How to tell if a brand is cruelty-free?

How to tell if a brand is cruelty-free?

Today I thought of explaining to you the process I go through when checking if a brand is cruelty-free. Many times, I use websites such as PETA, CrueltyFreeInternational, CCF, etc. However, there are some cases where these sites don’t have information about this particular brand, or PETA has suddenly certified an animal testing brand as cruelty-free and I don’t quite yet believe it to be true. Taking a fictitious brand, BRAND X as an example, my system goes something like this.

Q1: Does BRAND X test on animals?

Here I check what BRAND X’s says about their animal testing policy. There are those brands that don’t claim anything, probably to avoid a lawsuit. Then there are those who say that they never tested and never asked others to test for them. Lastly, there are those who say that they don’t test on animals, however, they admit that they sell in markets where they or authorities test for them. This question only replies whether they test on animals. However, whatever the answer may be, in my opinion, doesn’t yet make them cruelty-free. So I tend to ask more questions.

Q2: Is BRAND X owned by a parent that is not cruelty-free?

If BRAND X happens to be cruelty-free in the end, it could be owned by a parent that isn’t. Some people, including me, stay as much as possible away from such brands. The reason being that PARENT X, the animal testing parent company of BRAND X, might be unofficially doing the testing for BRAND X. It could be that I am obsessing too. However, until I work in such companies, I can’t tell whether it’s an obsession or true. So for us who want to stay away from such brands, I am offering this criterion.

Q3: Is BRAND X certified cruelty-free?

Some brands that I check are found in the PETA, CrueltyFreeInternational, CCF… lists.  During my nearly 10 years of experience, I noticed that some people prefer to support brands that are certified cruelty-free. I accept also brands that are not certified for two reasons. First reason, there are loads of certifications and several people prefer one certification more than the other one, a company, especially a startup can’t afford to be certified for everything, so we need to trust them a bit. The second reason is that recently PETA started certifying brands that still are selling cosmetics in China, so nowadays I don’t completely trust the PETA certification. However, as there are those who feel safe trusting certified companies, I offer also this criterion.

Q4: Is BRAND X cruelty-free?

I either stop here and give my answer. However, when there is the possibility to dig deeper I base this answer on the upcoming sub-questions, which are currently about Mainland China.

Q4.1: Does BRAND X sell in Mainland China?

As currently, the main thing that makes a brand not cruelty-free is whether or not are selling in Mainland China, I look further into this criterion. It’s not always easy to find it but usually, I share whatever I find. There is a difference between whether they have a Mainland China registered website, and whether they have an international website and they ship to Mainland China customers. The first option is the issue, as the authorities can easily confiscate their products to test on animals when they are in Mainland China located stores.

Q4.2: Are BRAND X products in Mainland China are cosmetics?

I don’t know how it is for food, home detergents, and other products. Unfortunately, the information I have is about cosmetics. We have heard the news of China, banning animal testing in test phases. However, there is still not the news that China completely banned animal testing on cosmetics as Hong Kong did a few years ago.

Q5: Is BRAND X vegan?

This is a bonus question. As some of you might know, cruelty-free does not mean vegan and vice versa. If BRAND X turned out to be cruelty-free, I could answer this question or link to a vegan list for this brand. However, if BRAND X turned out to be NOT cruelty-free, I just give a brief answer but not go into creating a list, even if I know that some vegans tend to trust that if a product is vegan, the brand must be cruelty-free.

Q6: Which brands should I support instead?

Just a reminder that if you are looking for a brand who is serious about its anti-animal-testing policy. Check my list of brands that are against animal testing.


(a.k.a. Fiona Henschel) Malta-born blogger. I have been blogging during these last 6 years on my cruelty-free lifestyle including recipes, beauty and makeup products that I discover, receive, buy and try.