The first thing to understand about “Cruelty-free”, “Vegan” and “Ethical” is that they are not mutually exclusive when it comes to beauty products.
Please understand if you are searching for these principles when choosing which brands you want to support for your ethical makeup and skin care routine… BUYER BEWARE! I empathize with how frustrating this reality is, and that is why The Green Vanity only supports brands that take steps to ensure their products are cruelty-free, vegan, and ethical.
So, let’s create a clear dialogue so we are understanding what the words are and where the confusion begins.
The Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan
Simply put? Cruelty-free refers to the practices and vegan refers to the ingredients. Translation? Products which claim to be cruelty-free may still use animal byproducts in their formulations. So even though the products are not tested on animals, that doesn’t mean that they are not exploiting animals in other ways.
Since the term “cruelty-free” is not regulated in Canada, anyone can claim that their products are cruelty-free without proof. There is no organization policing brands to ensure they are enforcing cruelty-free policies in their business practices.
“But what about the ‘Bunny’ logos that certify brands as ‘cruelty-free’?”
Choose your certifications wisely based on what principles matter most to you. Let’s remember not all certifications mean much at all. I could make a “Nikki Seal of Approval” if I wanted to.
These are the ones we are most familiar with:
The Leaping Bunny Program is a coalition that has been internationally certifying products as animal cruelty-free since 1996. Their commitment is to animal testing, not certifying the source of ingredients.
The Vegan Society is an international organization that has been internationally certifying product as vegan since 1990. Their certification is for cruelty-free ingredients.
PETA provides certifications for both cruelty-free and for cruelty-free & vegan. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that there has been some scrutiny about certain certifications because animal testing is still considered mandatory in some countries.
For more information, check out this article I wrote about this issue in 2019 and this article about six PETA-certified products that are not cruelty-free written by Sara over at Mind Over Mango.
And here are a few ethical makeup and skincare brands that are certified vegan and cruelty-free:
Vegan and cruelty-free, committed to environmentally responsible ingredient alternatives and sustainable skin routines.
Their original formulations are developed with green technologies and from natural and organic certified plants that are ethically harvested to preserve their sustainability and delicate beauty.
Vegan & cruelty-free, transparent, and committed to having a low environmental impact with social equity.
Sappho New Paradigm is a smaller company that is looking to solve the environmental damage caused by makeup and skincare products.
They are involved in several green initiatives and social equality programs. By taking a proactive approach to the issue, Sappho is showing how even a small cosmetic company can leave a big mark on the world.
“As a small indie makeup company, our promise is to get greener as we grow. We also vow to always be transparent regarding our ingredients, because what we put on our bodies can make its way into our bodies – a decision that belongs to each one of us.”
Vegan & cruelty-free
Shannon Lifance started Lifance Skin Care after a decade-long life changing illness led her to remove as many toxins as possible from her environment. For her skincare products, Shannon focuses on formulating safe anti-aging cosmetics that are potent while still being cruelty-free and free from toxins.
What about ethical practices?
Another consideration is whether a cosmetic company is ethical. This can be just as hard to figure out, since now we are considering not just the ingredients in a product, but the whole supply chain that gets the ingredients to the company in the first place!
We can only do so much to determine whether a product is ethical.
Here are a few of the things to watch out for when assessing whether a brand is ethical:
- Does the company explain where their ingredients come from publicly?
- Do they promote their use of fair-trade ingredients?
- Are the ingredients in their products known to be harmful to your health or the environment?
- Has the company put sustainability practices in place to ensure they are continually moving toward being less impactful or even carbon-neutral?
- In your research, has the brand used environmentally damaging business practices or worker exploitation?
- Has the company chosen to participate in learning and growing to meet humanity’s need for disrupting racial and gender biases. Are they actively engaged in breaking the status quo that allows the continuation of dominance and supremacy?
Businesses that are choosing to be leaders in change!
B Corporations use a new business model that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
B Corp, Vegan, Cruelty-free, and innovative environmental leaders.
Sienna Byron Bay produces 100% vegan and cruelty-free nail care products with a wide assortment of options. They go even further by providing fully recyclable product packaging and ensuring that their offices are powered by renewable energy.
B-Corp, vegan, cruelty-free, leaders in low waste and social initiatives.
Committed to their principles, Elate cosmetics offers ethical makeup and skincare products that are certified cruelty-free and vegan. Their mission is to become the first waste free cosmetics company, and they are doing so by ensuring no products go to waste. For instance, their “Perfectly Imperfect” program provides discounts on products that have visual imperfections, whereas most brands would simply toss these away.
What About the Exploitation of YOU?
One of the least talked about aspects of ethical conversation is the emotional exploitation of the consumer. Through our natural processes, like aging, demonized, setting unrealistic and eurocentric beauty standards, we have been convinced to overspend, harm ourselves, this planet and it’s precious inhabitants.
We know first-hand how difficult it can be to make an informed decision about your cosmetics, that’s why we choose education and transparency with a narrative based on vitality and community. In the end it’s up to you, the consumer, to do your research, find your trusted retailer and connect it with your values.
Beauty in our space means no harm. Simple, right? Too bad it’s not always so simple to find out whether a product actually meets (or is striving to meet) these expectations. That is the homework that goes into maintaining our principles, and we want to pass that research on to you!
Each person’s skin is unique, and with our lineup of products, you can make a conscious, intentional choice while providing your skin with everything it needs to support its best barrier function.