Is Cruelty Free makeup really Cruelty Free?
Clothing/Cosmetics and Animal Abuse Article from

FROM Madelin Pereiram, AnimalBlawg
June 2021

There are an abundance of different avenues one can take to protect animals, one way to do this is by not supporting brands that continue to test on animals.

[Also see Cruelty-Free Shopping and Other Vegan Resources]


Makeup is a billion-dollar business. However, some consumers want to make sure that the products that they use are not tested on animals. Worldwide, there are four organizations that give out licenses to brands so that the consumer market can be guaranteed that the products they are using are made without animal testing. Where this can be confusing, is that each organization has standards and criteria that another doesn’t.

For example, PETA the world-renowned animal rights organization has a list of companies that are not testing their animals. Essentially companies fill out a questionnaire and then submit a legally binding statement of assurance from the CEO stating that their ingredient suppliers do not test on animals at any part of the manufacturing process. They require detailed paperwork to reach compliance. Further there is a recertification process for companies which allows PETA to remove them if they do not fit within their standards.

In comparison, Cruelty-Free International – is a U.K.-based organization that certifies brands producing cosmetics, personal care, household, and cleaning products. This organization makes sure that these brands do all that they can to remove animal testing from their supply chains. You can tell whether a brand or product fulfills their requirements when you see the leaping bunny on the packaging with the world’s Cruelty-Free International below. Originally created to remove the confusion for people who wanted to shop for cruelty-free products. It is important to note that the Leaping Bunny logo represents that there is no animal testing and not that the products are devoid of animal product or byproduct.

The organization focuses on the product during the manufacturing stage because this is where animal testing would happen. A monitor is implemented to make sure that the brand has not been a party to experiment of animals during the manufacturing of the product, and that there has not been any testing at any time during the manufacturing. This includes the raw materials and the ingredients. Moreover, an audit is done within the first year of its certification and then done on a continual basis every three years.

So, what happens if a company’s product says ‘not tested on animal but doesn’t have this logo in it?

One of the issues, that arises that although companies may claim that their finished cosmetic product is devoid of animal testing, the company may use raw materials or may have contract laboratories that perform the animal testing. Meaning that although the final product has not been tested on animals, the ingredients in the manufacturing process had been tested on animals. If the Cruelty Free International finds this, then they do not allow them to be Leaping Bunny certified. However, what Cruelty Free International does allow is that brand sell to people in China. While one might think that selling in product is not an issue, the main problem comes from their own laws in what they find acceptable for the civilians in their own country.

In order for products to be sold in China that were manufactured outside of China, there are laws that require the companies to test on animals. See Animal Testing In China: Required For Foreign Cosmetics Companies. That being said, although products being manufactured within China aren’t subject to the requirements for animal testing this means animal testing might be preferred. However, this requirement is not required if the item is sold over the internet in China. This restriction is for items that are physically sold in stores. So, it important to see who is selling physical product in stores to see whether they are actually cruelty free and made without testing on animals.

In sum, if someone is actively seeking to make sure that the products they are using are devoid of all animal testing it is important to look at who is giving the certification, what is part of their standards and criteria, and then to seek out products with this labeling. And lastly whether they are sold in China and in what manner. While this can be burdensome, this is required to have the peace of mind that the product that’s we are using have not been tested on animals.

There are an abundance of different avenues one can take to protect animals, one way to do this is by not supporting brands that continue to test on animals. 

For another listing of cruelty free brands with the Cruelty Free International seal of approval, see Cruelty-Free Kitty.

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