Cruelty-free

If you have a cruelty-free related question, there’s a high chance that this post covers it. If you do not find what you need in our Cruelty-free FAQs, please reach out to us via our Contact page, and we will respond to you as soon as we can!

What does cruelty-free really mean?

By definition, the term refers to a brand or company that does not test on animals. The term is riddled with loopholes, which many brands take advantage of while labeling their products as cruelty-free. Our post What is ‘Cruelty-Free?’ covers this in detail.

How do you define a cruelty-free company?

Well, we require a company or a brand to meet all of the below requirements. Again, you can read our What is ‘Cruelty-Free?’ post to know more.

  • The finished products are not tested on animals
  • Ingredients, raw materials, or the products at any stage are not tested on animals by
    • The company/brand
    • Suppliers
    • Third-party vendors on behalf of the company
  • The company/brand does not sell its products in countries where animal testing in mandatory (e.g., China – mainland)
  • Via official communication, the brand confirms its commitment to being cruelty-free

How does this affect my purchases? Surely, since India has banned animal testing on cosmetics, this shouldn’t make a difference to me, right?

On the contrary, it makes a huge difference to all of us. While Indian laws are quite forward when it comes animal testing as compared to some major countries, several brands that are sold in Mainland China (and therefore tested on animals), are also sold in India. So does this mean that these brands are breaking the law and testing on animals in India? Of course not! The brand’s products that are sold in India are not tested on animals, however the brand also sells in countries where animal testing is mandatory, which means they test for those markets, and are therefore not cruelty-free. Beware of brands that mention, in their policies, that they ‘test on animals only when required by law’.

Does this mean a brand selling anywhere in China is not cruelty-free?

China’s cosmetic testing laws make it mandatory for foreign brands and imported cosmetics to undergo what is known as pre-market animal testing. All brands can be subject to post-market animal testing, where authorities may ask the brands to take their products off the shelves and test on animals. Domestic-made ordinary cosmetics (those that do not make any functional claims) do not require animal testing, while domestic-made cosmoceuticals (cosmetics with functional claims such as sunscreens, whitening products, and the like) which are sold in China are mandated for animal testing.

However, these laws are applicable to mainland China, or what is colloquially known as People’s Republic of China, which does not include Hong Kong. This makes Hong Kong a wonderful exception to China’s mandatory animal testing laws! So if a brand sells in China, you can check if they refer to Hong Kong only. If yes, this brand could be cruelty-free!

So if a brand or product is made in China, it’s not cruelty-free?

Here’s the deal – Chinese laws on cosmetics are meant to safeguard its citizens. So if a brand makes or manufactures its products in China and does not sell them in China, it can retain its cruelty-free status. Some relief, right?

What is the difference between cruelty-free and vegan? Aren’t all vegan brands cruelty-free?

Cruelty-free means that no animal testing has been conducted, whereas vegan means that there exist no animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients.

So does this mean all vegan brands are cruelty-free? Heck no! There could be brands that are vegan, but have had their ingredients tested on animals. Also, while we haven’t featured only vegan cruelty-free brands, we do call our brands and products as vegan wherever applicable. For more information, you can check out our Glossary (will be up soon).

cruelty-free FAQs

How can I tell that a brand is truly cruelty-free?

There is no dearth of information that can help you identify a cruelty-free brand. It’s just a matter of looking in the right place. From cruelty-free certifications and websites to our lists and lists compiled by renowned cruelty-free bloggers, the tools are endless! You can refer to our post on Transitioning to Cruelty-free for in-depth information on how to spot a cruelty-free brand.

If you opt for a brand that is made and sold only in India, there’s a high chance that the brand is truly cruelty-free, simply because our laws do not allow for animal testing of cosmetics, import of cosmetics tested on animals, and animal testing on household cleaners. However, we do recommend you read the labels, and do your due diligence as a caring consumer.

That’s it for our Cruelty-free FAQs! If your question(s) still remain unanswered, or if you’d like us to look up the cruelty-free status of your favourite brand, you know what to do – reach out to us! Our Contact form lets you connect with us, as do our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. So go ahead, share this post, and be armed with cruelty-free intel for your next shopping spree!


Image credits: Douglas Sprott and Ajith Kumar.