There are a lot of confusing marketing terms within the beauty industry. We've already explored what it means when brands or products claim to be "sustainable," and we've dissected the meaning of the word "weedwashing," but we haven't yet tackled the very complicated relationship between animals and beauty. So let's get into it.
What does "cruelty-free" beauty mean?
Cosmetics are labeled as "cruelty-free" when they haven't been tested on animals.
The FDA has not settled on a legal definition that binds cosmetic companies to a set of rules. For example, many get away with labeling themselves as "cruelty-free" because even though they aren't testing the final product on animals, some of the raw ingredients have been. The fact is that most animal testing happens on an ingredient level, allowing brands to hide behind a label that is only partially true.This is especially common because many cosmetic companies acquire their ingredients from third parties that do test on animals.
What about required by law animal testing?
In some parts of the world, animal testing is actually required by law, and can happen at an ingredient level, when they're completely formulated, and even after they've become available to consumers.
In China, all cosmetics and most beauty products must undergo animal testing as required by law.
In China, nearly all cosmetics and beauty products are required to be tested on animals. This is something that the government regulates. The government does the testing, but the brands who sell in China are required to pay for animal testing and to agree to it happening.The the EU and the US, cosmetics must be tested on animals if they also contain some chemicals that are found in household products.
How to avoid being fooled
The Leaping Bunny Program is a coalition of 8 animal protection groups that certify whether or not a cosmetics company is actually cruelty-free. Being Leaping Bunny Certified means that no animal testing was done at all phases of the development of products, plain and simple.
List of cruelty-free makeup brands
Milani believes there's nothing captivating about cruelty and that's why the brand is 100% cruelty free. "We never test on animals, and we don't allow others to test on our behalf," said the brand on it's website. Milani also has a separate vegan collection with over 50 products.
CoverGirl is Leaping Bunny Approved by Cruelty-Free International. "To get certified, we underwent a rigorous independent audit of our global supply chain from start to finish, ensuring that ALL of our products are free from animal testing," explains CoverGirl's website. This means that no matter where in the world you buy CoverGirl products, it's guaranteed that it was made without animal testing.
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Anastasia Beverly Hills is another brand that's committed to formulating cruelty-free. That means you can use the brand's signature Brow Wiz, Contour Kit, and Liquid Lipstick guilt-free.
Elf is proud to be a cruelty-free company. In fact, they have even partnered with influencers who support the cause to spread awareness and fight for industry change. Now your eyes, lips, and face can take fabulous photos with bunnies instead of wear them.
Too Faced is not two faced. The brand practices what it preaches and is 100 percent cruelty-free. Plus, like Milani, Too Faced a separate line of vegan products, if you're looking to take it one step further.
There's nothing sour about Tarte's formulation. This brand does not test on animals. It also has several vegan products, one of which is the Shape Tape Concealer so you can hide your under eye bags instead of hiding animal cruelty.
Becca Cosmetics is another cruelty-free brand that supports the cause by choosing not to sell anywhere where animal testing is required. However, Becca Cosmetics is owned by Estée Lauder, which does test on animals. Hopefully Becca's value's rub off on Estée's
RMS Beauty products are free of many things including cruelty. The brand is also conscious about the environment, packaging creams in recycled glass containers and other products in boxes made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled fibers.
Wet 'n Wild
Wet 'n Wild is part of PETA's Beauty without Bunnies program. "Whether you’re a card-carrying vegetarian who is committed to animal rights (and good for you!), or you just love puppies and bunnies and want them to smile (and who doesn’t?), we are with you," says the brands website. Plus, most of Wet 'n Wild's products are also vegan. You can find the full list online.
Urban Decay does not test on animals or let other brands test on its behalf. "Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals." The only thing decaying here is the former standard of animal abuse in the beauty industry.
Jeffree Star Cosmetics
Jeffree is clearly an animal lover. Have you seen how many dogs he has??? "Makeup is for humans, not animals," says the Jeffree Star Cosmetics website. So don't worry, you can get the Blood Sugar palette without spilling any actual blood.
Watch reviews of some of the most-loved products by these cruelty-free brands below.
What does "vegan" beauty mean?
A beauty product that is vegan does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. This also includes all bee-derived ingredients, lanolin, gelatin, collagen, and many more.
Although cruelty-free and vegan are technically different, most consumers consider vegan and cruelty-free one and the same.
Surprise! This term is also not regulated. This means that products tested on animals, but that don't contain animal ingredients, can call themselves vegan. Vegan does not necessarily mean cruelty-free.
How to avoid being fooled
This one is a little easier than fidning out if a brand or product is cruelty-free. All you have to do is check out the ingredient list, and make sure you know which terms are associated to animal products. If a brand will not share their full ingredient lists (which is sketchy to begin with) and have no proof that they're vegan, then don't risk it.
List of vegan makeup brands
Pacifica is loud and proud about being vegan and cruelty free. It's right there in the logo at the top of the brand's site. Pacifica also takes pride in having compassion for the environment with cleaner formulas and better packaging.
Those with sensitive skin rejoice! Cover FX is vegan and cruelty free AND formulated for all skin types and skin tones. This brand doesn't just have animals in mind. It has everyone in mind.
Kat Von D
Kat Von D is vegan and doesn't test on animals. "Although the FDA hasn’t established a regulation for what it means to be 'vegan,' we define it as a product that does not contain any animal products or by-products, and has not been tested on animals," says the brands website. I guess you could say this brand is a cool Kat looking out for the cool cats. Ba dun tsss!
Lime Crime is certified vegan and cruelty free by PETA. The brand defines vegan as products that do not include "animal ingredients or byproducts such as beeswax, lanolin, whey, and carmine." The only crime this brand is committing is a crime against limes (not really).
We don't ask that brands be perfect from day one. in fact, we applaud brands that weren't vegan but are now because they are growing and evolving and that should always be met with support. Milk Makeup is one of those brands so don't worry, there's no actual milk in these products.
Watch reviews of some of the most-loved products by these vegan brands below.