Our website uses “conscious beauty” as a term to describe cruelty-free, vegan, and clean beauty. However, it doesn’t mean we judge you if you “only” go cruelty-free or “only” want to shop from sustainable beauty brands.
We’re not here to judge you, we’re here to guide you and help you in the process to create a more conscious beauty routine; however, this may look for you!
On this page, we’re starting off with the basics about conscious beauty – what are the differences between cruelty-free, vegan, and clean beauty? Does clean beauty also mean cruelty-free? And so much more questions that may be going around in your brain. No worries, this page will help you with the basic knowledge you need to get started.
The Basics About Cruelty-Free Makeup & Skincare
Cruelty-free refers to the movement that seeks companies and governments to stop experimental animal testing. Not just for finished products but any part of the production process of a product. That includes third parties and suppliers as well.
The industries that are most exposed to this subject are beauty, fashion, personal hygiene, and cleaning products. If a living animal is experiencing pain in the name of manufacturing something, suffers, or has permanent damage — it usually ends up being killed at the end of the test. For this reason, a lot of consumers turn against brands that still participate in these practices.
Not only is going cruelty-free, vegan, and/or clean for ethics or the love for animals, but it is also because people realize more and more that beauty products that aren’t in the cruelty-free/vegan/clean range can include harmful ingredients for our health and the earth.
Although some recognized brands explain that the percentage of toxic substances that some of their creams and makeup have is minimal, if you put it on every day, it becomes a poison, which can produce allergies and skin alterations.
Warning: Terms Are Not Regulated (Yet)
For some reason, brands can easily throw terms like “cruelty-free,” “clean,” “vegan,” and “non-toxic” around but these terms are not regulated by the FDA, meaning any company can claim to be “cruelty-free” or any of the above terms, regardless of their (animal testing) policies. This means blatantly trusting the brand promises isn’t the way to go cruelty-free/vegan/clean anymore.
How Do You Know If A Product Is Really Cruelty-Free?
So as I said, unfortunately, any product can bear the “cruelty-free” stamp without actually being one. In this way, some companies confuse consumers by making them believe that they are buying a product sensitized to animal cruelty. I use the following “rules” to determine if a brand is cruelty-free:
You always have to do your research. The best way to do this is to check brand visions, policies, cruelty-free labels, and ingredient lists or use websites like ours. These websites feature a database of cruelty-free companies. Simply type in your brand’s name, and you will discover whether they are or aren’t dedicated to the cause.
The Differences Between A Vegan And A Cruelty-Free Product
The terms vegan and cruelty-free have different meanings, so it is not the same and can’t be used interchangeably. It is possible that a product is cruelty-free and not vegan or, the other way around, vegan and not cruelty-free.
When the product indicates that it is vegan, it means that it does not contain ingredients of animal origin or derivatives thereof. For example, it does not feature collagen, wax, milk, carmine, glycerin, squalene, lanoline, and biotin that are extracted from animals.
When you meet a product that is marked as cruelty-free, it means that the product is not been tested on animals, but it can have ingredients that are not vegan.
- Cruelty-Free: Not tested on animals.
- Vegan: Does not contain animal-derived ingredients.
So are there any products that are both? Yes. Thankfully, in recent years, several cosmetics brands have been launched that commit to both being cruelty-free and vegan. Often in addition to being free of parabens or sulfates, considered harmful ingredients.
Some of the most common components of animal cosmetics are honey or beeswax, lanolin from wool fat, carmine made from insects such as shredded cochineal, squalene that can come from shark liver oil, dairy products, the gelatin of the tendons or ligaments of the cow or pig, biotin, and also some forms of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and retinol.
Vegan products are those that do not contain animal-derived ingredients in their formulation and in their result. Happy to say that nowadays, many companies have dedicated themselves to reformulating their products from scratch. An example is Kylie Cosmetics, which was rebranded into a completely cruelty-free, vegan, and clean brand.
But please be aware of the fact that if a product is listed as vegan, it does not automatically mean that it has not been tested on animals during its manufacture. To recap one more time, if a product is vegan, it does NOT guarantee that it is also cruelty-free.
The Differences Between A Clean Product And A Cruelty-Free Product
Clean Beauty is also known as Non-Toxic Beauty, which means that the products do not contain certain ingredients that are bad for you and the environment or harsh for the skin.
Some examples of the ingredients that don’t make the cut in clean beauty products are sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, pesticides, petroleum derivatives, artificial coloring, and synthetic fragrances.
However, I need to warn about the terms “clean” and “non-toxic.” This is another term that is not regulated, and since it has become increasingly popular, many brands will just put ‘clean’ on their products to gain sales because of the increased clean beauty popularity.
You have to be careful! Thankfully shops like Sephora and Cult Beauty have a special section (Sephora even has its stamp) for real clean/non-toxic products, which makes it easier for us to shop the clean products truly.
Just like how vegan and cruelty-free have different meanings, that goes with clean too. Clean or non-toxic products could still be tested on animals and cruelty-free products don’t have to be clean/non-toxic.
Clean Beauty is centered on creating safe, organic, and natural products that don’t contain harsh chemicals, fragrances, talc, parabens, or dyes. However, clean does not mean chemical-free.
If you do have sensitive skin, neither cruelty-free, vegan nor clean beauty necessarily means that these products will be better for you, and although the ingredients have not been tested on animals and are marketed as more natural/non-toxic, they can still contain irritants that cause contact dermatitis or allergic reactions on the skin.
Meaning Of Certificates
Over the last couple of years, several certificates/stamps are used on brands’ websites and their products. This makes it seem like a product is really cruelty-free, vegan, or clean. But this is another way some brands try to gain trust, sadly. There are some fake versions out there so please be careful and look out for logos that you can actually trust.
Certified Cruelty-Free Logos
There are currently three organizations issuing cruelty-free certifications, and they are:
- PETA’S Beauty Without Bunnies Program
- Leaping Bunny Certification via CCIC
- Leaping Bunny Certification via Cruelty-Free International
- Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF) which as of June 1, 2021, merged with Cruelty-Free International
If you find “Vegan and Cruelty-free” certificates on a product, it means that:
- It is an ethical product.
- During none of the manufacturing processes and/or product development and/or ingredients, animal products, by-products, or derivatives were used.
- No animal tests were used for the product or any ingredient.
- There is no risk of contamination. During its production hygiene rules must be used that prevent the manufacture of non-vegan products in the same space.
Other stamps certifying vegan products are as follows:
- Vegetarianos Hoy (Latin America),
- Vegan Action, The Vegan Society (USA, Canada, and Oceanía),
- Brazilian Vegetarian Society (Brazil),
- European Vegetarian Union (Europe).
Personally, I never trust these certificates or logos. Some brands can make it look so similar to a real certificate that I preferably do research first through Ethical Elephant or Cruelty-Free Kitty. I also check the ingredients list to see if I can spot any non-vegan or toxic ingredients.
How To Support The Cruelty-Free Movement?
If you’re ready to join the cruelty-free movement but don’t know what to do or how to start, you could take one of the following actions:
- Replace the use of products that are not cruelty-free in your home;
- Donate money to organizations that fight animal testing;
- Give your signature and support legal actions for the enactment of laws in your country;
- Make the problem visible to your relatives (or followers, if you’re an influencer/content creator/blogger) without judging;
- Report irregular cases (if already a prohibited topic in your country);
- Volunteer in a problem visualization program;
- Surround yourself with people who support this movement too;
Keep in mind that any action you choose will require time, constant updating, and character. Therefore, it might not be easy to transition to a lifestyle that supports cruelty-free products.
However, you don’t have to change in 1 day. It’s fine if it takes you months or even years. It’s okay if you want to finish products first now that you’ve already bought them. Rome wasn’t built in one day either. Take the time you need!
On top of that, there are also different categories in the cruelty-free movement and you can decide for yourself how far you would like to go and what is achievable for you. If a brand is cruelty-free in your country, and that’s enough for you, that’s fine.
If you don’t want to support brands that still sell in China or who have an animal testing parent company, do you! There’s no right or wrong! We’re trying to better ourselves, save animal lives, and reduce our environmental impact. Trying and not being perfect at it is better than not trying at all.
You don’t have to do everything. It’s not bad if sometimes your actions contradict each other. We tend to be inconsistent at the beginning. Despite this typical human nature, the most important step is to start. If not today, when do you think you could? The moment is always now.
Why Switching Is Critical To The Environment
Not only is switching to cruelty-free makeup and skincare, vegan, and/or clean beauty important for animal and human health, but it is also very critical for the environment. Some of these critical reasons are:
Fewer Chemicals In Production
In general, the chemicals in the products such as parabens and sulfates are harmful. And not only for applying to your skin but also for the whole planet’s health. And the company’s cruelty-free production doesn’t include them. Also, animal cruelty-free cosmetics reduce outbreaks, allergies, and inflammation.
They Use Natural Ingredients And Materials
Many companies or brands that are committed to cruelty-free/vegan/clean production use natural and more sustainable ingredients and materials.
All those products include makeup, skincare, and home cleaners, as well as their packaging. The use of more environmentally friendly materials leads the company to a better choice for the environment.
Experimenting With Animals Is A Very Cruel Process
Animals used in experiments are not only confined to very small cages that limit their ability to move but are also subjected to tests that are more than cruel. They are tortured, mutilated, drowned, and finally killed.
The animals are raised to live a life of fear and suffering. This is in no way environmental-friendly as it can even cause the extinction of animal races.
Allows You To Reduce Exposure To Toxic Products
Switching to cruelty-free makeup and skincare brings you to products that are healthier for you. Many of the most common brands are filled with aggressive or toxic chemicals that don’t bring anything good to your body.
Using lotions filled with kinds of paraffin, fragrances, and harmful chemicals is not a healthy habit, so make sure your skin absorbs those that are healthier.
You’ll Feel Good
When you vote with your dollar and choose with your conscience, it automatically feels good. Choosing not to purchase such products will lead to a decrease in production — thus to less animal testing.
Even if you are just alone, you will know that by being resilient, you won’t have your hands in the torture of animals. It is a very good feeling to know that your purchase of cruelty-free products is supporting the greatest good of our planet.
Whether you spend a dollar or a thousand, it doesn’t matter. When everyone adds up, our individual actions create positive change in the world. Your shopping is part of it.
So, What Can We Do As Consumers?
Switching to a cruelty-free. vegan and/or non-toxic environment will lead to a more minimalist lifestyle. It is a great excuse to think more about your purchases and reminds us to be more aware and less wasteful.
And also encourages us to be better for the environment and our wallets. In addition, your purchase will help the organization that is helping many other companies. Biofriendly Planet described:
“Many companies dedicated to living free from animal cruelty have a personal interest in the problems that plague our planets, such as the extinction of animal species and global warming. For that reason, they have partnerships with organizations and pledge to donate money with every purchase they receive to these noble and valuable causes “.BIOFRIENDLY PLANET