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Vegan vs. Cruelty-Free: What’s the Difference?

We love encouraging people to change their habits and to start paying attention to the ingredients and certifications certain brands may or may not have. The terms “Vegan” and “Cruelty-Free” might seem interchangeable, but they actually mean two different things, even if both of them are related to the protection of animals. 

The lines between both terms can be a little blurred, especially since there is no official FDA regulation for either of them. This can also lead to false claims and misleading marketing, which is why we need to be as knowledgeable as possible to avoid misinformation! 

  • Cruelty-free means that the products (and the ingredients that were used in the product) were not tested on animals at any stage during their development. 
  • Vegan means that the products contain no animal ingredients or animal by-products. It’s common to find animal derived components like beeswax, squalene (shark liver oil) or lanolin (wool wax) in cosmetics. 

The Criteria

While Vegan products are easier to sort (they either include animal by-products or not), Cruelty-Free products are a little bit trickier, especially because there are many steps in the process of manufacturing a product. 

According to Cruelty-Free Kitty, a database that compiles Cruelty-Free brands, these are the criteria for a brand to be considered for certification: 

  • Finished Products: their finished products are not tested on animals by the company or any other company.
  • Ingredients: their ingredients are not tested on animals by the company or any other company.
  • Suppliers: their suppliers do not test ingredients, raw materials, or finished products on animals.
  • Third Parties: no third party is testing the finished products or ingredients on their behalf.

If you’re in doubt, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a very simple and searchable database! You can type in the name of a brand to double-check if they’re actually cruelty-free.

But how can we make sure that they aren’t lying? 

You should be careful when it comes to Cruelty-Free claims. Since there is no FDA regulation, brands have realized that they can trick customers into thinking their products are Cruelty-Free when they aren’t. Many fake logos have been making rounds lately! It’s important to know which are the official certifications (via Ethical Pixie). The following logos are credible and backed up by large organizations that protect animals: 

Cassandra Bankson, medical aesthetician and vegan advocate, constantly talks about the concept of “Turning and Learning”, which means that we need to know what the ingredient list actually includes, instead of blindly trusting claims and labels.

Even when a product claims to be vegan, it’s very easy to just turn the product around, read the ingredients, and double-check that fact. PETA has an article that lists all the ingredients that are derived from animals. Some of them might even surprise you! Did you know that most red dyes used in makeup are usually derived from crushed beetles? 

At Not to Die For* we strive to make vegan and cruelty-free products accessible to everyone who wants to improve their lifestyle while taking care of animals (and minimizing their carbon footprint!). Check out our shop and purchase with peace of mind.

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