What’s the Big Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan Beauty?

clean beauty collective blog vegan vs cruelty free beauty

What’s the Big Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan Beauty?

If you’re fervent label readers like us, you’ll know what we’re talking about when we say it’s all too easy to be blinded by science – and labels, and claims, and the general hyperbole that surrounds the release of yet another buzz ingredient. There are literally thousands of seals, certifications, and fancy descriptions in the beauty aisle and online, all declaring why a particular product is wonderful and why you should buy it. And buy it NOW.

One of the most sought-after terms these days is ‘vegan’, which has joined ‘cruelty-free’ as top of the list for beauty freaks that also align themselves closely with animal welfare. Sales of vegan cosmetics are reportedly up 100 percent this year alone, with the prime market being 16- to 34-year-olds. You don’t have to be a hardcore animal rights activist to feel disturbed by what goes on in many animal testing laboratories, but did you know that certified vegan products don’t actually have to be cruelty-free?


There’s three ways animals can be involved in the creation of your cosmetics:

Cosmetics are tested on animals.

Cosmetics contain animal products, such as honey or beeswax.

Cosmetics contain animal-based ingredients, such as some types of hyaluronic acid.

Cruelty-free products eliminate the first step only. Vegan products eliminate all three.



Vegan means that a product does not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. It describes the ingredients, rather than the production process. Items that are tested on animals can claim to be vegan, if they contain no ingredients of animal origin.



Cruelty-Free means that the ingredients/components and final product have not been tested on animals. It refers to the testing process, not the ingredients, which means it is possible for a cruelty-free product to contain non-vegan ingredients, such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, or gelatin.



So, what should one look for? The best option is to seek out both vegan and cruelty-free descriptions in a product. It is harder to find, but not impossible, especially as demand grows and companies respond.

A company can claim anything on a label, so it’s pretty important that you look for accreditation by known and respected organisations such as Choose Cruelty-Free, The Vegan Society, PETA, or Leaping Bunny in order to know that the claim is backed up.

Vegan and cruelty-free do not necessarily mean that an ingredient list is clean, safe, or all-natural, either – so read your lists and try and be as educated as possible when you next go beauty shopping!

A great place to start is Logical Harmony’s brand list, which is updated weekly as brands make more and more moves towards what the conscious consumer wants – great makeup, haircare, and skincare that doesn’t harm the planet, nor any of its inhabitants.