Vegan vs. Cruelty-Free

August 29, 2011By 5 Comments

I wanted to post about this because I think there may be some confusion as to what these terms mean in the world of beauty products and whether or not they are mutually exclusive.

Bottom line: Cruelty-free products are not always vegan.

“Cruelty-free” refers to products that are not tested on animals, and “vegan” refers to products that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. (Apologies to peeps that are already like, “duh”) ←It may seem obvi, but it’s not always. Hopefully one day, “cruelty-free” will actually mean 100% cruelty-free; that is, no animal anything at all (testing or body parts/secretions).

Common animal-derived ingredients include: honey (bee barf), beeswax, carmine (crushed bugs), collagen, lanolin (jizzy sebaceous gland substance from sheep), etc. For a complete list of icky, non-vegan ingredients, click here.

I also wanna point out that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you’ve been buying cruelty-free products and discovering they have animal ingredients in them after the fact. Nobody’s perfect, and quite honestly, some ingredients are so ambiguous (with their 14-syllable science labby names), that it’s virtually impossible to know WTF you’re buying.

Luckily, lots of companies are incorporating logos like these:

My advice is to not only look for these types of logos, but always read labels for ingredients (just like when shopping for vegan food)—and if all else fails, contact the company and ask them if their products are vegan and/or cruelty-free. You’ll be glad you did (peace of mind is priceless)! :)

About Sunny ()

Longtime vegan, hardcore compassionate beauty junkie, serious cake aficionado, and lover of all things floofy and sparkly! If there's something in particular you'd like me to review, drop me a line at Sunny@VeganBeautyReview.com. You can also find me on Google +.

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Comments (5)

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  1. jsoleil says:

    I agree! It’s so stupid that “cruelty free” doesn’t include animal ingredients. It makes it all harder!
    Hopefully your Cruelty Free lists mention which brands are also vegan like ours does.
    http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au

  2. Karmalily says:

    I would love to see more companies use labels similar to the ones you showed above (as well as the “V” label like Whole Foods uses) to let consumers make better-informed choices. It would make life so much easier for us vegans.

  3. Abby Bean says:

    Great post! It’s been my experience that a lot of companies don’t respond. That’s just when I assume they do not care enough to be compassionate & move on: voting with my dollars, as they say.

    Note: some companies will surprise you. In a rage of letter writing, I once contacted Lucky Brand to inform that I loved their style, but hated that they utilized so much suede and letter in their accessories. I received a very thoughtful and thorough reply, leading me to believe that if more people contacted companies respectfully, we’d see more change. Sometimes it’s not always about complaining, but about suggesting. Consumer power!

    • Sunny says:

      Yep, I totally agree. It’s so important to show companies that there’s a demand for cruelty-free goods. Little by little they’re making compassionate changes. :)

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