Cruelty-free cosmetics

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Cruelty-free cosmetics is a category containing all cosmetics that have not been tested on animals.[1] The FDA has not approved a legal definition that binds this term to a certain set of criteria.[2] However, in addition to the final product, most advocates for cruelty-free beauty agree that none of the ingredients used in the production of the cosmetics can be tested on animals in order to be cruelty-free. Many companies brand themselves as cruelty-free but still use raw materials that have been tested on animals.[3]

The types of tests performed on animals include acute toxicity testing, eye and skin irritation testing, skin sensitivity testing, carcinogenicity testing and re-productivity and developmental toxicity testing. Numerous studies have shown that the effectiveness of these tests are limited, and valid alternatives exist for many of these tests.[4]

Buying only from cruelty-free companies is effective because it boycotts the practice of testing on animals and proves that there is a specific market for cruelty-free consumers, incentivizing brands to "go" cruelty-free and follow their guidelines.[5]


The shocking conditions of animal experiments has prompted cosmetic consumers and beauty industry professionals to avoid animal testing and to look for new alternatives.[6] Since 2004, animal testing for finished products has been banned in the European Union.[7] In 2009, the EU outlawed the use of animals in seven toxicity tests, including skin irritancy, sensitivity to light and genetic toxicity.[8] In 2013 and 2016, the EU banned the import of cosmetic products tested on animals in its territory.[9] In a 2007 study, it was reported that over one third of consumers in five different countries would pay more products that are ethically produced. [10]

Leaping Bunny[edit]

Created in 1996, the Leaping Bunny label or Human Cosmetic Standard (HCS) is one of the European pioneers[according to whom?] in cruelty free cosmetics.[11] This logo, valid in Europe and North America, certifies:

  • the brand in its totality is cruelty free
  • the absence of animal testing of the ingredients
  • the absence of animal testing of finished products
  • the absence of animal testing in foreign markets

The label does not certify the absence of material of animal origin such as honey.

Each cosmetic is subject to strict control by independent inspection bodies chosen by the Coalition for Consumer Information in Cosmetics (CCIC), which is an NGO founded by 8 international animal protection groups such as: American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Alliance of Canada, Doris Day Animal League, etc.

Choose Cruelty-Free[edit]

This logo applies to several areas: cosmetics, medicines and hygiene products and home. It certifies that:

  • all brands in the group are cruelty free
  • the brand in its entirety only offers cruelty free products
  • the absence of animal testing of finished products
  • the absence of animal testing of the ingredients
  • the absence of animal testing in foreign markets

The label does not certify the absence of material of animal origin but does certify that the mark does not have the right to sell its cosmetics in countries where the law authorizes the tests on the animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals[edit]

A non-profit association created in the United States has set up two cruelty free labels. The first named "cruelty free" and the second called "cruelty free and vegan". A single criterion separates these two labels: that of the presence or absence of matter of animal origin in the composition of cosmetics.

One Voice[edit]

French non-profit association, the association One Voice is a law association of 1908 under Alsacian-Mosellan law, founded in 1995 militant for the "absolute right of animals to respect". It certifies:

  • the absence of animal testing of finished products
  • the absence of animal testing of the ingredients
  • the presence of organic natural ingredients (orange logo)
  • the absence of material of animal origin except honey, pollen and beeswax

IHTN Rabbit[edit]

This label was created by the International Association of Manufacturers against animal testing in cosmetics (IHTN). It certifies:

  • the absence of animal testing of finished products
  • the absence of animal testing of the ingredients
  • the raw materials of animal origin (egg, milk, honey) come from organic farming. This label prohibits materials of dead animal origin or obtained by ill-treatment. Finally, it also certifies the mark in its entirety. 

Legislation against testing animals[edit]

Advancement of cosmetic cruelty free fight around the world[edit]

Thanks to the development of the media, information and images showing the treatment of animals in laboratories have been disclosed around the world.[12] The methods used to perform the tests have shocked the public and a collective desire to stop the treatment of animals, for the benefit of alternative experiments, such as in vitro tests, in silicon that requires no animal presence are now relevant.

Faced with this plague, the authorities of several nations have reviewed their legislation to limit the use of animal testing in the cosmetics sector.[12]

A derogation whose pass over the European legislation[edit]

REACH is a regulation from European Union aiming to better protecting human health and the environment from the risks related to chemicals substances, while promoting the competitiveness of the EU chemical industry. It also supports alternative methods for assessing the hazards of substances to reduce the number of animal tests.[13]

The REACH regulation applies to all chemical substances: those used in industrial processes, but also those in our daily life such as cleaning products, paints, electrical appliances and cosmetics.[13]

With the REACH regulation, companies must be transparent and must identify and manage the risks related to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU. They should also show ECHA how the substance can be safely uses and communicate risk management measures to users.[13]

Companies must register their substances, so ECHA receives the registrations and assesses their compliance, and then EU Member States evaluate certain substances to address the initial concerns about human health or the environment. Then they determine whether the risks of the substances can be managed.[13]

A dangerous substance can be banned by the authorities if the risks it presents cannot be controlled. Authorities may also decide to restrict use or subject it to prior authorization.[13]

If the risks cannot be managed, the authorities can limit the utilization of the substances in several manners. The target is to reduce ands replace most dangerous substances.[13]

Therefore, REACH lists all the chemical substances used by the industries and all the information concerning them. When a company decides to use a non-REACH listed substance or an ingredient in which the information is insufficient, the company must demonstrate that these substances are safe. Tests must then be performed by the company itself as it is responsible for ensuring the safety of the substances they use. These may be alternative tests for animal testing or animal testing where there is no alternative under the law.[14]

Chemical ingredients used at more than one ton per year in Europe are compulsorily tested. Indeed, the European Commission can estimate that it is necessary to evaluate the risks for certain substances. Thus, even for purely cosmetic ingredients, animal testing can always be done to ensure the safety of workers exposed to it in the manufacturing process. The REACH Regulation thus goes beyond the Cosmetics Regulation because the European Commission considers that in-vitro (non-animal) methods are not sufficiently reliable and underestimate the danger of certain substances.

REACH can pass over the law that prohibits animal testing of ingredients and finished cosmetic products from 2013. 

Export to China[edit]

Mandatory to testing animals before enter into the Chinese market[edit]

China has become one of the largest market in the world,[15] so it represents an opportunity for companies to expand their market and sales.

There has been a progression of the Chinese legislation. Thanks to the mobilization of communities and consumers boycotting brands, and the European law banning testing, has had a snowball effect, especially India, which was the first Asian country to ban testing on animals in July 2013. Chinese legislation has therefore evolved by allowing certain brands to gain access to the Chinese market.

Chinese legislation separate cosmetics into two categories:

  • Non special use cosmetics: these are all the products that won’t deeply change the aspect of one's body or have a therapeutic aspect, such as makeup, body and face skincare, perfume, toothpaste, nail care.
  • Special use cosmetics: these cosmetics change one's aspect in the long term, e.g, slimming products, re-sculpting cream (breast, body, wrinkle...), depilatory products, hair products (coloring hair, permanent hair, Brazilian smooth…) solar protection and deodorants.

Non tested products:

Non special use products manufactured and sold in China

  •  Non special use products manufactured but not sold in China
  • All products sold on the internet on Chinese or not website

Tested products :

  • Special use products manufactured and sold in China
  • All products imported and sold in stores in China

Animal testing is therefore mandatory for only a few products, but this change only affects companies that manufacture their products in the country. Companies that have foreign manufacture still need to test on animals but no requirement is imposed on cosmetics purchased on foreign e-commerce sites and delivered in China. [15]

Requirements on over-seas mandatory testing[edit]

Some cruelty free cosmetic brands such as Urban Decay, Hourglass or Lush are implanted in Hong Kong which has led to confusion because Hong Kong is often associated as part of China. However China which requires mandatory animal testing on all cosmetic products that are manufactured outside of the country. Hong Kong does not have the same testing animal laws as China, and brands can pretend to be “cruelty free” while being on Hong Kong soil. Although, this does not mean that testing on animals is totally banned from the territory. [16]

List of cruelty free cosmetic brands[edit]

AromaZone (France) Aimée de Mars (France) BareMinerals (USA) : Shiseido
Avril (France) Arctic Fox (USA)

Kat Von D (USA) : Kendo, LVMH

Cattier (France) Alva (UK) NYX Cosmetics (USA) : L'Oréal
ELF (USA) Beauty without Cruelty (USA) Tarte Cosmetics (USA) : Kosé Corp
H&M (Sweden) Beauty Blender (USA) Too Faced (USA) : Estée Lauder
Real Techniques (USA) Blush away (USA) Urban Decay (USA) : L'Oréal
Sigma Beauty (USA) Cocoon Apothecary (Canada)
Sleek Makeup (USA) Cover FX (Canada)
Stila (USA) DermOrganic (UK)
Dr Bronner's (Germany)
The Body Shop (UK) Hurraw ! (USA)
Amore Pacific (Korea) Inika (Australia)
Aritaum (Korea) Nabla cosmetics (Italy)
Aromatica (Korea) 100BON (France)
Beyond (Korea) Concrete Minerals (USA)
Blossom Jeju (Korea) Druide (Canada)
Cosrx (Korea) EcoTools (USA)
Dr Jart (Korea) Elate Cosmetics (Canada)[17]
Etude House (Korea) Elysian Nail Lacquer (USA)
Hanyul (Korea) Fairypants (UK)
Innisfree (Korea) Gaiia (France)
Iope (Korea) Giovanni (USA)
It's skin (Korea) Karethic (France)
Ishizawa (Japan) Houglass (USA)
Klair's (Korea) De Lorenzo


Lirikos (Korea) Teadora (USA)[18]
Laneige (Korea) Jeffree Star Cosmetics
Lush (UK) Axiology[19]
Makanai (Japan) B. Beauty[19]
Mamonde (Korea) Pacifica[19]
Mise en scene ( Korea) Miss Organics (UK)[20]
Missha (Korea)
Nature Republic (Korea)
O'sum (Korea)
Re:cipe (Korea)
Rituel de Fille (USA)
Sulwhasoo (Korea)
Whamisa (Korea)
Zion Health (USA)[21]


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  11. ^ "Frequently asked questions by companies - Cruelty Free International".
  12. ^ a b "Worldwide Progress | National Anti-Vivisection Society". National Anti-Vivisection Society. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
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  21. ^ "ADAMA Minerals".