dropper of skincare using plant-based product Credit : Jill Burrow / Pexels

When it comes to all things beauty, the words cruelty-free and vegan are often used interchangeably. However, these two terms couldn't be more different. Are they both related to animals and beauty? Yes. But they are often misinterpreted and misunderstood, so we're here to help you understand what is so different about these beauty classifications. 

Both of these categories have a lot to do with the relationship between beauty and animals. However, something can fall into one of these categories and not the other. A makeup or skincare product can be cruelty-free but not vegan or vegan but not cruelty-free. We often see both of these labels attached to products and brands, but that's not always the case.

Here's the big difference between cruelty-free and vegan products in the world of beauty. 


A cruelty-free product is something that was not tested on animals in any step of the development process. Unfortunately, there is no regulation in the U.S. or Canada when it comes to claiming something is "cruelty-free" or "not tested on animals" and a company claiming "we do not test on animals," according to Leaping Bunny

One of the few ways you can confirm that something is 100% cruelty-free is when it has gone through the Leaping Bunny Program. This is a cruelty-free standard that was started in 1996 by eight national animal protection groups. They created the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). This organization created a standard when it comes to certifying something as cruelty-free.

According to its website, a Leaping Bunny certification "requires that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers." However, although looking for the Leaping Bunny is a good sign that something is cruelty-free, some brands opt not to go through the process and still call themselves cruelty-free. 


A beauty product is vegan when no animal-derived ingredient was used in the process of creating it -- similar to how vegans do not eat anything animal-derived. A cruelty-free product might include an ingredient like honey, whereas a vegan product would not. 

Unfortunately, vegan products are also not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any organization. In the past, brands have claimed to be vegan and have gotten in trouble with the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), according to Beauty Independent