The Difference Between Cruelty-Free, Vegan-Friendly, and Natural Beauty

The Difference Between Cruelty-Free, Vegan-Friendly, and Natural Beauty

As we strive to become more conscious consumers, deciding which products to buy and which brands to avoid can be confusing when the labels defining them aren't so clear cut. I want to clarify what makes something cruelty-free or vegan-friendly, and what defines a natural product to hopefully make it easier and simpler for you to make more considered purchases about the beauty products you choose to purchase.


For products to be cruelty-free they must not be tested on animals. Within the EU, beauty products cannot be tested on animals and brands cannot sidestep this law by testing outside of the EU and importing the products. Therefore, all beauty products sold within the EU are legally considered cruelty-free. However, some brands sell in China where testing on animals is required by law. Many people choose to avoid any brands whose parent company sells in China, deeming them not to be cruelty-free. Unfortunately, the term 'cruelty-free' only refers to the cruelty inflicted upon non-human animals, completely ignoring the potential exploitation of people. Be mindful when buying "cruelty-free" products that you purchase from brands who also take care of their workers.

If you want to shop for cruelty-free beauty products, look for the Leaping Bunny certification. This certification is only given to brands where no current or new animal testing has been carried out. Cruelty-free products, however, may still contain ingredients derived from animals, which is somewhat contradictory to the 'cruelty-free' label. If you wish to avoid animal cruelty entirely, look for cruelty-free and vegan-friendly products where no animals have been used to create them.


Vegan beauty products must be made without using any ingredients or derivatives from animal origins, such as honey, beeswax, wool, silk, insects, shells, bone, leather, and any ingredients filtered through animal-derived materials. Buying products with a Vegan Society certification will ensure you're buying products that have not been tested on animals and do not contain ingredients from living or dead animals.

However, while vegan certified products won't be tested on or use animal-derived ingredients; synthetic and petrochemical-derived ingredients are still used in vegan-friendly products, and these are not necessarily good for you or the planet. It's important to learn about the ingredients you are putting on and in your body, and decide what ingredients you want to avoid, if any.

The Difference Between Cruelty-Free, Vegan-Friendly, and Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty

Natural beauty is made without synthetic ingredients although that does not always mean the ingredients are organic; look for natural organic beauty if that's important to you. The use of natural ingredients in beauty products does not mean these products are non-toxic or non-irritating, although natural ingredients are often promoted as being less irritating than synthetic ingredients. It all depends on your skin type and sensitivities.

Within natural beauty is "clean beauty" also known as non-toxic beauty products. These products are made without the use of specific ingredients considered bad for your skin because they can be harsh and irritating or cause health problems. Often clean beauty products avoid formaldehyde, parabens, dyes, and fragrances but the list of "dirty" ingredients that clean beauty products avoid varies from brand to brand.

With natural and clean beauty products, natural ingredients used may also include those from animal origin, most commonly beeswax and honey as well as silk, shellac, carmine, and other ingredients. However, many independent brands focused on natural beauty strive to create products that are good for you, the animals, and the planet.


If you want to make the best choice possible when buying beauty products, look for the following certifications that ensure the brands you're buying from are kind to you and the people who make them, as well as animals and the planet.

Leaping Bunny. Products with the Leaping Bunny certification have not been tested on animals.
Vegan Society . This certifications ensures the product you're buying does not contain any animal ingredients.
Fairtrade. This ensures ingredients are bought at a fair price from the local, small scale farmers who grow the crops.
Soil Association. Identifies products that do not contain GM ingredients, controversial chemicals, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances.

An Example: Nathalie Bond

Nathalie Bond is a great example of what to look for when choosing beauty products that align with your beliefs. They are an independent skin care brand striving to provide cruelty-free and vegan-friendly beauty products that are also made using natural, organic ingredients using environmentally and animal-friendly methods. They're a clean beauty brand offering a range of products that are good for you, the planet, and animals.

Nathalie Bond doesn't use any ingredients grown with herbicides or synthetic fertilisers or genetically modified ingredients in their products; there are no parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours, dyes, or fragrances, and none of the ingredients or final products are tested on animals. Only the skin balms and lip balms are not vegan-friendly as they include organic beeswax.

On each of the products are symbols and certifications clearly showing the products are handmade, Soil Association certified, organic, and cruelty-free. All the packaging is either reusable or recyclable with glass and cardboard product packaging delivered in recyclable boxes with 100% biodegradable packaging chips. A proportion of their profits are donated to supported amazing local charities to help champion for change that protects our planet.

Items featured in this post were gifted without any obligation to share.

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The Difference Between Cruelty-Free, Vegan-Friendly, and Natural Beauty