When it comes to ethical beauty the label “cruelty-free” might be the one most people are familiar with, along with the associated Leaping Bunny logo. But what does it mean and how do beauty products actually get the validation?
Cruelty-free means that the product, and the ingredients used in the product, were not tested on animals at any stage during the development process. Since 2013, animal testing is, by law, no longer allowed in Europe – this applies to the finished product and the ingredients that are used exclusively for cosmetic and personal care purpose. It might seem straightforward, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye, and in order to become Leaping Bunny approved, rigorous criteria way beyond compliance with animal testing must be met. Confusing? Just a bit. Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about certifications and what you should look out for when buying cruelty free-products.
As we already know, cruelty-free means that a product or its ingredients, hasn’t been tested on animals, whereas a product that is free from animal-derived ingredients means that the product doesn’t contain any animal products or ingredients.
While the two often come hand-in-hand, there are times when a product can be free from animal-derived ingredients without being cruelty-free and vice-versa. It’s therefore important to understand the difference between the two.
While vegan products are often technically seen to be the same as products free from animal-derived ingredients, currently there is no official regulated definition of the term ‘vegan’.
According the Vegan Society1, veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose including animal tests, so according to this definition a cosmetic that is claimed to be vegan should also be cruelty-free. Although this is true for the Vegan Society certification, it’s sadly isn’t always the case, so it’s best to look out for both trusted certifications separately.
While not tested on animals, cruelty-free products may still contain animal-derived products. Common animal ingredients used in the beauty industry include: honey, beeswax, gelatine, and milk as well as more complex animal products like lanolin (wool grease), squalene (shark liver oil), carmine (crushed beetles), guanine (fish scales), and keratin which is generally taken from mammals’ hair, nails and horns2. It is therefore important to note that cruelty-free does not mean same as free of animal-derived ingredients.
Your best bet is to look out for both a credited Leaping Bunny symbol and a Vegan Society certification. This way you’ll know you’re covering all ethical bases!
Due to scientific innovation over the years, the development of alternative methods has grown. These methods are often cheaper, quicker and more effective than testing on animals3 and include testing on: cell cultures (lab grown human and animal cells), human cells and tissues donated from volunteers post-surgery (often referred to as vitro methods), advanced computer modelling (also known as silico models), and human volunteer studies4.
The Leaping Bunny logo is an internationally recognised symbol and is the most highly credited indication that a product is cruelty-free. However, there are a few other variations and not all can be trusted like the Leaping Bunny logo.
Certified cruelty-free bunny logos are accredited to a brand by a third party organization if certain standards and criteria are met.
The three most trusted cruelty-free certifications are: Leaping Bunny (an internationally recognised symbol), PETA (US based, but internationally recognised) and Choose Cruelty Free (an Australian based certification).
To become a ‘Leaping Bunny’ approved brand by Cruelty Free International, a brand must apply a fixed cut-off date – an immovable date after which neither the brand nor any of its suppliers and manufacturer may conduct, commission or be party to animal tests for raw materials anywhere in the world. This applies for their entire supply chain down to the ingredient manufacturer. If you want to learn more about these standards, check out it out on the Leaping Bunny website.
There are also unofficial bunny logos which are ‘self-made’ by the manufacturing companies. These hold no credibility or legitimacy as they’re regulated by the same company who are trying to sell you their products. Regardless of how realistic they look, these self-certifications cannot be trusted in the same way as the third party organizations, so it’s very important to do your research properly.
Just like self-made bunny logos, many companies often use the term ‘vegan’ to refer to their products that are free from animal-derived ingredients, without external certifications or commitment about being cruelty-free. The term holds no official credibility and should not be trusted unless an official Vegan Society certification has been granted.
All of our products at weDo/ are both cruelty-free and vegan, certified with the internationally gold standard approved Leaping Bunny symbol by Cruelty-Free International and Vegan Society certification. weDo/ Professional meets the rigorous ‘Leaping Bunny’ criteria which are consistent across the globe. The criteria extend way beyond laws governing animal testing alone, and include frequent ongoing independent audits. We believe this plays a vital part in moving forward as a sustainable, ethical and transparent brand our consumers can be proud of.
Learn more about our ingredients and discover more about how to follow and eco-ethical lifestyle by reading the articles on our weBlog. You can also discover your personalised natural hair care routine by completing our hair quiz. We will advise which vegan hair care products you should be using for your hair type and hair concerns.
Keep in touch with weDo/ by following us on Instagram and TikTok for advice on sustainable beauty, tips on how to use our products and overall joy.