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Is L’Oréal an ethical brand?

A low ethical score is assigned to L’Oréal by The Good Shopping Guide; L’Oréal is a multinational corporation that owns several other well-known make up brands, including its ‘own brand’, L’Oréal. Unfortunately, as indicated by its low Good Shopping Guide ethical score in our Ethical Make Up Ratings Table, this brand currently does not adhere to our fundamental ethical standards. For this brand to qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, it must make a number of changes.

About L’Oréal

With its corporate headquarters in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, and its registered office in Paris, L’Oréal S.A. is a French personal care firm. It is the biggest cosmetics company in the world and has produced products focused on skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume, and hair care.

A young French scientist named Eugène Paul Louis Schueller created the Oréale hair colour compound at the beginning of the 20th century. After creating and producing his own goods, Schueller sought to market them to Parisian hairdressers.

Notable acquisitions

Currently, L’Oréal has 36 brands and is ever-expanding. L’Oréal paid £562 million on March 17th, 2006, to acquire the cosmetics company The Body Shop. L’Oréal paid $1.8 billion to acquire YSL Beauté in May 2008. L’Oréal purchased NYX Cosmetics in June 2014 for an undisclosed sum, improving its makeup selection in North America where its consumer products unit had been struggling.

L’Oréal’s involvement with Nestlé

L’Oréal and Nestlé reached a deal in February 2014 for L’Oréal to purchase 8% of Nestlé’s shares for €3.4 billion. Nestlé’s ownership of L’Oréal decreased from 29.4% to 23.29% as a result, and the Bettencourt Meyers family’s ownership climbed from 30.6% to 33.2%. Since Liliane Bettencourt, the daughter of L’Oréal’s founder, asked Nestlé to invest in the company in 1974 as a means of avoiding French government action, Nestlé has held an interest in L’Oréal.

Is L’Oréal Cruelty-Free?

Consumers may find L’Oréal’s position on animal testing to be a little unclear and ambiguous, which lowers its rating for our Animal Welfare criteria. Animal experimentation is not done on any L’Oréal components or products, according to the business. Nevertheless, L’Oréal’s products are distributed in China; health authorities in China still mandate and conduct animal testing on a few products.

But are L’Oréal cosmetics vegan? There are no vegan or vegetarian-approved cosmetics currently produced by L’Oréal.

The make up industry, L’Oréal and accusations of colourism

As recently as 2020, giants in the cosmetics sector such as Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Beiersdorf have come under fire for marketing skin-lightening items that support colourism in the cosmetics sector. Cosmetic products should never attempt to achieve lighter, whiter, or fairer skin; promoting such a product is Irresponsible Marketing.

L’Oréal and its manipulation of politics

In recent U.S. election cycles, L’Oréal gave U.S. political parties thousands of dollars. For additional information on these contributions, which were given to both Republican and Democratic candidates, see the Open Secrets website.

Other Human Rights criticisms of L’Oréal

Consumers should be informed that the international behemoth Nestlé owns a sizeable portion of shares in L’Oréal. (The Good Shopping Guide scores Nestlé very low since it engages in a number of unethical business activities across all of our research categories.) 

The Associated Press brought attention to one of the major ethical problems L’Oréal is associated with. In certain palm oil fields in Malaysia and Indonesia, incidences of violence against women have not only been tolerated but are common. These occurrences included women being subjected to harmful substances and physical and sexual assault. Some of the women who were mistreated and assaulted were as young as 16 years old.

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

L’Oréal’s Environmental Report

The Good Shopping Guide carefully researches a brand’s Environmental Report, since a brand or company’s documents relating to environmental issues frequently provide a good indication of that brand or company’s awareness of its impact on our planet. It is encouraging to see L’Oréal’s Environmental Impact, and that this brand has established quantifiable goals for both its direct business operations and supply networks.

The Soil Association certified L’Oréal Garnier’s collection of organic skincare products.

How can L’Oréal improve its ethical rating?

L’Oréal’s ranking in The Good Shopping Guide is determined by 15 ethical standards. An alarming number of ethical issues, such as L’Oréal’s stance on GMOs, animal welfare, and its participation in the unethical extraction of palm oil, need to be clarified and addressed by this huge corporation.

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


  • Public Record Criticisms+


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