Get Clear Skin Without Hurting Animals with These Cruelty-Free Acne Treatments

Finding cruelty-free acne treatments can be a difficult task. Most acne treatment brands are owned by household product, cosmetic, or pharmaceutical companies that test on animals where required by law.

Popular drug store brands Neutrogena and Clean & Clear are owned by Johnson & Johnson, and Clearasil is owned by Reckitt Benckiser. Both companies are known to conduct animal testing if required by law.

Midrange-upscale brands La Roche-Posey and Murad are also owned by parent companies that test on animals; L’Oreal and Unilever, respectively.

CeraVe is owned by Valeant Pharmaceuticals. All pharmaceutical companies test on animals prior to releasing most drugs into the market. However, CeraVe claims on their website to not test on animals. I reached out to them with these questions:

  • Do you test on animals in countries where it is required by law?
  • Do you test your finished products on animals?
  • Do you test unfinished products or ingredients on animals?
  • Do any of your supplier’s test on animals?
  • Do your products contain any ingredients derived from animals?

Their reply… please give us call. That answers the question.

It is a shame because CeraVe is actually a good product. It was the one product that cleared my face. I am actually on my last bottle of CeraVe as I type this post. In some cases, I am making the switch to cruelty-free along with you!

Then you have independent brands like Proactive. Proactive claims not to test on animals, and I’ve read on several online posts that they are vegan. I didn’t believe this for a minute so of course I had to do my own research.

I emailed Proactive with the same questions that I asked CeraVe. They never replied, so I took another route. I contacted X Out.

X Out is an acne treatment geared towards teenagers, owned by Proactive. I emailed X Out the same very specific questions that I asked Proactive, and I received this very unspecific but all telling reply…

We’re not able to make the claim that X Out products are cruelty-free. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

In addition, most acne treatments contain glycerin. Glycerin can be either animal or plant sourced. I didn’t bother to ask the glycerin source to the companies above because they’re already known to test on animals, so it is irrelevant.

So, when looking for a cruelty-free acne treatment, you shouldn’t only consider animal testing, but also consider if the product contains any animal by-products. Going cruelty-free is not only about bunny’s, cats, and dogs. Farm animals are affected too.

The cruelty-free acne treatment brands listed below are free of both animal-testing and animal by-products!

List of Cruelty-Free Acne Treatments

Acure Organics

Acure Acne Treatment

Acure is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and the entire acne line is 100% vegan. Their products have excellent Amazon reviews.

You can find Acure products at Target, Whole Foods, and other health based stores.


Alba Botanica

Alba Botanica Acnedote

Alba Botanica is certified cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny. Their parent company, Hain Celestial, has a tough stance on animal testing and has pledged that neither they or any of their brands will ever test on animals.

Their products are 100% vegetarian. They do not claim to be vegan because some of their products (not the acne products) contain beeswax. The acne products contain glycerin, but with Alba Botanica you can be confident that it is vegetable based.


Derma E

Derma E Acne Treatment

Derma E is not only cruelty-free and 100% vegan, they’re also GMO free, gluten free & soy free! You can find Derma E at your local drugstore and even Sally’s Beauty Supply.

Derma E is proof that good quality products can be affordable and accessible.


DeVita Natural Skin Care

DeVita Acne Treatment

DeVita is certified vegan and cruelty-free by PETA. They offer a very reasonably priced $17 test kit of their entire acne product line before you commit to the big sizes.

Their parent company, DeVita International, has a very strong stance on animal testing. You can read their animal testing policy here.


Exposed Skin Care

Esposed Skin Care

Exposed Skin Care does not carry any certifications but they are cruelty-free:

Thank you for contacting us. Exposed Skin Care does not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and pledge not to do so in the future.

I found that some of their products contain glycerin, but they confirmed by email that they do not use any animal by-products.

The product line includes several facial acne treatments as well as a body acne kit.


Forces of Nature

Forces of Nature acne treatment is a simple 3-step process like Proactive. The difference? They are USDA Organic and certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.

On reviewing their ingredients, it’s also safe to say that the acne treatment is vegan!

Forces of Nature reviewers give this product 5 stars. While Amazon users give it anywhere from 3.5 – 4 stars.


HappyMe Skincare

You can find HappyMe at your local drugstore. It is certified cruelty-free by PETA.

They are not certified vegan, but a review of their ingredients didn’t turn up anything that could be animal derived. They are 100% vegan as they say on their website.


Heavenly Botanicals

Acne treatments don’t have to be made by big companies to be effective. Heavenly Botanicals is handmade in small batches by a mom with an Etsy shop ? They currently have a 5-star rating on Etsy!

Heavenly Botanicals does not test on animals and does not use any animal by-products. Products that contain glycerin are labeled “Kosher vegetable glycerin.” I love it when I don’t have to ask!

This is the product I plan to try once my bottle of CeraVe is done.


Humane Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash

Humane Acne Treatment

Humane Acne Treatment is only available for sale on Amazon and has nearly perfect reviews. Note however that it is NOT for sensitive skin. Based on the reviews, it may be too harsh for people with occasional acne breakouts, but may be a life saver for those with severe acne.

Humane does not test on animals, and does not use any animal byproducts.

Other products in the line include a salicylic acid based Clarifying Toner Blackhead and Pore Minimizer.


Just Natural Skin Care

Amazon reviews of Just Natural Skin Care are mixed. Some products seem to work better than others, but acne treatments are not one size fits all. None the less, Just Natural Skin Care is completely cruelty-free and does not use any animal by-products. Products that contain glycerin are labeled as “vegetable glycerin.”

The acne line not only includes facial acne cleansers, but also an acne body wash and soap.


MALIN + GOETZ

MALIN + GOETZ Acne Treatment

MALIN + GOETZ uses honey and beeswax on a few of their products, but the products intended to treat acne are vegan-friendly. I asked them about the glycerin source and they confirmed that it is plant based.

Here’s their stance on animal testing…

We do not test on animals. Because of this position, we are unable to directly sell our products where this is a requirement under law (such as China).

I love companies that don’t sell out to China!


OrganiClear

OrganiClear Acne Treatment

OrganiClear doesn’t say much on their website regarding their ingredients and animal testing policy, and they do not carry any certifications. I emailed them with the same questions I asked CeraVe and Proactive. The founder of the company wrote back:

The answer is no to all of your questions. No animal testing and none of the ingredients are animal derived.

That is great news! What I don’t understand is, if you’re a cruelty-free company, why not use that to market yourself?

Amazon users give OrganiClear close to 4 stars.


Painted Earth Skin Care

Painted Earth Skin Care is an all-natural cosmetics line. On reviewing the ingredients of their acne line, I did not find anything that could be animal derived. Clear Confession, the only acne product that contains glycerin, is clearly labeled as “Kosher, Vegetable.” Hooray for details!

Their stance on animal testing is also very clearly stated on their website…

Painted Earth is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to ending animal testing. We do not test our finished products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf. Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals.

They also have excellent reviews. This is my next option if Heavenly Botanicals does not work for me.


Relogy

Relogy Acne Treatment

Relogy Natural Acne Treatment Kit for Teen, Adult and Hormonal Acne is sold exclusive through Amazon. Amazon reviewers give Relogy almost 4 of 5 stars. Relogy is certified by PETA to be cruelty-free and vegan.


Tata Harper

Tata Harper is certified cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny. The line is not 100% vegan as some of their products contain honey and beeswax, but the acne line is vegan friendly.

It is a bit pricey, and if you’re switching from Proactive or a drugstore brand you will be in for major sticker shock! Their Maximum Results Regimen for Oily/Combination Skin retails at $800! But you do not have to buy the entire kit.


TreeActiv

TreeActiv Acne Treatment

As stated on TreeActiv’s FAQ, “they never test any ingredient, formula, finished product, or anything else on animals.” Only humans ?

The product line is completely natural and mostly vegan, with the exception of a few products that contain honey.

From TreeActiv’s facial acne line, the products that contain honey are the Acne Eliminating Face Cleanser, Face Scrub Pads, & Four-in-One Acne Treatment. The rest are vegan. TreeActiv’s body acne line is entirely vegan.


Zyderma

Zyderma Acne Treatment

Certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, and certified cruelty-free and vegan by PETA, Zyderma uses MicroSilver BG technology as the active ingredient to fight acne. MicroSilver BG is an eco-friendly, antimicrobial agent made of pure metallic silver suitable for medical applications. If benzoyl peroxide or plant-based treatments have not worked for you, MicroSilver BG may be worth a shot.

It is not available through Amazon, but you can purchase Zyderma directly through their website or through select online retailers and boutique shops.

If you’ve tried any of these cruelty-free acne treatments, please leave your thoughts below. Your experience may be helpful to other readers!

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  • Susan Stein

    Thank you for this list. Some of the companies I knew about, but there are also companies I never heard of before.

  • Liz

    This is a great article! I have been struggling with acne and sensitive skin lately that I never dealt with in the past. I have always liked the idea of using more natural, plant-based skin products, but my dermatologist recently told me to avoid using products with plant ingredients and try something hypoallergenic instead. The reason dermatologists recommend brands like Cetaphil is because they are less likely to give people allergic reactions. For example, I have seasonal allergies to many types of trees, etc, and some of the plant ingredients in natural skin care products could be related to a tree that I’m allergic to, causing me to have a skin reaction to that product.

    Anyway, it seems that most of the hypoallergenic skincare lines on the market are NOT cruelty free, since they are mostly made by pharmaceutical companies. My bf has eczema and really likes soap by a brand called Vanicream, which I hadn’t heard of before. I looked the brand up and they were rated really well on the EWG Skin Deep database. I figured Vanicream wouldn’t be cruelty free, but it looks like they are!

    https://www.reddit.com/r/VeganBeauty/comments/6joaxd/psa_vanicream_is_crueltyfree/

    • Wow, that’s surprising! I’m going to look into the parent company to see if they have any other useful cruelty-free products 🙂 Thanks so much for introducing me to this brand!

    • Susan Stein

      Hi Liz, I have the same problem you do. Rose oil is supposed to be good for sensitive skin, but I am extrtemely allergic to roses. I have found two brands that are cruelty free. Babo Botanicals started out as a line of products for babies, but they now make products for sensitive adult skin. Also, The Honest Company has good products. You have the option of buying fragrance free products.

  • Mandy Harker

    You left off Dermalogica who are cruelty free but not all of their products are vegan. You can also use the website Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) who are essentially an Australian Leaping Bunny but they refuse to list companies who are owned by animal testing parent companies. The only draw back to CCF is that it’s an op-in list so not all cruelty free companies are listed.

    I currently have a double problem with my skin, I get very oily skin in less than 30mins after washing my face and I get three different types of breakouts. I get white heads, black heads and these little bumps which have no head but feel raised and often are sore. Do you have any product or brand recommendations for me? It’s hard to know where to start and I’m trying to avoid going to a doctor because any prescription product isn’t likely to be cruelty free. But the oil is so uncomfortable I can literally feel it without needing to blot my face and the breakouts are killing my self confidence, I really can’t put into words just how much my skin is upsetting me. (I don’t wear any makeup at all.)

    • Hi Mandy! Thank you for suggesting Dermalogica, I’ll look into it 🙂

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through that. For a long time I dealt with ongoing breakouts on my cheeks which I finally have under control. I felt like I was back in my teenage years. So I completely understand how it can kill your confidence. And like you I also don’t wear much makeup.

      Before I went cruelty free I was using CeraVe which worked fine up until the very end. I am now using Yes to Tomatoes 3 Step Acne Treatment (which I have to add to my cruelty free list) and the acne is under control again. You can check it out here: http://yesto.com/product/3-step-acne-fighting-and-clear-skin-regimen/. I buy the kit at Target for $20. The kit is definitely worth the price because the scrub alone is $9. The pricing makes no sense :/

      The scrub and repair treatment are very gentle but you can feel it working. The moisturizer is creamy but it doesn’t leave my face feeling or looking oily. BTW, even with oily skin you still need to moisturize because dry skin causes your skin to produce more oil. The trick is finding a moisturizer that’s just the right balance. Yes to Tomatoes is the right balance for me. I hope it works out for you if you decide to try it 🙂

      Also, sometimes our skin just doesn’t react to regular salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide anymore. Every single acne product out there is made with the same active ingredient. My plan, if I stop seeing results with Yes to Tomatoes, is to try Zyderma. Zyderma uses an antimicrobial agent called MicroSilver BG instead of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. I’m not vouching for this product because I’ve never tried it and there are not many reviews out there, but I think that sometimes the non-conventional is worth a shot. So, I’m not telling you that you should try this product, but it’s worth looking into it if the regular treatments are not doing anything for you. The only downside is that it’s a bit pricey and hard to find. It’s not even sold on Amazon.

      Please let me know which product you end up trying even if it’s something different than what I suggested. I hope you’re able to find a solution 🙂

      • Mandy Harker

        Yes to Tomatoes didn’t help my skin at all, if anything it made my oiliness worse than before. I did try it a few years a go, I don’t know if the formula has changed since then.

        I did just start using Exposed Skin Care, literally two days a go, and I’ve never used benzoyl peroxide on my skin before so I’m hoping to get some benefits from that. The trouble with ordering from them is that they’re in the US and I’m in Australia so with the currency conversion it got a bit pricey but the oiliness is annoying me that much.

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  • Kimberly Christie

    Why assume “please give us a call?” is some sort of admission of guilt?

    • I don’t always make that assumption; I always question companies that don’t give me a straight answer. But in this case, since CeraVe is owned by a pharmaceutical company, they’re already considered not cruelty-free. Pharmaceuticals must be tested on animals to get FDA approval. It’s possible that this particular product is not tested on animals, but the company that owns them does conduct animal testing.

  • Michelle Cummings

    Hello. Please do you know of any vegan companies selling adapaline gel now it’s over the counter?

    • Hi Michelle! I researched this but unfortunately couldn’t find anything. Adapelene went OTC fairly recently so it may be some time before vegan companies start to pick it up. Sorry I couldn’t be of help!

  • Michelle Sainte Marie

    Wow! Thank you for all of this research! I’m currently in the process of switching my products to cruelty free. The face wash was a big one for me because I do suffer from acne and I want to try and find some either than proactive (which works wonderfully for me). I’m excited to try some of these products! Xoxo thank you!

    • You are very welcome! I hope that these products work out for you 🙂

  • Man Wai Lai

    great article, I will try these brands when my non-cruelty free ones run out.

    • Thank you! I am in the same boat as you. I am still waiting for my CeraVe face wash to run out 🙂

  • You’re welcome! Thanks for reading 🙂