Vegan vs. cruelty free cosmetics. What´s the difference?

Vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. Is there any difference?

Although they may seem synonyms, cruelty-free and vegan labels in cosmetics don´t always have the same meaning. If you are an animal lover and a protectionist, this is what you need to know.

The beauty industry has been causing animal abuse by using rabbits, mice, and monkeys to test cosmetic products and find out their possible results. Fortunately, more and more companies are distancing themselves from these traditional procedures and opting for production free of animal suffering.

That is why labels such as organic, vegan, eco-friendly, or cruelty-free frequently appear on the packaging of makeup and facial care products. But which of these characteristics is truly animal friendly?

These are some of the labels that can be found in cruelty-free products.

Vegan and cruelty-free are not synonyms

Vegan products

For any cosmetic product to be considered vegan it must not contain any ingredient of animal origin or derivatives such as lactic acids, keratin, elastin, collagen or honey. A slightly less demanding category is that of vegetarian, which assumes that the product cannot contain any part of the animal, but can contain ingredients produced by them. But vegan or vegetarian products can be tested on animals, so although they might not contain animal byproducts, they can still be produced at the expense of their suffering.

The alternative

Cruelty-free products

On the other hand, a cosmetic classified as cruelty-free, that is, free from animal abuse, depends on other factors. For this, both the final product and all the ingredients it contains cannot have been tested on animals. But the responsibility does not only fall on the brand that sells that cosmetic but on third-party companies hired only to carry out a part of the production. If any of these use animals to test their ingredients, then they cannot receive the cruelty-free label.

Vegan cosmetics must not contain any ingredient of animal origin or derivatives.

It is also possible that the firm that markets the product does not test on animals, but is part of a larger company with other brands that do. And, if we go even further, it would be convenient to pay attention to the market for the sale of their products. For example, cosmetics sold in China are required by law to be tested on animals. Thus, any brand that claims to be cruelty-free in Europe loses that category when it goes on sale in the Chinese market.

Learn the difference between vegan and cruelty-free

The bottom line

Although you might be buying products that don't contain animal parts, the fact that they might have been testing them on animals -in horrible conditions- is considered an act of cruelty according to organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The truth is that this procedure has become obsolete. Currently, it is not only possible to have new mechanisms that allow knowing the effects of an ingredient -such as replicas of animal tissue- but there is also a large list of ingredients classified as "safe" that have already been tested previously. Even so, many firms tend to retest these ingredients, either due to ignorance or because they test the final product.

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Tina Reese

Tina is an award-winning columnist and beauty editor. Passionate about all aspects of makeup and skincare, she spends her days trying out new launches and researching the ever-changing world of beauty trends. Follow Tina’s articles and you’ll always stay updated on who’s who and what’s what of the beauty industry.+ info

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