How to Know if a Product is 100% Cruelty Free: A No-Nonsense Guide

Flawless and Pawless shares her tips on how to be certain that a product is completely cruelty free and how to spot false claims

Cruelty free cosmetics and products are becoming all the rage in Ireland, and with the rapidly-growing movement of the Irish vegan community, this is a space that is only due to get bigger.

From amazing cruelty-free brands like Charlotte Tilbury to 100% vegan brands like Cover FX, it’s exciting to see that there is a growing demand for cruelty-free cosmetics in the Irish market.

Cruelty Free Beauty image via @ioandkili on Instagram
Image via @ioandkili on Instagram

However, it can be difficult to decipher whether or not a cruelty-free claim is legit.

How can one be absolutely certain that the product that simply states ‘Against Animal Testing’ is actually not tested on animals, anywhere in the world?

Read on for five top tips to know if a beauty product is 100% cruelty free…

1. Look out for official cruelty-free certification logos

It is important to note that there are only three official cruelty-free certification logos in the world; these are coordinated by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Choose Cruelty Free and the Leaping Bunny Program by Cruelty Free International.

While each of these logos are handy in the search for legit cruelty-free cosmetics, the Leaping Bunny certification has proven to be the most reliable cruelty-free certification in the world, as it scrutinises the entire company and its suppliers and requires independent audits.

Some examples of brands that are certified by The Leaping Bunny Program include:

Liz Earle
The Body Shop
Marks & Spencer

Some examples of brands that are certified by PETA include:

Kat Von D

Choose Cruelty Free is the official Australian cosmetic certification, and can be found on the likes of Meditree and many cruelty-free cosmetics available in Health Food stores.

2. Make sure the brand is not sold in China

Unfortunately, China is the leading country in the world that still tests on animals. A product can be made in China and be cruelty-free, but the problem is when a product is sold to the Chinese market.

Another popular dry shampoo brand has a fake ‘leaping bunny’ logo on their product packaging.

All foreign cosmetics are required by law to be tested on animals. As the Chinese government have not issued any sort of animal welfare law, China is allowed to torture these lab animals and breed them just for testing, as they have no animal rights.

To ensure that a brand is not sold in China, Google is your best friend. You can look up the ‘Store Locator’ section of a brand’s site, or you can email the company directly to request this information if you are unsure.

3. Ensure that the brand does not allow its suppliers/third parties to test on animals, nor allows its raw ingredients to be tested on animals

In 2013, it became illegal for cosmetics that had been tested on animals to be sold within the EU.

This was an incredible landmark step towards a global ban on animal testing, but unfortunately, this has led to many brands getting away with false claims.

Image via @petauk on Instagram
Image via @petauk on Instagram

It is very easy for a brand to claim that they are cruelty-free due to the EU ban, but their suppliers and raw ingredient manufacturers may test on animals somewhere in the world.

There has been recent uproar over when it was revealed that two well-known brands were claiming to be cruelty-free and that they do not test on animals, however, they pay for third parties to test on animals on their behalf.

Another popular dry shampoo brand has a fake ‘leaping bunny’ logo on their product packaging, and claims to be cruelty-free, but they sell in China, where their product is required by law to be tested on animals.

They can get away with their cruelty-free claim as their products that are sold within Europe are not tested on animals.

4. A vegan brand/product is not necessarily cruelty-free

Just like a cruelty-free brand/product might not be vegan as it contains the likes of beeswax or carmine, it is possible for a vegan brand/product that contains no animal ingredients to be tested on animals somewhere in the world.

If you are vegan and you only wish to purchase cruelty-free vegan products, the most reliable certifications to ensure that a product fits both of these categories is to look out for a combination of a cruelty-free certification like the Leaping Bunny Certification or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Certification, and a vegan certification like the Vegan Society Certification and the Certification.

5. Be wary of cruelty-free/animal testing statements made by brands

Unfortunately, many brands that are not cruelty-free say some very misleading things in their animal testing statements or in the FAQ sections on their websites. The most common misleading statements that signal that a brand is NOT cruelty-free are:

“We do not test on animals anywhere in the world, except when required by law”

“Finished/This product not tested on animals”/“Ingredients not tested on animals”

“We don’t test on animals”

“We love animals, but don’t want to exclude any of our fans”

“An exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes.”

“Yes, we are cruelty-free!”

For more information on how to determine a brand is cruelty-free and/or vegan and for extensive lists of cruelty-free as well as vegan brands available in Ireland, visit