Is Sally Hansen Nail Polish Cruelty-Free?

Sally Hansen is well-known in the nail care industry and is famous for its ‘hard-as-nails’ nail strengthener. But is Sally Hansen nail polish cruelty-free?

A woman standing in front of a yellow background smiling and holding an orange flower up in front of one of her eyes

According to Sally Hansen, their nail polish is cruelty-free, and they do not test on animals. However, the brand falls into a gray area since they have no certifications saying they are cruelty-free or proof to back up the claims. 

This article will discuss more about the Sally Hansen brand, including whether they test on animals and if they genuinely are cruelty-free. We will end with a list of certified cruelty-free nail polish brands. 

What Makes a Brand Cruelty-Free?

A brand, its parent companies, or any third parties must not test on animals to be cruelty-free. 

To this, companies with the Leaping Bunny or PETA certification have been vetted and do not test on animals through any stage of product development. 

According to Leaping Bunny, companies can claim cruelty-free without any basis to back it up. For example, you can search their website for various brands to find out if your favorite is cruelty-free. The site also details which brands are vegan. 

Companies can use the term cruelty-free on various products, including:

  • Beauty products
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Clothing 

Sally Hansen has said they have attempted to become Leaping Bunny certified; however, the process can take several years.

Finally, cruelty-free is an unregulated claim, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says companies have unrestricted access to using the term even if they have no proof to back it up. For this reason, the consumer needs to research if a product they are interested in states it is cruelty-free. 

In addition, the FDA states a company may use the term “currently not tested on animals” if testing has occurred in the past. 

Does Sally Hansen Do Animal Testing?

Sally Hansen states on their website that they do not perform animal testing; however, while the brand in the United States may not test on animals, their facilities in China’s mainland might. 

On Sally Hansen’s US website, they have this to say about animal testing. For reference, Coty is their parent company.

“At Coty, we do not test our products on animals and are committed to ending animal testing across our industry. 

All our products are safe and have been developed, manufactured, and packaged in compliance with the laws, regulations, and guidelines that are applicable in each country in which they are sold.”

However, if you read deeper into the last line of their statement, it clearly says “that are applicable in each country.” So, if the laws of the country state they must test on animals, then they will do so. 

Is Sally Hansen Nail Polish Cruelty-Free?

A woman staring off to the side in front of a grey background. She has long wavy hair, red nails and red lipstick on.

Sally Hansen isn’t certified by any organization to verify they are cruelty-free. Even if Sally Hansen doesn’t test their nail polish on animals, they must prove it doesn’t happen. 

Unfortunately, it’s a tricky question because Sally Hansen has never proven they are cruelty-free. 

Certifications from organizations like Leaping Bunny and PETA can take several years, and there have been signs that Sally Hansen is working towards being declared cruelty-free. 

Is Sally Hansen Nail Polish Vegan?

Sally Hansen has a strictly vegan line under the Pure brand, but the rest of their nail polish is not vegan.

Vegan nail polish must not:

  • Have any animal-derived ingredients
  • It cannot contain any animal by-products 
  • Cannot test on animals
  • Suppliers do not test on animals 
  • Cannot sell products in China, and other countries, where the law requires animal testing. 

There are several ingredients found in beauty products from animals, including:

  • Carmine adds color, especially red nail polish, by crushing scale insects. 
  • Guanine comes from fish scales and adds shimmer to products. 
  • Shellac is the secretion of female lac bugs. 

You may see nail polishes labeled with “non-toxic,” “clean,” or “green,” but that doesn’t mean they are vegan. In addition, even if a product is vegan, it can still test on animals. 

Is Sally Hansen Nail Polish Sold In China?

Sally Hansen does not sell its nail polish in China; however, its parent company, Coty, does. In fact, 2021 brought record-breaking sales for Coty in China. 

It has been known for China to require companies to test on animals, so even if a company states they do not test on animals, if they sell items in China, they likely are not cruelty-free.

However, most airport stores and places in Hong Kong do not test on animals. Instead, you can confirm whether a company sells its products in China by visiting the Leaping Bunny or PETA websites.

Lastly, China has changed its animal testing law and is on the right track. For example, in 2021, China announced it would let imported goods inside the country without the previously required animal testing

Does A Parent Brand own Sally Hansen?

Coty is the parent company of Sally Hansen, and while they claim to be cruelty-free, they do test on animals in other countries. According to PETA, Coty does test on animals, even though the parent company states the opposite. 

Coty only has two brands that are certified cruelty-free:

  • Covergirl
  • Stella McCartney

The Coty website states, “We are continuing to explore certification for our other brands.” Instead, Coty continues to sell some products in mainland China, which means animal testing may still occur. 

If an animal testing company owns Covergirl and Stella McCartney, how can they be cruelty-free? Good question! Covergirl, for example, does not sell its products in mainland China. 

While Sally Hansen does not sell products in China either, they have not received the certifications Covergirl has, which is why we can’t be 100% sure Sally Hansen is cruelty-free. 

The 6 Best Cruelty-Free Nail Polish Brands

a variety of nail polish bottles lying in front of a pink background.

There are plenty on the market if you are looking for cruelty-free nail polish brands. Cruelty-free nail polish does not contain harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, xylene, or triphenyl phosphate. 

Remember, there is a difference between cruelty-free and vegan. A product can be one but not the other. Here are the top 6 best cruelty-free nail polish brands:

Beauty Without Cruelty

One of the best cruelty-free nail polish brands is Beauty Without Cruelty. The cosmetic company has been around for over 60 years, does not test on animals, is 100% vegan, and has the Leaping Bunny stamp of approval. 

Their nail polish line has a wide range of colors and an array of other cosmetics. In addition to being cruelty-free, the company uses recycled materials and pure natural ingredients. 


Neither Gosh nor its suppliers or third parties test their products on animals. Furthermore, they do not sell in countries that require animal testing. 

Gosh is certified by PETA as cruelty-free; however, it is not vegan because some products do contain animal-derived ingredients. 

Ella + Mia

Founded after the founder’s twin daughters, Ella + Mia is seven-free and PETA-certified. The nail polishes provide chip-free results and can last up to two weeks. The collection has a wide range of colors and has a cute elephant on the bottle. 

LUCID Polish

Another completely cruelty-free line of polish is LUCID Polish. Founded by a licensed cosmetologist who saw a lack of quality products for consumers, the brand has Leaping Bunny’s approval.

In addition to being cruelty-free, LUCID Polish is also ten-free. 


Pacifica is convenient and available at your local Target or Ulta. The nail polish is seven-free and 100% vegan, making it an excellent choice.

The brand doesn’t sell its products where required by law and doesn’t test on animals. 

e.lf. Cosmetics 

E.l.f. Cosmetics has a wide range of products, including a variety of nail polish. The popular brand is Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free and 100% vegan, making it an incredible choice for nail polish.

The brand only uses animal-free materials and ingredients and never uses real animal hair in its brushes. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is vegan nail polish better?

Vegan nail polish has several benefits, including the lack of harsh chemicals, making it a safer product. With the number of vegan nail polishes on the market, you can easily find one that suits your needs. 

What does 10-free mean?

On some vegan brands, you will find terms like five-free, seven-free, and 10-free, but what do they mean? The number relates to the absence of specific toxic ingredients commonly found in products. So, 10-free means the product is free of 10 common toxic ingredients. 

Why do brands test on animals?

According to the FDA, companies use animal testing to establish product safety. However, the FDA does say they don’t require the testing but suggests that companies employ whatever testing is appropriate for the safety of their product. 

Many companies opt out of animal testing because the treatment of animals can be horrific. In many cases, animals don’t receive pain killers to ease the process. 

How do they test cruelty-free products?

Consumers still want to ensure products are safe for use without the need for animal testing. Cruelty-free companies use computer models, human participants, and cell cultures for product testing.