White bunny on purple blanket

Cruelty-free or not

Hello Bellas!

We’re sure you’ve heard about ‘cruelty-free skincare by now, and have likely seen the ‘cruelty-free certified’ logo on your beauty and skincare packaging. But what does being ‘cruelty-free’ really mean? 

And how can you determine if a brand is ‘cruelty-free’?

Let’s dive into it.




(of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals.

At its core, cruelty-free is a way to define products that are not involved in animal testing at any stage of their production process. Unfortunately, owing to the great demand and need for cruelty-free skincare products, some brands are capitalizing on the popularity by simply placing a bunny icon onto their products without actually being cruelty-free.

Another common misconception among people is that they equate being vegan with being cruelty-free, and this is not entirely true. A brand can have vegan products (no animal-sourced ingredients) and can still test on animals. Alternatively, a brand can be cruelty-free and can still use ingredients from animals (honey, beeswax, squalene, collagen, lanolin, milk, etc.). And if you want to be absolutely certain that your skincare is cruelty-free, it may help to look for brands that have a strong ethical stance on this issue and specifically state that they do not test on animals.

How to find cruelty-free beauty products

1. Look for the PETA or Leaping Bunny logo

An easy way to verify if a brand is cruelty-free or not is to look for third-party certification. This comes in two different forms: PETA’s bunny logo and the Leaping Bunny logo. 

For a visual of the logos + an excellent explanation of the ins and outs of cruelty-free certifications, check out the Ethical Elephant’s blog post titled, “Leaping Bunny vs. PETA Cruelty-Free Certification – What’s the Difference?” 

Side note: Do keep in mind that these certifications are quite pricey, and smaller beauty brands (like ours) may not be able to afford them yet. If that’s the case, you should never hesitate to email the brand you are curious about directly and ask to see their accreditation. They will likely be more than happy to explain their processes to you personally!

2. Run the beauty brand through the Zoobop database

BOP by zoobop.com is the world’s first cruelty-free brand analyzer. This platform validates not only if brands are cruelty-free, but also dictates an overall 0 out of 5 scores based on a diverse range of factors. 0 being the worst, or least clean. 5 being the best, and most clean.

The zoobop database checks for: 

  • Clean formula
  • Green Policy
  • Cruelty-free
  • Honest label

All you need to do is type in a brand name you’re curious about and click, “bop” and the platform will present you with the brand's score, and a detailed analysis as to how and why they’ve received that score. They look for everything from eco-toxins to company ethos.

3. Shop as simple, local, and clean as possible

To avoid giving brands who support animal testing your money, begin by shopping at more small, local stores that make it their mission to curate high-quality, organic goods. 

These shops are much more likely to have done the hard work of brand-vetting for you, and you can rest easy knowing that what you purchase will have been created in a sustainable and humane way. 

Of course, not all towns will have these types of stores within a reasonable distance. If you happen to live in an area where clean brands seem out of reach, try using the Think Dirty App to find all sorts of brands in alignment with ethical and sustainable production methods. 

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