cruelty free shopping

Did you know that some of the most popular cleaning, skin-care, and makeup products come from brands that test on animals? It seems safe to say that most people don't want animals to be hurt or killed as a part of the manufacturing process of their favorite stuff, especially since many of these products are cosmetic rather than satisfying a base need. Knowing a few simple facts can make us more informed consumers, allowing us to support companies that do not test on animals and be conscious of the ones that do. In our helpful cruelty-free guide, we will review what animal testing is, what companies test on animals, and how to stop animal testing.  

What Does "Cruelty-Free" Mean?

"Cruelty-free" refers to products not tested on animals in any part of the manufacturing process. But let's step back a minute: What is animal testing, exactly? Basically, scientific tests that experiment on animals in a way that may lead to the creature's pain, suffering, or harm can be considered by the cruelty-free community to be animal testing. In many of these tests, skin and eye irritation experiments in which chemicals are rubbed on shaved skin or dropped directly into the eyes are done without pain relief on small rodents like bunnies, guinea pigs, and mice. Naturally, an animal cannot tell us when it's hurting, and in some cases, the animal may even die or suffer permanent physical damage. These types of experiments, given current technologies, are often outdated, cruel, and completely unnecessary, at least within the United States. 

Upsetting Cosmetic Animal Testing Statistics

There has been a push for laws to ban animal testing, but it's been a long fight. In the meantime, many consumers - vegan and non-vegetarian alike - have made the choice to watch brands and boycott products that test on animals. How can you stop animal testing? Consumers can take at least some responsibility by voting with their dollars, buying products that are cruelty-free and avoiding those that aren't. But there's an unfortunate catch: Labeling of "cruelty-free," like the words "organic" or "natural," often happens on products that simply shouldn't use the term but get away with it because there's no legal definition for it. Some companies that call themselves "cruelty-free" are still companies that use animal testing. What's a consumer supposed to do?

What Is "Leaping Bunny Certified"?

When people want "cruelty-free" products, they are looking to make sure that the product has not be tested on animals in any part of the manufacturing process, involving either the final product or the ingredients, and the group that ensures that is the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. The Leaping Bunny program is the brainchild of eight different animal protection groups, including the Humane Society of the United States and Beauty Without Cruelty, and it awards products with a specific logo. Their standards are fairly strict, and the program offers a cruelty-free app that helps you find Leaping Bunny brands while shopping.

Another group to look at when finding safe companies to buy from is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which compiles its own list of companies that test on animals as well as ones that don't. PETA has their own cruelty-free logo, which is also a bunny. There's a great deal more on the PETA cruelty-free list than the Leaping Bunny list because PETA's list is based on a declaration of integrity; in other words, PETA is less strict than the Leaping Bunny program. But PETA also goes out of its way to point out problematic companies conducting tests. Another group to watch is Cruelty Free International, which does not point out specific companies/products but does serve as an advocacy group.

Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands

Do you like wearing makeup? Testing on animals doesn't have to be a part of that equation at all. Let's take a look at the cosmetic brands that test on animals as well as the best cruelty-free makeup brands 2019 has to offer! We're going to be focusing mostly on cruelty-free drugstore makeup brands as well as others that are commonly available. Many think that to go cruelty-free, one must spend a ton of money or go far out of the way to find good options, but it's just not true! 

Leaping Bunny Certified, Animal-Cruelty-Free Makeup

These are the top recognized Leaping Bunny brands that are easy to find in stores. While these brands make great cruelty-free drugstore makeup, this is hardly the full list of options, especially since most companies on the Leaping Bunny certification list are small, local businesses. Check the official Leaping Bunny list of brands that don't test on animals to find more.

Makeup Brands That Don't Test on Animals But Don't Have Leaping Bunny Certification

A company may make makeup that doesn't test on animals, but for one reason or another, they may not have the Leaping Bunny certification. Some have the PETA certification instead. Leaping Bunny requires a few things that are not possible for some brands: first, to pull products from countries that require animal testing, which, until recently, included China, and second, that every single ingredient sourced in the process also does not use animal testing. That being said, many on this list have pledged to stop animal testing. Makeup brands, however, have been known to sneakily put a bunny on their containers despite not having the Leaping Bunny certification or PETA recognition at all. Definitely do your research!

Makeup Brands That Test on Animals, According to PETA

These are cosmetic companies with makeup products that test on animals as of 2019, though it's possible that China's new laws may eventually change these companies' policies. Check for updates and more products on PETA's list of companies that test on animals.

"Gray Area" Brands

Note that many brands may not be on PETA's list but have disputed or convoluted claims to being considered cruelty-free. For instance, there's Rimmel London: While not on PETA's formal list of companies that do test on animals, the company has been caught by other watchdog groups selling their products to markets like China. Companies like Morphe have given "conflicting or misleading" information about their status, official listed in a gray area. Other brands like Laura Mercier, LORAC, and Younique are also in that gray area of potentially animal-testing cosmetics.

Our Favorite Animal-Friendly Makeup

Here are some of the top cruelty-free makeup products we've found:

Vegan, Cruelty-Free Makeup Options

Brands like Urban Decay, Tarte, wet n wild, Too Faced, and theBalm offer vegan products as well as having a line of entirely non-animal-tested makeup. Other companies like e.l.f. andPacifica offer 100% vegan options for their whole line. Check out Logical Harmony's list of cruelty-free products to find which ones are 100% vegan. 

Skin Care and Perfume brands

Of course, those in the beauty and cosmetics industry aren't the only companies that test on animals. Toothpaste, shampoo, and first-aid supplies are all products tested on animals frequently, as upsetting as that fact may be. Here are some other products to keep in mind as well as the readily available cruelty-free drugstore brands you can swap them for.

Cruelty-Free Face Wash

100% Pure offers face wash and is Leaping Bunny approved, as are the Yes To brand andAlba Botanica. These aren't Leaping Bunny certified but are recognized by PETA:Pacifica, First Aid Beauty, and Lush. Animal testing aside, many of these brands also offer a host of vegan products. More expensive brands Mario Badescu, Physicians Formula, and Glossier are also safe.

BAD: Common brands including Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Olay, Aveeno, Avon, Kiehl's, and Neutrogena are all on PETA's list of companies that test on animals. Cetaphil, while not being on the official PETA list, has been reported as being part of a pharmaceutical company that does use testing. Biore, CeraVe, Fresh, GlamGlow, and Soap & Glory are also in a gray area.

Cruelty-Free Moisturizer

Burt's Bees lotions are Leaping Bunny certified, and on the more expensive end, you can find Osea and Andalou. Without being certified, St. Ives and Dove both offer cruelty-free body lotion.

BAD: Lubriderm is on PETA's bad list. Jergens and Bath & Body Works reportedly may sell in countries where testing is required.

Cruelty-Free Body Wash

Yes To, Alba Botanica, Method, and Dr. Bronner's are all OK, according to Leaping Bunny. Lush and Dove offer cruelty-free options too.

BAD: Ivory, Dial, Olay, and Johnson & Johnson products are all on PETA's list for testing on animals.

Cruelty-Free Sunscreen

Kiss My Face is not only Leaping Bunny certified but also one of the group's founding members. The second certified company is Goddess Garden. Aside from those, PETA recommends Alba Botanica Sunscreen, Nature's Gate and Trader Joe's Nourish Spray Sunscreen.

BAD: Bain de Soleil and Coppertone are on PETA's bad list. Nivea sells in China. Other companies, like Banana Boat and Le Tan are in the gray area.

Cruelty-Free Perfume

The Body Shop is Leaping Bunny certified. Lush, Tsi-La, and Aromi are also all cruelty-free.

BAD: Perfume companies like Calvin Klein Cosmetics, Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, Versace, Victoria's Secret, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, and Estée Lauder are all on PETA's list for using animal testing.

Cruelty-Free Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Humble is Leaping Bunny certified. Lavanila, Lush's deodorant bars, and Schmidt's are great replacements as well. More commonly available, Dove reportedly has put a ban on animal testing.

BAD: Common deodorant brands often do animal testing. Old Spice, Secret, and Arm & Hammer area all on are PETA's bad list.

Cruelty-Free Lip Care

Lipster, Hurraw!, and Crazy Rumors offer Leaping Bunny certified lip balm. Lush, Tarte,  and Bare English & Co. also offer nice lip products that are cruelty-free.

BAD: Two of the most common brands of lip balm - eos and ChapStick - are not cruelty-free.

Cruelty-Free Shampoo and Hair-Care Products

Both Yes To and Wen offer Leaping Bunny certified shampoo are not tested on animals. Paul Mitchell, Lush, and JASON are also considered OK, though not certified. Meanwhile,Only Buy Vegan ranked Mukti Organics as offering the best cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner.

BAD: Brands like Head & Shoulders, Aussie, Garnier, Suave, Pantene, L'Oréal, and Redken, are all on PETA's list for animal testing. None of these companies can be considered for cruelty-free hair-care products.

Cruelty-Free Hairspray

It's a 10 Haircare is certified, and other beloved brands like Paul Mitchell, Ouai, Kenra  and Oribe offer cruelty-free sprays.

BAD: As we mentioned in the shampoo section, many of the most common brands of hair products have and do test on animals, like Redken, L'Oréal, Aussia, Pantene, and Garnier.

Bathroom Products

When shopping for simple things like spray cleaners or bandages, keep in mind that many of these companies test on animals. These are some of the worst offenders, as many of these tests can be extremely hurtful and abrasive.

Cruelty-Free Toothpaste and Oral Care

Davids Natural Toothpaste, hello's flouride-free toothpaste, Dr. Sheffield's natural toothpaste, and SprinJene's toothpaste are all Leaping Bunny certified, while Tom's of Maine earns PETA's approval. Many of those companies also have safe mouthwash products.

BAD: Most of the most common toothpaste brands are specifically on PETA's list for testing on animals: Crest, Equate, Aquafresh, Sensodyne, and Colgate all test on animals. Mouthwash products like Listerine, Scope, and Biotene are also on the bad list.

Cruelty-Free Cleaning Products

Dr. Woods is Leaping Bunny certified. PETA recognizes Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyer's, Method, and ECOS.

BAD: Frebreeze, Fantastik, Mr. Clean, OxiClean, Tide, Kaboom, Finish, Drano, and many other Procter & Gamble brands are on PETA's bad list.

Apps to the rescue

Are you looking for clean, cruelty-free beauty products but don’t know how to identify them?  These 5 apps will do all the label-reading for you, making it easy as pie to be a conscious beauty buyer.  Take a few minutes to download them all and then have fun scanning the barcodes in your bathroom and in the beauty aisles!

This minimalist app was created by The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program and “provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.”  While the current app doesn’t have a barcode scanner, it’s alphabetized lists make it easy to identify brands and products that are certified cruelty-free.  This app is free!

The Beagle Freedom Project created this “Activism 101” app to help you identify brands that do and don’t test on animals.  Their database includes brands certified by Leaping Bunny and PETA as well as cruelty-free brands that have not formally registered themselves in either of those two programs.  The app has a barcode scanner that gives you a clear YES or NO cruelty-free status and it also offers the option to “Bite Back” on social media by exposing companies that test on animals.  The $3.49 fee to download this app goes to support the Beagle Freedom Project which is money well spent if you ask us!

This app was created by an independent app developer – Margaret Lillian Pearce – and uses data from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) list of cruelty-free brands.  With the option to use a barcode scanner or a search bar, this app quickly lets you know if a brand has been certified cruelty-free by PETA.

Developed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the SkinDeep Cosmetics Database app is a one-stop shop to find out if a beauty product and it’s ingredients are safe to use.  The database can be searched using a barcode scan or a search bar, and provides you with a product-specific hazard rating.

A rating of 0-2 indicates a low hazard, 3-6 indicates a moderate hazard, 7-10 indicates a high hazard.  The app also breaks down the hazard into 3 categories of health concerns: cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity and allergy.  To top it all off, they even rate individual ingredients within a product so that you can learn which ingredients are hazardous, and which are safe.  SkinDeep is a must-have!

Think Dirty was created in partnership with the Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  Despite the fact that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a controversial stance on animal testing, we do think this app is very helpful for determining whether a beauty product is safe to use.

It is very similar to EWG’s SkinDeep app in the way it measures the hazard of each product and each individual ingredient.  This app also has a unique function that allows you to add the products you’ve scanned to your “bathroom shelf” to get an overall hazard rating on your beauty regime.

There you have it: Technology that’s making it easier to live clean and cruelty-free. We just have one more important note: Did you know that cruelty-free products are not always vegan (and vice versa)? Check out this video by Tashina from Logical Harmony to learn more about the difference between the two.  


Cruelty Free International works to end animal experiments by investigating and exposing the reality of life for animals in laboratories, challenging decision-makers to make a positive difference for animals, and championing better science and cruelty free living.

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Our Mission is to educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals; wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and their environments.

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Funding innovative animal free research to replace animals in medical research.

Ending the use of animals in science through education, advocacy, and the development of alternative methods.