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Hard truths: 5 things every cruelty-free shopper needs to accept

27 March 2019

Going cruelty-free with your cosmetics and skincare is not simple. There are facts about the industry and laws which you need to know if you want to make sure the products you purchase really live up to the standards you seek.

Going cruelty-free isn't so simple – make sure you know these facts so that the products you purchase live up to the standards you seek

1. The labels 'cruelty-free' and 'vegan' might mean something different than what they mean to you

I wrote an article last year on the difference between cruelty-free and vegan skincare. It made some vegans upset.


They felt a product that is truly cruelty-free must also be vegan, and vice versa. We get it. We at Lumabelle only sell products free from animal testing and free from animal ingredients for that very reason.

HOWEVER, it is undeniable that the beauty industry thinks differently. If you think “Oh great, this product says it is cruelty-free, that must mean it is vegan, too” you might be walking out the shop with a product that contains animal ingredients. Just as you select a product with a vegan label, it might have been tested on animals (though this example occurs less often). Bizarre, but true.

2. Not everything on the shelf is free of animal-testing

The EU ban on animal testing, while a great move in the right direction, was full of loopholes. The kind which effectively mean store shelves are still full of products tested on animals.The same can be said for other bans. You have to know your stuff to work out which products you can really trust (or shop with Lumabelle, where we do the hard work for you).

3. Fluffywashing is rampant

Animal-friendly products have become big business. Companies see dollar signs when they think of increased demand for ethical products. Don't just accept cruelty-free and vegan claims – look up the brand's website, learn to recognise reputable certifications, email to ask questions where necessary, and understand what the brand's answers really mean.

4. Laws in other countries affect YOU, too

There's still a long way to go before animal-testing of cosmetics is banned worldwide. The fact that countries like China still require or permit animal testing in certain circumstances is part of the reason you still find so many products tested on animals on shelves in other countries. For more information, see our World Map.

5. You might not always be able to avoid a testing parent company (and maybe you shouldn't)

I used to be adamant about avoiding cruelty-free brands owned by a parent company that tests on animals. I still prefer to support independent small businesses when I can (and Lumabelle is full of them). But the truth is that it is difficult to avoid, when you learn about the handful of multinationals that own the majority of brands worldwide. Think of it this way: do you boycott vegan food from supermarkets because they also sell meat? If purchasing cruelty-free products sends a message to multinationals that this is where the future lies, that's ultimately of more benefit to the movement and to animals everywhere.

What have you had to come to terms with when trying to buy cruelty-free?

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