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The terms “cruelty-free” and “vegan” have become widely known in the green beauty space. They have two totally different meanings yet are being used interchangeably by consumers. Cruelty-free and vegan have even become perceived to be synonymous with natural or clean. While we won’t go too far into the murky waters of the term “natural” (beware of greenwashing and clean-washing), we will distinguish the difference so you can determine what is important to you.

You know the green bottle that’s eye level on the shelf, with the fauna and flora and Vegan stamp? Yeah, the one that’s designed to scream “pick me, I’m the healthy choice”. They’re trying to trick you. To lure you into with their botanical extracts and fruity fragrance. But it’s vegan! This company must be saving the planet and they care about my well-being. No no no. It means nothing! As we always say, start with the ingredient deck then investigate the brand story.

Here’s a real-life example: Garnier Ultimate Blends Silicone-free Shampoo The wholesome nourisher is vegan, but it’s also filled with chemicals, harmful fragrance, and it’s not cruelty-free. Garnier tests on animals. Same with L’Oreal’s EverPure Shampoo and Conditioner that has the 100% Vegan stamp. L’Oreal is not cruelty-free, they test on animals.

Back to vegan vs. cruelty-free beauty products (we always get side-tracked when it comes to those dirty greenwasher). Vegan and cruelty-free both refer to animals and are both important factors in regards to animals. However, there’s a big difference. Unless you’re actually vegan and stick to a strict vegetarian diet, it might not be that important to you. Vegan does not mean no animal testing. Vegan simply means no animal by-products are used. Cruelty-free means no animals were harmed in the process of making the beauty product.

The other tricky part is know the legitimacy of these claims. A brand must be certified by Leaping Bunny to be considered cruelty-free. We do everything in house from development to production. This provides us the control as well of the responsibility of ensuring all of our sourcing is cruelty-free. You’d be shocked how many components cannot guarantee that they haven’t been tested on animals. If a brand is sold in China, that means it has been tested on animals. China requires animal testing to ensure the products are safe for people (cue Sarah McLaughlin, tear).

Just as brands claim to be “natural” when their full of chemicals, they can claim cruelty-free without being certified. Until the FDA gets it together to send out the label police, there are no major regulations on what a brand puts on the bottle.

Cruelty-free makeup and skincare can contain animal by-products such as beeswax, lanolin, and carmine. We have chosen to use natural ingredients rather than be a fully vegan beauty brand. The thing about vegan is that if they are not using carmine, most often then not they are using synthetic pigments. We made the decision to use natural ingredients rather than cancer-causing FD&C colors. Plus, beeswax is a wonderful ingredient that makes a nontoxic lipstick creamy and smooth and no bees are harmed in the sourcing of our wax.

Here’s the problem, people see vegan and think natural. Vegan most likely contains synthetic ingredients and is therefore, not natural or clean and safe. Vegan also doesn’t mean no animal testing. Cruelty-free means no animal testing. If you live a vegan lifestyle, the Vegan symbol is very important to you. If you love animals but still enjoy an omelet at brunch, Cruelty-free is where it’s at. Remember, always further investigate to determine the safety of the ingredients.

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