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Natural Beauty

What You Need to Know About ‘Cruelty Free’ Beauty

If you want pure beauty products with zero animal-tested ingredients, you have to dig deeper than the "cruelty free" claim on the label.

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Standing in the skincare and cosmetics aisle of any pharmacy or department store can easily make your head spin—not only are there countless brands, formulations, ingredients, and colors to choose from, but you may also be poring over labels trying to decipher which products are the most ethical and sustainable, too. Perhaps you’ve seen the bunny logo on a bottle of moisturizer, lip balm, or eyeshadow suggesting it’s a cruelty free beauty product—but what exactly does it mean?

“Skincare products and cosmetics labeled ‘Cruelty Free,’ or that have the cute bunny logo, generally imply that the products, ingredients, or formulations were not tested on animals at any stage of the products process,” explains celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar. “However, there is no standard or legal definition of what exactly is or isn’t allowed to be labeled as cruelty free. The FDA has no regulations for the term because there is no legal definition.”

“There is no standard or legal definition of what exactly is or isn’t allowed to be labeled as cruelty free.” – Natalie Aguilar

In other words, the words “Cruelty-free” or “Not Tested on Animals” on a cosmetics label may not reveal the whole truth. For instance, a label that states, “This finished product not tested on animals” may mean that the individual ingredients used were.

So how would you know what to look for when purchasing a product? “To truly know if a product is cruelty-free, it is important for one to do their own research,” says Aguilar. “Some companies claim to be cruelty-free but they have an outsourced third party or suppliers that often test their product on animals. Or some companies are cruelty-free, but sell and supply to places where animal testing continues to be required by law. It upsets me when a company is proud to call themselves cruelty-free, but they allow their products, or formulations, to be tested on animals in another country for profit.”

Another safe bet is to download the Leaping Bunny Program app by Cruelty Free International to guide your purchasing decisions. In order to become Leaping Bunny certified, brands must comply with stringent requirements that prove there has been zero animal testing. You can also search for products on PETA’s “Beauty Without Bunnies” database, which currently contains more than 5,000 brands.

And keep in mind, a product being ‘vegan’ is not the same as it being ‘cruelty free.’ While many brands claim to be both, the terms indicate different things.

“Vegan, as a descriptive term, means that the product does not contain any animal products,” says nurse practitioner and aesthetic specialist Vanessa Coppola, APN-C, FNP-BC, founder of Bare Aesthetic, a New Jersey-based medspa. “Vegan does not mean that the product or its ingredients have not been tested on animals. A brand can be cruelty-free but not vegan if they don’t test on animals but they do contain animal products. And vice versa.”

From: Vegetarian Times