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What's the difference between Cruelty Free and Vegan beauty products?

What's the difference between Cruelty Free and Vegan beauty products?

eco minerals is certified cruelty free and vegan! Here is what this means in the world of beauty and personal care products.

Do you shop for cruelty free brands when you buy your beauty and personal care products? I hope so - because it's sad to know that over 70% of personal care products in Australia are still tested on animals.  These experiments are cruel and unnecessary - and they are not just for cosmetics.  There are some great resources on animal experimentation here

Vegan products mean that a product does not contain any animal ingredients - for example, beeswax, milk, lanolin. Check this list at Plant Based News for 14 animal derived ingredients you could be putting on your face.

In this blog, at this time in June 2019, Australia sill allows testing on animals and the sale of products tested on animals.  Choose Cruelty Free are Australia's leading body working to stop animal testing on cosmetics and they inform us that:

"The Australian Senate passed the Government’s Industrial Chemicals Bills 2017 banning the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals in Australia in February 2019. This ban also includes the sale of cosmetics and their ingredients (from overseas) which have been newly tested on animals. The commencement date for this bill is set for July 2020. This ban is a huge step in the right direction for Australia and something Choose Cruelty Free has been campaigning for, for over 25 years. 

The industry does not need another year grace period. This bill was announced over three years ago now, and we will continue to keep the pressure on the government to enforce this ban as soon as possible, as animals will continue to suffer until then. "

SO what is the difference between Vegan and Cruelty Free?

The terms are used interchangeably, but mean different things.

If you’re a label-reader (and I sincerely hope you are), then you’ll know how overwhelming the labels on cosmetic products can be. There are dozens of seals, certifications, and fancy descriptions, all declaring why a particular product is wonderful and why you should buy it.

One of the most sought-after terms these days is ‘vegan.’ According to retail research firm Mintel, sales of vegan cosmetics are up 100 percent this year alone, with the prime market being 16- to 34-year-olds who are very concerned about animal welfare.

Indeed, you don’t even have to be a hardcore animal rights activist to feel disturbed by what goes on in many animal testing laboratories (some of which are nationally mandated, like in China).

Below is a great article by Treehugger explaining more about the terms Vegan and Cruelty Free.


But what does vegan actually mean? And how does it differ from ‘cruelty-free,’ another commonly seen phrase? The two terms tend to be used interchangeably, but they mean different things.

VEGAN means that a product does not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. It describes the ingredients, rather than the production process. As explained on vegan makeup blog Logical Harmony, “Items that are tested on animals can claim to be vegan.”

CRUELTY-FREE means that the ingredients/components and final product have not been tested on animals. It refers to the testing process, not the ingredients, which means it is possible for a cruelty-free product to contain non-vegan ingredients, such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, or gelatin.

So, what should one look for? The best option is to seek out both vegan and cruelty-free descriptions on a product. It is harder to find, but not impossible, especially as demand grows and companies respond.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • A company can claim anything on a label, so look for accreditation by known and respected organizations such as Choose Cruelty Free, The Vegan Society, PETA, or Leaping Bunny in order to know that the claim is backed up.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free do not necessarily mean that an ingredient list is clean, safe, green, or all natural. You still need to read the list carefully to be sure you’re not putting dangerous chemicals on your skin. Nor does it reflect on packaging in any way (despite the fact that one could argue a plastic case harm animals eventually, once disposed of).
  • Finally, Rowan Ellis makes an excellent point made in this YouTube videoconsider the human cost. In an ideal world, the cruelty-free label would extend to the human labor that goes into sourcing ingredients and making products. For example, mica is a common ingredient in eye shadows, and yet is notorious for its use of child labor. If possible, look for companies committed to transparent labor standards and/or fair-trade certification.

It’s a lot to think about, but a good place to start shopping research is Logical Harmony’s brand list, updated weekly. All companies listed are cruelty-free, and many offer vegan options.


I have always shopped cruelty free from beauty products because as a teenager my Mum told me about the horrors of animal testing.  Yet I was still eating and wearing animals - because it is considered normal in many countries.  So today for me, shopping cruelty free is not wearing animals, eating animals and their products or buying anything tested on animals.

For inspiration on living truly cruelty free, check out this page on living kindly at Animals Australia.

Thanks for reading this post! It is more than possible to purchase amazing products that do not use animal ingredients or cruel animal tests.

Let us know if you have any comments or questions.  with love, Lulu 

PS eco minerals is proudly recognised as Vegan by CCF and PETA.



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