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Are ‘Vegan’ Cosmetics the Same as ‘Cruelty-free’?

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I wanted to answer one of the most frequently asked questions, Are ‘vegan’ cosmetics the same thing as ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics?

No. Generally the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ do not mean the same thing.

I say “generally” here because there is no regulation specifically defining or governing the use of the term ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘vegan’ or similar terms.

When I say ‘generally’.. I mean this is how the general beauty and cosmetic industry uses these two terms.

So simply put, cruelty-free is generally used to imply a product or brand does not test its formulations, ingredients, or finished products on animals.

On the other hand, vegan is generally used to imply a product or brand does not use or contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.

Some cosmetics are both cruelty-free and vegan which implies they’re not tested on animals and do not contain any animal ingredients.

Some cosmetic companies claim to be cruelty-free and do not test on animals but they do not claim to be a vegan brand because they use animal ingredients, like carmine, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, in their cosmetics.

There are a few companies that claim their products are vegan and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients however their products may have been tested on animals. An example of this is Garnier, their Superfruit hair products claims to be free of animal derivatives (and therefore vegan) but unfortunately Garnier is not considered to be cruelty-free as their products are tested on animals in order to sell in Mainland China where animal testing is required by law.

Summary:

  • The term “Cruelty-free” only implies to animal testing
  • The term “Vegan” only implies to the use of animal-derived ingredients (like beeswax, carmine, lanolin, collagen)
  • Cosmetics can be both cruelty-free and vegan
  • Cosmetics can also be cruelty-free but not vegan
  • A few cosmetics can even be vegan but not cruelty-free
2 Responses
  • Steph @ Vegan Catalog
    February 13, 2018

    This is such an important distinction to keep in mind! A product calling out the fact it’s vegan makes it sound like it would be cruelty-free too, but obviously, that isn’t always the case πŸ™

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