How to Shop for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

Many of us are now making the effort to become more conscientious consumers. This could mean changing up our purchasing choices quite a bit, including buying organic vegetables, FairTrade chocolate or coffee certified by the Rainforest Alliance. However, when it comes to cosmetics, it can be difficult to know which products and companies can truly be trusted for maintaining a cruelty-free organization.

In 1968, the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) was formed. This gave rise to the Leaping Bunny Program. You may recognize the Leaping Bunny Logo from the labels of cosmetics already, but what does it really signify?

To qualify as a Leaping Bunny brand, the company in question must not carry out any cosmetic animal testing or have any other company do it on their behalf. This might sound obvious, but the CCIC also specifies that companies bearing the logo cannot purchase ingredients from companies that test on animals or allow their products to be tested on animals in order to make sales in other countries.

Due to these strictly-enforced standards, the Leaping Bunny Program has become known as the international gold standard for cruelty-free products. If a product has the Leaping Bunny logo on it, then you can rest assured that these are truly cruelty-free goods.

The UK’s second-largest health and beauty retailer, Superdrug, has Leaping Bunny certification for all of its own brand cosmetics. This shows that big companies are starting to realize the potential behind going cruelty-free. Through this responsible step, many more companies are gaining popularity, but they also have to make their ‘green’ status more visible to the consumer.

But what happens when there is no Leaping Bunny logo? Brands like The Body Shop and Lush market themselves as cruelty-free, but with no CCIC approval. In such cases, shoppers must rely on other methods to certify a brand’s cruelty-free status.

The answer to this predicament is research. Resources such as PETA, the SPCA, and HSI have lists of cruelty-free brands and products on their websites and can offer further guidance regarding cruelty-free shopping. However, if you want to find out about a specific brand, then it’s best to go straight to the source. All companies will have contact information for customers, so it can be a good idea to send a politely-worded email asking about their specific company policies

This way, you might be able to rule out animal testing and gauge which products are considered cruelty-free. If you’re wondering about where to get started, here are some tips on shopping for cruelty-free cosmetics:

Take Claims with a Bit of Skepticism

As many cosmetics don’t have to be approved by the FDA, cruelty-free cosmetics can be even harder to locate. This is because many companies are getting away with posting the ‘cruelty-free’ claim on their labels and hoping to rake in the vegan market. In order to avoid lawsuits, they might also post misleading claims that aren’t really what they seem to imply.

For example, even a label claiming that the product is 100% vegan or contains no ingredients from animals would remain mum about animal testing. The same goes for clothing, so you should research eco-fashion in order to have a responsible shopping spree the next time you update your wardrobe.

 The Ingredients

If we are to shop responsibly, we must know which ingredients are problematic. Many disturbing ingredients are hidden behind obscure and difficult scientific names that the common man might not even be able to pronounce. This is why we need to be extra careful about reading the ingredients on everything we buy and knowing the names of the most common culprits.

Lanolin, to name one, is a common ingredient used in lipsticks, conditioners, and moisturizers. This is usually extracted from sheep glands after the animals are kept in excessively warm conditions. We may also find cystine in many hair care items, but this comes from horsehair, animal urine, or duck feathers. If we needed any motivation to purchase only cruelty-free cosmetics, the mention of urine is definitely an effective choice!

Know Your Research

When you’re researching a certain brand of cosmetics or looking to make a cruelty-free list, make sure you know what you’re doing. Type in a question about the brand using cruelty-free ingredients or animal testing, then make sure to read several different sources on the issue. If you get some conflicting information, that’s probably a bad sign.

Stay Wary of Anything New

A general rule of thumb while gong cosmetic-free is to recognize the red flags. One of the most common advertising gimmicks, especially for cosmetics and beauty products, is to claim that there’s a new ingredient in them.

Any new ingredient will probably not have any safety records around, positive or otherwise. Consumers haven’t had a chance to use and review it yet, so you’d have little hope of finding anything online. Plus, a new ingredient requires testing before release, so the chances of animal testing are quite high. Hence, we’d recommend that you steer clear of anything with the label ‘new and improved’.

The Example of Ipsy

Ipsy is a popular beauty subscription service, whose co-founder Michelle Phan became a global vlogging sensation with her beauty and make-up YouTube channel. She had quite a bit of success on YouTube in the 2000s, before using this platform to successfully launch her own business across the U.S. The success of Ipsy has catapulted Phan into the sphere of the rich and famous, earning her a cool net worth of $3 million. The company was valued at $500 million in 2015, meaning it’s quite a successful business.

Despite their phenomenal success, Phan and her company listened when customers lamented the lack of a cruelty-free subscription box from the brand. Like many bigger companies, Ipsy stocks numerous different cruelty-free products, but was it was failing to make this distinction easily visible to the average customer. This changed when they introduced their ‘Cruelty-Free Picks’ section, which shows that direct communication with a company can achieve results.


If you’re unsure about a brand’s cruelty-free status, look for their published stance on the subject. If you’re in any doubt, contact them. Examples like the one above show that consumer power is a real phenomenon, and smart businesses will pay attention to it. The best way to effect change and encourage the trend of cruelty-free cosmetics is to put your money where your mouth is and vote with your wallet.