Cruelty-Free: 4 Things to Know and How to Take Action

“Cruelty-free” is a term used to label products that haven’t been tested on animals, items that haven’t been used in animal-related experiments, and activities that don’t involve the exploitation of animals. When you begin a vegan or eco-conscious lifestyle, you’ll notice that this term pops up frequently. Learn why this label matters and how to find cruelty-free products. 

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?

This term encompasses activities, products, and lifestyles that avoid harming animals. Attending rodeos, using moisturizer that was tested on rabbits, and consuming meat or dairy are all things that involve animal cruelty. Animal testing during product development is one of the biggest topics around this issue, but it’s one of the easiest cruelty-free actions consumers can take.

In terms of products we use, “cruelty-free” is used to identify something that hasn’t been tested on animals. You’ll often find this label on products such as medications, cosmetics, and clothing. If something doesn’t have a cruelty-free label, this means that the product has been tested on animals. 

However, it’s helpful to know that vegan products aren’t necessarily cruelty-free, and vice versa. Sometimes these labels go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. For instance, your favorite moisturizer might have a cruelty-free label, but it contains honey (an animal-derived product). This moisturizer is cruelty-free but not vegan. On the flip side, a vegan moisturizer that’s been tested on animals is vegan but not cruelty-free. If finding products that fall under both categories, always check the ingredients and certifications.

Why Does a Cruelty-Free Label Matter?

If you have compassion for animals and are interested in animal welfare, it’s important to understand that killing and using animals for food is not the only way they’re harmed. Animal testing causes stress and both short- and long-term physical harm to the creatures involved. 

While chimpanzees were excluded from medical testing in 2015, there are still many species subject to harm today. Among these are:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Guinea pigs
  • Owls
  • Pigs
  • Rabbits
  • Sheep

Read the full list from The Humane Society of The United States.

When a product goes through an animal testing phase, it involves inhumane actions such as forcing the animal to ingest the product or applying the product on the animal’s bare skin. Scientists and product developers look for things like skin irritation, health changes, and cancer development. Companies opt to test their products in this way to ensure that they’re safe for humans, but this means that animals are subject to these painful and life-threatening conditions.

Not only are animals physically harmed as a result of testing, but they’re also contained in stressful laboratory environments. Animals are subject to rough handling, living in small cages, and general mistreatment. Ultimately, many animals die in animal-testing environments. 

Products that Involve Animal Cruelty

Now that you understand the importance of avoiding products that rely on animal testing, here are some everyday products to be aware of:

  • Skin care, such as cleanser and sunscreen
  • Cosmetics, such as shampoo, makeup, and perfume
  • Medications
  • Cleaning supplies, such as laundry detergent and dish soap

Many companies that develop these products rely heavily on animal testing to ensure the products’ safety and efficacy for humans. However, according to The Humane Society of the United States, thousands of thoroughly tested ingredients already exist. These ingredients allow many companies to make a choice: Either continue testing new products or develop cruelty-free products using pre-tested ingredients. 

How to Find Cruelty-Free Products

There are quite a few companies out there who are actively working to ensure no animal testing is necessary at any step in their production process. Here’s how to know if something is truly cruelty-free:

  • Look for the official cruelty-free labels.
  • Check the back of the product for a testing disclaimer.
  • Research the company’s practices and if they have a cruelty-free certification.

Look through your skin care products, cleaning supplies, and other household products. If they’re not cruelty-free, please use what’s left to avoid waste and then consider buying an alternative product next time. 

Here are some of the cruelty-free companies recognized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):

  • Aveda
  • Dove
  • E.L.F.
  • Herbal Essences
  • Pacifica
  • Tarte
  • The Ordinary
  • Tom’s of Maine

For a more specific search, visit PETA’s website to find out whether or not a company or product has a cruelty-free certification. You can also peruse Amazon’s cruelty-free collection for easily-accessible products.

H2: How to Take Action Against Animal Cruelty

Here are ways you can take action against animal cruelty today:

  • Sign cruelty-free pledges and petitions.
  • Continue educating yourself on the topics of cruelty-free and animal testing. 
  • Support cruelty-free organizations such as Cruelty-Free International, PETA, and Humane Society International. 
  • Share what you learned with your friends and family. 

Read more about animal welfare:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through these links may help me earn a small commission.

Exploring animal welfare one foster kitten at a time


The Humane Society of the United States (2022). Chimpanzees.

The Humane Society of the United States (2022). Animal testing and experiments FAQ.

The Humane Society of the United States (2022). Cosmetics testing FAQ.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (6 November, 2022). Companies that don’t test on animals.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: