You just decided that you’re going to start shopping only cruelty-free beauty products—congrats! But where to begin? It’s not like every cruelty-free and vegan product will be labeled as such, unfortunately. However, it’s worth taking the extra 5 minutes to research your brands and products to ensure no animal was harmed in their production. To help you in your transition to cruelty-free shopping, we want to equip you with the tools necessary to do your homework on your favorite beauty brands and products.
You also could, of course, just subscribe to Kinder Beauty!
Either way, let’s get into it!
Cruelty-Free vs. Vegan
First thing’s first, what’s the difference between cruelty-free and vegan? Many people assume these are the same thing, but they’re not.
A company is cruelty-free if their products (and ingredients) aren’t tested on animals, though this does not necessarily make the product vegan.
Vegan products take it a step further. Not only are they free of animal testing, but they are also free of ingredients that come from animals. A product, no matter the ingredients, is not vegan if the brand tests on animals. However, it can be certified cruelty-free even if the product isn’t vegan. At Kinder Beauty, we don’t believe a product is truly cruelty-free if it contains animal ingredients, and that’s why the products in our boxes will always be free from animal testing AND animal ingredients.
To make sure your beauty routine doesn’t harm animals at all, always look for products that are both cruelty-free and vegan.
How to Determine if a Company is Cruelty-Free
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and a cruelty-free brand will have their stance on animal testing plastered on their packaging, website, and social media accounts. Other times, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.
Here are a few simple ways to find out if a company is cruelty-free.
While some companies use various bunny logos, not every company that’s cruelty-free announces it to the world on their packaging. Some of our favorite cruelty-free beauty brands, such as Ambreesh Cosmetics and Kat Von D, opt out of using an official cruelty-free logo. So it is always important to ask companies for their stance on animal testing, lest you miss out on a brilliant cruelty-free brand.
For brands that do feature logos, here are the three main cruelty-free logos you may see:
1. Leaping Bunny
With Leaping Bunny certification, companies must confirm with their suppliers that ingredients aren’t tested on animals. They also don’t certify companies who sell in countries where animal testing is required by law (ex: mainland China). Finally, Leaping Bunny conducts audits on its companies and requires them to re-accredit their cruelty-free status.
Everyone knows PETA. They’re one of the largest animal rights organizations in the world. Their cruelty-free logo is also one of the most recognizable as they’ve certified nearly 2,000 brands.
To be included on PETA’s list, a company “must complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance verifying that they do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future."
3. Choose Cruelty-Free
Choose Cruelty-Free is a non-profit organization based in Australia. Their cruelty-free criteria are the strictest of the three, so they have fewer than 300 brands certified.
Their standards are similar to Leaping Bunny, but they take it a step further. When a brand is owned by a larger company, they’re considered a subsidiary of a parent company. For example, cruelty-free brand Urban Decay is owned by parent company L’Oreal.
Neither Leaping Bunny or PETA require a brand’s parent company to be cruelty-free. However, Choose Cruelty-Free does.
Whether they sell in China
Some countries legally require cosmetics to be tested on animals. Sounds absurd, but it’s true. A notorious example of this is mainland China.
To many, brands that sell in China aren’t cruelty-free. For example, Benefit doesn’t voluntarily test its products on animals. However, Benefit isn’t cruelty-free because their products sold in China are tested on animals.
What the company says
What should you do if you’re unsure if a company tests on animals? Ask them! Find them on social media or navigate their website to find a “Contact Us” page.
Here are some questions to cover the basics:
- Are finished products tested on animals?
- Are the raw materials tested on animals?
- Does a third-party test on your behalf?
- Do your suppliers test on animals?
- Do you sell in countries where animal testing is required by law?
- Are you owned by a parent company who tests on animals?
If they answer “No” to all of these questions, then they’re cruelty-free!
How to Determine if a Product is Vegan
You’d think figuring out if a product is vegan would be simple: Just look at the ingredients list, right? In some cases, yes. But it’s not always that simple. Just like figuring out a company’s cruelty-free status, determining if a product is vegan requires a little research.
Look for the Certified Vegan logo
More than 1,000 companies, from food to beauty, don the Certified Vegan logo by Vegan.org. In order to use this logo, companies must not test their products on animals or use any animal-based ingredients.
Remember: Checking for logos is a starting point, not an ending point because there are cruelty-free and vegan brands who don’t use official logos.
Check for animal-derived ingredients
There are dozens of non-vegan ingredients to look out for in beauty products. Some of the most common ones include:
Beeswax: Beeswax is often used in various balms for the lips and face. Beeswax also goes by its Latin name, Cera Alba, so keep an eye out for that. Another important note is that even synthetic beeswax isn’t always in the clear because it sometimes contains Lanolin, another animal ingredient, or even small amounts of real beeswax.
- Carmine: This is where things get gross. Many red blushes, eyeshadows, and lipsticks get their hue from Carmine. This is a red-colored dye obtained from crushing and boiling beetles to extract the chemical that makes them red.
- Lanolin: This common skincare ingredient comes from the sebum of sheep used to keep their wool hydrated. It’s waxy, fatty, and greasy...so the beauty industry harnesses it as a moisturizing ingredient.
- Shellac: Like Carmine, Shellac comes from bugs. It’s used in lacquers like nail and hair products.
- Honey: Pretty self-explanatory. Honey is believed to hydrate and protect skin, so it’s commonly found in face masks and other skincare products.
Cruelty-Free and Vegan Beauty Resources
There’s simply no place for cruelty in beauty, which is why switching to cruelty-free products is usually the first step towards leading a more compassionate lifestyle. Fortunately, we believe that cruelty-free will become the norm soon enough.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s what we suggest:
- Check your current beauty products to see if they’re cruelty-free and vegan. If not, replace them with a vegan alternative when they run out.
- Utilize resources like PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies database. This isn’t an exhaustive list of cruelty-free brands, but it’s a good starting point.
- Check out blogs and websites that report on cruelty-free and vegan beauty news. We love this compilation of cruelty-free brands, which is regularly updated by Cruelty-Free Kitty. Another trustworthy resource is Logical Harmony founded by Tashina Combs. Her list of cruelty-free brands is always up-to-date.
- Discover cruelty-free and vegan beauty products in your Kinder Beauty box! We research every single product and brand featured in our curated boxes.
Finally, if you want to explore the growing cruelty-free and vegan beauty market and you want to take the guesswork out of ethical beauty, you can simply subscribe to Kinder Beauty Box. Then you can rest easy knowing that you never have to harm animals to feel beautiful ever again.
Want to help empower your family and friends to shop only cruelty-free? Then be sure to share this post with them!