You love animals, right? You’ve probably heard the term ‘cruelty-free’ not once or twice. And, no, we’re not going to discuss your diet and eating preferences here. Cosmetics can be cruel in many ways, too. Cruel to your health, harsh to the environment, but it can be especially cruel to animals. Testing on animals practices still exist in the beauty industry, believe it or not. Approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer for cosmetics testing every year around the world.1 These are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, and mice. And while most people can’t exclude meat from their meals for one reason or another, carefully choosing cosmetics and skincare to show compassion for animals is an achievable goal.

Why testing on animals?

First, let’s bust the popular myth that companies test their products on animals just because the law requires them to do so. Wrong (True in China, though). In the United States, for example, FDA states that the companies are only required to prove the safety of their products and the ingredients they contain. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) regulating the matter, however, does not specifically recommend the use of animals in testing procedures. Consequently, cosmetic manufacturers could engage other, cruelty-free methods. This might be cell and tissue cultures, employing in vitro tests or conducting clinical studies on humans. As well as using computer and mathematical models. If companies decide to choose from the thousands of cosmetic ingredients with existing safety data sheets, they would never have to test. That’s how cruelty-free companies work.

The Difference between Cruelty-Free and Vegan in Cosmetics

Both terms overlap, but only partially. Vegan means having no animal-derived ingredients. Cruelty-free indicates no animal testing was applied to verify the safety of a beauty product. Cruelty-free products are not necessarily vegan, however. Many products labeled as cruelty-free contain a majority of synthetically derived substances. Thus, they have nothing to do with ‘natural’, ‘organic’ or ‘vegan’. While vegan is supposed to be also cruelty-free for the cause behind it implies it – it’s not always the case, either.

Cruelty-Free Labels – the Deceptive Truth

Let’s stick to the truth! ‘Cruelty-free’ or ‘not tested on animals’ labeling often refers only to the final cosmetic product. A company can state it doesn’t test on animals but still make a contract with a laboratory to perform testing on its behalf. Also, the final product might not have been tested on animals itself, but it might contain ingredients that have been. You should be aware that even certified cruelty-free products may contain raw materials that have been tested on animals years ago when first introduced. Those certifications take into consideration only the current state of affairs.

Certification Standards you can Trust

The best guarantee that you’re choosing a cruelty-free brand is to buy products from companies that have been certified by the Leaping Bunny Program. This is the gold standard for non-animal tested cosmetic products. It requires that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or raw material suppliers. Note we said “new” animal testing. While many ingredients have been tested on animals in the past, the Standard is intended on preventing animal testing in future and eventually eradicating this practice from the industry. Which is undoubtedly valuable. Over 600 companies have been certified and use the Leaping Bunny Logo on their products.

The Leaping Bunny Program has created a list of approved brands where you could check if a company is cruelty-free certified and complies with the standard. There’s a similar cruelty-free list by PETA. While PETA’s list features way more brands than the Leaping Bunny’s, the latter is far more selective and procedures for certification – far more rigorous. Unlike PETA, the Leaping Bunny Program requires not only an official statement but on-site audits by independent third party to prove the validity of the claims.

Cruelty-free certification logos
Certification Standards you can trust

There are brands that have not been certified, still, their products can be truly cruelty-free. This especially refers to European companies. Testing on animals for cosmetic products and the raw materials required to create them have been completely banned in the EU since 11 March 2013. All companies had to comply with this regulation.

Top 10 Cruelty-Free Brands

A living creature might have suffered in inhumane testing procedures for the purpose of you looking nice! And you still might get allergy or skin sensitivity from your mascara or lipstick or eye shadow. Doesn’t really sound motivating. Does it? And now that you know more on the subject, you can make your own informed choices – to support it or eradicate it. Don’t have second thoughts. Cruelty-free products are now easy to find and easy to recognize. They can also be affordable and quality has not been sacrificed. This is a top 10 list of our favorite cruelty-free brands:

  • 100% PURE
  • ALIMA Cosmetics
  • Avalon Organics
  • Beauty without Cruelty
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Eminence Organics Skin Care
  • LUSH
  • Too Faced Cosmetics

  1. Humane Society International. About Cosmetics Animal Testing. Available at

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