Neutrogena Brand Review: Ingredients, Sustainability & Animal Welfare

5 min reading time

Neutrogena has been around for a very long time, founded back in 1930 by Emanuel Stolaroff. Initially called Natone, the company changed its name to Neutrogena in 1962. Purchased in 1994 by Johnson and Johnson, the brand is available in over 70 countries and can be found in all the largest retailers.

The company, while not marketing itself as organic, natural or sustainable, presents itself in refreshing, bright and pure colours, utilising images of crystal-clear water and beaches. So do their ingredients justify this? We take a look here not only at the ingredients used, but their attitude to animal rights, as well as any sustainable programs that the company is engaging in. Read on to see our verdict:

Ingredients (Rating: Bad)

Neutrogena writes that they “set a high bar” for ingredients, which are “screened for quality, manufacturing process, government regulations, published research, and [their] own ingredient safety databases”. Nonetheless, the greater proportion of the companies 500 products do not resemble the mild, basic, neutral soap that contributed so greatly to the companies success back in the 1950s. Of the considerable list of ingredients used across their range, we have compiled a few ingredients that you may wish to swap out for something more natural and gentle on your body:

Retinyl Palmitate

This vitamin A derivative belongs to a subset of chemicals that have been banned by the EU, with a number of national agencies (such as in Norway and Germany), raising strong concerns over the safety of the product. The main concern with Retinyl Palmitate is the way in which it interferes with cellular processes. The product is an exfoliator which works upon the skin, which in turn carries a risk of skin irritation. This ingredient is found across their line of sun screens.


Fragrance is found in many products in the Neutrogena line. Listed often simply as Parfum, the exact ingredients used are hidden.Fragrances can cause respiratory issues such as irritable throat and asthma, as well as aggravating the eyes and skin.

Black 2

This synthetic ingredient is used to colour Neutrogena’s mascara. Such chemicals, in combination with other dyes used in household products, can lead to cumulative effects.Due to their pervasiveness across foodstuffs, such dyes may be the culprit behind allergies and irritations.


Octinoxate is used to filter UV-B rays. There are endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and organ system toxicity risks with this chemical.


This ingredient belongs to the paraben family which is regarded as a human endocrine disruptor and human immune toxicant.

Sustainability (Rating: Iffy)

Neutrogena has a page on their website dedicated to sustainability. The company writes that they are launching new packaging using 30% post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic as well as launching a 100% plant-based fiber, home compostable cleansing wipe.

Further, they inform that this is the start of a broader, ongoing project: “We are committed to increasing the percentage of PCR used in our packaging over the next few years. And starting in 2021, we will begin transitioning our entire Makeup Remover Wipes portfolio to a 100% plant-based fabric and exploring opportunities for fully recyclable packaging”.

This is commendable, and certainly the correct path to be on. However, to be regarded as sustainable, the consumer should look for a far more comprehensive attitude toward the topic, in which the company in question can demonstrate total ownership of the entire supply-chain.

As well, look for brands that are portraying sustainability holistically – providing data on water consumption, land use, carbon emissions, as well as complete circularity with regards to packaging materials. Until further down the companies planned sustainability road, Neutrogena cannot be regarded as truly sustainable.

Animal Rights (Rating: Bad)


Neutrogena is not an animal cruelty-free brand. As with their parent company Johnson and Johnson, they permit animal testing in markets in which it is legally required. PETA has categorised the company as one that tests on animals and products are sold in China.


Neutrogena products are not vegan, and the company is not a vegan band.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from “Best” (for having the best practices) to “Bad” (for having unacceptable practices). We rated Neutrogena as follows.

INGREDIENTSBad – There are a range of chemicals that you may wish to steer clear of. Always check the label to make an informed decision.
SUSTAINABILITYIffy – Neutrogena provide information as to how they are working to sustainability, and recognise the work required going forward.
ANIMAL RIGHTSBad – The company sells to markets that require animal testing.

Overall Rating: Bad

Neutrogena belongs to the group of cosmetic brands that has noticed sustainability and is contributing to a wave of rising consumer awareness. This elevates the company above those that pay no heed whatsoever to environmental issues.

That being said, the causes that the company is engaging in are by their own account the beginning of a longer journey. Progress made is restricted to recycling rather than a more comprehensive account of land, water and raw material usage, protection of plant and animal species and carbon emissions. As such, the rating provided here equates to this.

We hope that Neutrogena becomes the first major, global brands that can market itself as holistically sustainable.

Download our free swap guide.
A cheatsheet of 50+ clean alternatives for your whole house. 
Thank you for subscribing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *