Finding out if brands are truly cruelty-free isn’t always straightforward. I’ve been vetting the cruelty-free status of brands for over 5 years. Along the way I’ve learned a few tricks that might be helpful if you’re trying to determine if your favorite brands are cruelty-free. If you’re doing your own research, here’s what to keep in mind.
1. Mentions of “China” or “certain authorities”
If you look at some of the top beauty brands’ animal testing policy, you’ll notice a recurring pattern: they all either mention “China” or “some countries” where the “regulatory authorities” require animal testing.
This means their finished products are tested on animals in China, which means they’re not a cruelty-free company.
2. Mentions involving “complying with laws”
Similarly, if a brand mentions anything along the lines of “complying with laws”, you should be suspicious. It could mean one of two things.
- They comply with China’s animals testing laws (see above), or
- They comply with cruelty-free laws such as the EU’s
Even in the case of #2, it does not mean the brand is cruelty-free. Companies can comply with the EU’s cruelty-free laws while testing on animals, be it because of a loophole or because they sell their products in China. This is a common trick that always requires more investigating.
3. No mention of animal testing or being cruelty-free, anywhere
But what if there’s no animal testing policy at all? No cruelty-free claims. No PETA or Leaping Bunny logos.
If a brand is secretive regarding their cruelty-free status, it might mean they’re hiding the fact that they do test on animals. Keep in mind however that this doesn’t necessarily mean the company tests on animals, however it can absolutely be a red flag. If you were a cruelty-free company, wouldn’t you be displaying it proudly on your website?
4. Won’t respond to inquiries regarding animal testing
The best way to find out if a company is cruelty-free is to email them the Cruelty-Free 5. These questions cover all grounds, and they’re the same questions we use before adding brands to our cruelty-free list.
If a company doesn’t respond to your inquiry, it might be because they’re hiding something, or it might be because they have no interest in ensuring that they’re cruelty-free. This is a red flag.
5. They sell pharmaceuticals
If a brand or their parent company sells pharmaceuticals or drugs, it’s a good sign that they could be testing on animals. This is the case with some popular skincare brands out there. Skincare and pharmaceuticals are sometimes created by companies that specialize in both types of products.
6. They display a fake logo
This red flag means that the company simply doesn’t give a crap. Unfortunately, there are companies that use fake Leaping Bunny or PETA logos. When this happens, based on what I’ve witnessed, the organizations in question don’t typically take action (though they could, since the logos are trademarked).
Although this is a rare practice, it’s something to look out for, because it means the company is doing something illegal as a marketing tactic. A company who uses a trademarked logo illegally could be lying about or hiding other unethical practices.
How do you know if a company is using a fake logo? Super easy. If you see a Leaping Bunny logo on the website or packaging, for example, head to Leaping Bunny’s list of certified brands and search for the brand in question. If they’re truly certified, they will be on that list.
7. They are expanding internationally
This is a red flag I look for when researching brands for our database. The nature of most businesses is to expand. For bigger cosmetics companies, growth could mean expanding to as many countries as possible, including those where animal testing is required by law.
Plans to expand to China don’t necessarily mean that the company will sell in stores. In order to remain cruelty-free, some brands expand to China online-only, which bypasses any of China’s animal testing laws. Be wary and ask them questions if you can’t find all the answers from a web search.
Find brands that are truly cruelty-free
Bypass the research and go straight to our list of 350+ vetted cruelty-free brands. These brands have all been contacted directly by us to ensure that they don’t test on animals at any point during production and beyond — including in mainland China.