What is cruelty free beauty?

5 min read

Why cruelty free beauty is important.

Love beauty products? Love animals?

Then you’re probably someone who believes in cruelty free beauty.

Cruelty free beauty means that no animal testing has occurred throughout the product’s supply chain.

However, knowing whether or not your beauty product is cruelty free isn’t super straightforward. We explore why animal testing is still a thing and what you can do to ensure your products are really cruelty free.

(Side note: vegan beauty is different to cruelty free beauty. Vegan beauty means no animal or animal-derived ingredients have been used. We'll talk about this in another blog post.)

Bolt Beauty - cruelty free brand

Why do some beauty companies still test their products on animals?

In short, to determine if the product is safe for human application and ward off any litigation claim, should this arise, as they will have the “test data” to negate such potential lawsuit action.

Some countries (like China) actually have a mandatory animal testing regime for any foreign cosmetics. This means that if a non-Chinese beauty brand wants to sell in China, they have to comply with the Chinese rules and test their products on animals.

Some companies are happy to claim they are cruelty free and do not test on animals, EXCEPT “when required by law”. This means that they aren't really a cruelty free brand.

A brand may not test its final product on animals, but any testing in the manufacturing process, by a third party, or at the ingredient level means the brand is not cruelty free.

How does different stages of the supply chain make a difference?

When thinking about cruelty free beauty, it is really important to ask at what stage testing might take place?

In Europe, legislation bans animal testing and the sale of animal tested products (and lots of other countries have adopted similar legislation).

This legislation prohibits: (1) animal testing on finished cosmetics products and cosmetic ingredients, and (2) the ability to market finished cosmetic products and ingredients that have been tested on animals in the EU. In other words, you can't test on animals in the EU and you can't sell products that have been tested on animals in the EU.

Unfortunately, there are some exceptions to this. The EU ban only applies to ingredients which are only used in cosmetics. And, the ban only applies to testing that relates to human safety - this means tests relating to environmental risks can still go ahead.

So in checking if a brand is cruelty free, you need to ask, “are the raw materials for the product tested on animals?” or “does a third party test the product on the company’s behalf?” or “do your suppliers test on animals?”. If the answer to any of these questions is a yes, then that brand is not genuinely cruelty free.

So, how do I know if a brand is cruelty free?

Quick answer: look for the bunny!

There are three internationally recognised bunny logos: the Leaping Bunny Logo, PETA’s cruelty free logo, and for those in Australia the Choose Cruelty Free Logo. Each of these shows that the brand has been officially credited by a reputable organisation as a cruelty free beauty brand.

In particular, the Leaping Bunny is the globally recognised standard for cruelty free consumer products approved under the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny Programme.

It is the only cruelty free licence that requires a supplier monitoring system to be implemented by the brand, supply chain checking for animal testing right down to ingredient manufacturer level, adherence to a fixed cut-off date policy and acceptance of ongoing independent audits to ensure compliance.

Bolt Beauty - cruelty free brand

Cruelty Free International is working hard to allow Leaping Bunny accredited brands to access the Chinese market without any animal testing.

As we mentioned, Chinese rules require animal testing for all imported cosmetics. There is also a risk that if a brand starts selling in China, their products will be tested on animals after they have entered the country.

To help brands enter the Chinese market without the need for animal testing, Cruelty Free International has run a pilot programme for a few beauty brands. Under the programme, the brands are able to sell beauty products in China via certain pre-approved sales channels without the need for any animal testing.

There have been other positive developments in China:

At the start of 2020, the Chinese State Council passed a draft bill entitled “Cosmetics Supervision and Administration Regulation”. This would allow companies offering certain imported cosmetics e.g. lipstick, shampoo, body wash and lotion, to sell in China without mandatory animal testing (so bringing them into line with the requirements for cosmetic products made domestically in China). However, as a result of the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic this year (2020) the final regulation for this bill to be adopted has not taken place so animal testing on imported products is still required.

Also, in January 2020, the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation made changes to help brands control whether testing would take place on their products. Under these new measures, cosmetics manufacturers would be notified before any animal testing would be carried out on a product. This would give a company time to take action before any testing on their products occurred - for example by removing them from sale.

While these are positive developments, there is a long way to go before consumers can be sure that products sold in China are cruelty free.

Why should I buy cruelty free beauty products?

Perhaps the better question is: why not? It really is not necessary to test products on animals, this is just archaic and cruel. Reliable and safe testing can be performed without any animals being involved.

We carry out both in vitro (in a lab) and in vivo (on living, consenting human beings). The point of the first tests is to ensure that theoretically, there is nothing harmful or irritating in our cosmetics products. For example, that there would be no ocular (eye) irritation if products got in your eye. The second set of tests confirm this on real (consenting!) human beings. All of these tests are carried out under internationally agreed standards for cosmetics products. It means we can be sure that the products are safe, but without causing any harm in the process.

We really urge you to look for the bunny logos next time you buy a beauty product. Only those brands with a bunny logo have been through rigorous tests to ensure the product really is cruelty free. Hopefully, if more of us demand cruelty free beauty, animal testing can be eliminated for good.

Bolt Beauty is a cruelty free and vegan brand.

We have been approved as cruelty free by the Leaping Bunny programme and certified as cruelty free and vegan by PETA.

Bolt Beauty - cruelty free brand
Bolt Beauty - cruelty free brand

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Bolt Blog

Sustainability and plastic
Sustainability and plastic

6 min read

Michelle Wan takes a deep dive in to the relationship between sustainability and plastic and explains why being sustainable does not mean being "anti-plastic".
Clean beauty myths
Clean beauty myths

6 min read

"Clean" is a beauty buzzword. But what does it mean and is "clean" beauty actually something better?
Is seaweed farming ethical?
Is seaweed farming ethical?

3 min read

We take a look at the seaweed supply chain and whether it's an ethical crop.