French cosmetics with a conscience – how to buy with peace of mind

MyFrenchLife™ - French cosmetics - makeupWorld renowned for its cosmetic industry and a low maintenance beauty regime, French beauty products are even viable for those of us who prefer to buy cosmetics with a conscience.   

Bien sûr, travelling to France is a great time to stock up on some luscious cosmetic products. However, when confronted by indecipherable logos and French words, it’s understandably difficult to discern what exactly is cruelty-free. So here we have MyFrenchLife™’s take on the best way to approach beauty buys in la belle France.

Made in France

Many French cosmetics companies manufacture their products on home soil. Since 2013 in the European Union, there has been a total ban in place on using animals to test cosmetics, toiletry products and ingredients. So in theory, buying French-made products should keep your conscience clear. 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. 

The problem is that many of these large companies also export their products to nations outside the EU that allow animal testing. En fait, some countries such as China require companies to submit their products for testing by a Chinese body before they can be sold there. Sadly, these tests normally encompass a variety of tests performed on animals. 

Because of this, there is still much ambiguity MyFrenchLife™ - French cosmetics - lipsticksurrounding whether or not certain companies are cruelty free. French companies L’Occitane, L’Oréal, Yves Rocher, Jurlique and Caudalie have all been accused of returning  to or allowing animal testing in order to export to China. 

Probably the largest blow to consumers who would like to shop cruelty-free, is that L’Oréal, the world’s largest beauty company, also own many smaller companies. This means that even if the company is cruelty free – say for example, The Body Shop – with L’Oréal as the parent company you will still be ultimately channelling money into a company that tests on animals. On the flip side, by buying from a company that pushes an ethical message, perhaps L’Oréal as parent company will begin to see ethical production as a more viable route.  

Labels to look for

MyFrenchLife - French cosmetics - leaping bunnyDon’t despair, though: there are still many smaller boutique brands out there for you to try! 

The best way to tell if something is 100% cruelty-free is if it has the Leaping Bunny trademark. You’ll probably have noticed it before on the back of your cosmetics packaging – a leaping rabbit surrounded by a couple of stars. 

Leaping Bunny only certifies “companies that have a policy not to test their products on animals for any market, including China”. Their site is a great place to search your favourite beauty products to guarantee that they are indeed cosmetics with a conscience. 

One such is Cattier Paris, catering for men and women of all ages in producing body products as well as make-up. They also offer a handy way of searching for stockists by arrondissement in Paris or by département for the rest of France.

MyFrenchLife™ - French cosmetics - Couvent de MinimesLe Couvent des Minimes also produce some gorgeous perfumes, moisturisers, hand creams and more. Plus, if you are visiting Paris, they are conveniently stocked in Les Halles

Orlane is another cruelty free brand readily available in France. Total Beauty recommends B21 Extraordinaire anti-aging cream for its “light-reflecting particles to give you an immediate glow”. 

Avène Paris is another brand that does not test on animals and has an enormous range of products that are suitable for sensitive skin. 

De plus, French skincare line Embryolisse is known for its extremely nourishing products and features regularly in Vogue.

These are just a few French brands that currently do not test on animals – thankfully, more and more companies are making the switch! Go to the Leaping Bunny website for a comprehensive list of all the beauty products you could need sorted by category. 

We hope we’ve helped you in your quest to buy French cosmetics with a conscience! Do you have any favourite beauty brands to share? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Image Credits:
1. New Topshop make-up range by The style PA, via Flickr.
2. l’Oreal lip colour by KynaB, via Flickr.
3. No Animal Testing via Wikipedia.
4. Couvent de Minimes by Imprensa GPA, via Flickr.
5. Makeup by AlexVan, via Pixabay.

About the Contributor

Sahara Wilson

I have just returned from living in Paris and love to indulge in all things French even when in my hometown of Melbourne. I hope to be a lifelong learner, taking my readers with me as we discover worldly delights! Tweet me @DesertDeWilson or find me on  Google+.

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  1. Julia Greenhalf Sep 30, 2014 at 6:52 PM - Reply

    This is a fantastic article Sahara! So nice to not only be informed of companies that aren’t cruelty free, but to now know of kinder brands out there.

  2. Esme Wakefield Oct 1, 2014 at 5:29 AM - Reply

    Great article. There is something so glamorous about buying beauty products in France. That and it’s often not good for the bank balance!

  3. Elise Mellor Oct 1, 2014 at 5:30 PM - Reply

    I can’t believe that animal testing still occurs anywhere in the world. Especially for cosmetics! i mean i still can’t agree with animal testing for medical purposes but at least it’s for the greater good…?
    Thanks for this article, Sahara, it’s great to know there are companies out there who stand so staunchly by these principles – even when it costs them a significant slice of the international market.
    I didn’t know China insists that all cosmetics be tested on animals before being sold there. That’s so disappointing.

  4. Ellen Burns Oct 6, 2014 at 6:33 PM - Reply

    I’m a sales consultant for Mary Kay and we have a huge market in China. Because of the laws there, we have to have separate factories and manufacturing plants in China. MK has always been proudly animal cruelty free but I find it so hard not knowing what tests the Chinese government makes the products go through…I can’t believe that some countries have laws like that while places like the EU have such a specific ban! And so they should, let’s hope the rest of the world follows…

  5. Lynda Zajac May 21, 2021 at 8:59 PM - Reply

    Well done to all at MY FRENCH LIFE. Cruelty free matters. Thank you.

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