A Cruelty-Free Buyer's Guide

Compassion towards animals is always in style.

You love your pets, follow dozens of animal accounts on Instagram, and give to animal causes you care about. Buying cruelty-free products is just one more way you can “put your money where your mouth is” as an animal rights advocate. 

Cruelty free is a distinction given to a product developed without experimenting on animals. We will spare you the details of what happens in animal testing facilities (feel free to read more about that here), but besides being painful, animal testing is ultimately not all that effective at predicting a product’s safety for human use. In fact, 90% of drugs tested on animals ultimately fail human trials. 

Cruelty-free products are paving the way for a future where animals don’t need to suffer for our skincare (or clothing, or cleaning supplies…). We’ll break down how to identify cruelty-free products, and spotlight some of our favorite cruelty-free brands, so you can be empowered to make purchasing decisions you can stand behind. 

Vegan vs. cruelty free

When it comes to consumer products, you might think that cruelty free is synonymous with vegan. 

Not exactly. 

Vegan means that a product is made without any animal byproducts, while cruelty free means a product was developed without experimenting on animals. A vegan product can still be tested on animals, and cruelty-free products can still be made with animal byproducts, but as you’ll see, these two statuses can often overlap. 

How can I tell if a product is cruelty free? 

If you’re browsing the Duane Reade and you want to ensure you are buying cruelty free, there are a few symbols you can look out for on the packaging.

In the U.S., there are two symbols you’re most likely to encounter: The Leaping Bunny and the PETA cruelty-free logo. If you’re shopping international brands, keep an eye out for Cruelty Free International’s leaping bunny (same as the U.S. ‘s) and the Choose Cruelty Free logo (specific to Australia). Check out this helpful guide on how to tell an authentic cruelty free logo from a fake

Please keep in mind that these organizations have different standards when it comes to evaluating whether or not a company is cruelty free. Leaping Bunny, for example, requires independent audits, while PETA just requires a written agreement. Do your research and decide what standards you’re most comfortable with. 

Some brands don’t use the official logos on their packaging for branding reasons, so you might need to do a quick dig on the brand’s website to confirm their cruelty-free status. 

Cruelty-free brands we love 

While this is far from an exhaustive list, we’ve collected some of our favorite cruelty-free brands to share with you. This list features both large companies you’ll find in any drug store and super small businesses. What they share is a commitment to making quality products without getting animals involved. 

Full disclosure: we aren’t partnered or sponsored by these brands, we just think they’re awesome. 

Beauty & haircare

Aesop*

Arctic Fox*

BareMinerals

Bars From Mars*

Beautyblender

Bliss

Briogeo

Esmi*

Fur*

Indie Lee*

Lauren B. Beauty*

Malin+Goetz

Milk*

Osea Malibu*

Pacifica*

Playa

REN

Saie

Summer Fridays*

Supergoop!

Sunday Riley

The Honey Pot Co.

Then I Met You

Toms of Maine

Versed*

Youth to the People*

Cleaning

Attitude*

Blueland*

Dr. Bronner’s

Dropps

Mrs. Meyers*

Clothing

Boyish*

ÉTICA*

For Days

GANNI

Girlfriend Collective*

Harvest & Mill*

Honest Basics

Jan N June*

MATE the Label*

Outland Denim

Whimsy and Row

Linens

Avocado*

Buffy*

Coyuchi

Ettitude

Parachute

Eyewear

Bird*

Pala*

Peep

Sunski

*vegan

Before we go… 

Making intentional choices that promote animal rights and sustainable practices are one way we as individuals can make a difference.Our friends and Giveback partners at The Humane Society, the SPCAI, and many more are helping to make real and lasting change when it comes to animal rights. If you’d like to take a more active part of the fight to end animal experimentation, consider sending a letter to the FDA to ban animal testing, or donate to assist in rescue missions and rehabilitation efforts for animals bred and used for experimentation.

Eliana Sagarin

Eliana Sagarin is the Pet Content Lead at Lemonade. She writes about fur friends, insurance, life hacks, and pop culture. Eliana has an MA in creative writing from Bar Ilan University.

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