Let's talk about what 'cruelty-free' skincare actually means.

Thanks to our brand partner, Sukin

Want to make the switch to natural skincare? Go you! Confused as hell? SAME.

With words like 'vegan' and ‘cruelty-free’ popping up everywhere you look, along with a bunch of certifications and frilly descriptions, it can be confusing to know what this kind of jargon really means.

And while you'd think every product with the word 'natural' slapped on the front is actually made from nothing but natural ingredients, unfortunately it's a little more complicated than that.


So, what's the real difference between 'vegan' and 'cruelty-free' beauty products? Or are they exactly the same thing and someone's just trying to pull a fast one on us? (And succeeding).

To cut through all the noise ('cause there's A LOT) and help you select the right products for you, we've broken down what these terms really mean and what you should be looking for when shopping for conscious beauty products.

You ready, friend? Let's go!

What exactly is cruelty-free skincare?

Good question, smart sausage! Gold star for you.

Cruelty-free basically means that the ingredients and the product you have in your cute little hands has not been tested on animals. Mmmkay?

Keep in mind, though - this term refers to the testing process, not the actual ingredients. Meaning? It's possible for a cruelty-free product to contain animal-derived ingredients (think honey, beeswax, lanolin or gelatin). Eek! Anyone else, like, not know this? 

So, what if you want something that is cruelty-free AND doesn't contain animal-based ingredients?

Well, the best option is to look for products that are both cruelty-free and vegan.  

What's the difference between cruelty-free skincare and vegan?

If your skincare product has the word 'vegan' on it, this means that the product does not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients (what we were just talking about above... in case you were being an absolute mad dog and skimming). 

Obviously the word vegan just relates to the ingredients, rather than the actual production process (that's where cruelty-free comes in). So, that means you can find vegan products that have been tested on animals in the production process.

Weird, right?

Again, if you want to cover all bases (hey, legend), the best option here is to look for something that is both cruelty-free and vegan. And while it can sometimes be a little harder to find - it's not impossible. It really isn't!


Big skincare brands like Sukin are setting the benchmark for other beauty brands out there and making it easier to switch to products that are better for our planet. 

The Aussie made brand is proudly 100 per cent cruelty-free AND vegan and committed to creating products that are free from all animal testing. 

How good.

To top it all off, Sukin is also 100 per cent carbon neutral (meaning they offset each carbon emission that they produce as a company). The brand is also charity partners with Greening Australia and the #SukinReefAid Project in support of the Great Barrier Reef. Bunch of overachievers, we know.

W-wa-wait! How can I tell which beauty products are *actually* cruelty-free and vegan?

Okay, listen up - because this one's important. In order to make sure you're selecting products that are *actually* cruelty-free and vegan, there are a few specific things you should be on the lookout for to make sure no one is telling fibs.

The first? Cruelty-free and vegan logos (a little set of bunny ears and a blade of grass kinda thing).

However, keep in mind that a company can claim anything on a label, so your best bet is to familiarise yourself with the official industry logos. Look for accreditation by reputable organisations such as Choose Cruelty-Free, The Vegan Society, PETA, or Leaping Bunny.

Another way to check if a product meets your natural criteria? Read the ingredient label carefully. Don’t just read the frilly, hype-y stuff on the front of the product (guilty!) - flip it over and examine the back as well. 

Some common ingredients that aren't vegan include: lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, or gelatin. So if you see any of these on a product, that's a red flag. 

It's also important to note that just because a product is vegan and cruelty-free, doesn't necessarily mean that it's 'natural'. So, yeah - you'll need to read the list carefully. A good trick here is to focus your attention on the first third of ingredients listed, as these are the ones that make up the bulk of the product. 

If the product is full of scientific-looking words (just Google them if you don't know what they are) with very few natural-sounding ingredients in the mix, it’s pretty unlikely that the formula is predominantly natural. 

Just FYI: Plant ingredients are fairly easy to spot, because they're usually listed with their Latin names and the common names in brackets - for example rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil.


Either way, it all comes down to personal preference and just how ‘natural’ you want to go. But knowing how to make sense of the ingredient list will come in handy so you are able to make whichever decision is right for you.

Gotcha! Any good recommendations for vegan and cruelty-free skincare?

You bet! If you're looking for a solid skincare range that's 100 per cent certified cruelty-free and vegan, check out the Sukin Signature Range. 

While there's a helluva lot of marketing fluff out there in the beauty world (so many claims! so much hype!), these are just conscious ingredients that actually work (don't you love it when that happens?). 

Plus, you won't break the bank trying to look after your skin and help the planet at the same time- which is always preferable.

Here are some of our essential faves to help you get started:

Sukin Natural Cream Cleanser Pump, $11.95.

Image: Chemist Warehouse 

Sukin Natural Facial Moisturiser, $11.95.

Image: Chemist Warehouse 


Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner, $11.95.

Image: Chemist Warehouse 

Feature image: Getty

What are some of your favourite cruelty-free beauty products? Share with us in the comment section below.

Sukin was born in Australia from a need to ‘say no’ to puffery, chemicals and marketing spin. The vision was clear, create a skincare brand for everyone, free from synthetics, animal cruelty and environmental impact, that makes you feel special, nurtured and protected.

We believe that everything needed to make our products can be found in nature. So at Sukin, that’s what we use. No hidden surprises, no harmful processes, and no compromise on results. Just ingredients from nature that work.

It’s what we leave out that makes us special.

Discover the world of natural, visit the Sukin Journal.