Cruelty-free vs vegan makeup: what's the difference?

The terms “cruelty-free” and “vegan” have risen in popularity in recent years, especially when it comes to the beauty industry. The two labels are often used interchangeably and the line between the two is often blurred. So– what’s the difference between them? Do they both need to be referred to or can they be used synonymously? 

If you are just starting on your clean beauty journey, you may want a bit of clarification. Although they may sound like they are speaking of similar topics, they are quite separate from one another. It can be tricky to navigate this space when the terms aren’t regulated (there is no FDA-approved definition), so from our knowledge and expertise, we’ve put together a definition below and broke down both the terms into what they might entail. 

  • Cruelty-free is a label for brands that do not manufacture or develop products involving any type of experimentation or harm to animals
  • Vegan means that there should be zero animal-derived ingredients included in the product formation

A product can be both cruelty-free and vegan when it was not tested on animals and does not contain animal ingredients. All Sweet LeiLani products fall under this category because nothing we create we test on animals and it does not contains any type of animal byproducts. We are a 100% vegan and cruelty-free skincare cosmetics brand.

Can something be cruelty-free but not vegan?

A product can be cruelty-free but not vegan when it was not tested on animals but contains some animal-derived ingredients. For example, oftentimes in the beauty world, we can see cruelty-free lipsticks and other products made with animal products such as beeswax, milk powder, lanolin, or honey – ingredients used in the beauty industry quite often. Because they contain these products, they are not vegan.

Can something be vegan but not cruelty-free?

Some products can claim to be vegan because their products do not use any type of animal-based product but the company still tests on animals, making it non-cruelty-free, but still vegan. These are far rarer but are still sometimes seen in the world of beauty and skincare. 

Cruelty-free and vegan brands and products are on the rise in the most recent years and just in 2019, the Economist named it “the year of the vegan.” As many beauty lovers make the conscious decision to travel the ethical journey of clean, vegan, and cruelty-free makeup, we want to help as much as we can. At Sweet LeiLani, we pride ourselves on the pillars of sustainability that ground our organization and want to share these values with our customers as much as possible.  To learn more about our mission to a more sustainable future and the ingredients that create our best-selling makeup, check out our site and if you have any questions or comments about any of our products, please do not hesitate to send us an email. Our in-house artist and product experts will be happy to help guide you in your happy, healthy skin journey.

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