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Cruelty-Free Skincare: What It Means and Why It's Better

By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “cruelty-free” at one point or another.

But how many of us know the true meaning of cruelty-free when it comes to beauty products? In this industry, phrases like “clean,” “vegan,” and “cruelty-free” get all mixed up and can end up being super confusing.

Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. And that’s why we’re here to tell you exactly what’s what. 

Psst—read to the end to find out the best cruelty-free skincare products, too!  

Are cruelty-free and vegan the same thing?

As much as we wish this were the case, no. Vegan and cruelty-free cosmetic products are not interchangeable. 

(But at Kinder Beauty, we’re both!)

What does vegan mean in cosmetics?

Simply put, vegan refers to products that are made without any animal products or byproducts.

You’d be surprised by how many beauty products on the market contain some sort of animal-derived ingredient. And a lot of the time, animal ingredients are listed under different and confusing names. 

It can be hard to tell if a product is vegan or not just by just reading the back of the box. When in doubt, look for a certified vegan logo and do some research on the brand. 

What does cruelty-free mean?

When a product or brand is genuinely cruelty-free, it means that they haven’t tested on animals in any stage of the creation process.

This includes the ingredients, finished products, or any sample products in between. It also means the products aren’t sold in any areas of the world that require animal testing.

These days, a lot of brands claim their products are “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals." It can be hard to tell which brands are legit and which ones are just greenwashing you ("clean greenwashing" can also apply to vegan and cruelty-free claims!). 

If you’re ever unsure of a product, look for one of these cruelty-free logos (we love the leaping bunny program). You can also check out Ethical Elephant and Cruelty-Free Kitty for comprehensive lists of cruelty-free brands around the world. Or you can contact the company directly to answer any questions you may have!

It can be a little hard and time-consuming to figure out a brands’ vegan and cruelty-free status. That’s why we’re here! To make it easy and stress-free. 

Why are cruelty-free products better?

We can think of a million reasons why cruelty-free products are better. 

But to put it simply … 

Cruelty-free products protect animals.

More than 100 million animals are tested on every single year.

A large number of them end up dying. And the ones that don’t are subject to incredibly painful tests, unlivable conditions, torture, and abuse.

We know it’s hard to hear. But it’s the ugly truth.

How many of you Kinder Beauties have pets at home? A lot of us here do (check out our co-founder Evanna Lynch's Instagram page for the cutest kitty you’ve ever seen!). We all know that our companion animals have feelings and personalities. They’re just as loving, sassy, and goofy as the rest of us!

But they can also feel pain like us.

The mice, rabbits, cats, birds, guinea pigs, dogs, frogs, and other animals being tested on, are living in constant fear and pain. And they can’t fight back or speak up for themselves. Testing on them for human gain is totally wrong and inhumane.

At Kinder Beauty, we’re committed to living and promoting a cruelty-free lifestyle and only cruelty-free companies (that are also totally vegan and clean). Because beauty products shouldn’t come at the cost of any lives (and we hope you agree).

The testing alternatives are better and more reliable.

Not only is animal testing inhumane, but it’s also not the most reliable when it comes to results.

Cats, dogs, and mice are clearly not human. So it doesn’t make much sense to apply the results of these tests to humans. 

There are alternatives to animal testing that both mimic human organs and use actual human cells in order to get more accurate results. And, since the tests are directly related to the human body, the results are much more reliable and relevant to us than any tests done on animals.

By choosing cruelty-free beauty products and supporting cruelty-free brands, you can aid in the fight against animal testing. And hopefully one day, we’ll see a world where it doesn’t exist at all.

The best cruelty-free skincare products

Now that you know the cruelty-free info, we want to share with you some cruelty-free skincare products that we and our Kinder Beauties love—no harmful chemicals and no harmful animal testing (or ingredients) in sight.

All of these fan-faves have been vetted by our co-founders, Daniella Monet and Evanna Lynch, and featured in our beauty boxes. And a few are even available in our marketplace right now! 

The best cruelty-free cleanser:

Our Beauties are head over heels for the OSEA Ocean Cleanser we sent in our May 2021 box.

It’s super gentle and soothing, but it really gets your skin clean. Made with seaweed, jojoba oil, and sesame seed oil, this cleanser is meant to hydrate, cleanse, exfoliate, and balance for clear, radiant skin.

Plus, the lux feel gives you spa day vibes from the comfort of your own home. OSEA is one of the best-ever skincare brands for a reason!

The best cruelty-free toner:

Toners aren’t always necessary in a skincare routine. But if you need an extra boost of hydration, or your skin is randomly breaking out, a good toner will come to your rescue.

The Gypsy Soul Organics Face Toner we featured in June 2020 is one of our company’s bestselling products—and for good reason. Meant for oily, sensitive, and acne-prone skin, this toner helps to clear up and balance your skin for a gorgeous glow. This is one of those vegan products that will instantly become your go-to! 

The best cruelty-free serum(s):

When it comes to serum, go for the Dirty Lamb Ultra Day and Night Serum Duo.

Our Beauties raved over the Ultra Night Serum (that’s why it’s featured in the Kinder Faves Box!). And of those that have also tried the Ultra Day Serum, we’ve heard nothing but good things. 

Both serums work together to promote bright, soft, hydrated, and balanced skin all day every day. Use them with the Dirty Lamb Copaiba Body Serum from the May 2021 box, and you’ll have the skin of your dreams.

Pro-tip: since these serums are oil-based, use them after moisturizing to get the most out of them.

The best cruelty-free spot treatment:

For spot treatment, we’re gonna have to shout out Dirty Lamb one more time.

Their Tea Tree Wand — which you can find in our marketplace —is a total blemish-buster. With one swipe of this wand, you can finally say goodbye to pimples and breakouts. 

The best part? It doesn’t leave your skin flaky or thirsty.

The best cruelty-free moisturizer:

A fan favorite will forever be the Earth Harbor Naturals Mermaid Milk Moisturizer we sent in The Rose Collection in July 2020.

This moisturizer has earned a top spot in the Kinder Beauty community. The unique blend of superfoods, antioxidants, nutrients, and peptides work together to soothe, hydrate, and clarify skin. Not to mention the gorgeous mermaid glow you get after just one use.

We’re just saying—this product should definitely be on your skincare bucket list. Get it at a discounted price in our marketplace!

Now that you know all things cruelty-free beauty (and have some product recs!), you can start your own cruelty-free skincare journey. Cruelty-free makeup has never been easier to get your hands on. And whether or not you consider yourself an animal rights advocate, we can all agree that no animals need to suffer for us to look or feel good. 

Of course, you could always sign up for Kinder Beauty and make the switch to vegan, cruelty-free, and clean beauty a breeze. Plus, you'll never find any toxic chemicals in our beauty boxes!


Sign up for Kinder Beauty today!

Each month you'll get

Up to $165 worth of vegan, cruelty-free, & clean beauty
5 products from top ethical and clean beauty brands
A mix of both full-sized and travel-sized items
Skincare, makeup, haircare, body care, and more
Kinder Beauty subscription boxes with vegan, cruelty-free, and clean beauty products