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What Do ‘Vegan’ and ‘Cruelty-Free’ Mean?

3, November 2023

What Do ‘Vegan’ and ‘Cruelty-Free’ Mean?

A new report from the Vegan Society has found that consumers find labels on cosmetics and toiletries confusing. According to the charity’s research, only 48.7% of people understand what the term ‘cruelty-free’ means, whilst just 30% understand the meaning of ‘vegan’ when it appears on their cosmetics. These statistics got us thinking: what if some of you, our wonderful customers, don’t fully understand the meaning of these important terms? Everything we make is vegan and cruelty-free, so here’s our guide to what both claims mean…

What Does ‘Vegan’ Mean on Cosmetics Labels?

When you hear the word ‘vegan’, the first thing that springs to mind is probably diet. Everyone knows that vegans don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs or any foods containing animal products. But what’s veganism got to do with the products in your bathroom cabinet? The answer is a lot, actually: Lanolin (from sheep), squalene (sometimes derived from sharks) and ambergris (from whales) are just some examples.

There’s no law around labelling products as vegan, and as the vegan movement grows in popularity, so does demand for vegan beauty products. This means it can be difficult to choose products that are completely vegan.

Thankfully, there is a trusted symbol that guarantees a product is completely vegan: the Vegan Trademark, which you can see on the right-hand side of the banner at the top of this page. Introduced by The Vegan Society in 1990, the iconic sunflower symbol adorns the packaging of more than 65,000 certified vegan products, the world over – including ours, because we’ve been making vegan-only products since way back in 1974.

Check labels carefully to see whether your beauty products are completely vegan. The Vegan Society’s Vegan Beauty Takeover Report 2023 contains information on non-vegan ingredients to look out for. To be completely sure a product is wholly vegan, look for that trusted sunflower mark.

What Does 'Cruelty-Free' Mean?

When you see ‘cruelty-free’ on the label of a beauty product, it means it hasn’t been tested on animals and that it is not sold in a part of the world where post-market animal testing is required by law. Although testing cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals is banned in the UK and EU, it does still happen in some parts of the world.

In order to be sure a product is truly cruelty-free, look for the ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo (shown on the left-hand side of the banner above). Like the Vegan Trademark, the Leaping Bunny was introduced in the 1990s. 

The Leaping Bunny programme was started by an international coalition of animal protection organisations. Today, applications are managed by Cruelty Free International and their international partners. The logo is issued to brands which make cosmetic, personal care, household and cleaning products that comply with the Leaping Bunny criteria. You can read more about those criteria here. Over 1000 companies worldwide, including Faith In Nature, are part of the Leaping Bunny family.

How Do I Know If a Product is Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

The best way to make sure no animals are harmed in your bathroom or beauty routine is to choose products that are certified both vegan and cruelty-free. And the best way to identify products which are is to keep a close eye on labels, looking for both the Vegan Trademark and the Leaping Bunny.