Skip to main content

Recently we received an interesting inquiry from someone from Brisbane, Australia. The inquirer wished to know if we could recommend Japanese shampoos that are not tested on animals. This was a very important question and we thus decided to carry out a mini research project. Our aim was to put together a list of animal-test free Japanese hair care products so that consumers can make an informed decision when purchasing Japanese shampoos and conditioners.

We first gathered information online, listed Japanese cosmetics companies whose products are said to be animal-test free, and followed this up by directly calling the companies to gain confirmation that they indeed do not carry out animal testing on their products.

Internet Search on Non-Animal-Tested Products

We came across the Japan Anti Vivisection Association (JAVA) which advocates abolition of animal cruelty in Japan. The JAVA provides an excellent source of information regarding beauty and hair care products that are not tested on animals. They publish booklets on cruelty-free beauty products, and their current issue is Volume 4. But we decided to purchase this booklet when Volume 5 comes out on the 28th of December.

Then, we found this website dedicated to ‘mutenka’ (additive-free) cosmetics. It provides a long list of 129 domestic and international companies who do not test on animals. It is on this website that we first learned that an inquiry on animal-test free products is not straightforward. Three issues were particularly salient.

To begin with, companies may not carry out tests on animals in general, but when they export their products, receiving countries (particularly China) may demand the provision of animal testing results on their products. The best example is Shiseido. The cosmetics giant abolished animal testing in February 2013, but according to the Mutenka website, they still carry out animal testing on export products. Shiseido confirmed during our telephone inquiry that animal testing is still conducted on their products going out to certain countries.

Relatedly, even if Japanese companies do not do animal testing on the Japanese soil, they have no knowledge of  or control over whether or not their products are tested by officials or companies in the destination countries.

Lastly, while many companies we telephoned were confident that they do not carry out animal testing, they cannot guarantee that ingredients they purchase from other companies are cruelty-free.

Of the 129 companies listed on the additive-free website, we have so far managed to call ten companies which confirmed their non-animal testing practice. We have, however, left out Shiseido in the following list just to be on the safe side. We will continue to check with the rest of the companies, but for now we present five companies who proudly offer non-animal tested hair care products. We will keep adding more companies in the future.

DHC – The Power of Nature since 1983

Established as a translation company in Tokyo in 1972, DHC has grown to be the one of the largest cosmetics and health food companies in Japan. DHC’s popularity grew rapidly when they began producing cosmetics in 1983 and its signature product, DHC Cleansing Oil with virgin oil, continue to be the best selling product in Japan and overseas. The DHC line of hair care products are also increasingly popular and are firmly free from animal-testing.

Japanese hair care products


OSHIMA TSUBAKI – Island’s Nature Gift since 1927

Oshima Tsubaki Co. Ltd. is well known for its beauty oil products. The company offers Oshima Tsubaki Japanese hair care series which contains their much famed 100% pure tsubaki (camellia) oil from the island. It is made with natural ingredients that are gentle on hair and scalp and is formulated to strengthen hair and help it shine.

The founder of Oshima Tsubaki moved to Izu Oshima island after falling in love with the beautiful nature on the island, which he discovered as part of his university graduation thesis. The original company Oshima Tsubaki Oil Refinery Co. Ltd. was founded in 1927 and continue to operate on Oshima island, while it has expanded to include Oshima Tsubaki Honpo Co. Ltd. (est in 1948, Hachioji, TOkyo) and Oshima Tsubaki Co. Ltd. (est. 1977, Minato-ku, Tokyo).


COW BRAND – Long Loved Cow Milk Soap since 1909

Established in 1909, Cow Brand Soap Kyoshinsha has always been part of everyday life for many Japanese people for over a century. Their signature product is Cow Soap in red and blue packages and they continue to apply the same ‘kamadaki (large kettle cooking)’ method to produce their soap products. In 2013, they celebrated the 105th anniversary. Kyoshinsha offers non-animal tested Cow Brand hair care products.


CHIFURE – From $1 to Luxury since 1947

Chifure Cosmetics Co. Ltd. was established in 1947 and produces non-additive skincare and Japanese hair care products. In 1959 Chifure’s founder Matsuo Shimada was sent to the USA as part of the research project by the Japan Cosmetics Industry Association. He was said to be impressed with the cheap $1 cosmetics on the US market. He began producing 100 yen cosmetics so that everyone can afford to buy make-up products. Later Chifure also began producing luxurious cosmetics and other everyday products including hair care.


Shabondama Sekken – Non-Additive Soap Bubble

Shabondama Sekken Co. Ltd. was established in the southern part of Japan, Fukuoka, in 1949. In their early days, their signature products were various types of soap. In 1970s, Shabondama received a request for additive-free bar soap from the Japan Rails. Since then, the company has grown to include a wide range of daily hygiene, beauty and Japanese hair care products that are additive free.

In addition to the companies above, we have confirmation from Albion, Menard and Ikko Kagaku. We will report on them in the next post. Meanwhile, please leave us any comment, questions or tips regarding cruelty-free Japanese hair care products below.