The terms "cruelty-free" and "vegan" have gained popularity over the past few years as customer demand for animal cruelty-free cosmetics increases and a flood of new cosmetic items from independent and well-known firms sport these labels.

Cruelty-Free vs Vegan: What's the Difference?

Additionally, there is a growing market for vegan cosmetics, which are those without any components originating from animals, such as beeswax or carmine. The market for vegan cosmetics was $15.1 billion in 2021. But did you realise there's a distinction between vegan and cruelty-free?

The two names don't actually signify the same thing, despite the fact that both businesses and consumers frequently use them interchangeably.

It can be confusing to get to grips with cruelty free vs vegan products – so we're going to help break it down for you with our handy guide.

What Does Vegan & Cruelty-Free Mean?

Cruelty-free products

Cruelty-free brands in the beauty and personal care industries is one that doesn't subject its goods to animal testing. 

A company that practises true animal cruelty-free manufacturing never subjects products or ingredients to animal testing. Additionally, they make sure that neither their suppliers nor any outside parties test on animals on their behalf.


A vegan brand is one that exclusively produces vegan products in the beauty and personal care industries, i.e., those without any animal ingredients or by-products.

Additionally, frequent animal ingredients include honey, beeswax, gelatine, yoghurt, and less obvious animal by-products like lanolin (wool grease), squalene (shark liver oil), carmine (crushed beetles), ambergris (whale vomit), and placenta (sheep organs).

Vegan and Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Vs Food

The term "vegan" was first only used to designate a diet that contained no animal products or by-products.

However, it has since developed into a way of life, abstaining from using everything connected to animals, from leather in vegan purses and shoes to non-plant-based glycerine in vegan toothpaste.

Veganism and cruelty-free living are a little clearer in the context of food, but it's almost as if there's a similar gap between them as there is between veganism and vegetarianism.

Although they don't consume meat, vegetarians (a term that is also not legally defined) can nevertheless consume dairy products and honey as well as leather and wool products.

Are vegan cosmetics the same as cruelty-free?

Although veganism and cruelty-free living share many of the same concepts, they are not implemented in the same ways, and meeting a cruelty-free certification does not automatically mean the product is also vegan.

Products labelled "cruelty-free" may include animal derived ingredients (like cruelty-free deodorant that contains beeswax or musk). Is it possible that these goods are actually cruelty free?

What are the benefits of using vegan cosmetics?

  • Gentle - It is gentle on the skin and perfect for people with sensitive or irritating skin disorders, such as rosacea, as it contains natural components that work with rather than against your skin.
  • Eco-friendly — Choosing vegan makeup is much better for the environment, so you can relax knowing that you are contributing to the wellbeing of animals. Everyday eco-friendly products are becoming more and more common.
  • Gluten-free - Many vegan cosmetics are also typically gluten-free, which is a big benefit for those with celiac disease and other inflammatory skin issues. (This isn’t a given though, so always double check!)
  • Conscious consumer - It makes you a more responsible customer because vegan makeup often comes in recyclable, biodegradable, and non-plastic packaging. By picking a vegan brand, you're making a conscious effort to become a more ethical consumer as well as to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The cosmetics industry is highly inventive, and the greatest brands source substances that are just as effective as their traditional rivals.

Finding Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products

How can you find vegan products?

In case you forgot, they're the ones without animal byproducts. This is the simpler of the two to identify because you may perform a rapid check as long as the entire component list is available.

Luckily, there are a number of vegan products on the market, you just have to know where to look.

Start by being familiar with the common animal components found in cosmetics. While some are readily apparent (such as honey and beeswax), others are far less apparent (i.e. glycerine, which can be plant OR animal-derived, so specificity is key).

There are a few reputable vegan groups or bodies that give their seal of approval for vegan products, however they are less well-known than their cruelty-free counterparts:

How can you find cruelty-free products in the cosmetics industry?

There are also a number of cruelty-free and eco-friendly products available on the market, so don’t panic.

The following sources can assist in locating producers of cruelty-free cosmetics:

Looking for vegan and cruelty-free beauty products?

The good news is that more people are looking for cosmetics with a cruelty-free certification as the demand for vegan and cruelty-free businesses is growing.

Take some time on your next search for sustainable packaging or vegan skincare to locate goods that satisfy both, regardless of whether you currently support cruelty-free and/or vegan brands or are just beginning your ethical path.

Take a look at our huge range of vegan products here!

Cruelty free vs vegan FAQs

Is vegan the same as cruelty-free?

Vegan products do not contain any substances produced from animals, whilst cruelty-free products were developed without using any animal testing.

Is vegan automatically cruelty-free?

A company is not necessarily cruelty-free just because it is vegan. The items themselves might not be made with substances sourced from animals, but they might have been tested on animals. An animal-derived product may be found in a cruelty-free brand, though.

What are cruelty-free cosmetics?

Cosmetics created without using animals are frequently marked on the package as "cruelty-free" or "not tested on animals." Additionally, keep an eye out for The Leaping Bunny Logo, which is a universally recognised mark for cruelty-free personal care and household goods.


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