L'Oreal: Company Profile

L'Oreal is the world's largest beauty products company. It manufactures cosmetics, perfume, and hair and skin care items. It has been the target of numerous campaigns over its continued use of animal testing and is 30% owned by Nestle.

The company also controversially bought natural cosmetics retailer, The Body Shop and its 2,550 stores worldwide. 

Last updated: October 2015

Annual Revenue$17.04 billion a year


Other BrandsBody Shop, Garnier , Maybelline, L'Oreal Paris


Company Score5 out of 20




Ethical Consumer Best Buy?No


Ethical issues by category

The company has operations in a number of countries that we consider to be governed by oppressive regimes. These countries were: China, Philippines, Venezuela, Thailand, Colombia, India, Vietnam and Russia. It also scores our middle rating for supply chain management.


In September 2015 Ethical Consumer searched the L'Oreal website for a policy on toxic chemicals. 

Ethical Consumer would expect any company operating in this sector to have a policy that covers at least parabens and phthalates, and pledges to either eliminate their use outright or have a roadmap for them phasing out over a quantified period of time.

The L'Oreal site stated: Parabens have been used for several decades in certain categories of our cosmetic products and only when indispensable to ensure effective microbiological protection. It made no mention of phasing out their use.

The company also used phthalates which it deemed safe.

Both ingredients are prevalent in cosmetics despite evidence that they can have a negative impact on human health and the wider environment.

For example the Skin Deep website stated that Diethyl phthalate, a solvent used to bind together different chemicals within cosmetics and fragrances, can disrupt hormone production in humans, have a negative impact on organ function and that there are current gaps in the research into further impacts on human health.

In addition the paraben family of preservatives, widely used in cosmetics, can mimic oestrogen and can act as a potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptor..

Naturewatch was calling for a boycott of L'Oreal subsidiaries Body Shop and Urban Decay because L'Oreal was the biggest animal tester of cosmetics in the world and it lobbied against the 2003 ban of animal testing in the EU. It was also lobbying the European Commision to postpone indefinitely the ban of the import into the EU of animal tested products which was due to come in in March 2013. It had opened a research facility in China where the animal testing of cosmetics was mandatory. So if the ban was postponed, L'Oreal would be able to sell in the EU products it had tested there.

In 2015 L'Oreal was a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This was regarded by Ethical Consumer as an international corporate lobby group which exerted corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights.

In-Depth Information

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