Cruelty-Free v.s Vegan - What's the Difference?

Updated: Aug 22

Animal products and byproducts have been used for beauty treatments since the days of Cleopatra's milk baths—but a growing movement is aiming to change that. All signs point to a vegan makeup revolution—and it's happening right before your well-mascaraed eyes.

Sometimes it can be super tough to find products that are vegan and have not been tested on animals. My Journey is ongoing and I have relied on other blogs like CRUELTY-FREE KITTY, ETHICAL ELEPHANT and PETA to fact-check me and my products. I am slowly but surely making the switch over to not only Cruelty-Free but Vegan products as a result of my latest personal goal; a Vegan lifestyle.

Many people are surprised to find out that no, they are not the same. I urge you to take your own cruelty-free pledge. If you can do your part to help by buying all cruelty-free products, then it’s definitely a step in the right direction and worth supporting. For some, buying vegan products is an easy transition and once they learn about what exactly they are supporting, they could never go back. For others, going cruelty-free is all that they can do. Even just swapping a handful of your products for cruelty-free or vegan versions is great! What each person is able to do is going to be different, and it’s important to take whatever steps you are comfortable with taking.

What Are Vegan Products?

A Vegan product is one that does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. This includes honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, and many others. To many, A vegan product is free of animal testing as well.

There are lots of companies that are Cruelty-Free and can offer a mostly vegan selection of items. These companies are often more than happy to tell you exactly what items and shades are vegan. If they are unable to give you a clear answer, it’s best to avoid products by that company.

What are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics?

For a product to be Cruelty-Free, there should be no form of animal testing at any point in the creation of a brand's products. However, a product can be cruelty-free and not be vegan.

It’s common for companies to not test the final product on animals, but to test it along the way or to use ingredients that have been tested on animals by a third-party.

"Required By Law" is another issue that we run into when looking for Cruelty-Free products. In some countries of the world, it is required by law to test the final product on animals. If a Company or a Parent Company sells to countries like China, where it is required by law to test on animals then no matter what the label says, it is not Cruelty-Free. I have bumped into this issue multiple times when fact-checking brands, for example, MAC. MAC is NOT a cruelty-free brand. MAC Cosmetics is owned by Estee Lauder, whose animal testing policy is not to test on animals unless required by law. Because MAC is sold in China, where animal testing is required, MAC isn’t a cruelty-free company.

How Can You Make Shopping Easier?

Do your research, and have sites on hand for when you have questions. There are lots of Cruelty-Free & Vegan bloggers that have already done the research for you. I also will be making up my list as I go. This makes shopping so much easier.

Here are some sites where you can find Cruelty-Free and/or Vegan brand lists:

*Careful, some brands on these lists are owned by brands that are NOT Cruelty-Free!*

-> Ethical Elephant- Vegan Brand List (my go-to!!)

PETA- Cruelty-Free &Vegan

Ethical Elephant- Cruelty-Free Brand List

Cruelty-Free Kitty - Sephora Shopping List

PETA - Product Search

Ethical Elephant- Vegan Brand List

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