Cruelty-free vs. Vegan; What does it mean?

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

With “vegan” being buzzword lately used by many companies, I wanted to share the distinction between cruelty-free and vegan, because there seems to be a misunderstanding….

Vegan does not equal cruelty-free, and cruelty-free does not equal vegan.

When something is cruelty-free, it means it has not been tested on animals. However, some brands like to use the term lightly so make sure that the company you’re interested in does not...

A) Test any of their products or ingredients on animals

B) Ask suppliers to test any of the products or ingredients on animals

C) Perform animal testing “where the law requires

This means that automatically any brand that sells in China is OUT! China has a policy of testing almost every single product on animals to make sure it’s “safe.” This gives you a lot to think about when it comes to what ingredients go in our cosmetics, but that is a topic for another time.

When something is vegan, it means it does not contain animal ingredients, including honey, beeswax (both derived from the exploitation of bees), hyaluronic acid (from rooster combs), carmine (from crushed insects), and the list keeps on going.

Here is a useful link by PETA listing common ingredients and where they derive from:

A lot of non-cruelty-free companies are now starting to use “vegan-formula” on their packaging, but no vegan should actually purchase it because the product has been tested on animals, and thus it is not free of animal exploitation.

Animal Testing Has to Go

I can try to grasp my mind around animal-testing for medical purposes. Even then, I have my ideas for more friendly alternatives, but once again, that is a topic for another time.

But animal-testing for cosmetics and makeup has to go. There is absolutely no reason we should still be following those insane protocols, considering we already know a massive list of ingredients that are safe for human use. There are a couple of reasons companies still test on animals.

A) They are trying to cut corners and maximize profits by using cheap but hazardous ingredients and want to make sure people do not sue them for allergic reactions or cancer that the product might/will cause.

B) China is one of the only countries that is still encouraging testing on animals, and almost all brands produce and sell their products there. Which means that unless those brands move their production elsewhere, stop selling to China, or China bans animal-testing, they will not be considered cruelty free.

The alternatives

Before I ever turned vegan, my first step towards this lifestyle was shopping cruelty-free and vegan. After a couple of years of practice to mastery, I’ve recently decided to start using only “clean” beauty products which means no harsh chemicals. I’m still using up some of my old makeup, but I am making my best efforts for my new purchases to be “clean.” Most of these brands value our planet and thus are cruelty-free, vegan and with considerate packaging which is indeed a win-win for everyone!

If you’re interested in learning more about why you should switch to “clean” beauty and cosmetics, go watch the documentary Stink! on Netflix.

I also tend to check Organic Bunny’s online store for clean beauty to see her recommendations. Unfortunately, I do not live in the US, so I cannot purchase from her store, but if you do, I highly recommend you support her and the cause she is advocating.

I also use this app called “Think Dirty” which unfortunately doesn’t have a huge database yet, but if your product is where you can see its ranking on the scale, a breakdown of the ingredients (which are bad and which are good) and find “cleaner” alternatives.

My Suggestions

If you’re just starting out switching to a cruelty-free makeup routine, I suggest purchasing subscription boxes for a couple of months to make the transition easier and cheaper for you. Here’s a short list of cruelty-free boxes:

- Kinder Beauty (USA) $

- Petit Vour (USA) $

- The Vegan Box (Australia) $

- The Vegan Kind (UK) $

- Think Dirty Clean Beautique (USA) $-$$

- Vegan Cuts (USA) $

($>50 , $$> 100, $$$<100) currencies vary

For individual brands or shops, check out your country’s Brand List.


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