's "do test" list. Although L'Oréal claims to not test products or ingredients on animals, L'Oréal products are widely sold in China, where cosmetics and personal care products were required to be animal-tested up until 2021.

L'Oréal calls itself "the most active company working alongside the Chinese authorities and scientists for over 10 years to have alternative testing methods recognized, and permit the cosmetic regulation to evolve towards a total and definite elimination of animal testing."

Garnier Is Vegan-Friendly

Garnier eco pads

Courtesy of Garnier

Though not fully vegan, Garnier does offer a range of vegan products. So far, the entire Whole Blends, Fructis, and Green Labs hair and skin care lines are free from animal products and byproducts. Vegan items are clearly marked on the website and by a "Vegan Formula" logo on the packaging.

Animal products that could be present in Garnier items not listed as vegan include beeswax, honey, and glycerin.

The L'Oréal Group Uses 'Responsible' Indian Mica

The controversial ingredient mica, long associated with child labor and unsafe working conditions in India, is present in several Garnier products including hair color and SkinActive skin care. The brand itself has not addressed its use of mica publicly, but its parent company has said that it still sources the ingredient from India.

The L'Oréal Group says it believes that "discontinuing the use of Indian mica would further weaken the situation in the region." So, instead of moving its operations outside of India, it has become a founding member of the Responsible Mica Initiative, a coalition committed to making mica a responsible, sustainable, and child labor-free industry in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Mica is one ingredient L'Oréal addresses in its Solidarity Sourcing program aimed at supporting vulnerable communities with "social and inclusive purchasing." Founded in 2010, the program has so far led almost 400 inclusive projects that helped employ more than 81,000 people.

Besides sustainable ingredients sourcing, the topics of human rights, diversity, and fair treatment of suppliers are included in the L'Oréal Group's 40-page Code of Ethics document. The group has been a signee of the United Nations Global Compact since 2003. It must comply with and report its progress on the pact's 10 principles—covering human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption—regularly.

Garnier Scores Products on Their Sustainability

Garnier has individually addressed its sustainability efforts more extensively than it has its ethics. It has implemented an Overall Environmental Impact scoring system that grades each product from A to E based on how many L'Oréal sustainability standards it meets. Factors that go into the grading system include emissions, water use, ocean acidification, packaging recyclability, and general impact on biodiversity.

Many of Garnier's Whole Blends and Organic offerings score an A or B, but one of its popular Micellar Cleansing Waters—the one for delicate skin and eyes—and the Pure Active Intensive Charcoal Scrub both score an E.

Goals to Phase Out Virgin Plastic

Garnier has laid out ambitious goals to reduce its global impact by 2025 in its Green Beauty Initiative. The initiative includes targets to completely phase out virgin plastic packaging—replacing it with recycled, recyclable, degradable, or reusable packaging—and go carbon-neutral in its factories.

Whole Blends products are already packaged in 100% recycled plastic. Others, like the shampoo bars, do not use plastic at all. Still, in its Green Beauty Initiative announcement, Garnier revealed that it produces 37 thousand tons of plastic per year.

Vegan and Sustainable Garnier Products to Try

Garnier might not be fully vegan or plastic-free just yet, but it's on its way to becoming a well-rounded ethical brand.

The company scores points for its thoughtful sustainability scoring system, which can help you select budget-friendly drugstore products that meet your environmental standards.

Here are some Treehugger-approved options.

Oat Delicacy Softening Shampoo Bar

Garnier shampoo bar

Courtesy of Garnier

Considering how much plastic waste is created by shampoo bottles, many have switched to plastic-free shampoo bars. Garnier's Oat Delicacy Softening Shampoo Bar is vegan, 97% biodegradable, packaged in Forest Stewardship Council-certified cardboard, and gets an A score for its environmental impact.

Olive Oil Shampoo for Brittle Hair

Garnier olive oil shampoo

Courtesy of Garnier

The vegan Whole Blends Olive Oil Shampoo scores a B because of the water footprint of olives. To make up for it, Garnier has packaged it in 100% recycled material.

Honey Treasures Repairing Shampoo

Garnier honey treasures shampoo

Courtesy of Garnier

Although not suitable for vegans, Garnier's Honey Treasures Repairing Shampoo uses honey it claims is sustainably sourced and obtained using traditional beekeeping methods.

Garnier supports The Bee Conservancy and participates in the Sponsor-a-Hive program, which builds wooden "hotels" (out of sustainably sourced, FSC-certified pine) to protect native bees. This shampoo also scores an A for sustainability.