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Cruelty-free, vegan, clean beauty: Buzzwords to know before buying your cosmetics

As beauty addicts become increasingly conscious about how their purchases affect the environment and animal well-being, here are a few terms to clarify the various labels and certifications to help you opt for a truly sustainable beauty routine.

Cosmetics test on rabbit animal
Committed consumers need to be familiar with certain certification labels to make sure that the products they are buying are cruelty-free and clean. Image: Artfully Photographer/Shutterstock


A cruelty-free beauty product means it has not been tested on animals. It concerns the final product as well as any ingredient composing it. Since March 2013, animal testing for cosmetics sold in the EU has been officially banned.

However, some tests are still allowed outside the EU, therefore choosing your products with certification labels may be the best solution if you care about animal well-being. The most reliable certification labels are “Cruelty-free”, “Vegan and Cruelty-free” from PETA, “Leaping Bunny” or “One Voice”. PETA has also compiled a list of brands of cosmetics that don’t test out their products on lab mice or rabbits.


Vegan and cruelty-free are very different. While most of the time vegan cosmetics are cruelty-free, the reverse is not necessarily true. The adjective vegan means, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “not eating, using, or including any animal products.”

In order to be vegan, cosmetics cannot use ingredients derived from animals. Some consumers don’t necessarily know that, for instance, cosmetics derived from honey, however natural, are not considered vegan. Here are the certification labels to follow for vegan cosmetics: Vegan Society, V-Label, Eve Vegan, Vegecert, VeganOK, or Certified Vegan.

Clean beauty

There is no official definition, nor certification labels for clean beauty products. Clean beauty is more of a global concept that defines the future of the beauty sector. With an increasing number of consumers demanding sustainable, natural, healthy and animal-friendly products, this trend appears here to stay.

Clean beauty brands commit to facilitate the understanding of their product labels. Toxic or controversial ingredients are eliminated or reduced, with more natural and cruelty-free ingredients taking their place. New buzzwords are also trending, like safe beauty or blue beauty (protective of oceans), promoting responsible, ethical and environmental friendly products. NVG


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