TRESemmé Bans Animal Testing and Gains Cruelty-Free Status
PETA has given its cruelty-free seal of approval to TRESemmé. | Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY

TRESemmé Bans Animal Testing and Gains Cruelty-Free Status

PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program has certified TRESemmé as cruelty-free.

TRESemmé has received cruelty-free status from PETA, the world’s largest animal rights organization.

The Unilever-owned hair care brand is sold all around the world, but it’s arguably the most popular in the UK, where one of its products is bought every two seconds.

TRESemmé is now the 24th beauty and personal care brand owned by Unilever to be certified cruelty-free. From January next year, all of its bottles will feature PETA’s cruelty-free certification stamp from its Beauty Without Bunnies Program.

TRESemmé Against Animal Testing

There are several certification programs that brands can receive a cruelty-free stamp from. To gain PETA’s seal of approval, brands must be able to verify that none of their products, or ingredients, undergo any form of animal testing.

However, unlike more rigorous programs (like Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny), PETA does not require that the brand provides documents from its suppliers, ensuring their compliance. It also does not conduct independent audits.

But Unilever has been vocal about its feelings towards animal testing. In 2018, it joined the Humane Society International’s #BeCrueltyFree initiative. It collaborated with the animal protection organization to develop capabilities for safety decisions without the use of animals. It also invested in scientist training for future animal-free risk assessments.

Julia Fentem, the head of Unilever’s safety and environmental assurance center, said in a recent statement: “We say use science, not animals.” 

Is TRESemmé Ethical?

While it’s popular and now officially cruelty-free, TRESemmé is not without controversy. The brand is currently facing multiple class-action lawsuits over claims its keratin shampoo and conditioner caused scalp irritation and hair loss. This is due to the use of DMDM hydantoin, a chemical related to known carcinogen formaldehyde, that can cause painful reactions when it comes into contact with the skin.

Last year, the brand was also pulled off the shelves in a number of South African stores due to allegations that its hair adverts were racist. The commercial saw afro-textured hair labeled as “frizzy and dull,” while Eurocentric textures were labeled as “normal.” 

A spokesperson for Unilever said at the time: “The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong.