Despite the massive popularity in vegan and cruelty free cosmetics there’s still some confusion between what vegan exactly is, and what cruelty free means when it comes to products and brands. Oftentimes they are still used interchangeably. Let’s try and explain the differences are simply as possible because there are indeed differences.
What is Vegan?
Vegan beauty products are products that don’t contain any animal ingredients whatsoever.
Here are some other common animal derived ingredients commonly found in beauty products:
- Bee products (honey, propolis, bee pollen, royal jelly)
- Animal proteins and vitamins
- Snails (found in many Korean beauty products)
- Fish and other marine animals
If you want to really dive in deeper, here are some helpful go-to resources in the book, Veganissimo A to Z: A Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Avoiding Ingredients of Animal Origin in Everyday Products.
Vegan Society Logos
The Vegan Society organization is well established and takes extensive measures to ensure that an individuals company’s products are 100% vegan.
First, experienced team members evaluate applications to query for potential animal ingredients.
Then, The Vegan Society performs audits in order to confirm that vegan ingredients are not cross-contaminated with animal ingredients in manufacturing facilities.
Furthermore, registrations must be renewed annually to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
Vegan.org is a well known vegan certification organization.
Similar to The Vegan Society, Vegan.org certifies individual products from various companies.
They too have an extensive application process in order for products become vegan certified. They are rigorous in their application process. Products must not contain any animal ingredients, which includes cross-contaminated items. Vegan.org has grown the trust to be a highly reputable company.
Here are what the Vegan Society genuine logos appear as:
What is Cruelty Free?
A beauty product that is certified Cruelty Free means that neither the product itself nor the ingredients have been tested on animals.
This can be a bit confusing, since many company don’t test the final product, but they do test some of the ingredients within the product.
Therefore it’s important to look for accreditation from high quality vetted agencies and organizations such as Peta or Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny logos.
These logos are from certified organizations. But be careful because there are some phonies out there that look very similar!
Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognized certification cruelty free organization. In order for a company to be Leaping Bunny certified, they must make a pledge that all stages of product development are free from animal testing. Furthermore, their suppliers must commit to the same pledge that the ingredients are also cruelty-free as well. Finally, all Leaping Bunny companies agree to independent audits, and their commitments must be renewed on an annual basis.
The Leaping Bunny standard is practiced throughout North America and the European Union. For example, Cruelty Free International is 1 of 26 groups in the Leaping Bunny coalition. Cruelty Free International is stationed in the UK but has direct ties with Leaping Bunny and works on an international scale to end animal cruelty.
CHOOSE CRUELTY FREE (CCF) is an independent, non-profit organization based in Australia that is against animal testing. Companies seeking accreditation must sign a legally binding contract. To be accredited, none of the company’s products and ingredients, including those provided by its suppliers, may have been tested on animals. CCF also has a strict policy on animal-derived ingredients.
Even if companies are certified by Leaping Bunny, PETA, or CCF, that doesn’t mean you’ll see the cruelty-free bunny logos displayed on their packaging. Unfortunately, there is a licensing fee to use the logos, which not all companies can afford. However, these organizations fulfill an important function.
Says Jane Iredale, “Certifications matter, because anyone can claim to be cruelty-free, but without proof, it’s a meaningless statement.”
PETA is perhaps the most widely used of all cruelty-free certification logos worldwide. Unfortunately PETA does not strictly enforce regulations to ensure a company’s cruelty-free status. In fact, there is only one step between a company claiming to be cruelty-free and getting PETA certified: a promise.
Beware of Fake Cruelty Free Certification Logos!
These companies are looking to deceive you into believing they do not test on animals. If you’re unsure contact the company directly on their Facebook page.
The confusion can come about when you consider than a Vegan product made without any animal ingredients can actually be tested on an animal!
And, some cruelty free products might contain some animal derived ingredients such as honey or beeswax.
So! With this in mind, labels can be tricky to say the least.
The only way to be 100% sure that no animals were harmed at all to make your beauty or cosmetic products is to look for products and shop with companies that vow to be and state in their paperwork and on their website and products that they are BOTH vegan AND Cruelty-Free.