Cruelty-Free – Understanding who is, isn’t and the in between

Starting my new life Cruelty-Free was not as simple as I first thought it would be. There are so many companies that claim to be Cruelty-Free that do test on animals and lots of logos that sit alongside products to verify their Cruelty-Free status. So what is the “gold” standard and how do these other certifications fit in.

If I’m honest I felt utterly confused about what I should look for, that at one point I stopped trying anything new and stuck with one or two trustworthy brands. But where is the fun in that!


So what does Cruelty-Free actually mean?

The term Cruelty-Free refers to animal testing only, not necessarily the wider animal cruelty issue. A company that claims it is Cruelty-Free is suggesting that they do not test their products on animals.

And what does Vegan have to do with cosmetics?

Vegan is used to describe something that does not contain anything derived from an animal, therefore Vegan approved cosmetics do not contain any animal by products – this however cannot be used as a reference to animal testing. So for the purpose of this post, I will not be discussing how to determine if a product is Vegan.


Unfortunately the term “Cruelty-Free” and “Not tested on animals” are often thrown around by companies but not always regulated. So pretty much any company could say they are Cruelty-Free, when they aren’t.  I know, what hope do we have finding these companies who really are legitimate, well Leaping Bunny is leading the way in terms of gold standard certification.

Leaping Bunny 

Leaping Bunny has become the international gold standard of Cruelty-Free certification due to the commitments expected by companies who pass and maintain a strict set of criteria including;

  • Introducing a fixed cut-off date after which none of their products or ingredients are tested on animals
  • Establishing procedures for verifying the strict implementation of the fixed cut-off date with product manufacturers and raw ingredients suppliers to monitor their supply chains
  • Adopting an animal testing policy verified by Cruelty Free International
  • Allowing independent auditors to evidence compliance with Leaping Bunny criteria


PETA – Beauty Without Bunnies

PETA validate if a company is Cruelty-Free by either signing PETA’s statement of assurance or providing a statement that verifies they do not conduct or commission any animal tests on ingredients, formulations, or finished products and pledge not to do so in the future. peta-bunny-2


Choose Cruelty-Free

Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF) is an Australian based organisation and to become accredited by CCF, you must fill in a questionnaire & application for Accreditation (Q&A), including a legally binding contract.  If companies use third parties to manufacture their products, they are also required to submit a completed Q&A and supporting documentation.


The declared but not accredited 

Some companies may claim the following, meaning that the products and its ingredients were not tested on animals, however not all with have accreditation from Leaping Bunny, PETA, CCF or other accredited organisations to verify these claims.

No animal testing
Not tested on animals
We don’t test on animals
Against animal testing

In an ideal world, I would be happy accepting these statements with no evidence but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Companies can legally state they are Cruelty-Free but not comply with the standards set by Leaping Bunny, PETA, CCF or other accredited organisations, by commissioning third parties to conduct animal testing on their behalf or using their ingredient suppliers to conduct animal testing on the raw ingredients.


In my opinion you cannot go wrong with looking for the Leaping Bunny logo and using PETA’s App “Bunny Free” for clarity. I have looked into doing research of my own with particular companies but as this is time-consuming and nowhere near as thorough as the accreditation’s above, I try not to rely on this completely.


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