What Is the Difference Between Cruelty-Free, Clean & Vegan Beauty?

Sustainability is becoming an important topic in many different businesses. One of them is beauty. With skincare products becoming overwhelmingly popular and people striving for natural beauty where less is definitely more, it is important to stay informed about the meaning and difference behind all these terms. If you are ready to become more knowledgeable about the world of beauty so that next time you go to your local cosmetics store you will know what to choose then keep on reading. 

Long gone are the days when the beauty world was all about the looks you could create with the latest hyped products. Of course, there are still many beauty gurus giving advice on the internet on how to recreate a certain makeup look, what foundation will last the whole day, and how not to make your concealer crease. However, nowadays more and more individuals choose to invest in their skincare first and to compliment their natural features by using less makeup instead of full glam.

That’s when sustainability and ethics come into the frame. Such terms as cruelty-free, clean, and vegan are becoming more and more common but do you know what they actually mean? Or which one is the most important? Let’s try to make sense of all these terms and know how your purchases affect the environment.



Lyubov Levitskaya

Cruelty-free is a term coined to specify the type of products that were not tested on animals. More and more people are realizing the damaging effect that we humans have on our nature and most importantly animals. The torture that animals are enduring just so that we will have a cream to moisturize our skin with or perfume to make us smell angelic is unacceptable and has to end.

Fortunately, since 2013 EU prohibits animal testing in the beauty industry. The problem is that some brands continue to sell their products in countries where animal testing is not only allowed but mandatory. That’s why it’s important to check each and every brand you buy from if you want to ensure that you are not contributing to the torture of animals.



Dean Drobot

Vegan beauty offers products that don’t contain traces of animal ingredients. It is not interchangeable with cruelty-free products because even if the product was not tested on animals it might still contain natural ingredients such as honey, beeswax, glycerin (derived from animal fats), snail secretion, etc. Vegan beauty products are most important for vegans who might want to ensure that not only their food but also clothes, makeup, skincare, and overall lifestyle are vegan. Luckily, as more and more consumers are looking for vegan and cruelty-free products finding them is becoming easier than ever before.



Dean Drobot

Clean beauty is especially prevalent today due to the increasing popularity of the ‘clean girl aesthetic’ on TikTok. However, to be labeled clean a product has to be safe, natural, and non-toxic. This is especially important to note for people with sensitive skin. If you see a clean product at the cosmetics store know that no harsh chemicals were added to it, therefore it is safe for you to use. However, if you are a vegan and want to stop using makeup or skincare that contain traces of animal products, not all clean beauty products are going to be suitable for you.


At the end of the day, your consumer choices are up to you and there is no moral police that is going to judge you if you continue supporting makeup brands that test on animals, use toxic ingredients, or add honey to their products. However, it is important to not only talk about changing the world, it is more important to start taking actual steps, no matter how big or small to become more sustainable.



Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock


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