Skin, Lip and Body Care

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

+ Pamela Friedman

If you’re a conscientious skin-care shopper, you may be on the lookout for brands that truly care about how they make their products.

We like to think that’s why you’re on our website right now, because you know we put every single ingredient through quality and toxicology testing to be sure that it’s 100 percent safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

But when you’re trying to navigate through the vast world of skin care products out there, it can get a little confusing. We wanted to address one of the questions customers often ask us: What’s the difference between vegan and cruelty-free?

After all, they both have to do with animal products, so if a product qualifies as one, does it qualify as the other, too?

What are Vegan Beauty Products?

If you’re a vegan, you avoid eating and using animal products, and you probably want to avoid animal products or associations with animals in your skin care products, too.

Understanding that a large portion of the population is vegan, manufacturers have started adding the word to their product labels. It’s important to understand that when it comes right down to it, the word means nothing.

Manufacturers don’t have to pass any tests showing their products are vegan. They can simply slap the word “vegan” on their products if they want to, hoping to appeal to vegan shoppers.

Products labeled vegan are supposed to be completely free of any animal-derived ingredients. That includes things like honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, gelatin, carmine, and others.

All of these ingredients may come from animal sources, but that doesn’t mean animals were harmed when obtaining them. It doesn’t harm bees to take their honey, for example. But if you’re vegan you may want to avoid these ingredients anyway, based on principle.

A truly vegan product should not have any of these ingredients, but that doesn’t mean they will replace them with plant-based ingredients. Many times, they use similar ingredients created in a scientific laboratory instead.

The only way to tell for sure whether a product is truly vegan is to look for the Vegan Society Logo. It indicates that an independent party verified the products don’t contain animal products or animal by-products in the ingredients or in the manufacturing process. It also ensures that neither the products themselves nor the ingredients used to make them were ever tested on animals.

If you don’t see this logo, you can’t be certain of either of these things. Then, it’s best to read the ingredient list, and check with the company.

In addition, “vegan” by itself —without the Vegan Society logo—does not mean that the product or the ingredients were not tested on animals.

What Are Cruelty-Free Products?

Cruelty-free means that the neither the product nor the ingredients used to make it were tested on animals. It does not mean that the product is free of animal-derived ingredients, however. A product can contain honey, for example, or carmine, but still be cruelty-free.

A product can be cruelty-free, but not vegan, and vice versa. Popular brand Burt’s Bees products, for example, are cruelty-free, but they are not vegan, as many of their products contain honey, royal jelly, carmine, milk, and/or lanolin.

Though most companies that claim to be cruelty-free truly are cruelty-free, there is a logo put out by PETA that supports the claim. You can look for this logo when shopping for cruelty-free products.

How to Find the Products You Want When Shopping for Skin Care

When shopping, you get to determine what you want. If you’re looking for vegan and cruelty-free together, look for both claims to be present, and don’t assume that one covers the other.

If a product label doesn’t make it clear for you, don’t hesitate to contact the company directly. They should be happy to tell you exactly what items they have that are either vegan or cruelty-free, or both.

Some online shopping websites will also offer a list of cruelty-free or vegan brands. You can review those for help when making your skin care decisions.

Here at CV Skinlabs, we are proudly cruelty-free, and two of our products are vegan: Calming Moisture and Rescue + Relief Spray.

How do you shop for vegan or cruelty-free products?

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