What Does Cruelty-Free Makeup Mean?

There are many types of makeup on the market today, but those brands that are cruelty-free may catch your eye. It is essential to understand the ingredients that go into the cosmetics and how the products are tested and deemed safe to be put on your skin in the first place.

Cruelty-free makeup encompasses products that did not conduct any tests on animals during any stage of the research and development process. For a manufacturer to advertise its product as cruelty-free, it must be certified by an independent agency and stamped with a proper logo. 

If you are concerned with the treatment of animals, then you will want to consider cruelty-free makeup as your way of making a statement. It is important to know what goes into these products and how you can determine them to be safe for use. This post will serve as a guide as you set out to do your own research into your favorite makeup brands. 

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean in Cosmetics?

Nearly every cosmetic product ever made comes in contact with human skin. Some products can be ingested, such as is the case with lipstick. Because of these two factors alone, makeup must first be tested to ensure its safety when humans use it as intended.

Human testing is often expensive and potentially dangerous. To compensate for this, many makeup manufacturers will first test their products on animals to ensure their efficacy and safety. This is considered by many to be cruel. In order to start a movement to eliminate the practice, cruelty-free makeup has become popular throughout the industry. 

Is Cruelty-Free Makeup Also Vegan?

It is important to understand that there is a distinction between cruelty-free makeup and products made specifically for vegans. Cruelty-free refers explicitly to the testing process. If you see a product advertised as cruelty-free, then it has been verified that animals were not used during the test process. 

However, vegan makeup refers to products that do not have any active ingredients that have been derived from an animal. While many cruelty-free makeup products are also vegan, not all of them are. An independent agency must also verify vegan makeup before it can market itself as a cruelty-free product. 

9 Specific Factors That Lead to a Cruelty-Free Makeup Designation

Now that we have explained the basics of what cruelty-free makeup entails, it is important to get a bit more specific. The following nine areas serve as a guide for determining whether a particular product can be designated as cruelty-free. 

  1. Animal testing – Some manufacturers will label their makeup cruelty-free even if the ingredients have been tested on animals. This is because the makeup itself will not have tested the final product on animals. 

2. Other brands may conduct the tests – There will be times when a manufacturer will hire another brand entirely to run tests on their products. They can then make the claim that their makeup is cruelty-free. 

3. The manufacturer may rely on outside organizations – When an outside organization tests the product, a manufacturer may rely on their claim that no animals were used in the testing process. That will make the product cruelty-free as well. 

4. Testing in a different country – Some manufacturers will go to another country to test their products in order to avoid using animals. This might mean that the testing was done in a region where the manufacturer is not actually based. 

5. Some countries require animal testing – It is important to remember that some countries require makeup sold within their borders first to be tested on animals. China is an example. As such, some manufacturers will have no choice if they want to expand. 

6. Animals may be used in the product – Remember that not all cruelty-free makeup is vegan. One or more animals may have been harmed or killed for the product’s ingredients, but the manufacturer can still refrain from testing on animals for the final product. 

7. Reliance on results from other animal-based testing – Some brands may not test on animals, instead of relying on the testing results from other manufacturers who did. If the brand did not conduct any test on animals independently, it could still be labeled cruelty-free. 

8. No ingredient or product has been tested on animals – This is the most ethical form of cruelty-free makeup. It is a declaration that no ingredient or the final product itself has been tested on animals in any way. 

9. Certification process – Companies that are serious about the cruelty-free designation will go through an independent certification process. This is not a legal requirement, but it does signify commitment and accountability to the cause. 

While this list is not comprehensive, it represents a majority of the ways that a particular brand can end up with a cruelty-free makeup designation. 

3 Main Certification Programs for Cruelty-Free Makeup

If you are looking for brands that meet the highest standards for cruelty-free makeup, you will want to look for one of three certification programs. Both PETA and Leaping Bunny have a program highlighting brands that genuinely adhere to a no animal testing principle on their products. 

The Leaping Bunny Certification Program

While Leaping Bunny is the lesser-known of the two certification programs, it is a bit more extensive in its scope. Companies must begin by signing a statement that signifies their commitment to animal-free testing. Beyond this, each brand must also agree to have all of their suppliers monitored under the program.

The Leaping Bunny Certification Program does not stop there. In addition to monitoring all suppliers of a given makeup product, it will also independently audit the brand at any time. This is a way of keeping the manufacturer accountable and ensuring that they live up to their commitment. Brands under this program have a Leaping Bunny logo on their label. 

The PETA Certification Program

Just about everyone is familiar with PETA. Many makeup manufacturers have gone through the cruelty-free certification process with them. It all begins with the brand answering a few questions and then signing a statement that confirms they have not conducted or paid for any test to be performed using animals. 

For PETA, it is important to remember that they ask manufacturers to indicate that they have not tested any of the following on animals:

  • Ingredients
  • Formulas
  • Finished products

They must also pledge that they will not do so in the future. Once certified, a bunny logo will be licensed to display on the product label. 

The Choose Cruelty-Free Certification

This is an organization that is based in Australia. It actively monitors makeup brands around the world. Any brand can apply for its certification as long as it falls under one of these two main categories. 

  • No product or ingredient has ever been tested on animals. This is a big hurdle to meet, as it means that no supplier or anyone associated with their product has ever tested any of its ingredients on animals.
  • No ingredient or product has been knowingly tested on animals at any point in the least five years. This includes any testing that is done by suppliers or other third-party organizations that the manufacturer contracts with.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to buy only cruelty-free products is often a personal decision that people take quite seriously. It is essential to know what is involved in the process and how a manufacturer ends up being able to make the claim that their makeup is cruelty-free. It is important to know that there are integrity and accountability associated with the process.