Is dōTERRA cruelty-free in 2021?

Is dōTERRA cruelty-free?

If most of your vegan friends were supporting a brand, would you check whether it is cruelty-free before you start supporting it too? It rarely crosses my mind to do so. After finding out that dōTERRA sells in China, I have started checking every new brand that I discover. I am angry at myself for this to this day. The reason being that I checked the cruelty-free status of all brands that I have collaborated with for the cruelty-free kit. However, I did not think of checking the status of dōTERRA. My mind somehow assumed that since my vegan-friends use it, it has to be cruelty-free, when it seems that it’s not always the case. One always learns something new. So it is a new thing I learnt during my cruelty-free journey and it made me extra careful for any future brands I learn about.

As some of you might know dōTERRA is an MLM company. As Wikipedia describes it, Multi-level Marketing “is a controversial marketing strategy for the sale of products or services where the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce selling the company’s products/services, while the earnings of the participants are derived from a pyramid-shaped or binary compensation commission system”. In short, while other companies play the long game, MLM companies want to reach people faster.

Since many consider this strategy unethical, many cruelty-free bloggers consider all MLM companies as not cruelty-free. They don’t bother to check on a brand level. On the other hand, since even some non-MLM strategies might be unethical too, I am currently opting to check on a brand level.

So now let’s go through the steps I take to find out whether dōTERRA and other brands are cruelty-free.

Does dōTERRA test on animals?

  • “doTERRA is 100 percent committed to not conducting any clinical or experimental research on animals”

On their website, they claim that dōTERRA does not test on animals, but they also say:

  • “To protect the safety of the animals and prevent unnecessary pain or death, all studies conducted on animals are required to undergo a preliminary screening by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IUCAC)”

If they are not testing on animals, it seems that a third party is conducting animal research for them. As we all know animal testing is bad and unreliable, especially if you are doing it for products or ingredients that will be used for humans. This preventing unnecessary pain or death from IUCAC sounds like when meat producers market humane meat. What is humane about killing an animal for meat? So in the same reasoning, what is humane about testing on animals without the animals’ consent? Unless I have more information I would say that dōTerra supports animal testing. If you want to get your own opinion on this answer, you can read more about it on the dōTERRA website.

Is dōTERRA owned by a parent that is not cruelty-free?

dōTERRA is not owned by a parent company.

Is dōTERRA certified cruelty-free?

No dōTERRA is not certified cruelty-free.

Is dōTERRA cruelty-free?

My answer is that dōTERRA is not cruelty-free. Mainly due to the IUCAC animal tests mentioned early.

Does dōTERRA sell in Mainland China?

A dōTERRA Malta representative who I collaborated with for a kit, shared his stories that although dōTERRA sells in Mainland China it is still cruelty-free. “WHAAAT? dōTERRA sells in China” I told myself. Since I collaborated with him for the kit, the trust of my readers, customers, etc is at risk. I was hoping that dōTERRA really makes sure that it remains cruelty-free and that I am worrying for nothing. So I contacted dōTERRA for more information.

Their reply was:

  • “Thank you for reaching out to us. We have been asked whether our business in China subjects us to its policy of requiring imported cosmetics to undergo animal testing in China. While dōTERRA complies with the laws of every country in which we operate, our products are not subject to that registration process. Specifically, dōTERRA’s essential oils need not be tested on animals because they are not imported as cosmetics, but rather are classified as aromatics or food additives. Also, dōTERRA locally manufactures its topical products, which exempts dōTERRA from China’s animal testing requirements for those items. Please let us know if you have any other questions, and have a wonderful day.”

When I posted this post, I considered dōTERRA as not cruelty-free because they sell cosmetics (or topical products) in Mainland China. Most cruelty-free bloggers stand by the same theory that when a cosmetics brand sell in China, it is automatically not cruelty-free. However, from 2021 I started adapting to the idea that some brands can be cruelty-free even if they sell cosmetics in Mainland China. Especially since both PETA and CrueltyFreeInternational work with such cruelty-free brands. These two organisations have the funds, knowledge and resources to confirm such facts. So who am I to say otherwise.

So here’s my latest update about my feedback for their reply. It is true that when a company manufactures cosmetics in China, these cosmetics are exempted from animal tests. However, not all cosmetics are exempted, only non-special-use cosmetics. I am assuming that their cosmetics are non-special-use cosmetics. They don’t have any special use like anti-ageing, sun protection, whitening, etc. So in this case, if there wasn’t the IUCAC issue, I would change the status of dōTERRA to cruelty-free. However, with the IUCAC issue, dōTERRA is more of a grey area brand or brand that supports animal te

Which brands should I support instead?

If you are looking for a brand who is serious about its cruelty-free status. Check my list of brands that are against animal testing.

Source: dōTERRA Mainland China Website and animal testing policy at 11.7.2020 


(a.k.a. Fiona Henschel) Malta-born blogger. I have been blogging during these last 6 years on my cruelty-free lifestyle including recipes, beauty and makeup products that I discover, receive, buy and try.