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What is the Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

by Joanne Coffey |

The terms Vegan and Cruelty-Free are used interchangeably, but what’s the real difference between the two? 


VEGAN means that a product does not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. It describes the ingredients themselves, rather than the production process. 


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. This means it is possible for a cruelty-free product to contain non-vegan ingredients. 


Products can be both vegan and cruelty-free, or one or the other. Let’s break it down for you:


When a product is both VEGAN and CRUELTY-FREE

This means that the product does not have any animal-derived ingredients, and is not tested on animals. For example, Aisling Organics products are all vegan and cruelty-free. Leaping Bunny has listed out a bunch of companies that are both vegan and cruelty-free. 


When a product is CRUELTY-FREE and NOT VEGAN

This means that the product was not tested on animals, but has animal-derived ingredients in the product. For example, if you have a red lipstick or eyeshadow that is not vegan, it might have Cochineal Beetle extract in the ingredients. This extract from the insects brings an insane amount of pigment into the product, but in fact, the bugs are crushed up and used in your makeup. 


When a product is VEGAN and NOT CRUELTY-FREE

This means that the product does not have any animal-derived ingredients in it but maybe tested on animals. If you have a cosmetic product from China, it is the law that they MUST test on animals before being sold to consumers. So ladies, check those labels. If you are looking for cruelty-free products, and see it’s from China, it ain’t it. 

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