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)!