Unpicking The Myths Around Cruelty Free And Vegan Skincare

Labels like “cruelty free” and “vegan” used in skincare provoke a minefield of information and misinformation, and at their worst, these phrases are used as shiny light distractions as to what’s really going on in some skincare products.While you think you’re purchasing the good samaritan of products, this labelling is definitely not an indicator of how natural your skincare may be. We take a look here.

Let’s start with a few definitions so we know what we’re playing with. 




What is Cruelty Free Skincare?

Basically, “cruelty free” means that the product you buy is not tested on animals at any stage of the production process, nor are any of its ingredients tested on animals. But, that does not mean your product doesn’t contain animal byproducts, so they can’t really be guaranteed cruelty free. For example, the jury is still out on whether honey is cruelty free or not.


In addition, by law, the Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) requires all internationally manufactured products sold in China to be tested on animals. And the most common brands you see on the shelf that are not cruelty free may surprise you. But while China remains a nearly $30 billion market for global brands in the cosmetic industry, animal testing is here to stay for a while yet.

Added to that, manufacturers are not required to label that they test on animals, which is why it’s all smoke and mirrors out there and perplexing to the most earnest shopper.

So while cruelty free is a step in the right direction, savvy shoppers challenge whether it goes far enough. SAFE have a list of cruelty free brands. Check it out here

What Is Vegan Skincare?

Vegan skincare is cruelty free 2.0. It is indeed cruelty free and, as well as not being tested on animals, it’s free from animal products commonly found in skincare products, such as lanolin, gelatin, beeswax, honey, collagen, cochineal dye, estrogen, retinol, ambergris, albumen, cartilage from sharks or bovine, snail peptides and more.

But vegan skincare can still contain all sorts of weird and unpronounceable ingredients. So while vegan products are cruelty free, they may not be natural.

Is All Vegan Skincare Natural?

In short, no. Just because a product is labelled as being vegan, it does not necessarily follow that it is also natural. There are still plenty of vegan products and brands that contain, among other substances, sulphates and parabens, which we talked about in our last post here, and these ingredients are linked with having adverse affects on your body.

Parabens in particular have been linked to a whole host of health issues such as obesity, miscarriage and premature births, plus concentrations of parabens have been found in breast tumour tissue. While sulphates have been attributed to drying out the skin resulting in a flaky scalp and even hair loss, and sulphate deposits have been found by scientists in the brain, heart and lungs.

There are lots of other ingredients that are not natural, naturally sourced, or are harmful to humans to greater or lesser degree. 

So What Do You Look For?

Labelling is a confuzzlement at the best of times, so look out for brands that clearly state one or more of the following:

  • No Animal Testing
  • Cruelty Free
  • Not Tested On Animals
  • All Natural Ingredients
  • And Vegan if you’d like to avoid animal products in your skincare.

And it goes without saying, Tailor Skincare always has been and always will be, cruelty free and natural. 

For a complete list of SAFE cosmetics and skincare which are cruelty free. Click here.

One Last Thing…

There are ingredients like the fatty acid, stearic acid, derived from either plants or animals from tallow. This is a thickener in cleansers and moisturisers and more often, it’s derived from vegetable fats like cocoa butter and palm oil. This ingredient opens a whole new can of worms regarding the sustainability and sourcing of vegetable oils such as palm, cocoa and coconut. This is something we’ll be looking at soon, so stay tuned.

Author - Belinda Nash

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