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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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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 Skincare Ratings Table, this brand currently disregards our fundamental ethical principles. Several adjustments must be completed before Clinique is eligible for our Ethical Accreditation.

Find out more about the ethical issues faced by the skincare industry in our comprehensive editorial on Ethical Skincare.

Estée Lauder Companies and Clinique’s involvement with GMOs and Animal Testing 

Estée Lauder, the parent company of Clinique, is not Cruelty-Free and has a subpar Animal Welfare policy. Like the equally infamous company L’Oreal, Estée Lauder also issued a vague, ambiguous, and seemingly conflicting statement regarding animal testing.

Estée Lauder states, “More than 30 years ago, The Estée Lauder Companies was one of the first cosmetics companies to eliminate animal testing as a method of determining cosmetic product safety. We don’t test our products on animals and we don’t ask others to test for us. We acknowledge our brands are sold in countries where animal testing on cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients is required by law.

This somewhat vague claim suggests that the company permits testing on goods offered in nations that legally require animal experimentation.

Are Clinique cosmetics vegan? 

Clinique is not vegan. Its parent firm, Estée Lauder, obtains a low Good Shopping Guide rating in this research category since it does not manufacture or market any vegan or vegetarian items. Cosmetics made by Clinique contain substances like lanolin, a waxy material made by sheep.

Estée Lauder, Clinique and colourism

The promotion of skin-lightening cosmetics and skincare by well-known cosmetics corporations like Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Beiersdorf has drawn criticism; these practises foster colourism. Estée Lauder has reviewed its own whitening products in light of criticism during 2020.

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.

In what areas does Clinique perform well ethically?

Estée Lauder’s latest Environmental Report discusses the company’s sustainability commitments, including goals for improving in certain areas, such as carbon emissions and packaging. This reflects that the company is working towards environmental progress.

How can Clinique improve its ethical rating?

Based on 15 ethical standards, The Good Shopping Guide calculates Clinique’s score. Clinique needs to clarify and address a number of ethical issues, including its position on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Animal Welfare, and its parent firm Estée Lauder’s participation in the unethical production of palm oil.

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