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What Does Vegan Beauty Actually Mean?

Posted on October 04 2020

What Does Vegan Beauty Actually Mean?


There’s a lot of confusing jargon around vegan beauty — “cruelty-free” is one example, with many people assuming that they’re one and the same.

Plain and simple, vegan beauty means the absence of animal ingredients, while cruelty-free refers to a product that doesn’t test on animals. In other words, it’s possible for a vegan item to have been tested on an animal and a cruelty-free product to contain animal ingredients.

Adding to the confusion is the lack of Food and Drug Administration guidelines. A handful of organizations have rolled out insignia to signal whether a product is vegan or cruelty-free, the most distinguished being the Leaping Bunny Program, which grants certification to personal care and household product companies that ensure that no animal testing is done at any phase of the production process.

“A finished product could say it’s cruelty-free, but that’s not good enough,” said Dennis Gross, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon whose skin-care line is certified by the Leaping Bunny Program. “Most animal testing occurs on the ingredient level, so with the Leaping Bunny Program, you’re 100 percent certain that no animal testing occurs in the laboratory.”

PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program lists every registered company that is either cruelty-free or both vegan and cruelty-free, and has corresponding logos to match. In Britain, the Vegan Society charity, the oldest vegan society in the world, has registered thousands of brands that are both vegan and cruelty-free.

“It’s easy to pick a food item and decide if it’s vegan or not, but it’s more difficult with beauty,” said Dominika Piasecka, the media and public relations officer of the Vegan Society. “There’s a huge need for it to be labeled.”

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