November 29, 2023


Two women at a lake petting a dog for blog: VEGAN, PLANT-BASED, CRUELTY-FREE SKINCARE: WHAT IT ALL MEANS

Before I started my natural body care brand six years ago, I gathered up all the “nontoxic” and “natural” and “clean” beauty products to test. I would show them to our formulator Kevin, and he’d say, “did you read the label?”

It’s easy to think, “I’m looking for a new natural body care routine.” But before you take a leap, learn a few pointers to help you make a good choice.

Companies in the US can use compelling words like clean, nontoxic, natural, made with essential oils. All sounds good right? I was even fooled in the beginning. There is no legal definition for these words and many of these products have harmful chemicals but are very good at “greenwashing” their products.

What’s the Difference?

It helps to have a general understanding of plant-based, vegan, and cruelty-free as it relates to natural skincare products.

Plant-based skincare

While a product label can state it is “plant-based”, it could just be mostly plant-based. There could be animal products in the skincare. This is an example of “greenwashing”.

Vegan skincare

A skincare product that is vegan has no animal products whatsoever. No bone-based collagen, no shark liver squalene, no beeswax, and no lanolin from sheep’s wool.

Cruelty free skincare

This means that no ingredients in your product were tested on animals. This is difficult to prove. However, each brand can require a certification from their supplier to validate this.

It’s a matter of what you’re looking for. To be sure a product is 100% vegan, plant based, or cruelty free, look for a trusted brand that states this on the label. It’s also helpful if you know how to read the label.

How to Find a Trusted Brand

Many brands make claims of plant-based, vegan, or cruelty free but what does that mean? Without a legal definition, it helps if they have a third-party certification. This means that an external party has vetted the products. There are many reputable certification companies that give products an added layer of credibility.

Skincare Certifications

  1. LEAPING BUNNY (cruelty-free)
  2. ECOCERT/COSMOS (natural or organic, sustainable)
  3. MADE SAFE (nontoxic, cruelty-free, eco-conscious)
  4. EWG VERIFIED (nontoxic)
  5. NSF (nontoxic, eco-conscious)

There are plenty of great brands that don’t have certifications. Find out how to check ingredient safety.

Now you have a good understanding of what vegan, plant-based, and cruelty-free skincare means. Plus, you can look for third-party certifications and verify ingredient safety to find brands you can trust.

Cindy Barberes is the founder of H. Honeycup, creator of natural body care products. They promote self-care, encourage a giving community and prefer a fun, relaxed culture which translates to their body care products. As a family affected by addiction, they donate clean beauty products to individuals in recovery from addiction with the hope that it helps them heal both body and mind naturally. They ask their community to suggest where they can donate which makes it personal. Find out more about where they donate. H. Honeycup is currently participating in the Conscious Beauty Collective.