One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What’s the Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan?”
A lot of people have different definitions of what cruelty-free and vegan mean, and a different understanding of the difference between cruelty-free and vegan. It can be especially difficult when you first go cruelty-free. Personal definitions, however, do not always match up with terms that brands often use.
I get a lot of emails and comments from people who are upset and confused because they were told all cruelty-free brands are also vegan, or because they didn’t realize that a brand can say they are vegan but still test on animals.
As a consumer, it’s really important to understand how brands use these terms so that you can make the best purchasing decision to align with what you want to support.
In this post, I explain the difference between cruelty-free and vegan. I also explain and how they may be used by brands. It’s important to understand how brands use them because it can help you navigate the cruelty-free beauty industry better.
This is the most recent update of a post I originally published on March 15, 2015.
What does cruelty-free mean?
Cruelty-free means that the products have not been tested on animals.
Where it gets tricky is that there is no legal definition of what cruelty-free means, so brands can use it as they please. This is how a lot of brands that do test on animals are able to claim that they are cruelty-free.
It’s common for companies to not test the final product on animals, but to test it along the way or to use ingredients that have been tested on animals by a third-party.
Many brands also hire a 3rd party to conduct animal testing on their behalf. This way, when they say that they aren’t testing on animals they technically are telling the truth. It’s not employees of the brand conducting the animal testing.
Required by law animal testing is also common. This means that the products are tested on animals by a third-party to comply with various regional laws around the world. These products, no matter what the packaging says, are not cruelty-free.
Here at Logical Harmony, cruelty-free means that the brand is not taking part in any animal testing at any point. This means that none of the products or ingredients have been tested on animals, at any point, by any party. This extends from the core ingredients to production to the finished products to the products once they are out on the market.
What does vegan mean?
Vegan means that there are no animal or animal-derived ingredients in the products. This includes beeswax, honey, silk, lanolin, carmine, and many others.
There are lots of beauty companies that are cruelty-free and offer some vegan products. More and more, companies are labeling these options on product packaging or company websites.
Here on Logical Harmony there are lots of vegan product guides from cruelty-free brands and is always adding new ones.
Can a product be vegan but a brand not be cruelty-free? Yes.
Yes. A brand can make vegan products but not be cruelty-free and test on animals.
A lot of people assume that “vegan” on a label means that there is also no animal testing, but that is not necessarily the case. It’s very common to see products from brands that are not cruelty-free with “vegan” on the label because they do not contain animal ingredients.
Can a cruelty-free brand make products that aren’t vegan? Yes.
Yes. A brand can be cruelty-free and make products that are not vegan.
Because cruelty-free refers only to animal testing and not the use of animal ingredients, lots of brands that use animal ingredients are cruelty-free.
So what’s the difference between cruelty-free and vegan?
Cruelty-free means that the product is not tested on animals, but does not have to be vegan.
Vegan means that the product does not contain any animal or animal-derived ingredients, but it can be tested on animals.
Logical Harmony focuses on vegan products from cruelty-free brands.
This means no animal testing and no animal ingredients.
I think that it’s really important to let people know that there is a difference between cruelty-free and vegan so that you can each decide which products are the best for you.
I urge you to take your own cruelty-free pledge. If you can do your part to help by buying all cruelty-free products, then it’s definitely a step in the right direction and worth supporting. For some people, buying vegan products is going to be an easy transition. For others, going cruelty-free is all that they can do. Even just swapping a handful of your products for cruelty-free or vegan versions is great! What each person is able to do is going to be different, and it’s important to take whatever steps you are comfortable with taking.