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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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Estee Lauder

Is Estée Lauder an ethical brand?

Estée Lauder Companies Inc., a skincare brand, which owns a number of subsidiary brands, including Estée Lauder, receives a subpar ethical grade from The Good Shopping Guide. Unfortunately, as shown by its poor Good Shopping Guide Ethical rating in our Ethical Skincare Ratings Table, this brand currently falls short of our core ethical standards. Estée Lauder must make a number of changes before being qualified for our Ethical Accreditation.

Estée Lauder’s involvement with Animal Testing

Estée Lauder has a poor Animal Welfare Policy and is not Cruelty-Free. Estée Lauder released an unclear and seemingly contradictory statement regarding animal testing (much like the equally controversial corporation L’Oreal).

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 statement confirms that the company allows testing on animals in countries where it is a legal requirement, resulting in a bottom rating for Animal Welfare.

Are Estée Lauder cosmetics vegan? 

Estée Lauder is not vegan. In fact, across the whole parent company’s portfolio, no brand obtains a good Good Shopping Guide rating in this research category since none manufactures or markets any vegan or vegetarian items. Cosmetics made by Estée Lauder contain substances like lanolin, a waxy material made by sheep.

Estée Lauder 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.

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 tactics encourage colourism. After criticism in 2020, Estée Lauder has examined its own whitening and lightening make up and skincare.

Estée Lauder and Human Rights abuses

According to a report by the Associated Press, women working on palm oil farms in Malaysia and Indonesia are subjected to cruel labour practices including physical and sexual assault and exposure to dangerous chemicals. Women who had been spraying harmful pesticides on a plantation for years without any safety equipment complained of fevers, coughing, and nosebleeds. These women can’t afford to visit the doctor because they only make $2 per day on average. On another plantation, girls as young as 16 reported being sexually assaulted by managers and other workers. Avon, Colgate-Palmolive, Coty, Estée Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Kylie Cosmetics, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever are just some of the well-known cosmetics companies whose palm oil is produced on the plantations and fields where these crimes took place.

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

In what areas does Estée Lauder perform well ethically?

Estée Lauder was received a top rating in the Environmental Report category, due the environmental commitments demonstrated in its latest sustainability report. It also receives a top rating in the Nuclear, Fossil Fuels and Armaments categories, as a result of its lack of involvement in these industries.

How can Estée Lauder improve its ethical rating?

The Good Shopping Guide evaluates Estée Lauder’s score based on 15 ethical standards. A variety of ethical concerns that Estée Lauder needs to address and clarify include its stance on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Animal Welfare, and involvement 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