Is it Cruelty-Free? 5 Ways To Know If Cosmetics Are Tested On Animals

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Switching to cruelty-free cosmetics, personal care, and household cleaning products has never been easier — Thanks to a collection of helpful lists, resources, and apps to help guide us through the beauty aisle and into a cruelty-free skincare routine and household!

Whether you’re short on time, shopping online, or need a virtual cruelty-free consultant, I’ve rounded up 5 ways you can tell whether a product or brand is cruelty-free or not.

What Is Cruelty-Free?

The term “cruelty-free” is used to imply a product and its ingredients and formulations were not tested on animals at any stage of product development and manufacturing, anywhere in the world.

Wait.. animal testing for cosmetics is still happening in 2020?

Sadly, yes. Both household cleaning products and cosmetics are still being tested on animals, even though there is an abundance of scientifically approved non-animal testing methods available that are more accurate, reliable, and cheaper.

If you want to help end animal testing for cosmetics, the easiest thing you can do is switching over to cruelty-free products.

But How Do We Know When Brands Are Cruelty-free?

Depending on the situation, you can use one or a combination of these methods to get the most accurate and reliable information that YOU trust.

1. Look for a certified bunny logo on packaging


The fastest and easiest way to spot whether a product is cruelty-free or not is by looking for a certified cruelty-free bunny logo on product packaging.

You can oftentimes find it on the back of products or labels, however, make sure you’re looking for one of the 3 official cruelty-free bunny logos and know that not all bunny symbols are created equal. So, you want to make sure you take the time to research and learn more about what each of the official cruelty-free accreditations stands for.


Use this method when:

  • You have the product in front of you
  • You want a quick and easy reference
  • You trust the third party organization and their cruelty-free standards

Limitations with this method:


Companies must pay to license and use one of the three certified bunny logos. That means a company can be certified cruelty-free and meet all the standards but they might not be able to afford to pay and use the logo on their packaging.

Also, the organizations that distribute and regulate certified bunny logos all have different cruelty-free standards. They do not all follow the same standards so it’s important you find the one that you agree with.

Watch out for: Unofficial bunny logos! The three certified bunny logos mentioned above are different from other standard bunny logos because there is a third party that is regulating who gets to use them; only brands that meet their set of standards are allowed to carry their logo. So some companies try to deceive customers by displaying a similar cute bunny logo hoping compassionate shoppers will take the bait.

2. Rely on an online list of certified cruelty-free brands

Shopping online or don’t have the product in front of you? Then you can also reference an online directory of certified cruelty-free brands. Unlike the first method, a company doesn’t have to pay to be on the list of cruelty-free brands. They still do need to meet all of the cruelty-free standards in order to be listed and using this method will ensure you aren’t missing out on any noteworthy brands who may not have been able to afford licensing and using the bunny logo on their packaging.

Certified Cruelty-Free Brand Lists:

  • Leaping Bunny
  • Cruelty-Free International (same as Leaping Bunny but list companies with headquarters outside US and Canada)
  • Choose Cruelty Free
  • PETA’S Beauty Without Bunnies

Use this method when:

  • You trust another organization and their cruelty-free standards
  • You may or may not have the product in front of you. The list is organized alphabetically by the brand name so you just need to know the company name.
  • If you want a portable version of the list, you can print it out.

Limitations with this method:

Cruelty-free certifications have different standards so it’s important you find an organization that you agree with and you’ll often find that each cruelty-free list will feature different brands from one another. You might find a brand on one list but not on another.


3. Use a cruelty-free app!

If printing a list of cruelty-free brands and bringing it to the store is not your thing then you’ll be happy to hear there an app for that! Download a cruelty-free mobile app where you can quickly scan a product’s barcode and instantly know whether it’s tested on animals or not.

Cruelty-Free Mobile Apps:

Use this method when:

  • You have the product in front of you to scan
  • Need a quick reference on the go or at the store
  • Short on time
  • You trust another organization and their cruelty-free standards

Limitations with this method:

Your trust is in a third party’s cruelty-free standards and how frequently the app is updated. A product or brand may also scan and show different results across various cruelty-free apps. Some apps are free while others cost $2.99. This method will require you to have a smartphone and a reliable wifi/data connection.

4. Email/Message the Company Yourself

This method is the most time consuming but will achieve the most updated and reliable results. By crafting and emailing your own specific animal testing questions to brands will ensure all of your cruelty-free questions and concerns will be properly addressed.

Use this method when:

  • You don’t trust other third party organizations or their standards
  • There is no available information online or on a product’s packaging
  • If there is available information, it is outdated
  • When you have the time

Limitations with this method:

It is more time-consuming; expect a week to a month before getting a response and sometimes require a follow-up email

5. Consult a Cruelty-Free Expert or Blogger!

Just like you would consult a real estate agent when buying a house, cruelty-free beauty experts and bloggers are incredibly helpful when you need a first, second, or third opinion. They do most of the work for you of emailing companies and cross-referencing cruelty-free lists.

You can follow, tweet, DM, or email a cruelty-free blogger or use their own curated cruelty-free lists as a reference.

Use this method when:

  • You trust a cruelty-free expert/blogger and their standards of what they consider “cruelty-free”
  • You want an outsiders opinion other than the brand that is trying to sell you their products

Limitations with this method:

Blogs are merely just opinions and no two opinions are alike so there may be contradicting theories across various cruelty-free bloggers. And just about anyone can start a blog nowadays so just be mindful about which bloggers you trust and where they are getting their information from.

Now you can be well on your way to shopping cruelty-free with these resources to ensure the next product you buy wasn’t tested on animals and is 100% cruelty-free!

What do you think?

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    September 13, 2016

    hi!!! i would like to know if the ”insight” is cruelty free???

  • Ado
    May 13, 2016

    Honestly, after what I’ve seen with “certified” logos, I trust them as much as third party bunny stickers…

    Nice article =)

“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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Is it Cruelty-Free? 5 Ways To Know If Cosmetics Are Tested On Animals