“Cruelty Free”—What Does It Mean?

Many people look for cosmetics that are labeled “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals.” But “cruelty free” does not always mean the cosmetic was not tested on animals. Because the government has not legally defined “cruelty free,” it can mean many different things. While most cosmetic companies that label their products “cruelty free” use alternative safety tests that do not use animals, “cruelty free” can also mean:

  • the final product was not tested on animals, but the ingredients were individually tested on animals.

  • the manufacturer did not test the cosmetic on animals, but the company that supplied the ingredients did test the ingredients on animals.

  • the animal testing was done by a different company.

  • the animal testing was done in a foreign country.

  • the animal testing was done more than 5 years ago.

If you would like to find out whether a product was tested on animals, you can contact the manufacturer and ask them to define their “cruelty free” label. You can also look for the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics logo. Products with this logo are marketed by companies that have agreed to not conduct or commission animal tests or use any ingredient that is tested on animals (www.leapingbunny.org). This pledge is backed up by independent audits to ensure neither the product or its individual ingredients is tested on animals.

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