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Cruelty Free vs Vegan: What is the Difference?
Cruelty Free | Clean Beauty

Cruelty Free vs Vegan: What is the Difference?

cruelty free vs vegan

Hey there! Have you ever wondered about the difference between cruelty-free vs vegan cosmetics? Well, you’re not alone! These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important distinctions that we need to understand.

When a product is labeled as cruelty-free, it means that it hasn’t been tested on animals. On the other hand, vegan products are those that don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients. So while cruelty-free focuses on testing, being vegan is all about the ingredients. It’s crucial to grasp this difference to make informed choices about the cosmetics we use.

The demand for vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics is on the rise, highlighting the significance of ethical consumer choices in the beauty industry. So, whether you’re into vegan makeup or looking for vegan beauty products, it’s important to know the distinction between cruelty-free and vegan.

Cruelty Free vs Vegan Products: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to ethical beauty choices, it’s important to understand the difference between cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings. Cruelty-free refers to products that are not tested on animals, ensuring that no harm or suffering is inflicted on innocent creatures during the manufacturing process. On the other hand, vegan cosmetics do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, making them suitable for individuals who choose to avoid animal products altogether.

It’s crucial to remember that a product can be cruelty-free but not vegan, or vice versa. A cruelty-free product may still contain animal ingredients, such as beeswax or lanolin, even though it has not been tested on animals. Similarly, a vegan product may not undergo animal testing, but it could contain synthetic or plant-based ingredients that mimic animal-derived substances.

Both cruelty-free and vegan certifications play a significant role in the beauty industry. When choosing cosmetics, it is essential to look for both certifications to ensure that the products align with your ethical values. By opting for cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics, you are making a conscious choice to support brands that prioritize animal welfare and the use of sustainable, plant-based ingredients.

The Importance of Choosing Cruelty-Free and Vegan Cosmetics

  • Protecting animals: Choosing cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics helps prevent unnecessary harm and suffering to innocent animals. By avoiding products that are tested on animals and opting for those that do not contain animal-derived ingredients, you contribute to the movement against animal cruelty in the beauty industry.
  • Environmental sustainability: Vegan cosmetics often utilize plant-based ingredients, reducing the need for animal farming and its associated environmental impact. By choosing vegan options, you contribute to a more sustainable beauty industry that is kinder to the planet.
  • Promoting ethical practices: Supporting brands that are cruelty-free and vegan sends a clear message to the beauty industry that ethical practices are important to consumers. This demand for ethical cosmetics encourages brands to improve their manufacturing processes, source sustainable ingredients, and prioritize animal welfare

What Is Cruelty Free?

​What does it mean for a brand to be cruelty-free?

The term “cruelty-free” indicates that a product and its ingredients have not been tested on animals at any stage of production. This can include finished products, as well as ingredients and formulations. A company can be cruelty-free if they do not test on animals, but may not be vegan.

A company that is registered with The Vegan Society can use the Vegan Trademark on their products. The requirements for the use of the Trademark are that the product must not contain animal ingredients, by-products or derivatives, and must not have been tested on animals. The company must also pledge not to use animal ingredients or derivatives in the future.

Many people choose to buy cruelty-free products as they do not support the testing of animals for cosmetics purposes. Animal testing involves subjecting animals to tests that may include force feeding, application of chemicals to the skin or eyes, infliction of burns, and more. These tests are often conducted without pain relief, and the animals involved suffer immensely.

A growing number of companies are now formulating their products without the need for animal testing. There are numerous effective alternative methods available that do not require the use of animals. These methods include cell culture tests, in vitro tests, and computer modelling.

So, when you buy cruelty-free products, you can be reassured that no animals have been harmed in the making of them. Not only is this better for the animals, but it also means that you are getting a product that has not been tested on animals – which means it is more likely to be effective and safe for human use.

If you are interested in buying cruelty-free products, look out for the following certifications:

Leaping Bunny Logo: The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny Program is internationally recognized as the gold standard in cruelty-free certification for personal care and household products companies. Companies that display the Leaping Bunny Logo on their products have signed The Coalition’s Standard of Compassion for Animals, which requires them to pledge that neither their products nor their ingredients are tested on animals at any stage of production.

PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program: PETA’s global Beauty Without Bunnies program works with cosmetics, personal care, and household product companies to verify that they do not conduct or commission any animal tests on ingredients, formulations, or finished products, anywhere in the world. Companies that pass PETA’s evaluation process can use the official Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free bunny logo on their products, website, and marketing materials.

Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) Australia: CCF is an independent, non-profit organisation that certification of cruelty-free products and ingredients. In order to receive CCF accreditation, a company must provide evidence that they do not test their products or ingredients on animals at any stage of production, and they must not sell in markets (such as China) that require animal testing by law.

So, when you next go shopping, look out for these logos and certifications to be sure that you are buying cruelty-free products. By choosing cruelty-free, you can be confident that you are not supporting animal testing, and that you are getting a product that is more likely to be effective and safe. 

Examples of Cruelty-Free but Not Vegan Cosmetics and Vice Versa

When it comes to choosing ethical cosmetics, it’s important to understand that not all cruelty-free products are vegan, and vice versa. Here are some examples of brands that fall into these categories:

1. Cruelty-Free but Not Vegan

  • Burt’s Bees: While Burt’s Bees does not test on animals, some of their products contain animal-derived ingredients like beeswax and honey.
  • Glossier: Glossier is known for its cruelty-free stance, but they use carmine, a red pigment derived from crushed-up beetles, in some of their products.

2. Vegan but Not Cruelty-Free

  • NARS: NARS offers vegan options, but they are not considered cruelty-free. They allow their products to be tested on animals in China, where animal testing is required by law.
  • Urban Decay: Urban Decay has a range of vegan products, but they are owned by L’Oréal, a parent company that is not cruelty-free.

It’s important to research and look for certifications to ensure a product aligns with your values. Certifications like the Leaping Bunny logo can help identify truly cruelty-free and vegan brands.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Leaping Bunny certification is a reliable way to identify brands that do not test on animals.
  • Being certified cruelty-free does not guarantee that a brand is vegan.
  • Vegan brands offer cosmetics that are entirely free from animal-derived ingredients.
  • Some vegan brands may not be certified cruelty-free, so it’s important for consumers to research and verify their ethical practices.

Differences in Animal Testing Regulations

​There are many different animal testing regulations in place around the world. Some countries have very strict rules in place to protect animals from being mistreated in experiments, while others have weaker or no regulations at all.

Free from animal testing: In some countries, such as the UK, it is illegal to test cosmetics or their ingredients on animals. This means that all cosmetics products and ingredients must be validated for safety using non-animal methods before they can be sold.

Supporting cruelty-free: Many countries have banned the use of animals in cosmetics testing, but not all. Some companies choose to support cruelty-free products by only selling cosmetics that have not been tested on animals.

Necessarily cruelty-free: Even if a product is not tested on animals, it may still contain ingredients that were tested on animals at some point in the production process. For example, many cosmetic ingredients are derived from plant or animal sources, and these may have been tested on animals during their development. Cruelty-free companies strive to only use ingredients that have not been tested on animals at any stage of production.

Beware of Misleading Marketing Claims

Unfortunately, many companies use marketing tricks to make their products seem more effective than they actually are. For example, a company might use the phrase “used in cosmetics” to make it sound like their product is used in high-end makeup products. In reality, this phrase could mean anything from the company using a small amount of the product in their own products to simply buying the rights to use the phrase from another company.

Similarly, a company might claim that their product is “looking for vegan and cruelty-free” when in reality it contains animal-derived ingredients or has been tested on animals. To avoid being misled by these claims, always do your own research to find out what a product really contains and how it was made.

When it comes to your health and beauty, don’t be fooled by misleading marketing claims. Be sure to do your own research to find out what a product really contains and how it was made. Only then can you be sure that you’re using products that are truly safe and effective.

Transparency from Manufacturers is Key

​ With an increasing number of consumers looking for these products, manufacturers need to be transparent about what is in their products and how they are made. There are a number of reasons why consumers might choose vegan and cruelty-free products. Some people do it for ethical reasons, as they believe that animals should not be used in any way for human gain. Others may have health concerns about using products that contain animal ingredients or that have been tested on animals. And still others simply prefer products that do not contain any animal products.

No matter the reason, manufacturers need to be clear about what is in their products and how they are made. This means providing ingredient lists and being clear about any animal-derived ingredients or testing. It also means being open about any changes to recipes or ingredients, as well as any new products that are introduced.

Consumers have a right to know what is in the products they use and how those products are made. With so many people looking for vegan and cruelty-free options, manufacturers need to be transparent to meet the demand.

Cruelty Free and Vegan as a Lifestyle

One reason why people choose to buy cruelty free and vegan products is because they believe that it’s cruel to test cosmetics on animals. Animals in experiments are often subjected to force feeding, deprivation, burns, and more. Many people believe that this is unnecessary and cruel, especially when there are plenty of alternative testing methods available.

Another reason why people choose cruelty free and vegan products is because they want to avoid animal-derived ingredients. Some animal-derived ingredients, like carmine (a red pigment made from crushed cochineal insects), can be cruel to obtain. Others, like lanolin (wool grease), may not be cruelty free, but they’re not necessarily vegan either. And then there are some ingredients, like honey, that may be vegan but are still derived from animals.

So, if you’re looking to live a cruelty free and vegan lifestyle, what should you look for in beauty products? First, check the labels. If a product is labeled “cruelty free,” that means it has not been tested on animals. If it’s labeled “vegan,” that means it does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. And if it’s labeled “cruelty free and vegan,” that means it’s both of those things!

Second, check the company’s website or contact them directly to find out more about their testing and ingredient policies. Many companies are now transparent about their practices, so it’s usually easy to find this information.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to go completely cruelty free and vegan overnight. If you’re just starting out, take your time and gradually transition to more cruelty free and vegan products. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed or like you’re perfect. Every little bit helps!

Making Informed Choices: Cruelty-Free, Vegan, and Ethical Considerations

When it comes to ethical beauty, choosing cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics is a significant step towards supporting animal rights. However, it’s essential to consider other factors beyond just the cruelty-free and vegan labels.

One important consideration is the concept of ethical beauty as a whole. This encompasses not only the absence of animal testing and animal-derived ingredients but also sustainable practices, clean ingredients, and ethical manufacturing processes. Just because a product is vegan does not necessarily mean it’s clean or made under ethical working conditions. It’s crucial to research and select brands that prioritize all these aspects of ethical beauty.

Moreover, we must also acknowledge that the decision to support brands owned by non-cruelty-free parent companies is a personal one. While some argue that supporting these parent companies can help influence change within the industry, others believe it contradicts the values of cruelty-free and vegan beauty. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to make an informed decision about where they want to spend their money.

By educating ourselves and considering all these aspects, we can contribute to a more compassionate and sustainable beauty industry. Ethical beauty goes beyond the labels of cruelty-free and vegan; it encompasses a holistic approach that aligns with our values of animal rights, sustainability, and clean living.


What is the difference between cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics?

Cruelty-free cosmetics are products that are not tested on animals, while vegan cosmetics do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

Can a product be cruelty-free but not vegan?

Yes, a product can be cruelty-free but not vegan if it does not contain any animal ingredients but may still be tested on animals.

Can a product be vegan but not cruelty-free?

Yes, a product can be vegan but not cruelty-free if it does not contain any animal ingredients but is still tested on animals.

How can I ensure a product is both cruelty-free and vegan?

Look for both cruelty-free certifications, such as the Leaping Bunny logo, and verify if a brand is also certified as vegan.

Are all Leaping Bunny-certified brands vegan?

No, being certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny does not automatically mean a brand is vegan, as many still use animal-derived ingredients.

Are all vegan brands certified cruelty-free?

Not necessarily. Some vegan brands may rely on third parties to conduct animal testing for ingredients, so it’s important to look for both cruelty-free certifications and vegan brands.

What other factors should I consider besides cruelty-free and vegan certifications?

It’s important to consider factors such as sustainability, clean ingredients, and ethical manufacturing processes when choosing ethical beauty products.

Are vegan products always clean and sustainable?

No, vegan products may not necessarily be clean or sustainable. It’s important to do research and look for additional certifications or information regarding a brand’s commitment to these factors.

Should I consider whether a brand’s parent company is cruelty-free?

The decision to support brands that are owned by non-cruelty-free parent companies is a personal choice and depends on your priorities and values.

How can my choices contribute to a more ethical beauty industry?

By educating ourselves about cruelty-free and vegan options, making informed choices, and supporting brands that align with our values, we can contribute to a more compassionate and sustainable beauty industry.

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