Knowing How To Differentiate Between Vegan and Cruelty Free Products

Is a cruelty free product the same as a vegan product?

Is a product that is not tested on animals the same as cruelty free?

Are we taking into consideration the individual ingredients or the product as a whole?

It can certainly become more complicated if we consider the skincare industry.

Clarity is essential….here is what you should know.

Although the the two labels are often used interchangeably there is actually quite a difference between them. 

It is confusing trying to understand how certain products are labelled, or why they are labelled as such.

But understanding the difference between the two is essential in making the right choices for consumers and for your conscious. 

 In short,  “Cruelty-Free” generally implies no animal testing occurred whereas “Vegan” generally implies the products do not contain any animal derived ingredients or by-products.

In fact, when a product claims to be both ‘cruelty-free and vegan’, it means it was not tested on animals and it does not contain animal products or ingredients.


Not surprisingly, the list of animal-derived skincare ingredients is lengthy. So make sure that if you are looking for a vegan product  it does not contain any of the following ingredients. Yet, remember, this does not mean the product is not cruelty free. 


Gelatin– this is actually the boiled skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of an animal. You will generally find gelatin, identified as gel, hide glue, isinglass, kosher and halal gelatin. This ingredient is also often found in processed foods.

Tallow– also known as rendered animal fat, and very often found in eye make up, lipstick bases, as well as foundations.

Coachineal Dye– also seen on labels as carmine, is a dye obtained from crushed beetles. The female beetles eat red cactus berries, and when crushed a red dye is produce, often used in blushes and lipsticks.

Lanolin– is an oily residue from lambs wool, found in creams and hair products 

Beeswax– considered an animal byproduct, it is commonly used in natural cosmetics as an emulsifier or thickener.

Squalene– is extracted from shark liver and added to eye makeup and lipsticks

Ambergris– is derived from whale’s stomach as a waxy oil.

Collagen– you will often see this ingredient in facial creams. It is a fibrous protein obtained from animal tissue. Applying collagen to your skin has not been proven to reproduce collagen to minimize wrinkles and increase elasticity. A vegan alternative can be found in plant based collagen, often identified as phyto-collagen.

Retinol– often found in “anti-aging” creams, this ingredient is very often animal derived. A vegan alternative would be Viatmin A.

Lactic Acid– is found in animal tissue and is derived from milk.

Snail gel– also known as snail filtrate is commonly used in cosmetic skincare due to its high content of peptides and anti-microbial us