Lessons Learned: Cruelty-Free Beauty


I started going cruelty-free with my beauty collection in early February 2016, and nearly a year and a half in I have learned a lot about what it means to be "cruelty-free" and what some of the grey areas are. I have decided to start a mini series called "Lessons Learned" talking about some things I have learned along the way about labels and certifications in products, and lifestyle labels. 

1. "Cruelty-free" can mean a couple of things.

Typically, cruelty-free means the end products are not tested on animals. However, this is not to say that:

  • the ingredients have not been tested on animals
  • the products don't contain animal by-products

On this blog, I feature products where the end products have not been tested on animals. I try my best to make sure that the ingredients have also not been tested on animals, but sometimes this information can be hard to find. 

As for animal by-products, I try to find vegan products when I can and make sure I make a note of it when I can confirm it, but I definitely have products containing animal by-products. Some common animal by-products found in cosmetics are beeswax, carmine, glycerin, honey, lanolin, and retinol.

2. Hong Kong does not follow the same animal testing policies as china

In China, animal testing is required on products categorized as cosmetics. However, Hong Kong does not follow the same policies; animal testing is not required on cosmetics sold in HK. This means that just because a brand is sold in HK, it does not mean that it is also sold in China and therefore it may not have been animal tested. Be sure to do your research!

3. watch out for the parent companies

There are a lot of brands that do not test on animals, but are owned by brands that do test on animals. There are many brands owned by brands like Estee Lauder and Shiseido. For example, NARS and bareminerals are owned by Shiseido. While I do still buy from brands with parent companies that are not cruelty-free, I try my best to choose the fully cruelty-free option. The reason for this is because your money can still go to the parent company towards animal testing.

4. Similar name, not the same brand = different policies

Did you know that Marc Jacobs Beauty is not the same as Marc Jacobs Fragrances? MJB is owned by Kendo and MJF is owned by Coty. Kendo owns cruelty-free brands like MJB. Coty owns many fragrance brands which are available in China where animal testing is required by law. 

5. There are more cruelty-free brand than you may expect

When I first decided to go cruelty-free with my beauty collection, I was pretty nervous. I wasn't sure how many brands there actually were that do not conduct animal testing. To my surprise, most of the products I already love are from brands against animal testing. Through this switch, I also started shopping more "indie" or "green" brands. I will touch on green beauty in another post. Anyway, I have discovered so many new brands this past year and have also learned so much more about each brand by doing research and reaching out to brands to talk about their stance on animal testing. It has been great, and much easier than I expected!

I think when determining whether something is cruelty-free or not by your definition of cruelty-free, it is important to find brands that transparent about their animal testing policy and to do as much research as you can. You can expect to see more of my "cruelty-free or not" posts popping up with responses from brands regarding their animal testing policies and vegan options. 


Hope you enjoyed this first installment of the "Lessons Learned" series. Let me know if there are certain brands you would like me to investigate more on.