Nowadays, many people, especially animal lovers, search for personal care products that are “cruelty-free” and not tested on animals.
As there is no definition from the side of government for cruelty-free, it can have different meanings. For example, a cosmetic manufacturer may use cruelty-free raw materials and claim their products are entirely cruelty-free. (1)
Moreover, a “cruelty-free” label does not guarantee that the product is untested on animals. Many companies claim their products to be cruelty-free, but in reality, they use alternative safety tests that are harmless for the animals. (2)
Fortunately, there are cruelty-free product formulations that are made with so much effort and hard work and deliver the desired results. But such products don’t guarantee of harmless chemicals used in hair products.
What Does “Cruelty-Free” Mean?
A “cruelty-free” label on oils and shampoos means that the products and their ingredients have never been tried on animals. It is the responsibility of the manufacturers of cruelty-free products to ensure their suppliers do not conduct any tests on animals or use any ingredients derived from animals.
However, the government still has not legally defined the term “cruelty-free,” and the following definitions of “cruelty-free” have been used:
- The final product was not tested on animals, but the ingredients have been.
- The manufacturer may not have tested the products on animals, but the company that supplied the ingredients has.
- A different company tested the ingredients on animals.
- Tests were conducted on animals in a foreign country.
- Tests on animals were done more than 5 years ago. (2)
Is Your Hair Product Cruelty-Free?
Here are a few tips to check whether a product is cruelty-free or not:
1. Look for the cruelty-free logo
When a product or company is cruelty-free, it should bear a cruelty-free logo. A few standard symbols are as follows.
The Leaping Bunny logo is one of the commonly known cruelty-free logos for cruelty-free cosmetics. This symbol is internationally recognized and guarantees consumers that no harmful and cruel animal tests were performed while manufacturing the product.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is one of the largest organizations in the world that works for animal rights.
To be certified by PETA, a brand has to fill out a questionnaire and sign a statement that they do not engage in animal testing for ingredients of their products now and in the future. (3)
Choose Cruelty Free Certification
The nonprofit organization Choose Cruelty Free is an autonomous organization based in Australia. This Indie organization requires the brand’s parent company to also be cruelty-free to be certified. Other organizations do not have such requirements.
You can check their credibility by checking their certifications. The certifications you can trust for cruelty-free checks are PETA, (3) the most popular animal rights organization in the world, and Leaping Bunny, which certifies any cosmetic product as cruelty-free using standard and credible procedures.
If you buy any cosmetic product with these certifications, you can trust it completely.
2. Check for animal-derived ingredients
Quickly check the ingredients list of a product to see whether there are animal ingredients.
Animal ingredients refer to ingredients from every industry that uses animal products in any form, which includes industries in meat, egg, dairy, fishing, fur and wool trades, and others. (3)
When buying cruelty-free products, check the ingredient names, additives, fragrance, and trade secret ingredients. (1)
Different types of protein hydrolysates obtained from plants and animal sources are used in personal care products; one such ingredient is keratin hydrolysate, which is derived from nails, horns, and wool. Some products have been developed that use nonanimal free amino acids found in wheat, corn, and soy proteins that have a similar composition to keratin. (4)
3. Contact the manufacturer about their “cruelty-free” logo
Consumers have the right to scrutinize a brand’s cruelty-free logo to make sure that absolutely no animal testing has happened at any point during production or throughout the supply chain.
This is important as discrepancies can occur in cruelty-free claims where some companies who market themselves as cruelty-free pay for animal testing elsewhere in the supply chain and others may conduct tests on animals when required by the law.
Get in touch with the manufacturer for information on the cruelty-free logo and also whether their products or ingredients were tested on animals in any phase of production.
You can alternatively also check for the Alliance for Consumer Information on Cosmetics logo, as products bearing this logo are promoted by companies who don’t pay money to conduct animal tests. Along with the pledge not to carry out any tests on animals, there is also an independent audit done to ensure the cosmetic product and its ingredients have not been tested on animals. (2)
4. See the checklist of cruelty-free hair care products
If you’re still not sure if a product is cruelty-free, then use this checklist to make sure it has not been tested on animals:
- The brand never tests its ingredients on animals.
- It never uses animals to test its finished product.
- It never pays or allows a third party to test its products on animals.
- It has a written policy in place to match these criteria.
- The brand’s ingredient suppliers and manufacturers don’t test on animals and have documents and certificates to back this claim.
- The brand is transparent about being cruelty-free and readily provides information if customers demand it.
- The brand doesn’t sell in China, and even if it does, it prohibits the government and authorities there from testing their products and ingredients on animals. (5)
- The brand follows fair labor practices and abstains from exploiting workers in its supply chain.
Why You Should Choose Cruelty-Free Hair Products?
There are many different reasons you should choose cruelty-free hair products:
- Testing personal care products on animals is an act of animal abuse. These animals are put in cages and repeatedly exposed to painful tests, discomfort, and severe health problems.
- Animal testing is considered an illegal act in several parts of the world. Different governments are banning animal testing on personal care cosmetic products and ingredients. (6)
What Is the Alternative to Avoid Animal Testing and Opt for Cruelty-Free?
Brands have been turning away from animal testing to other options including in vitro testing of cell structures and computer models.
Manufacturers of cruelty-free products can use various computer models or bioinformatics tools and conduct in vitro cell cultures or lab testing to make sure their product is safe for use by humans.
These integrated approaches would minimize the testing done on animals while still creating effective personal care products. (7)
What Do “Animal Test-Free” and “PETA-Approved” Mean?
For brands to be listed by PETA and bear the “Animal-Test Free” logo or the “PETA Approved Global Animal Test Policy” logo, they have to commit to not conduct, pay commission for, or allow any tests on animals at any stage of manufacturing cosmetic products.
These brands need to make agreements with suppliers, assuring that they will never, after signing the contract, conduct, pay commission for, and allow tests on animals for the ingredients they buy.
Ingredients used by the current cosmetic brands, and licensees, could have been tested on animals previously. However, after becoming “PETA-Approved,” the brand strictly is banned from conducting any animal tests from the time of its implementation. (8)
General Queries Related to Cruelty-Free Hair Products
Can vegans use cruelty-free hair products?
Unfortunately, cruelty-free hair products may contain some animal-derived ingredients. Thus, vegans must double-check the ingredients list of a product they’re buying.
One of the best ways of getting great hair without harming any animal is to buy cosmetic products manufactured by a vegan company.
What is the difference between vegan and cruelty-free hair care products?
A product that has the logo “cruelty-free” means that the product and its ingredients were not tested on animals.
“Vegan” means the product does not contain animal products or ingredients. Vegan hair products don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients including keratin, silk amino acids, beeswax, and honey. Vegan products are cruelty-free, but not all cruelty-free products are vegan.
Take a gentle step toward humanity and switch to cruelty-free cosmetic products today. This small step will provide fruitful results in the long term by saving animals from cruelty and protecting the ecosystem people live in.
- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “cruelty free”/”not tested on animals” labeling on cosmetics. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-claims/cruelty-freenot-tested-animals.
- Safety testing – science, medicine, and animals – NCBI bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK24645/.
- Animal Ingredients List (continued). PETA. https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list-continued/. Published November 13, 2013.
- Gavazzoni Dias MFR. Hair cosmetics: An overview. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/. Published 2015.
- Kabene S, Baadel S. Bioethics: A look at animal testing in medicine and cosmetics in the UK. Journal of medical ethics and history of medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7166243/. Published November 12, 2019.
- Ending Cosmetics Animal Testing. The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/all-our-fights/ending-cosmetics-animal-testing.
- Doke SK, Dhawale SC. Alternatives to animal testing: A Review. Saudi pharmaceutical journal: SPJ: the official publication of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Society. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475840/. Published July 2015.
- PETA’s ‘global beauty without bunnies’ program. PETA. https://www.peta.org/living/personal-care-fashion/beauty-without-bunnies/. Published June 2, 2020.