What’s the difference between Cruelty-Free and Vegan Products?

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In the beauty and lifestyle industry “Vegan and Cruelty- Free” are definite buzz words that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Here on Beauty by Buffy, I aim to educate and encourage you all to make the best decisions for your specific needs. Whatever fits your lifestyle needs that will lead to a healthy and happy life. In order to properly do that we need to first identify & define these terms and determine how they best fit into our life.

(If you want to learn even more each of the Logos presented will be linked at the bottom of the page)

What is a Cruelty- Free Product?

For a product to be considered Cruelty-Free, the entire development process of the products (from the early production process to distribution) must not have any association to animal testing AT ALL. Pay close attention to the companies that say things like “we only test when Required by Law”! In the past I personally thought it was okay, but then I quickly learned that companies that engage in this practice probably test their finished products on animals. They use a third-party in order to get away with claiming their Cruelty-Free status and to comply with various regional laws around the world… this makes them not so Cruelty-Free if you ask me. Tashina and Justin from logicalharmony.net do a really great job on updating the lists of companies you can trust so be sure to check it out!

A great example of a company that develops products that are cruelty-free but NOT strictly vegan, is Shea Moisture. Although they do have a variety of products that are vegan their focus is on Non-Toxic products and advocating for great causes such as inclusion, diversity, women empowerment, etc… (you can see why I lalalove this brand!). They have a strict NO animal testing policy and they are certified cruelty-free by both Leaping Bunny and PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program, however, most of their products contain animal-derived ingredients like milk, lanolin, honey, royal jelly, and carmine.

So the choice really comes down to what you value and what you can realistically commit to on a day to day basis. I personally aim for non-toxic and ethical brands, I certainly do not condone animal testing as I truly believe it is an unnecessary evil.

What is a Vegan Product?

In order for a product to qualify as Vegan, it shouldn’t have animal or animal part ingredients. Some examples we see on a day to day basis are  animal fats, or any ingredient derived from an animal, ( for example: honey, beeswax, yogurt, etc.) Many products may seem Vegan at first, because many times they are marketed as a non-toxic or natural product and these all fall under the ethical and health & wellness umbrella.

For example, a beauty product that contains beeswax can be Cruelty- Free but NOT Vegan. This is where your judgment comes in and it is up to you to decide if you are strictly Vegan, Cruelty- Free, Organic, etc.  This touches upon a personal choice that can only be made through experience and research.

So how can you tell which products are Vegan? Well, some great organizations have provided our community with Cruelty-Free Logos that help identify trusted products & brands. The Vegan Society and Vegan Action (click on names for more info) have provided us with logos to demonstrate that a product has no animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients so that we can shop our little hearts out, guilt free.

Is There Such a Thing as Vegetarian Cosmetics?

You might’ve noticed on one of my previous the Think Dirty August Subscription Box (click here to read) I mentioned various different ‘labels’. They offered Vegan, Cruelty-Free, AND Vegetarian products. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of my favorite beauty brands, like 100% Pure carried all three labels on their products.

This is an image of a logo you may see on beauty products, toiletries, cleaning products and even food for Vegetarian Products:

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So down to the nitty gritty, the difference between vegan and vegetarian cosmetics is basically the same as the difference between vegan and vegetarian foodie lifestyles. A vegan doesn’t eat animals (including meat, fish, seafood, etc.) and doesn’t eat anything produced by an animal (including eggs, milk, butter, cheese, etc.) and a vegetarian doesn’t eat animals but does eat products made by animals… that’s a lot to take in I know but re-read it a couple of times and you’ll get it, hehe.

So essentially the major difference between vegan and vegetarian cosmetics is that products labeled vegetarian will probably have natural animal-made ingredients (you will see quite often honey & beeswax). Ultimately I encourage you to ALWAYS do your own research and ask questions! It is our right to know.

What Can You Do to Help?

  1. Start supporting Cruelty-Free companies! Unfortunately the only way many companies will take action and listen is through their sales. So when you buy Vegan or Cruelty-Free you are speaking with your money!
  2. Check out all of the organizations mentioned that make these logos possible:
  3. Support fellow Cruelty-Free and Vegan beauty Bloggers
    • Some of my favorite Vegan & Cruelty Free Instagram accounts to follow are:
      • @Rihan
      • @Logicalharmony
      • @Crueltyfreekitty
      • @FashionVeggie
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