Firstly, The Dodgy List
Although many brands do test on animals or use animal-based ingredients (ie. non-vegan) ingredients, they get around this with some amazing marketing spin. As an self-described spin-doctor for brands myself, I still find this sort of deception repulsive. Here’s some confusing and vague words to watch out for on product packaging:
Animal Friendly: This is baffling, an all-together made up concept. It is reassuring to people at the check-out at Amazon. They are time-poor and rarely have time to assess whether or not any of the product description is true. See below example from a dubious and dodgy brand (that will remain unmentioned) with a logo circa 1996.
A picture of a rabbit on the side of product packaging: This is a meaningless symbol when it’s not actually accompanied by a cruelty free badge of approval. It is illegal to display the cruelty free badge without the required independent checks. When in doubt, check the list here.
Natural Sources: Ingredients from ‘natural sources’ can mean either animal or plant sourced ingredients. If you want to go vegan with your skincare, best to keep away.
Let’s Define What Cruelty Free Means
I’ve already spoken about the importance of free-range eggs before. The term “cruelty-free product” is along the same lines. It’s a product that has not been tested on animals by the manufacturer. It’s important to buy cruelty-free products to support companies that are animal-friendly and to boycott companies that still test on animals.
Cruelty free means that the product that has not been tested on animals, and does not contain any animal ingredients.
The Three Step Guide to Buying Cruelty Free
1. Check for the certified logo
The bunny logo below is a registered trademark and use without permission is illegal.
2. Check the brand on approved lists
The symbols used in this list indicate the following:
v All products are suitable for vegans. Or see vegan products.
sv Some products are suitable for vegans (please check labels).
vt Products are vegetarian and may contain beeswax, lanolin, honey, milk, egg and/or casein.
Meet standards of non-animal testing but some products contain animal ingredients.
CCF Licensees are listed in pink and are permitted to use the CCF Rabbit Logo.
Click on the link to go to the retailer’s website. List courtesy of Choose Cruelty Free Skincare Australia
Argan Life sv
Badger Balm sv
Barry M sv
Be Genki v
Belle Mi sv
Blue Moon sv
D & M sv
Eco Tan v
Hab Shifa sv
Herb UK sv
Hobson Dell sv
La Mav sv
Le Reve sv
Mii Maa v
My Lip Stuff sv
NLG Healing sv
OUCH! Spray sv
Patti Flynn sv
Sweet Lily sv
Tui Balms vt
Wattle Creek sv
3. Read the label for certain ingredients
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The ingredients here are most likely to be animal in origin. Although there is a chance that they are synthetic variations, if you have further questions, ask the retailer. Ingredients list thanks to PETA.
Hormone from adrenal glands of hogs, cattle, and sheep. In medicine. Alternatives: synthetics.
From whale intestines. Used as a fixative in making perfumes and as a flavoring in foods and beverages. Alternatives: synthetic or vegetable fixatives.
The building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. In cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, shampoos, etc. Alternatives: synthetics, plant sources.
Hair from the Angora rabbit or goat. Used in clothing. Alternatives: synthetic fibers.
Animal Fats and Oils.
In foods, cosmetics, etc. Highly allergenic. Alternatives: olive oil, wheat germ oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, safflower oil, etc.
A liquid unsaturated fatty acid that is found in liver, brain, glands, and fat of animals and humans. Generally isolated from animal liver. Used in companion animal food for nutrition and in skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes. Alternatives: synthetics, aloe vera, tea tree oil, calendula ointment.
A wax that can be from animal fat. Alternatives: peanut or vegetable oil.
Animal bone ash. Used in bone china and often to make sugar white. Serves as the charcoal used in aquarium filters. Alternatives: synthetic tribasic calcium phosphate.
Crushed or ground animal bones. In some fertilizers. In some vitamins and supplements as a source of calcium. In toothpastes. Alternatives: plant mulch, vegetable compost, dolomite, clay, vegetarian vitamins.
Carmine. Cochineal. Carminic Acid.
Red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. Reportedly, 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red lollipops and food coloring). May cause allergic reaction. Alternatives: beet juice (used in powders, rouges, shampoos; no known toxicity), alkanet root (from the root of this herb-like tree; used as a red dye for inks, wines, lip balms, etc.; no known toxicity; can also be combined to make a copper or blue coloring). (See Colors.)
A fiber derived from crustacean shells. Used as a lipid binder in diet products; hair, oral, and skin-care products; antiperspirants; and deodorants. Alternatives: raspberries, yams, legumes, dried apricots, many other fruits and vegetables.
Fibrous protein in vertebrates. Usually derived from animal tissue. Can’t affect the skin’s own collagen. An allergen. Alternatives: soy protein, almond oil, amla oil (see alternatives to Keratin), etc.
An amino acid found in urine and horsehair. Used as a nutritional supplement and in emollients. Alternatives: plant sources.
Goose or duck insulating feathers. From slaughtered or cruelly exploited geese. Used as an insulator in quilts, parkas, sleeping bags, pillows, etc. Alternatives: polyester and synthetic substitutes, kapok (silky fibers from the seeds of some tropical trees) and milkweed seed pod fibers.
From the digestive tracts of cows and pigs. Added to some vitamin tablets. In some medicines. Alternatives: vegetarian vitamins, synthetics.
Protein found in the neck ligaments and aortas of cows. Similar to collagen. Can’t affect the skin’s own elasticity. Alternatives: synthetics, protein from plant tissues.
From flightless ratite birds native to Australia and now factory-farmed. Used in cosmetics and creams. Alternatives: vegetable and plant oils.
Female hormones from pregnant mares’ urine. Considered a drug. Can have harmful systemic effects if used by children. Used for reproductive problems and in birth control pills and Premarin, a menopausal drug. In creams, perfumes, and lotions. Has a negligible effect in the creams as a skin restorative; simple vegetable-source emollients are considered better. Alternatives: oral contraceptives and menopausal drugs based on synthetic steroids or phytoestrogens (from plants, especially palm-kernel oil). Menopausal symptoms can also be treated with diet and herbs.
Protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones in water. From cows and pigs. Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics. Used as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (e.g., Jell-O). In candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, yogurts.
Hydrolyzed Animal Protein.
In cosmetics, especially shampoo and hair treatments. Alternatives: soy protein, other vegetable proteins, amla oil (see alternatives to Keratin).
Protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals. In hair rinses, shampoos, permanent wave solutions. Alternatives: almond oil, soy protein, amla oil (from the fruit of an Indian tree), human hair from salons. Rosemary and nettle give body and strand strength to hair.
Enzyme from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. Used in cheesemaking and in digestive aids. Alternatives: vegetable enzymes, castor beans.
Dried secretion painfully obtained from musk deer, beaver, muskrat, civet cat, and otter genitals. Wild cats are kept captive in cages in horrible conditions and are whipped around the genitals to produce the scent; beavers are trapped; deer are shot. In perfumes and in food flavorings. Alternatives: labdanum oil (from various rockrose shrubs) and extracts from other plants with a musky scent.
A fatty acid most commonly derived from palm oil but may be derived from animals as well. In shampoos, shaving soaps, creams. Derivatives: Palmitate, Palmitamine, Palmitamide. Alternatives: vegetable sources.
In hogs’ stomachs. A clotting agent. In some cheeses and vitamins. Same uses and alternatives as Rennet.
Placenta. Placenta Polypeptides Protein. Afterbirth.
Contains waste matter eliminated by the fetus. Derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals. Animal placenta is widely used in skin creams, shampoos, masks, etc. Alternatives: kelp. (See alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils.)
From animal protein. Used in cosmetics. Alternatives: plant proteins and enzymes.
Enzyme from calves’ stomachs. Used in cheesemaking, rennet custard (junket), and in many coagulated dairy products. Alternatives: microbial coagulating agents, bacteria culture, lemon juice, or vegetable rennet.
Secretion from the throat glands of worker honeybees. Fed to the larvae in a colony and to all queen larvae. No proven value in cosmetics preparations. Alternatives: aloe vera, comfrey, other plant derivatives.
From the fur of sables (weasel-like mammals). Used to make eye makeup, lipstick, and artists’ brushes. Alternatives: synthetic fibers.
Oil from shark livers, etc. In cosmetics, moisturizers, hair dyes, surface-active agents. Alternatives: vegetable emollients such as olive oil, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, etc.
When animal-derived, a fat from cows, pigs, and sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters, etc. May also be of plant origin, including from cocoa butter and shea butter. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavoring. Derivatives: Stearamide, Stearamine, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine, Stearyl Imidazoline. Alternatives: Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut.
Tallow. Tallow Fatty Alcohol. Stearic Acid.
Rendered beef fat. May cause eczema and blackheads. In wax paper, crayons, margarines, paints, rubber, lubricants, etc. In candles, soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams, other cosmetics. Chemicals (e.g., PCB) can be in animal tallow. Derivatives: Sodium Tallowate, Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, Tallow Imidazoline. Alternatives: vegetable tallow, Japan tallow, paraffin, ceresin (see alternatives to Beeswax). Paraffin is usually from petroleum, wood, coal, or shale oil.
Turtle Oil. Sea Turtle Oil.
From the muscles and genitals of giant sea turtles. In soap, skin creams, nail creams, other cosmetics. Alternatives: vegetable emollients (see alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils).