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  • Anna Keeve

Everything to know about buying "cruelty-free" products

What is meant by "cruelty-free"?


"Cruelty-free" refers to products or practices that do not involve harm or suffering to animals. In the context of cosmetics, personal care, and household products, "cruelty-free" typically means that the product and its ingredients were not tested on animals. It can also refer to practices in the production of food, clothing, and other products, where it means that the animals involved were not subjected to harm or suffering.

There are various organizations and certification programs that verify and label products as cruelty-free, such as the Leaping Bunny and PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies programs. These programs have specific standards and processes for determining whether a company is cruelty-free, including requirements for sourcing ingredients and conducting testing.

It's important to note that the term "cruelty-free" is not regulated by law, so it's important to do your own research and look for credible certification programs when evaluating whether a product is truly cruelty-free.


Why is it important to buy cruelty-free products?

It is important to buy cruelty-free products because they have not been tested on animals. Testing products on animals can cause harm and suffering to the animals and is not necessary for the development of many products. By choosing cruelty-free products, consumers can ensure that they are not supporting companies that engage in animal testing. Additionally, there are often alternative methods available for testing the safety and effectiveness of products that do not involve animal testing. Supporting cruelty-free products is a way for consumers to advocate for the ethical treatment of animals and to promote the use of alternative testing methods.


How do you know if a product is cruelty-free?

There are a few ways to determine if a product is cruelty-free:

  1. Look for a cruelty-free certification or logo: Companies that do not test on animals may be certified by organizations such as PETA or the Leaping Bunny program. Look for these logos on product packaging or on the company's website.

  2. Check the company's website or customer service: Many companies will have a statement on their website outlining their stance on animal testing. You can also contact the company's customer service to ask if they test on animals.

  3. Research the company: Look up the company online and see if they have a history of animal testing or if they have faced any controversies related to animal cruelty.

  4. Avoid products from countries that require animal testing: Some countries, such as China, require that all cosmetics and personal care products be tested on animals before they can be sold in the country. If a company sells products in these countries, it is likely that they test on animals.


How are cruelty-free products tested?


Cruelty-free products are not tested on animals. Instead, they are typically tested on human volunteers or in vitro (in a laboratory setting using cells or tissues). Alternative methods such as computer modeling and simulation may also be used. Companies that produce cruelty-free products often seek out third-party certification, such as the Leaping Bunny or PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program, to ensure that their products meet the standards for cruelty-free testing.


Does cruelty-free also mean vegan?


NO, "cruelty-free" refers to products that have not been tested on animals, while "vegan" refers to products that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products. A product can be cruelty-free but not vegan (such as a makeup product that is not tested on animals but contains beeswax), and a product can be vegan but not cruelty-free (such as a vegan skincare product that is tested on animals).


What resources are available to help you only buy cruelty-free products?


There are several resources available to help you only buy cruelty-free products:

  1. Cruelty-Free International: This organization maintains a list of cruelty-free companies and products that have been certified by them.

  2. PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies Program: PETA maintains a list of cruelty-free companies that have signed their statement of assurance or whose products are vegan.

  3. Leaping Bunny: This organization also maintains a list of cruelty-free companies and products that have been certified by them.

  4. Choose Cruelty Free (CCF): This organization maintains a list of cruelty-free products and companies that have been certified by them.

  5. Cruelty-Free Kitty: This website maintains a list of cruelty-free and vegan products, as well as a list of companies that are cruelty-free, but may sell their products in China.

  6. The Vegan Society: This organization maintains a list of vegan products and companies that have been certified by them.

  7. Ethical Elephant: This website provides a list of cruelty-free and vegan products, as well as a list of companies that are cruelty-free, but may sell their products in China.


What resources are available to help you only vegan AND cruelty-free products?


There are several resources available to help you find only vegan and cruelty-free products:

  1. PETA's "Beauty Without Bunnies" program: This program certifies companies that meet strict criteria for not using animal-derived ingredients or testing on animals.

  2. The Leaping Bunny program: This program certifies companies that have made a commitment to not testing on animals at any stage of product development.

  3. Vegan.org: This website has a searchable database of vegan and cruelty-free products, as well as a list of companies that do and do not test on animals.

  4. Choose Cruelty Free: This organization certifies cruelty-free products and maintains a list of approved companies.

  5. The Vegan Society: This organization maintains a list of vegan-certified products and has a searchable database of vegan-friendly companies.

  6. The Vegan Shopping Guide: This website has a list of vegan and cruelty-free products, as well as a list of companies that do and do not test on animals.

What are some popular vegan AND cruelty-free makeup brands?

  1. Pacifica

  2. Thrive Cosmetics

  3. Kat Von D

  4. E.L.F.

  5. Milani

  6. Tarte

  7. Cover FX

  8. Nudestix

  9. Ilia Beauty

  10. Urban Decay

  11. Too Faced


What household products are cruelty-free?

There are many household products that are cruelty-free, meaning that they are not tested on animals. Some examples include:


  1. Seventh Generation

  2. Method, Ecover

  3. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day

  4. Dr. Bronner's

  5. METHOD


Common, mainstream beauty brands you might wonder if they are cruelty-free or not:


Is CeraVe cruelty-free?

NO, CeraVe is a brand of skin care products that is owned by L'Oreal, a company that is not cruelty-free. L'Oreal is not a member of the Leaping Bunny or PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies programs, which certify companies as cruelty-free. This means that L'Oreal tests its products on animals or pays for third parties to do so. CeraVe products are therefore not considered cruelty-free.

Is Maybelline cruelty-free?

NO, Maybelline is not a cruelty-free brand. They sell their products in countries where animal testing is required by law, including China.

Is Neutrogena cruelty-free?

NO, not entirely, [corrected]. Neutrogena is not cruelty-free. The company says it does test its products where it is required by law to do so. They say, "Neutrogena does not conduct animal testing on our cosmetic products anywhere in the world, except in the rare instance where governments require it."

Cruelty-Free Kitty adds that "They sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics." With the criteria for animal-testing lifted in China in 2023, maybe this will change.

L’Oreal cruelty-free?

NO, L'Oreal is not cruelty-free. The company has stated that they do not test their products on animals, but they do not have any third-party certifications to confirm this. Additionally, L'Oreal does sell their products in countries where animal testing is required by law, such as China.

Is Clinique cruelty-free?

NO, not entirely [corrected] Clinique is not cruelty-free. The company says it does test its products where it is required by law to do so.

Is CoverGirl cruelty-free?

NO, CoverGirl is not cruelty-free. The company does not have a cruelty-free policy and does not guarantee that their products are not tested on animals. CoverGirl products may be sold in countries where animal testing is required by law, such as China.


What's new in 2023 in the world of "cruelty-free"


Some big changes in China occurred recently. Historically, selling products in China required the brand to animal test. As of early 2023, as reported by Cruelty-Free Kitty, China has relaxed its testing standards. So these brands below are now cruelty-free according to Cruelty-Free Kitty.


These Brands Are Now Cruelty-Free:

  • Herbal Essences

  • Dove

  • Wet n Wild

  • Physicians Formula

  • First Aid Beauty

  • Supergoop!

  • Rituals

  • Aussie

  • Simple

  • Suave


Hope you found some tidbits of info here to help inspire your journey to consuming cruelty-free!







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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm a freelance writer and journalist covering plant-based, vegan-friendly and sustainability lifestyle topics. I started Life's Alternate Route as a resource to help keep your veg-friendly living informed and inspired. From food, to travel, and more...

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