The short answer: No, SK-II is not cruelty free.
The long answer: SK-II is a cosmetic brand that was founded in Japan in 1980. The brand gained recognition for using yeast extract that helps keep skin smooth, clear, and young-looking. In 1991, it was acquired by the American multinational consumer goods corporation, Procter & Gamble, when it bought Max Factor.
On SK-II’s official website, it states, “We do not test our products on animals anywhere in the world unless required by law, and we are working hard to make animal testing of all consumer products obsolete.
We are a proud supporter of #BeCrueltyFree and we’ve invested more than $420 million in developing non-animal testing methods and have advocated for their approval by policy makers around the world. Today, we use more than 50 non-animal alternatives, half of which were invented or co-invented by P&G. We will continue to work with partners like the Humane Society International and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to promote the development of new alternatives and advocate for their public use and adoption to eliminate animal testing.”
Ethical Elephant reports that SK-II is currently being sold in China. Though the brand claims not to test their products on animals, the fact that they are sold in China means they willingly allow authorised health officials or third parties to do so on their behalf. This Asian country has mandatory testing laws for imported cosmetics to guarantee user safety. Testing can also be done when a customer files a complaint, which notably happened in 2005. As such, SK-II cannot be considered cruelty free.