What’s the Difference? Defining Vegan and Cruelty-Free Products

Your skin is the largest organ on your body. Like other organs, it is always a good idea to take care of it. This is why many people want to keep their skin looking healthy and flawless. One of the ways people are keeping their skin looking great is incorporating cruelty-free and vegan products into their daily hygiene routine. However, when it comes to these products there seems to be some confusion about the terms. Many people ,including myself, use the terms interchangeably. However, there is a difference between cruelty-free products and vegan products.

What defines a product as Cruelty-free?

The term “Cruelty-free” means the product was NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS.

However, because there isn’t an “official” government agency or set standards to define “cruelty-free”. Thus each company defines the term differently. For example, some companies may use another companie’s animal-testing results to produce their products or even be owned by a parent company which tests on animals but the smaller company may not.

Here are some ways I check:

  • Checking the website animal-testing policies.
  • Emailing the company.
  • Researching if the company exists in China. To date, all cosmetics and body products in China must be tested on animals before consumer use.
  • Visiting the CCIC’s Leaping Bunny Program site.
  • Reviewing the PETA’s consumer guide website.

What defines a product as Vegan?

The term “Vegan” means the product is BOTH cruelty-free and does not contain animal-based products. This includes honey, lanolin, beeswax, and many others.

A complete list of animal-based can be found on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals website.

With that say, products can be a mix of synthetic (man-made) or/and plant-based materials.

What should I look for?

Just like reading nutrition labels on the food you buy, it is always wise to read the labeling on beauty products, especially if you choose to be an all-vegan beauty consumer. Here is an image of the most popular labeling of vegan and cruelty-free products. If you see this, chances are the products are vegan and/or cruelty-free!

Vegan and Cruelty-Free Labels

These labels states the company meets the requirements of being vegan and/or cruelty-free.

Remember! Not all companies will have labeling so researching is not a bad idea!


  • Vegan is defined as a product that does not contain animal-based materials and was not tested on animals for the creation of the product. The product can be a blend of synthetic (man-made) or plant-based materials.
  • Cruelty-free is defined as a product that was not tested on animals, however, can have animal-based materials.

Remember it is your choice to have an all-vegan makeup bag or a blend!

More Information

The Ulimate Vegan Makeup Guide

Lab Animal Welfare: Cruelty-Free Labeling


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