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The Complete Beginner's Guide to Vegan Makeup, Cosmetics and Skin Care

The following information will provide you with an all-in-one comprehensive guide of the vegan cosmetics and makeup industry that you will be able to refer to time and time again, whether you are already a vegan makeup guru or just embarking on your vegan beauty journey.


Woman Applying Vegan Makeup

So you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating world of vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics?

Congratulations! The movement towards vegan makeup and cosmetics is one that has been taking the beauty industry by storm in recent years and is undoubtedly here to stay!

The following information will provide you with an all-in-one comprehensive guide of the vegan cosmetics and makeup industry that you will be able to refer to time and time again, whether you are already a vegan makeup guru or just embarking on your vegan beauty journey.

We will explore exactly what to look for, what this movement means for the beauty industry, the overall benefits and and how to walk into any store and confidently choose the perfect vegan cosmetics tailored to your preferences.

For most of us, taking the plunge into vegan makeup and skincare can feel like a completely overwhelming and daunting task.

All Your Questions Answered
  • How do you know where to begin?
  • Can you trust the label on these products?
  • Do you toss every item you currently own in the trash?
  • Can you still shop at the same stores you’ve always known and loved?

In This Article

1. Introduction to Vegan Cosmetics
- What Are Vegan Cosmetics?
- The Future of Vegan Cosmetics

2. Vegan and Non-Vegan Makeup and Cosmetic Ingredients
- The Benefits of Vegan Ingredients
- Common Non-Vegan Ingredients

3. Vegan, Cruelty-Free and Natural Cosmetics: Similarities and Differences
- Differences between Vegan and Cruelty-free
- Differences between Vegan and Natural
- Similarities between Vegan, Cruelty-Free and Natural

4. Vegan Cosmetics and Makeup Packaging: What To Look For
- Vegan: Certified Logos
- Vegan: Non-Certified Logos and Other
- Cruelty-Free: Certified Logos
- Cruelty-Free: Non-Certified Logos and Other 


1. Introduction to Vegan Cosmetics

While making the transition to vegan beauty products, it can often feel quite tempting to trash your entire beauty cabinet in hopes of switching over all at once and starting completely anew.

However, the truth is that the movement towards a completely vegan beauty regimen begins with one simple step: Awareness.

It's a Gradual Process!

Your interest in becoming aware of the facts surrounding vegan cosmetics and in simply expanding your knowledge one step at a time is truly all it takes to get started.

It’s essential to remind yourself throughout the process that this change should happen gradually and that you will need to be patient with yourself.

For the majority of vegan beauty enthusiasts, it takes months and sometimes even years of research and experimentation, gradually learning how to swap “this” non-vegan product for “that” vegan-friendly alternative.

Remember, perfection is an ideal and not a standard to live by and we will all make mistakes every now and again!

No Need For Sacrifices

With the limitless options available to us in today’s beauty industry, you truly no longer have to sacrifice looking fabulous to go vegan with your makeup and cosmetics routine.

If anything, you will discover a healthier, more radiant version of yourself and your skin will be thanking you for years to come!

With the right information, you will never need to choose between your love of high-quality cosmetics and your desire for health-conscious, compassionate products.

As we begin to dig a bit deeper into the specifics of this topic, we will unravel the vegan beauty essentials step-by-step and by the end, you will be equipped with all of the tools and information required to become a true vegan beauty connoisseur!

What Are Vegan Cosmetics?

Natural Cosmetics and Green Leaf

In a general sense, the term “vegan cosmetics” refers to all cosmetic products (makeup, skin care, lotions, fragrances, hair products, nail products, etc.) within the beauty industry that abide by the moral, ethical, environmental and ingredient standards relating to the vegan lifestyle.

No Animal Products Required!

  • Vegan: An individual who does not consume any food or use any products derived from animals, specifically meat, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy, for a mix of ethical, environmental and health reasons.  
  • Vegan Makeup and Skincare: Cosmetic products that do not contain any animal ingredients or derivatives. Some examples may include milk, honey, beeswax, lanolin and many more.

As we will soon discuss in greater depth, vegan cosmetics may or may not also carry the title of being "cruelty-free" or "natural," terms used to describe products that have not been tested on animals or that contain little to no artificial or synthetic chemicals.

The Trend is Growing! 

The recent growth of concern for animal welfare and a more health-conscious way of life are just two of the leading reasons behind why so many consumers are making the switch to vegan makeup and cosmetics.

Although the reasons are plentiful, many of those interested in starting a vegan beauty regimen are intrigued by the wondrous benefits that these products can have for your skin, for your body and for the beauty industry as a whole.

The Future of Vegan Cosmetics 

According to Roshida Khanom, Associate Director of Beauty and Personal Care at the research company Mintel, vegan makeup and cosmetics are an incredibly fast-growing trend. This year alone, Mintel has reported a 100% increase in "vegan" claims for cosmetics and personal care products.

More than ever before, professional makeup artists are reporting that their clients are requesting vegan-friendly options over any other type of makeup.

Likewise, if you walk into any beauty or department store today, you will soon notice that the shelves are stocked with limitless options that boast “vegan” or “cruelty-free” claims.

Cruelty Free Bunnies

We are Becoming Increasingly Health-Conscious

Hourglass Cosmetics CEO Carisa Janes believes that vegans alone cannot take all of the credit for this growth and attributes the success of natural cosmetics in recent years to an overall societal shift towards healthy living in general.

"Concern for animals, overall health and the environment is growing more every day, and people want products that reflect their lifestyle." -Carisa Janes, CEO Hourglass Cosmetics

In other words, people across the globe are growing more and more health-conscious each year and are becoming more insistent that options become increasingly available to them that will aid in their quest for optimal health.

Information and Opinion Sharing Has Never Been So Easy!

This rise in the popularity of vegan cosmetics can also be contributed in part to the immense expansion of social media in recent years.

As the world becomes smaller, facts and opinions are spreading at lightning speed and cosmetics companies must maintain complete transparency in order to keep up with these growing consumer demands and expectations.

Social media users today have more power than ever before to share their opinions, demand answers, shame companies they see as unethical and promote their favorite products and businesses.

Social media allows users to reach out to cosmetics companies directly, as well as other consumers, on a grandiose scale. This, in turn, can end up being extremely beneficial or detrimental for these companies depending upon how they choose to use this tool.

In order to stay ahead of the social media craze, cosmetics companies must pay close attention to beauty trends, consumer interests and concerns, and must be proactive in their responses.

Petitions and Protests Leave a Lasting Impact!

One such example of this was the social media frenzy that ensued when one popular cosmetics company refused to end their use of animal testing, which is currently required to sell products in China. Over 250,000 signatures were signed on the online petition, shared via social media, pressuring the company to respond to consumer demands to end this practice.

Moreover, the vegan makeup available today no longer carries the negative reputation of being overly “earthy” and with advancing technology, has now evolved to include many top-notch brands that can be found in any high-end department store.

These vegan products perform equally well, or even better, than their non-vegan counterparts and are a true reflection of the increasing demand for top-shelf vegan makeup.

As more makeup brands make the switch to vegan-friendly ingredients, the variety and options available will only continue to grow and the technology will only advance further over time.

Read More
History | The Vegan Society
A Brief History of Veganism
Veganism Has Increased 500% since 2014 in the US


2. Vegan and Non-Vegan Cosmetic Ingredients

The Benefits of Vegan Ingredients

Women Checking Skin

Now, we all have that one friend, colleague or family member who goes around raving about how their skin miraculously cleared up after switching to a vegan beauty routine.

You’ve probably also noticed that they actually do have a reason to brag, because their skin really does look pretty amazing!

There is certainly something about a vegan skin care routine that has a tremendously positive effect and that results in a fabulously glowing, smooth complexion. So what is so different about these vegan ingredients and is it truly worth the investment?

Put Your Skin First!

Let’s consider first the fact that your skin is the largest organ on your body. Comprised of millions of tiny holes known as “pores,” the products absorbed through your skin on a daily basis are actually far more influential than you can imagine.

Your skin performs the very important tasks of cleansing, detoxing and oxygenation and, like every other organ in the human body, requires oxygen to function. If these pores become clogged with various different toxins or pore-clogging animal ingredients, your skin becomes unable to function properly and will try to defend itself by shutting down what's known as the PTS, or "Penetration Transport System."

This will in turn wreak havoc on the quality and appearance of your skin. The fact that your skin absorbs everything you put onto it makes it so crucial to choose the right cosmetics that will allow your skin to breathe.

One such example of a product that impairs the skin’s ability to function properly is lanolin, a greasy animal derivative known by dermatologists to clog pores and cause acne outbreaks.

Ingredients Absorb the Environment Around Them 

It is also essential to consider that it’s not only the greasy consistency of lanolin that is less than ideal for your skin, but also the environmental factors influencing the animal it was derived from.

Similarly to any non-vegan food or self-care product we utilize in today’s world, we are directly in-taking whatever chemicals or toxins that animal may have been exposed to before the ingredient was extracted for cosmetic use.

If you take the sheep that lanolin is sourced from as the example, it is crucial to note that these sheep are often covered in pesticides before their fur is taken for lanolin. The leftover residue then inevitably ends up in some amount in the cosmetics it is used for and therefore, ultimately, on your skin.

If you wouldn’t choose to consume these pesticides directly, you most definitely wouldn’t want them ending up being absorbed through your skin!

You Could Be Irritating Your Skin

Similarly, non-vegan ingredients tend to be more irritating for those of us with sensitive skin and for those prone to breakouts and rashes.

Makeup brushes and false lashes containing the fur of animals such as squirrels, horses and mink are one example known to easily inflame and irritate sensitive skin.

"Animal ingredients are generally more cost effective in cosmetic formulas, but not necessarily better or longer lasting." -David Klasfeld, CEO/Creative Director, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

You Are In Control!

The good news is that we do have control over what we choose to put directly onto our skin and hair. By choosing to use vegan cosmetics, we can eliminate a huge amount of these harmful ingredients found in many animal-based cosmetics.

As a whole, vegan makeup and skincare products tend to have far shorter, more straight-forward ingredient lists and since they have to find substitutes for the usual animal-derived ingredients, they are usually replaced by plant-based substitutes.

Plant-based ingredients are generally more beneficial for your health and far gentler on your skin, providing hydrating vitamins and minerals that do not contain any irritating animal ingredients.

Our skin truly has a remarkable ability to heal itself and you'll be shocked by just how quickly you notice a difference in the quality of your skin’s appearance once making the switch to vegan cosmetics.

Homemade Skincare Products On Table

Common Non-Vegan Ingredients

When it comes to learning more about the specific ingredients contained in both vegan and non-vegan cosmetics, the list below will give you a comprehensive overview and equip you with everything you need to know to get started.

For a full list of every vegan and non-vegan ingredient, you can always refer to PETA’s website, where there is an extensive list of animal-derived ingredients from A-Z.

No Need To Memorize Every Ingredient

However, do keep in mind that it would take anyone ages to memorize all of these ingredients and that the list below will allow you to spot the majority of non-vegan cosmetics.

The chances are high that if one of the below are spotted on the ingredient list, there are probably other non-vegan ingredients listed among them.

As we will soon learn, there are some trusted certifications to look for that make shopping for vegan makeup and cosmetics simple and that will eliminate the need to learn the name of every animal-based ingredient.

Be Patient With Yourself

Remember, it is impossible to avoid every hidden animal ingredient 100% of the time, so you should  forgive yourself if you make a mistake from time to time.

With the right knowledge and a bit of patience, you can rest assured that you are making the smartest possible choices for your skin.

Alternatives Are Easy To Spot!

It is also possible that many animal-based ingredients have a plant-based substitute and are indeed still vegan. If this is the case for a particular product, you will normally see it notated on the label, usually listed after the ingredient in parentheses.

For instance, you can find the non-vegan ingredient squalene sourced from olives instead of shark liver and it will usually read something along the lines of: Squalene (vegetable-derived) or Squalene (made with olives).

All other animal-ingredient substitutes will follow somewhat of a similar pattern when annotating that a vegan-friendly alternative has been used.

Black And Pink Lipsticks

Some Ingredients Are More Common Than Others

Below are some the most common animal-derived ingredients found in cosmetics. Having a basic knowledge of the non-vegan ingredients below will aid you greatly in your quest for the perfect vegan beauty collection.

If you are unsure about a certain ingredient, visit the brand's website or contact the manufacturer to gain more insight into how the ingredients were sourced.

  • Gelatin (Gel/Gelatine/Hide Glue/Insin Glass): Often found in cosmetics with a creamy-consistency, gelatin is produced from boiled animal bones, ligaments and tendons.

    Gelatin is most often found in lotions, face creams, hair products, nail products, face masks, shampoos, sunscreens and more. 
    Possible vegan alternatives for gelatin include fatty acids from coconut oil and vegetable fats.
  • Bee Products: Bees produce a handful of popular cosmetic ingredients, most popularly beeswax, honey (miel), propolis and royal jelly.

    These products are highly popular in lip balms and are produced by utilizing the honeycombs of honey bees, as well as mascaras and eye shadows.

    Some vegan alternatives for bee products include replacing honey with vegetable glycerin and beeswax with candelilla or carnauba wax.
  • Carmine/Cochineal Dye/Natural Red 4: Found in many blushes, lipsticks, shampoos and powders, this ingredient is a bright red dye produced from crushed female Cochineal beetles and is responsible for producing vibrant red and pink pigmentation.

    Somewhat rare plant-based substitutions for carmine include beet juice, annatto extract and alkanet root.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: This trendy ingredient is a naturally-occurring molecule found in the human body that is famous for its’ amazing ability to retain moisture in the skin. It can be found in many anti-aging skin care products, due to its’ ability to plump and revitalize skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.

    Hyaluronic acid is most often sourced from the red top of a rooster’s head, better known as the rooster comb. When shopping for this ingredient, be sure to look for hyaluronic acid that has been produced through bio-fermentation.

    There are many plants that contain hyaluronic acid and there is a vegan-friendly version of hyaluronic acid made from a plant-based bacteria that undergoes a vegan-approved fermentation process.
    • Collagen: Often used in lip-enhancing products, lipsticks, moisturizers and anti-aging cosmetics that promise a more youthful appearance, collagen is a fibrous protein derived from animal tissue that provides a protective barrier to the skin, creating a plumping and firming effect.

      It is most often extracted from livestock or other dead mammals and can sometimes be found in synthetic variations or in a vegetable form made from acacia leaves and fruits.
    • Guanine: Popular for the shimmering, reflective quality of this ingredient, guanine is an ingredient found in crushed fish scales. Guanine is mostly used in makeup products such as mascara, nail polish, shimmery powders, eye shadows and lipsticks. Luckily, there are plenty options available that do not contain guanine.
    • Silk Powder: Produced by dissolving worms in boiling water, the resulting silk fibres are then added to mineral makeup products. Silk powder is best known for absorbing excess oils, softening fine lines, balancing moisture levels and “setting” makeup.

      Although there is not an exact substitute for silk powder, arrowroot powder is often used as a vegan-friendly alternative 
      and there are many mineral powder products available on the market that do not contain this ingredient.
    • Retinol: This ingredient is derived from vitamin A and is almost always sourced from animals. It is most often found in anti-aging skin care products.

      Some ingredients that mimic the effects of retinol include mango butter, seaweed extract, sunflower seed oil, chicory root and any other ingredients that are rich in beta-carotene.
    • Musk: Used in many popular fragrances and colognes, musk is actually an animal-based ingredient sourced from dried secretions of various animal genitalia.

      Such animals range from otter to beaver, cat and musk deer, and although some fragrances now use synthetic musk, the best plant-based options are those sourced from similarly-scented plants, such as labdanum oil.
    • Animal Fats (Squalene/Tallow/Emu Oil/Mink Oil/Musk Oil/Caprylic acid /Caprylic triglyceride): These popular animal fats/oils can be found in almost every type of nourishing cosmetic product, including lotions, soaps, moisturizers and night creams.

      Oils derived from plant-based sources have just as much moisturizing power as these animal-based oils. Some plant-based substitutes include producing the fatty acid caprylic acid from coconuts instead of from the milk of various mammals and using olives or wheat germ for squalene instead of extracting it from shark liver.
    • Ambergris: Used in many perfumes as a fixative, this waxy, oily substance is derived from the digestive lining of a sperm whale’s stomach. Ambergris is considered somewhat rare and can often be found floating in the sea or along coastlines.

      Many fragrance experts view ambergris as valuable, as it initially has a fecal-like smell but takes on a sweet, musky, earthy scent as it ages. There are many fragrances available on the market that do not contain this ingredient.
    • Estrogen: This hormone-based ingredient is usually extracted from the urine of pregnant horses and is used is many perfumes, lotions, shampoos, conditioners and other moisturizing cosmetics.
    • Keratin: This fibrous protein is responsible for keeping our hair, skin and nails strong and supple and therefore is hugely popular in hair products such as shampoos, conditioners and leave-in treatments aimed at revitalizing hair.

      Usually produced from quills, horns, hooves and the hair of various animals, keratin protein cannot be sourced directly from plants but can be produced synthetically in a lab.

      Vegan keratin products do exist but you may need to search a bit, keeping your eye out for plant amino acids in place of animal-derived keratin.
    • Lanolin: Derived from the oil glands of sheep’s wool, lanolin is a waxy ingredient that can be found in many lotions, ointments, makeup removers and skin care products.

      Lanolin is used for its’ ability to act as a potent skin moisturizer and protectant by creating an extra layer above the skin. Although there is no vegan substitute for lanolin, plant and vegetable-based oils such as palm oil are often used instead.

    Read More
    Animal-Derived Ingredients List
    10 Creepy Animal Ingredients Lurking In Your Cosmetics
    15 Great Reasons To Switch To Crulty-Free Products Right Now

    Blonde Woman Beside Lemons
    3. Vegan, Cruelty-Free and Natural Cosmetics: Similarities and Differences

    In order to have a complete understanding of vegan makeup and cosmetics, it is essential to also understand their most closely related counterparts: cruelty-free cosmetics and natural cosmetics.

    They Are Not The Same!

    A product can fall into any or all of these categories and there are some fundamental differences that need to be clarified between all three. Often times, people confuse these labels as being synonymous with one another, assuming that both contain the same ingredients or were produced in the same manner.

    Believe it or not, this couldn't be farther from the truth and there are actually some distinct differences between each of these labels.

    So how can we differentiate between vegan, cruelty-free and natural cosmetics and, more importantly, is one of these labels more beneficial to your beauty regimen than the others?

    Differences Between Vegan and Cruelty Free

    The main difference between these two terms is actually quite simple! As previously discussed, the term "vegan" refers to the product being manufactured completely free of animal ingredients or derivatives of any kind.

    Alternately, the term "cruelty-free" signifies that the product has not been tested on animals at any point during the manufacturing process.

    You'll Be Helping Millions of Animals

    The cruelty-free movement stems largely from backlash over the treatment of animals in the beauty industry and you certainly don’t need to be vegan to be turned off by many of these practices. There are plenty of product testing options available today that do not involve animals and in many cases, these methods are actually proven to be faster, cheaper and more effective.

    It is now estimated that more than 25 million animals are used for experimentation each year for biomedical, cosmetic and science education testing purposes.

    With the European Union (EU), India and Israel all joining forces to officially ban the sale of any cosmetics that have been tested on animals, more and more people around the globe are seeking cruelty-free options than ever before.

    Lavender Creme

    Separating the Differences is Simple!

    The major differences between vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics comes into play when you consider that one may not necessarily guarantee the other. Herein lies the grey area and major difference between the two:

    A cosmetic product can be cruelty-free but not entirely vegan, meaning that it was not tested on animals but still contains animal derivatives, such as gelatin, lanolin, animal fat or collagen products.

    Vice versa, a product may be vegan but not entirely cruelty-free, meaning that the product is free of any animal ingredients but may still have been tested on animals at some point during its’ manufacturing.

    What Does "Vegan" Mean To You?

    This second possibility is somewhat open to interpretation, as one's definition of the word "vegan" would dictate whether or not they believe a product can still be considered vegan if animals were harmed in the process (through animal testing). It really just comes down to whether you are basing this categorization strictly from a ingredient standpoint or an ethical one.

    In summary, although there is a great chance that your vegan products will most likely also be cruelty, it is important to remember these essential differences.

    Vegan products are free of animal products and cruelty-free products are free of animal testing and one does not necessarily guarantee the other and depends largely on your viewpoint regarding the definition of the term vegan.

    Differences Between Vegan and Natural

    Now that we understand the similarities and differences between vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics, we can dive deeper into the equally important third category: natural cosmetics.

    Cosmetics Without the Chemicals!

    Makeup and cosmetics that are "natural" are often misinterpreted as having the same meaning as vegan or cruelty-free, however, the truth is that just because a beauty product is vegan, cruelty-free or both, it does not necessarily guarantee that the item will also be natural in any of these cases.

    Having a definition all its own, natural cosmetics are products that are made from ingredients derived naturally from the earth, avoiding harmful chemicals and synthetic materials in their manufacturing.

    Natural makeup and cosmetics aim to eliminate all harmful toxins and chemicals from their products, such as parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, petroleum and phthlates, which can be harmful to the environment and to your body. In a nutshell, any ingredient you can't pronounce is considered a big no-no to natural beauty enthusiasts.

    "The less fake ingredients one uses on their skin, the less aging takes place as the skin becomes more balanced." -Lisa Brodar, Founder of Portland General's Store

    Similarities Between Vegan, Cruelty-Free and Natural

    Mineral Powder

    Although there is a high potential for overlap between these three categories, it is essential to understand that one does not imply the others and that each has its own unique meaning.

    Check For Proper Certification!

    It can be said that vegan products are often inclined to be more natural as well as cruelty-free, but without proper certification, one cannot assume that this will be the case every time.

    Likewise, there is currently no legal definition or FDA regulation for natural, vegan or cruelty-free claims on cosmetics and besides the independent third party certifications, any company can use these claims on their products.

    These unregulated claims among all three categories can include labels from natural or all-natural to vegan, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free or not tested on animals. This simply means that for any of these three types of products, there will be similar amounts of potential research to ensure you are getting the type of product you seek.

    High-Quality Ingredients

    Individuals choosing to purchase cosmetics with all three of these labels tend to have great concern for the welfare of animals coupled with a concern for the environment and healthy living in general.

    If you are striving for a product that is certified as vegan, natural and cruelty-free, it is crucial to be read the ingredients listed on the label to ensure that none of the items listed are derived from animal ingredients, contains synthetic chemicals or animal-derived ingredients or by-products.

    A product with all three is indeed possible to find and tends to contain excellent, high-quality ingredients. It will be well worth the time and energy spent doing the research to find them!

    Read More
    Animal Testing Labeling
    The Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free Cosmetics
    Cruelty-free vs. Vegan

    4. Vegan Cosmetics and Makeup Packaging: What To Look For

    So you've marched into your closest beauty store, ready to cash out on some killer vegan cosmetics and quickly realize that you have no idea what you're looking for. Fear not!

    You'll be incredibly relieved to learn that there are a few very easy and straight-forward logos you can always look for that won't lead you astray!

    Vegan: Certified Logos

    When it comes to packaging, not all logos are created equally! You will notice that there are many different product claims and logos on cosmetic packaging, however only a few are official certifications.

    These certifications are monitored by independent third parties and ensure that the product in question is completely free of any animal ingredients or by-products.

    Alternately, there are also some logos to look out for that may appear official at first glance but that do not actually hold any merit.

    Spotting Certifications Doesn't Have To Be Complicated!

    There are currently two official vegan certifications that you can locate on the packaging of your favorite vegan cosmetics to ensure that the product is indeed 100% vegan.


    Certified Vegan Logo

    •  Certified Vegan Logo: Monitored by the organization Vegan Action, this logo verifies that the product does not contain any animal ingredients or by-products.

      Even better, this logo also states that no animal testing was conducted at any point during production or by any company or independent contractor involved in the manufacturing process. Vegan Action does not audit these companies and the certification is based largely on the merit and integrity of the company.

      According to, this logo is currently on thousands of products from over 800 different companies and growing!


    Vegan Society Label

    • The Vegan Society Logo: This logo is very similar to the Vegan Action logo, except that it  is certified by The Vegan Society, another leading vegan organization that has been around for over 70 years.

      Similarly to the above, the companies certified by The Vegan Society are also not audited but asked to make a promise based on the integrity of their products and their company.

      This logo also indicates that the product contains no animal products or by-products also promises that there has been no animal testing involved in the creation of the product or by any party involved.

      Companies must fill out paperwork and provide written statements and supporting documents before being able to use this logo.

    Vegan: Non-Certified Logos and Other 

    Vegetarian Logo

    • Vegetarian Logo: Often confused for one of the vegan logos, the “V with a leaf” logo signifies a vegetarian product, meaning the product is suitable for vegetarians but not necessarily for vegans.

      This logo is certified by the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) and is used for products that do not contain any meat, fish or poultry ingredients.


    VegeCert Logo

    • VegeCert: Used mostly in Canada, the non-profit organization VegeCert and The Toronto Vegetarian Association have teamed up to provide vegan and vegetarian certifications to over 65,000 products across Canada.

      They provide two variations, a vegetarian and vegan logo, and companies certified under them undergo regular inspections by COR, Canada's largest kosher certification agency. 


    100 Percent Vegan Logo

    • Other LabelsVegan labels and claims on cosmetics packaging are not monitored by the FDA or any governing body and therefore, it is even more important to look for the official certifications or to do a bit more homework.

      Some examples of claims that can be used freely without any certification or monitoring include: 100% Vegan, No Animal Ingredients or 100% Vegetarian.

      These companies will usually provide more details on their website or may often answer specific inquiries via email.

    Cruelty-Free: Certified Logos

    Currently, there are three official logos that verify a beauty product has not been tested on animals. The below three logos are always optimal when wanting to ensure that your item is truly cruelty-free.

    As you will see below, they do have some differences between them, but one thing that all three official parties have in common is that they will not grant certifications to companies that sell their products to markets wherein animal testing is a requirement, such as China.

    It is important to note here that, unlike China, animal testing is not required by law in the United States.

    Leaping Bunny Logo

    • The Leaping Bunny LogoThe "Leaping Bunny" logo consistently gets the gold star for cruelty-free certifications and if you're ever in doubt, always go for the Leaping Bunny!

      This is the most well-respected in the industry, as companies who are certified to use this logo are monitored by the The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, or CCIC, an organization made up of nine different animal protection groups.

      Companies under this standard undergo regular audits into their company practices to make sure that the companies are truly standing behind their claims.

      These companies have to pass multiple inspections before being able to use this logo and the Leaping Bunny currently remains the only certification with standards of this magnitude.


    Peta Bunny Logo

    • PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Logo: The "PETA Bunny" logo can be utilized by companies who fill out an assurance form to PETA that promises their company will not conduct, commission or pay for any animal testing.

      Differently from the Leaping Bunny, this logo relies mostly on integrity and therefore PETA does not conduct audits to check on the continued validity behind this promise. PETA's logos have two different variations, one to signify cruelty-free and another to signify both cruelty-free and vegan.


    CCF Not Tested on Animals Logo

    • Choose Cruelty-Free Rabbit Logo: This rabbit logo is the official certification for Australian cruelty-free products.

      Governed by the non-profit organization Choose Cruelty-Free, this logo signifies that the accredited companies have paid an annual licensing fee and obtained a valid license to use the logo. Choose Cruelty-Free releases an official list of companies twice per year and closely surveys the companies on these lists.

    Cruelty-Free: Non-Certified Logos and Other

    No Animal Testing Logo

    • "Cruelty-Free" or "Not Tested on Animals": Similarly to vegan claims on cosmetics, companies are also free to use claims indicating that their products are “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” outside of the official certifications and these claims are not monitored by any governing administration or organization.

      Therefore, if you see the words “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” presented without the Leaping Bunny, PETA Bunny or Choose Cruelty Free Rabbit, proceed but with some caution!

    This is not to say that the product is not cruelty-free or is falsifying claims, but there is a reason as to why they chose not to go with one of these three labels that justifies some more research.

    Cucumber Cosmetics

    Missing Logos Aren't Always a Bad Sign

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that these non-certified claims can not be verified due to the fact that the term is yet to be legally defined. In other words, if you see that the label says "Not Tested on Animals" and it does not contain one of the above logos, you may need to visit the company's website to dig a bit further.

    One possible option is that the company is indeed certified with one of these organizations but simply does not choose to include it on all of their packaging.

    It is also just as possible that although the finished product was not tested on animals, the ingredients that went into making the product were tested on animals at some point, therefore not making it eligible for one of these logos.

    Lastly, it is possible that the parent company or corporation does test on animals, even if that specific brand claims not to, and therefore is not technically cruelty-free.

    Read More
    How 2,016 Cruelty-Free Companies Are Making 2016
    PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide
    These Companies Don’t Test on Animals
    Vegetarian, vegan certification available in Canada


    Woman Cosmetics Shopping

    As we’ve now seen throughout this guide, the world is really your oyster when it comes to the world of vegan makeup and cosmetics.

    The available options are growing by the day and new vegan options are quickly filling the shelves of beauty stores and online stores throughout the globe. As Lisa Brodar, founder of Portland General’s Store, puts it: “As consumers become more aware that what they put on their body is as important as what they put inside their body, I think the future of cruelty-free and vegan products will only grow."

    As we mentioned earlier, there really is a healthier alternative to any and all of your current beauty staples. All it takes is a little research and a little time to try out some of these amazing new cruelty-free options!


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