Your Guide to Identifying Cruelty Free Beauty Products

Your Guide to Identifying Cruelty Free Beauty Products

One of the most common questions I get asked is how do I know if a product is Cruelty Free?

With an abundance of beauty products on the market and so many misleading and false claims, it can be difficult to decipher which products are truly Cruelty Free.

In this article I am going to guide you through the process of identifying Cruelty Free beauty products with confidence.

What does Cruelty Free mean?
A Cruelty Free product is one that has not been tested on animals at any stage of its production, including ingredients, formulations, and finished products.

Is Cruelty Free and Vegan the same?
Sadly no. A Vegan beauty product is one that does not contain any animal derived ingredients or animal by-products. For example, a lip balm that contains beeswax is not vegan because beeswax is derived from bees.

Can a product be Cruelty Free and not Vegan?
Yes, and vice versa. It is a common misconception that Cruelty Free products are also Vegan, but this isn't always the case.

A product may not be tested on animals and still contain animal ingredients AND a product may not contain animal ingredients and still be tested on animals.

Look for Cruelty Free Certifications and Logos
One of the easiest ways to identify Cruelty Free products is by looking for certification logos from reputable organisations.

The most well-known Cruelty Free certifications include Leaping Bunny and PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies. These certifications indicate that the brand has met strict criteria for Cruelty Free practices.

But unfortunately, some brands will just put a bunny logo on their packaging and they may not actually be Cruelty Free.

The diagram below from Ethical Elephant is a great example of official and unofficial Cruelty Free certified logos:

Cruelty Free Certified Logos


Check the Brand's Animal Testing Policy
If the product packaging isn't clear, head to the brands website and go to their FAQ page or Animal Testing page which will provide information about their policies.

Most brands who are proud to be Cruelty Free will share this all over their website. It will be on their homepage, product pages and on their FAQ page. Some brands may just have a statement on their FAQ page to the effect of "We do not test our products on animals and only test on human volunteers" and will share any Cruelty Free certifications they have acquired.

BUT some brands will have a quite lengthy animal testing policy statement and it may appear confusing or misleading.

Below is an example of an Animal Testing statement from a global skincare brand that contradicts that their products are Cruelty Free:

"'Brand' is committed to the elimination of animal testing. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety and bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold.

We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law."

This is an example of a brand that IS NOT Cruelty Free.

The last sentence states "we do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients" - so they are claiming they do not directly test on animals. BUT "except when required by law" signals that this brand is shipping into countries where animal testing is a legal requirement which means they ARE NOT Cruelty Free.

Here is another example from a global makeup brand:

"We do not own any animal testing facilities and we never ask others to test on animals for us. While some governments conduct animal testing to prove safety before they will allow us to sell our products, 'brand' has never tested on animals and we continue to be a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally.  China tests on animals as part of its safety assessment of cosmetic products. We love our fans and we never want to exclude them anywhere."

So again, the brand doesn't personally test on animals but they are still selling their products into China where they know animal testing is taking place.

Many brands are developing in-house non-animal testing technologies which is amazing BUT if animal testing is a countries legal requirement (eg. China) and a brand continues to sell there, they are knowingly supporting an unethical market that doesn't value the lives of animals.

In my opinion, if a brand is not willing to pull out of a market that tests on animals then they care more about money than about the lives of innocent animals. To say "we love our fans and we never want to exclude them anywhere" is not really about wanting to exclude anyone, it is saying we don't want to miss out on making money in China so we will continue to sell there.

Sometimes we have to read between the lines of these statements to truly reveal the value of these corporations.

Research the Parent Company
Sometimes, a brand itself may be Cruelty Free, but its parent company may not adhere to the same standards. Conducting a quick online search to determine the parent company's animal testing policy can provide clarity on whether the brand aligns with your values.

Utilise Cruelty Free Websites and Resources
If I am ever in doubt I like to consult Cruelty Free websites and resources such as Cruelty Free International, PETA, Cruelty Free Kitty and Ethical Elephant.

Many of these sites will have searchable searchable databases that allow you to check the Cruelty Free status of specific brands while shopping.

They also do a lot of independent research and contact brands directly to get their Cruelty Free statements and provide clarity on if they are truly Cruelty Free, in the grey area or still testing on animals.

As conscientious consumers, choosing Cruelty Free beauty products empowers us to make a positive impact on the welfare of animals and the environment. By familiarising yourself with these tips and resources, you can confidently navigate the world of beauty while staying true to your values.

Remember, every purchase is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. Let's choose compassion, one beauty product at a time.

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