Many people think that the labels Vegan and Cruelty-Free are interchangeable when it comes to cosmetics. I get messages on a frequent basis asking, “I see that your makeup is labeled vegan, but is it Cruelty-Free?” I realized then that the answer to that question must not be common knowledge as I had once assumed, so here’s what you need to know about the difference between Vegan makeup and Cruelty-free makeup.
The short version is as follows:
Vegan = No animal products or by-products in the ingredients.
Cruelty-Free = No animal testing on the products.
That may seem simple, but it’s actually quite a bit more nuanced. A product can be vegan, or cruelty-free. It can be cruelty-free and not vegan. It can’t be vegan but not cruelty-free. I imagine I probably just made the subject even more confusing, so let me explain.
Cruelty-Free but not Vegan?
Let's say you’ve just entered the drug store and you’re making the conscious choice to use products that don’t harm animals. You look at every bottle of foundation to find that infamous little bunny icon that tells you the product is cruelty-free. Then you look at the ingredients and notice that there’s a milk protein or gelatin (which is made up of boiled animal bones and cartilage) or something along those lines. You’d probably wonder how something with animal ingredients could be considered cruelty-free, but all cruelty-free really means is that the finished product wasn’t lab tested on any animals. You could have a product that only contained animal products and call it cruelty-free. Alternatively, cruelty-free doesn’t mean that the ingredients were never tested on animals. As said previously, it only means that the finished product wasn’t tested on animals. Of course this is a big step in the right direction, but we can do better.
Vegan but not Cruelty-free?
While a product can be called cruelty-free but not vegan, a vegan makeup product cannot be vegan but not cruelty-free. You may read other articles that claim this is not true, but frankly there’s a lot of misinformation about what the definition of vegan even is. Some think its a diet, some think it simply means no animal ingredients. Veganism, more than anything else, is a political stance and way of living. The definition of vegan as defined by The Vegan Society is, "A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” In order for a product to be considered vegan, it cannot harm animals in any way at any point in the process. This of course means that a product being animal tested would disqualify it from being considered vegan.
Cruelty Free and Vegan?
This label is somewhat redundant, seeing as we now know that a truly vegan product is inherently cruelty-free. However most companies will include both labels to avoid confusion.
If you really want to avoid harm to animals in relation to your cosmetics, look for products labeled vegan. Buying cruelty-free is a great first step, but buying vegan is a step better. More and more companies have realized there’s a high demand for products that go above and beyond when it comes to animal welfare and have followed suit by offering certified vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. You can purchase EVXO products here, which all happen to be vegan and cruelty-free. EVXO was created by vegan founders, so we know what we’re talking about when it comes to the subject.