How to Make Sure Your Beauty Regime is Cruelty-Free

There are vegan options as well!

Words by Alba Tarragó
June 16th, 2017

They say that the face is the mirror to the soul. So, naturally, we should pay close attention to the products we apply to it. We’ve all noticed that labels like “vegan” or “organic” are spreading from the grocery store to our beauty and skincare products but what exactly do these mean and should we take note? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an animal rights activist or sacrifice the bacon to make the world a better place for every living being.

Animals are (too) often used to test any kind of beauty product. Because of the similarities between them and human organs, species like dogs, rabbits and mice are exposed to mistreatment for the sole purpose of testing a single ingredient/product. However, today’s technological techniques can easily replace this ancient practice meaning that more and more brands are stepping away from animal testing. These brands are widely available and most of them are affordable for everyone: NARS, E.L.F., Marc Jacobs, Urban Decay, NYX, Catrice or Kiko… These all cruelty-free (and some of them can be considered vegan as well)!

Here is your pocket-sized guide to everything you need to know in terms of animal use or testing on your beauty products.

What does “cruelty-free” mean?

For a product to be completely cruelty-free, there are many things to take into account, as it doesn’t just rely on the brand that you see on the packaging. There are many stages of the production chain that could result in animal testing. For instance, the final item may not have been tested on animals but that doesn’t mean that the ingredients it contains haven’t. Also, due to globalisation, big companies might use third parties in the creation process, who may at some stage conduct some form of animal testing on the individual ingredients or the whole product itself. Often, these third parties don’t provide enough information on their manufacturing methods publicly.

Apart from everything that the production entails, once a brand has been recognised as cruelty-free, it doesn’t mean that it is totally innocent. Many of the new and smaller brands that we’re seeing nowadays are owned by bigger parent companies (for example, NARS is owned by Shiseido). Another aspect that we have to consider about any brand is the list of countries where they’re selling. This might sound a little bit hard, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s not. China is the country par excellence that requires “by law” all products to first be tested on animals. Thus, any product sold there, regardless of brand, cannot be considered cruelty-free when bought in China.

How you can tell that the product is in fact cruelty free can be quite tricky, but sometimes it’s as simple as using ingredients that have already been declared as safe. Believe it or not, some of the 20,000 ingredients that have already been established as safe in the European Union (after being tested) are still checked on animals every time they’re used. So a little bit of research and documentation would be enough to save a few lives.


And what about “vegan” products?

Vegan beauty is as simple as vegan food: it doesn’t contain any animal ingredients or animal derived ingredients. The answer might sound a little bit easier, but, again, it’s not for the brands. It’s very common to see on the back of any beauty products ingredients that come from animals. Honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, and a long etcetera will sound familiar to you. Animals are tested on due to their “unique composition” but thanks to technological advances, it is now possible to create similar materials which can be used for testing purposes and replace all animal involvement.

How can I know if a product is respecting animals’ rights?

The first thing you need to know (and we hope it doesn’t discourage you) is that you can’t trust any “cruelty free” or “vegan” label. Some brands may say that about themselves, but a recognized institution needs to approve it. Leaping Bunny and PETA are the two organizations that can officially say if a product is officially “cruelty free”. Nevertheless, the Leaping Bunny is the only one internationally recognized to be able to certificate it and its requirements are harder to achieve.

On the other hand, if you want to know for sure if a lipstick, a hand cream or whatever you’re buyin is vegan, you should keep an eye on Vegan Action and Vegan Society. But remember that vegan doesn’t imply cruelty free.

Is it hard to go cruelty-free?

Absolutely not. Today, thanks to all the animal activists and beauty lovers, it’s very easy to find out which product suits you the best without having to harm anything. Apart from the websites that we mentioned above, there are many bloggers and sustainable beauty gurus that will make you life easier. Suzi Scheler, the Cruelty-Free Kitty blog owner, is your first stop. She publishes frequently updated lists of cruelty free brands and products that you can find on the internet. But if you want to go further than beauty, cruelty free blogger and advocate Tashina Combs provides all you need to know in beauty and lifestyle, so you can expand your kindness to any aspect of your life. Check out her blog, Logical Harmony, where she also updates a cruelty free brand list. And if you can’t get enough, head to Ethical Elephant and My Beauty Bunny to help you with more tips and suggestions.

Now that you know a new way of making our planet a better place, don’t stress out. Keep calm, get back all the makeup that you’ve just thrown in the bin and stop blaming yourself. We’re just arming you with the information that will allow you to be more conscious about what you buy, because it can make a difference.

Discover for yourself the cruelty free beauty world by indulging yourself (without any regret) with some of our animal lover beauty picks below.

Skin Care

We know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun but sometimes applying a thick layer of cream doesn’t feel like the best sensation in the world. Pixi’s Sun Mist will offer the same nourishment: just spray it all over your face and you’re ready to enjoy the summer! And if you’re in need of a quick but effective makeup remover, try the Essence Bio Water, we promise you will feel the magic on your face. We couldn’t forget about The Body Shop and its miraculous products. We suggest you to try the Overnight Serum-In-Oil with Vitamin E.


Here comes our favourite part! There’s an endless list of cruelty free makeup companies that will make you look incredible, but we know how hard is to move from our usual brands, so you won’t need to. This total coverage concealer from NARS, Kat Von D setting powder and nude pink lipstick from Catrice will have you feeling georgeous and in peace with yourself at the same time.

Hair products

Yes, your hair can also go to sleep with a clear conscience.  Avoid chemical and artificial products in your hair dye routine with the Henna Hair Colour, which can be found in many different tones. We’re sure you’ve heard about Moroccanoil and its great results? Go ahead and keep on using this treatment and if you haven’t tried yet, this is the moment! Looking for a new shampoo? Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi is perfect for daily use.

For more on how we can help our planet, read our guide on sustainability in fashion