What Does Cruelty-Free Skincare Actually Mean

  • October 13, 2023
  • 4 Minutes

Around 500,000 animals suffer and die yearly from product testing. While Cruelty-Free Skincare is absolutely a viable option, Big companies purposely test products and ingredients to see if they burn or cause irritation and pain to animals, as part of the “laboratory testing” to enable the products for use on human beings. Why would anyone in their right mind support these cruel practices? Mainly, it’s because we are unaware. Today, we’ll be talking about cruelty-free skincare. What is it? How can you identify it? What can you do about it? Come with me to learn how we can stop hurting our companions.

Clean, Ethical Skincare is Harder to Spot these days

Back in the day, it was easier to know where what you bought came from. Everything was locally sourced due to the slow transport, and people knew their products. Today, everything happens under a black veil, behind closed lab doors, and consumers have minimal access to the precedence and manufacture of what we use. Thankfully, in the information era that we live in, we have informants, activists, and organizations that are shedding light on the dark veil.

We’re in an age where conscious consumerism is increasing at super speed, and customers are starting to put their values on what they buy. We are becoming a society that wants companies to be just as ethical as we are. This profound shift has given rise to cruelty-free skincare, a movement that aligns ethical choices with personal care.

image of a woman patch testing her skin care product on her arm skin
picture of a white dog peacefully resting on their owner bed
decorative image showing a closeup of the texture of a skincare product

What is Cruelty-Free Skincare

At its core, cruelty-free skincare represents a commitment to compassion. In the beauty industry, it signifies products that have not been tested on animals. But it’s not just about the end products; it’s also about the ingredients. This speaks to a broader dedication to the well-being of all living creatures and rejecting practices that compromise our ethical values. Choosing cruelty-free isn’t just about skincare; it’s a conscious choice to advocate for a world where kindness and beauty coexist harmoniously.

History of Animal Testing in the Beauty Industry

In the past, people thought testing beauty products on animals was the safe way to go. They believed it would show if the products were safe for humans. But as time passed, we realized that if it hurt us, it was because it hurt them. Animals were exposed to things that could be harsh or even harmful. It even became big international news. We all saw pictures of innocent white rabbits with lipstick and rashes on their skin. It wasn’t fair for them.

As more people became aware of this, a wave of concern rose. People began to question whether it was right to put animals through this for the sake of our beauty. They raised their voices against it, and a call for change spread.

How To Identify Cruelty-Free Brands: Certifications and Labels

Amongst a sea of options, distinguishing between genuinely cruelty-free products and those that claim is complex. Especially if you consider the ambiguous legislation and how big companies greenwash us. This is where certifications and labels come into play. Recognized symbols serve as beacons of authenticity, guiding us toward products aligned with our values. These labels aren’t just stickers but emblems of integrity in a world of choices.

You might be interested in learning How to Spot Truly Sustainable Skincare.

Cruelty-Free International’s Leaping Bunny Program

Cruelty-Free International is the leading organization working to create a world where nobody wants or believes we need to experiment on animals. Their Leaping Bunny Program is the globally recognizable gold standard for cosmetics, personal care, and household products. Hundreds of brands are approved cruelty-free under their Leaping Bunny program.

PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, and PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally. PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies program is the ultimate resource for conscientious shoppers, making the quest for humane products as easy as (vegan) pie. With their searchable online database, you can search by company, brand name, or product type.

Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF)

Choose Cruelty-Free is an Australian-based non-profit with some of the strictest guidelines on who can be certified and the rules they must pledge to adhere to. CCF ensures that companies are not only banning animal testing but also have clear guidelines on what they can and cannot use in their products.

Naturewatch Foundation

Naturewatch Foundation is a registered charity founded in 1991 with a mission to end animal cruelty and advance animal welfare standards around the world. Their Compassionate Shopping Guide guides shoppers through the maze of cruelty-free claims and confusing legislation, helping them to make good choices and save animals from experiments, imprisonment, and suffering.

organic texture of a cruelty-free skincare brand
picture of a rabbit closeup on an orange background
picture of a morning routine of natural supplements

Alternatives to Animal Testing

The customer demand for cruelty-free beauty has ignited a surge of innovation. This fire has started the engines, forcing companies to find alternative ways of testing. Modern methods like in vitro testing and computer models have stepped in, rendering traditional animal testing out-of-date. These breakthroughs are accurate and ethical, demonstrating that technological progress can lead to a kinder, more beautiful world.


Fields of Yarrow’s commitment is to send a message: clean skincare is possible. Quality and effectiveness are at reach in nature’s bounty, and a sustainable, cruelty-free paradigm is absolutely possible. Check out our values page to learn more about our commitment to sustainability.

Your Voice, Your Impact: Consumer Empowerment

In the complexity of ethical beauty, consumers hold a pivotal role. Please exercise your purchasing power wisely to support brands that prioritize values aligned with your own. Your voice has power, and your impact is where you spend your money. Let’s make conscious choices to ensure we live in a cruelty-free world.


What does "cruelty-free skincare" mean?

Cruelty-free skincare refers to products that have not been tested on animals at any stage of their development. This includes both the product's ingredients and the final formulation. It's a commitment by brands to ensure that no animals are harmed or subjected to testing for the sake of cosmetics. This is in contrast to products that may involve animal testing for safety assessments or regulatory purposes.

How can I identify cruelty-free skincare products?

Identifying cruelty-free skincare products can be done through various methods. Look for products with cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny, PETA's cruelty-free logo, or the "Cruelty-Free International" logo. Additionally, you can visit the brand's official website, as many cruelty-free brands proudly display their commitment to ethical practices. Websites like Cruelty-Free Kitty and Logical Harmony maintain updated lists of cruelty-free brands and products, making it easier to find them.

What are the benefits of using cruelty-free skincare?

The benefits of using cruelty-free skincare extend beyond animal welfare. By choosing cruelty-free products, you support ethical and sustainable practices in the beauty industry. Many cruelty-free brands prioritize using natural and eco-friendly ingredients, which can be beneficial for your skin and the environment. Additionally, cruelty-free skincare often aligns with vegan principles, making it suitable for those who follow a plant-based lifestyle. For example, "Burt's Bees" is a cruelty-free brand that emphasizes natural and sustainable ingredients in their products.

Is cruelty-free skincare better for the environment?
Cruelty-free skincare is generally more environmentally friendly as it often involves sustainable practices and avoids animal testing, which can harm the environment. Brands committed to cruelty-free principles often choose eco-friendly packaging and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. For instance, "Lush Cosmetics" is known for its commitment to both cruelty-free and eco-conscious practices, using minimal packaging and reducing waste. By supporting cruelty-free brands, you contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate beauty industry.

Are there any animal-derived ingredients in skincare?

Yes, some skincare products may contain animal-derived ingredients. Common examples include lanolin (derived from sheep's wool), beeswax, and carmine (a red pigment obtained from crushed cochineal insects). If you want to avoid these ingredients, look for products labeled as "vegan" or check ingredient lists for the presence of animal-derived components. Many cruelty-free brands also offer vegan options, ensuring that no animal-derived ingredients are used.

Can I find cruelty-free products for all skin types?

Yes, cruelty-free skincare products are available for various skin types, including sensitive, oily, dry, and combination skin. Brands recognize the diversity of skin types and formulate products to address specific skincare needs. For instance, "Fields of Yarrow," a well-known cruelty-free brand, offers a range of products suitable for sensitive and dry skin.

About the Author

Souhela Ferrah
Souhela Ferrah

Researcher, mom and founder of Fields of Yarrow

Growing up in the south of France, Souhela Ferrah was surrounded by flower fields. As the daughter of a pharmacist, and with her educational background as chemist, she grew up with a strong affinity with nature and understood its power very well. Thanks to her family, her hometown and her travels around the world, she found inspiration in natural healers, herbalists and nature itself. And this was enough to motivate her to start the awarded honest skincare brand, Fields of Yarrow.
Tags: cruelty free / cruelty free skincare / fields of yarrow / green skincare / natural ingredients / natural remedies / natural skincare / organic ingredients / organic skincare / sustainability / sustainable skincare / vegan skin products / vegan skincare

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