Skip to content

Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

Back to table


How ethical is E.l.f? 

One of The Good Shopping Guide’s researched brands is E.l.f, a TPG Capital-owned cosmetics, skincare, and health and beauty company. The brand does not yet meet the Good Shopping Guide benchmark, and receives a subpar score in our Ethical Make Up Ratings Table and therefore does not qualify as an ethical brand.

We encourage E.l.f and other companies in the Make Up sector to carefully consider their ethical and unethical business practices, and their impact on the Environment, People and Animals.

Information about E.l.f

American cosmetics company E.l.f. Cosmetics has its headquarters in Oakland, California. In 2004, Scott Vincent Borba and Joseph Shamah established the brand. Products include bath and skin care items, mineral cosmetics, professional equipment, eyeliners, lipstick, glosses, blushes, bronzers, brushes, and mascara, among others.

What does E.l.f stand for?

E.l.f stands for Eyes, lips and face!

TPG Capital and Tower Holdings

The parent firm of this brand, TPG Capital, has recently made progress in its efforts to conduct ethical business. TPG received a poor score for our Armaments category before 2022, because this investment company controlled Tower Holdings, a business that works with military satellite operations. TPG, however, gets a good review after selling this company. We urge other investors to evaluate their own portfolios and determine whether each of their brands is contributing to a bright, secure, and environmentally friendly future.

E.l.f and North Korea

The Guardian and CNBC claim that by agreeing to pay just under US$1 million to settle a civil liability action for 156 “apparent” violations of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations, E.l.f avoided penalties totaling US$40 million in 2019. The mass market cosmetics company was found to have paid US$4.43 million for 156 shipments of false eyelash kits from two Chinese suppliers over the period of almost five years. The disputed vendors had imported parts from North Korea for the kits.

Read more in this article.

Is E.l.f Cruelty-Free?

E.l.f scores well for its Animal Welfare Policy. E.l.f currently has a strong policy that certifies the company is “100% cruelty-free internationally.” Even though there is no FCOD or an explicit legal prohibition on animal testing, the company is Leaping Bunny accredited by Cruelty-Free International. Other past Animal Welfare action taken by E.l.f includes its E.l.f. Professional Supports PETA in the Fur Free Campaign, which ran in 2007. 50% of the proceeds from sales of E.l.f’s tweezers went to PETA.

Is E.l.f vegan?

Unfortunately, whilst E.l.f claim to make and stock vegan products, this brand lacks any certification to verify this.

To achieve our Ethical Accreditation Award, E.l.f should consider gaining Vegan accreditation; though it claims its products do not contain animal parts or products, this should be validated by an external, independent body.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Genetic Modification


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegetarian/Vegan



  • Armaments


  • Irresponsible Marketing


  • Political Donations



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Public Record Criticisms


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