What is Cruelty-Free Beauty ?


Being a vegetarian for ten years already and refusing to wear leather goods, I thought of myself as a very ethical and kind human being. Until one day I found out that most of beauty products are being tested on animals (almost could not believe that this kind of uneccessary cruelty is happening in our century).

As much as I wanted to go straight up cruelty-free, I also found this idea very daunting. It took me almost two weeks of research until I got all my questions answered, and finally figured out which brands are really CF and where to find trustworthy information (hint - not on the brand’s about page). Here is my little and simple guide in cruelty-free beauty that hopefully will help you clear the air and make the leap, if you haven’t already.


Cruelty-free means not tested on animals. A beauty product can be called cruelty-free if it has not been tested on animals at any stage of development - starting from ingredients (including ingredients sourced from 3rd parties) up until the finished product. Cruelty-free brand must not conduct animal testing by itself, nor commission 3rd parties to do it. 


Animal testing is cruel and unnecessary. Not giving in too much details, small animals (rabbits, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs etc) are being shaved, and smeared with samples on skin and eyes, making them blind, poisoned and afterwards - killed. Nowadays there are available different testing systems - in tubes or on artificial tissue, that are more precise, faster and harmless. We, as consumers, have power that we show every time by swiping the bank card at cash register. Let our choices show what we stand for and support the businesses that care also about environment and our planet ! 


EU ban. Since March 1, 2014 European Union has banned animal testing in development of cosmetic products on its grounds as well as importing products that are not cruelty-free. The already made products stayed on shelves, while no new animal tests starting this date could be conducted. Be aware that this law does not apply to medical field thus some skincare products can still manage to have ingredients that are tested on animals. 

China has mandatory animal testing. All cosmetic products imported to China are required by law to be tested on animals. The animal testing is being conducted by Chinese government in their own facilities. Because brands still need to pay for these tests, thus supporting animal testing, they can not be called cruelty-free. 

There are 2 animal testing law exceptions in China. Firstly, Hong Kong is an independent zone which do not require animal testing on cosmetics (brands who sell ONLY in Hong Kong are still cruelty-free). Secondly, internet shops who ship to Chinese addresses are not required to follow this rule if their warehouses are outside China mainland. By the way, products that are manufactured on China mainland are not required to be tested on animals.



1. Look for a bunny logo. There are few variations of bunny logos but Leaping Bunny logo is the only internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing consumers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it.

2. Gather info in trusted databases. To check if the brand is cruelty-free and find more cruelty-free brands, I usually visit these sites :

Leaping Bunny database

Logical Harmony database

Sephora China

3. Check the manufacturing country. If the product is made in the EU contry, it should be cruelty free, even if there is no bunny logo or additional statement about it. Otherwise, look for the statements 'not tested on animals', 'cruelty-free' or check the above mentioned lists online.

4. Email the brand. Do not just ask if they are cruelty-free but be specific with questions about ingredients, 3rd party testing and selling in China. 


Only when required by law. A lot of companies have long cruelty-free policies that are supplemented by a statement Only when required by law. The only country that requires animal testing by law is China. Therefore, if the company is selling its products in China, it is paying for animal testing and can not be labeled as cruelty-free. 

A cruelty-free brand owned by a not cruelty-free company. This is a very widespread situation when a cruelty-free beauty brand becomes successful and is accquired by a big company that is not cruelty-free. Although usually its cruelty-free status is remained, the revenue still goes to the big not-cruelty-free company. However, there is an opinion that by choosing cruelty-free brands (even when they are possed by NCF corporations) we are still showing our support and point of view that might be noticed. It’s your choice !

Here are few examples of cruelty-free brands that are owned by not cruelty-free companies.

L’OREAL owns : NYX, IT cosmetics, Urban Decay, Pureology
ESTEE LAUDER owns : Too Faced, Becca, Smashbox, Bumble and Bumble, Aveda
KOSE owns : Tarte
SHISEIDO owns : bareMinerals
UNILEVER owns : Hourglass

Vegan does not mean cruelty-free. Although it might seem logical, unfortunately term vegan does not imply product not being tested on animals, but only not having animal derived ingredients.


I have switched to cruelty-free beauty in August 29, 2017. I do still use products of cruelty-free brands that are owned by NFC companies (like NYX & Urban Decay) but always searching for alternatives. Since the change, I have been pleasantly surpised about the wide range of cruelty-free beauty products available and, honestly, did not feel like I had to give up anything. Of course, shopping requires a bit more mindfulness but I think it is totally worth it !