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Is Clinique an ethical brand?

The Good Shopping Guide gives Estée Lauder Companies Inc., which owns numerous subsidiary brands, including Clinique, a poor ethical rating. Sadly, as evidenced by its subpar Good Shopping Guide ethical rating in our Ethical Makeup Ratings Table, this brand currently disregards our fundamental ethical principles. Several adjustments must be completed before Clinique is eligible for our Ethical Accreditation.

Clinique: A Brand Background

Can Great Skin Be Created? was an article by Carol Phillips, a beauty editor, and Norman Orentreich. The article appeared in American Vogue in 1967. Estée Lauder’s daughter-in-law, Evelyn Lauder, read the article and in April 1968, Clinique made its debut as the first dermatologist-driven, allergy-tested range in the world in New York, US.

Clinique has been firmly part of the Estée Lauder portfolio since its very beginnings. Find out more about this parent company and large corporation in this article.

Are Clinique cosmetics vegan? 

There are no certified vegan Clinique products. In this research category, Estée Lauder, the company’s parent company, has a low Good Shopping Guide score since it neither produces nor markets any vegan or vegetarian goods. Clinique cosmetics include ingredients like lanolin, a waxy substance produced by sheep.

Animal testing and GMOs by Clinique and the Estée Lauder Companies

Clinique’s parent business, Estée Lauder, has a weak Animal Welfare Policy and is therefore not Cruelty-Free. Estée Lauder released an ambiguous, unclear, and seemingly contradictory statement regarding animal testing, much like the equally controversial firm, L’Oréal.

Estée Lauder states on its website that although it opposes animal testing, it allows its products to be sold in countries where animal testing is required by law.

Clinique and Human Rights abuses

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil farms expose women to inhumane labour practices, such as physical and sexual assault and exposure to harmful chemicals. On one plantation, women who had sprayed dangerous pesticides for years without any protective gear complained of fevers, coughing, and nosebleeds. Girls as young as 16 reported being sexually assaulted by supervisors and other employees on another plantation. These women barely make $2 each day, therefore they cannot afford to go to the doctor. The plantations and fields where these crimes occurred have been linked to the production of palm oil for well-known cosmetics corporations like Avon, Colgate-Palmolive, Coty, Estée Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Kylie Cosmetics, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.

Please be aware, that the article from The Associated Press contains some very upsetting details.

Estée Lauder, Clinique and colourism

Well-known cosmetics companies including Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Beiersdorf have come under fire for promoting skin-lightening cosmetics and skincare products; these marketing tactics encourage colourism; changing and lightening skin colour is an unethical product formulation. Estée Lauder has reviewed its own whitening products in light of criticism during 2020.

In what areas does Clinique perform well ethically?

Estée Lauder’s latest Sustainability Report demonstrates some awareness of the company’s overall environmental impact and includes targets for reducing carbon emissions, water consumption and other metrics. 

How can Clinique improve its ethical rating?

Based on numerous ethical standards, The Good Shopping Guide calculates Clinique’s score. The position Clinique takes on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), animal welfare, and its parent company Estée Lauder’s involvement in the unethical production of palm oil are just a few of the ethical concerns that need to be clarified and addressed if Clinique is to improve its score and move up the Ethical Ratings Tables. 

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Genetic Modification


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegetarian/Vegan Verified



  • Armaments


  • Irresponsible Marketing


  • Political Donations



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Public Record Criticisms


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating