Three Things You Can Do with Gifts That Are Not Cruelty-Free

Three Things You Can Do With Gifts That Are Not Cruelty-Free, Vegan Makeup

After the holiday season ends, one of the most common questions I get is, “What should I do with all the gifts I received that are not cruelty-free?” It can be hard to figure out what to do with presents that were thoughtfully picked out for you but are, unfortunately not cruelty-free. Thankfully, there are several things you can do with these gifts that are not cruelty-free.

Below are 3 things you can do with the not-so cruelty-free gifts you get this year:

Three Things You Can Do With Gifts That Are Not Cruelty Free

1. Return or exchange them for cruelty-free and vegan options. 

Many stores will let you do an exchange without a receipt or get store credit for future purchases of cruelty-free products. If a cashier asks why you are returning the item, feel free to let them know you want to support cruelty-free brands and that you do not support this specific brand that tests on animals.

Need some help finding cruelty-free brands? Check out our easy guides to cruelty-free brands at Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, and the drugstore.

Three Things You Can Do With Gifts That Are Not Cruelty-Free

2. Use it as a way to start a conversation about cruelty-free and vegan beauty.

No one wants to give you a gift you cannot use. If you are comfortable with the person who gave you the not-so cruelty-free gift, use this as an opportunity to talk with them about cruelty-free and vegan products. If you are taking this approach, be sure to start by expressing gratitude, stay calm, and be positive. Let them know how important cruelty-free is to you and why it matters. It can be a really great way to introduce people to great cruelty-free brands out there. Often people just don’t realize how easy it is to find great cruelty-free products.

Three Things You Can Do With Gifts That Are Not Cruelty-Free

3. Donate them to a local shelter or organization.

This is probably the best thing that you can do with any gifts that are not cruelty-free. Shelters are always in need of personal care basics such as soap, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, shaving cream, and more. A lot are always looking for makeup as well (cruelty-free or not). Be sure to contact the shelter first to find out what they are in need of and if they have any specifications about the items they accept. Some shelters will take open or gently used items, but some will not. If the shelters and organizations in your area won’t take open products, you may be able to send them to Project Beauty Share.

Using these three tips, you can easily turn any not-so cruelty-free gift situation into something positive. Know someone who needs to see this? Share it with them!

Three Things You Can Do With Gifts That Are Not Cruelty-Free


  1. Thanks, Tashina! Sometimes I hold onto things for folks who I know would love to receive these gifts. Most people don’t really notice it’s being “re-gifted”, and I don’t feel guilty about that one bit. 🙂

  2. Any suggestions for the gift cards I received. I now have three Bath and Body Works gift cards. While they claim the “finished product” is not tested on animals, trying to find out if their ingredients are animal derived is really a challenge. Would I purchase products with the gift cards and then donate them? I really like the donation idea as O was planning on giving them away anyway.
    Thanks for the great suggestions!!

    1. Sadly, Bath & Body Works now states that they test as required by law and I no longer consider them to be cruelty free at all. 🙁

      I know that in some areas there are machines where you can “trade in” gift cards for other gift cards or cash. These are run by Coinstar and are often in the same places. Depending on your state, you may also be able to cash out the gift cards in store too. If you want to donate items with the gift cards, I would call a local shelter and ask what option is best for them.

  3. These are great suggestions. Normally I just use them up or give them away to family/friends but I love the idea of donating them. Toiletries are definitely in high demand so all of those shower gels and lotions will be put to good use.

    The second option is great too, but it’s hard to bring up a topic with some people in a situation where they give you a gift, especially if you’re not that close with them. I’ve had people think I’m being pretentious or scolding them for not also being cruelty-free even if I’m really polite about it, so I use the teaching moment card sparingly. The last thing I want to do is put-off a person from the idea of going cruelty-free because they thought I was being rude or ungrateful.

    1. Definitely feel for you on that second bit – where people get offended since they feel their gift is being “rejected”. What I like to do actually is do one of 1st or 3rd options. Then when a gift giving event comes along I get something from a vegan cosmetics company to give out as a gift. This is actually a really positive way to open a dialogue and open them to vegan possible products for next time (not only for gifts but for themselves as well!).

      My mother in law who isn’t very veg savvy actually bought me some CF stuff for the first time because she knows all the cosmetics I give are CF/Veg!

  4. Great idea about donating the gifts! I did that last year with a gift set I received from a non-cruelty free brand, it went to a local children’s hospital. I noticed they had requested some makeup and nail items for their teenage patients. I felt better knowing that the gift would help a girl feel prettier while she was receiving treatments at the hospital.

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