Cruelty-Free Checklist to Know if a Brand Tests on Animals or Not

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Cruelty-Free Checklist

We have created a Cruelty-Free Checklist as a helpful guide to determining whether a brand is cruelty-free or not.

With so many self-proclaimed ‘Cruelty-Free’ beauty brands popping up every day, it can be difficult to know which brands are truly cruelty-free where none of their products or ingredients are tested on animals at any stage of product development and manufacturing, anywhere in the world.

However, some brands are now jumping on the cruelty-free bandwagon by claiming their products are “cruelty-free” without providing any supporting evidence, documents, or notes to back up their claims.

Why this is a problem..

Unfortunately, there is no standard or legal definition for the term ‘cruelty-free’, so brands can call themselves and their products ‘cruelty-free’ and it can mean whatever they want it to mean.

This is why it’s important for cruelty-free consumers to look beyond the label and to fact check a brand’s cruelty-free commitment to ensure no animal testing occurred throughout their entire supply chain in the manufacturing, production, and distribution of their products.

In addition, some brands have carefully worded their animal testing policy to make it sound like they’re cruelty-free when in fact, they aren’t. For example, stating that they don’t test on animals, but failing to mention that, they are paying and allowing others to do so on their behalf.

Read More: Don’t Fall For These Cruelty-Free Loopholes

To avoid falling for these cruelty-free loopholes and misleading claims, we make sure when verifying a brand’s cruelty-free status, to ask them very specific questions about their animal testing policy.

That way, we can get to the bottom of whether a brand is truly cruelty-free or not.

In order for brands to be listed in our Cruelty-Free Brand Directory, we verify each and every brands’ animal testing policy to ensure the brand does not commission, conduct, or condone any form of animal tests on its finished product or ingredients, anywhere in the world.

Cruelty-Free Checklist

We verify a brand’s animal testing policy and cruelty-free status using the following criteria and checklist:

  • ✔ The brand does not test any of its finished products on animals
  • ✔ The brand does not test any of its ingredients on animals
  • ✔ The brand does not allow or ask a third party to test its ingredients, formulations, or finished products on animals on its behalf
  • ✔ The brand’s ingredient suppliers also do not test on animals and they verify this with documents or certifications
  • ✔ The brand does not allow its products or ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law
  • ✔ The brand does not import or sell its products in stores in mainland China that may require animal tests and does not allow the Chinese government to test its products or ingredients on animals when required by law.

It’s a checklist because, in order to be considered Cruelty-Free, brands must meet all of the above criteria.

A checklist to help you research a brand's cruelty-free status

Using the Cruelty-Free Checklist, we then categorize brands into one of three lists: Cruelty-Free, To Avoid, or Unclear Policy.

Verified Cruelty-Free Brands

Only brands that are willing and able to answer all of our questions and meet all of the criteria in our Cruelty-Free Checklist are included in our Cruelty-Free Brand Directory.

Brands to Avoid

If a brand admits its products, ingredients, or formulations may have been tested on animals either by the company, a third party, or its suppliers then we would not consider the brand to be cruelty-free and they’ll be listed in our Brands to Avoid List.

Unclear Cruelty-Free Status

And if a brand is unable to answer or provide clarifications to any one of the items on the Cruelty-Free Checklist then we would also not consider them to be Cruelty-Free. 

Note, if that’s the case, it does not automatically mean the brand does test on animals, it means they don’t meet all of the criteria to be classified as Cruelty-free by our standards. These brands often end up in our Brands with Unclear Policies List or in our unpublished pending brand list as we wait for a comprehensive response from the brand.

Parent Company Testing

We also note whether a cruelty-free brand is owned by a parent company that does test on animals (i.e. NYX and Urban Decay are both cruelty-free, but they’re owned by L’Oreal).

Currently, we do list cruelty-free brands that are owned by a non-cruelty-free parent company but we make sure to state if that’s the case in our brand directory, as well as, our product and shopping guides. That way, cruelty-free shoppers can decide for themselves if they want to buy from these brands or not.


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“Make ethical choices in what we buy, do, and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.”― Marc Bekoff

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Cruelty-Free Checklist to Know if a Brand Tests on Animals or Not