Cruelty-Free vs. Vegan Beauty: What’s the Difference? 


[Photo: Jacob Santiago / Hourglass Cosmetics]

Ask any beauty editor and they’ll agree that “cruelty-free” and “vegan” are buzzy topics in the beauty world right now. That’s not a huge surprise—with conscious consumerism on the rise, people are starting to be more thoughtful about what they buy, eat, and put on their skin. But like other buzzwords that appear on product packaging (see also: natural), cruelty-free and vegan may not mean what you think they mean.

So what does “cruelty-free” mean?

If a beauty product is cruelty-free, it means that the product has not been tested on animals. Just seeing “cruelty-free” on the label, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. Cruelty-free products can still include animal-derived ingredients, like beeswax, collagen, honey, lanolin, and carmine. To make matters more confusing, cruelty-free beauty brands can be owned by parent companies that aren’t cruelty-free. (It’s worth mentioning that the cruelty-free community is divided on this issue—some think it’s okay to buy from a cruelty-free company regardless of its parent company because it shows that customers are willing to pay for products that aren’t tested on animals. Some disagree.)

What does “vegan” mean?

Vegan beauty products, on the other hand, don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients whatsoever. They may, however, still test on animals. To recap, cruelty-free products aren’t always vegan, and vegan products aren’t always cruelty-free. Terms like “cruelty-free” and “vegan” aren’t regulated, so it’s important to do your research to determine what a brand means when they label their products as such. (If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details, this article from Cruelty-Free Kitty does a good job of breaking it down.)

Hourglass Cosmetics is one of the few beauty brands out there committed to being both cruelty-free and vegan—meaning no animal testing or animal-based ingredients. While Hourglass has always been cruelty-free and boasts a big collection of vegan products, the brand recently vowed to go completely vegan by 2020. We spoke to CEO and founder Carisa Janes about Hourglass’s goal to lead the way in the vegan luxury beauty space.

[Photo: Carisa Janes / Hourglass Cosmetics]

Hourglass was already a cruelty-free beauty brand—what made you decide to go completely vegan?
Hourglass has been cruelty-free from the start, but if we are truly committed to being 100% cruelty-free, we shouldn’t have animal-derived ingredients in our products. We believe that luxury is a combination of innovation and integrity, and we want to show that luxury beauty can and should always be cruelty-free.

How hard is it to reformulate your products to be free of animal byproducts?
We set a goal to become fully vegan by 2020. It’s ambitious, but we’ve always been about challenging ourselves and pushing boundaries. Finding alternatives to animal-derived ingredients is not a simple task. It’s essential to use high-quality replacements that meet our standards. We want to make the change without sacrificing the luxury and effectiveness that our customers have come to expect.

Vegan and cruelty-free makeup has gained popularity recently. Why do you think that is?
I think people are becoming more knowledgeable about how products are tested and what ingredients are in their beauty products. They also want to feel good about the products they purchase and want to support brands with a purpose that aligns with their own personal values.

Why is it important to you personally that Hourglass goes completely vegan?
It’s what I believe is the right thing to do. I’ve always been an advocate for animals and this is a way that I can make a positive impact.

Shop vegan and cruelty-free bestsellers from Hourglass Cosmetics below.

[Photo: Hourglass Cosmetics]

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