Is IT Cosmetics Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

it cosmetics cruelty free

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / IT Cosmetics

IT Cosmetics is a makeup and skin care brand best known for its fan-favorite complexion products—namely its CC+ creams (basically, the midpoint between tinted moisturizer and foundation). What many don't realize is that those CC+ creams contain snail secretions. IT Cosmetics doesn't have a large clearly marked vegan offering even though it prides itself on being a cruelty free company.

The brand is owned by the L'Oréal Group, which is not cruelty free-certified but is relatively transparent about the sourcing of its ingredients. The group is also continuously striving to become more ethical and sustainable, laying out ambitious targets for 2030.

Here are some ways IT Cosmetics meets Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards and where it falls short.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: IT Cosmetics

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by PETA, not Leaping Bunny.
  • Vegan: Vegan products are not clearly marked and difficult to find.
  • Ethical: IT Cosmetics uses questionable ingredients like mica and shea without revealing its sources.
  • Sustainable: IT Cosmetics continues to package products in single-use plastic.

IT Cosmetics Is Certified Cruelty Free by PETA

IT Cosmetics says being cruelty free is extremely important to the brand. Though sold internationally, IT Cosmetics has avoided the Chinese market because of the country's legal requirement to test cosmetics on animals—although this law was modified in 2021. It is certified by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies Program but not by Leaping Bunny.

Leaping Bunny does not grant its coveted cruelty free certification to brands whose parent companies test on animals. Since 2016, IT Cosmetics has been owned by the L'Oréal Group, which PETA says does test on animals because it sells (other products, not IT Cosmetics) in China. The beauty giant says it has been working with Chinese authorities to establish alternative testing methods for the past decade.

Hidden Animal Ingredients in IT Cosmetics

Although IT Cosmetics does make some vegan makeup and prides itself on using non-animal hair in its brushes, vegan items are not clearly marked or easy to find on the brand's website.

Animal products are ubiquitous in IT Cosmetics, from the hydrolyzed collagen (derived from bovine connective tissue or fish) in its Superhero Mascara to the lanolin oil (a waxy substance that comes from sheep wool) in its lipsticks. Glycerin is in just about every formula, and the brand does not specify whether it comes from vegetable or animal sources.

Even its celebrated CC+ creams contain "snail secretion filtrate"—some of them in such high concentration that it's listed as the second inactive ingredient.

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IT Cosmetics' Ethics Are Iffy

IT Cosmetics makes no mention of ethics on its website. The L'Oréal Group lays out strict guidelines on responsible ingredients sourcing, fair treatment of suppliers, diversity, and more in a 40-page Code of Ethics document by which its brands must abide. The company is a signee of the United Nations Global Compact and has founded a Solidarity Sourcing program to support people from vulnerable communities by engaging in "social and inclusive purchasing."

IT Cosmetics has not published any standards of its own while continuing to use questionable ingredients like mica, shea butter, and argan oil. All of these are included in L'Oréal's Inside Our Products database, which explains where each of the ingredients comes from. (According to that database, the company uses only Ecocert Organic, Fair for Life, and Protected Geographical Indication-certified argan oil and Indian mica that meets the standards of the Responsible Mica Initiative.)

It's just not clear whether IT Cosmetics conforms to these standards or diverges. Treehugger reached out for clarification on the brand's ethics, but IT Cosmetics declined to comment.

IT Cosmetics' Reliance on Plastic Is Unsustainable

Plastic squeeze bottles, mixed-material mascara tubes, powder compacts, and dropper bottles are IT Cosmetics' packaging of choice—all presumably made of virgin materials and near impossible to recycle.

That said, IT Cosmetics' parent company has big goals to phase out virgin, single-use plastic and switch to all-recycled, recyclable, degradable, or reusable packaging by 2030. The L'Oréal Group also plans to go entirely carbon-neutral in its factories within that time frame.

In a booklet called "L'Oréal for the Future," published in 2020, the group said 95% of its ingredients would be biobased and derived from "abundant minerals or from circular processes" by 2030. Currently, the bulk of IT Cosmetics' lineup is chemical-based.

Alternative Vegan Complexion Products to Try

IT Cosmetics may be certified cruelty free by PETA, but its lack of transparency and clearly marked vegan options deters many a conscious consumer from indulging in the brand's widely adored complexion products. Here are some ethical, vegan, and sustainable alternatives.

Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint

MILK Makeup

Phillip Faraone / Getty Images

Milk Makeup is a 100% vegan and Leaping Bunny-certified brand praised for its sustainability. Its Sunshine Skin Tint—a combination of tint, facial oil, and SPF 30—is refillable. It comes packaged in a box made from post-consumer waste paperboard. Even the label is recycled paper.

Kosas Tinted Face Oil

Kosas makeup

Rob Kim / Getty Images

Leaping Bunny-certified Kosas, while not entirely vegan, offers a Kosas Clean edit that eschews animal products, mineral oil, talc, silicones, fragrance, and other chemicals.

The Tinted Face Oil—formulated with just 15 ingredients, including oils from avocados, meadowfoam, raspberry, jojoba, camellia, and rosehip—is part of that edit. The brand calls it "the sweatpants of foundation."

ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint

ILIA, known for making makeup powered by skin care, has an SPF 40-spiked Super Serum Skin Tint that's vegan and reef-safe. It's also made without fragrance and silicone, and 1% of sales goes toward the brand's goal of planting a million trees by 2023.

The skin tint has won a multitude of awards for being clean and eco-friendly and has maintained a 4.5-star rating after nearly 7,000 reviews.

Thrive Causemetics Buildable Blur CC Cream

Philanthropy is the foundation of Thrive Causemetics, a 100% vegan and Leaping Bunny-certified brand that donates a portion of every sale to women's causes (homelessness, cancer, domestic abuse, etc.).

The Buildable Blur CC Cream provides broad-spectrum SPF 35 protection and is formulated with vitamin C and flaxseed extract.

View Article Sources
  1. "Is IT Cosmetics Cruelty-Free?" PETA Cruelty Without Bunnies Program.

  2. "Is L'Oreal USA Cruelty Free?" PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Program.

  3. "Our Commitments." L'Oréal Paris.

  4. "Code of Ethics: The Way We Work 3rd Edition." L'Oréal Group.

  5. "Inside Our Ingredients: Mica." L'Oréal Group.

  6. "Inside Our Products: Argan Oil." L'Oréal Group.

  7. "L'Oréal for the Future: Our Sustainability Commitments for 2030." L'Oréal Group. 2020.