‘Vegan’ and ‘Cruelty-free’, these are two terms you’ll come across a lot today. While some brands are genuinely both vegan and cruelty-free, others are making full use of these two words for their benefit. This is due to the lack of basic knowledge about what these two terms mean and how they’re used to both educate and misguide us.

Not every brand or product that is vegan is cruelty-free, and not all cruelty-free brands are vegan.

Here’s an explanation on how your makeup can be both vegan and cruelty-free and you can still do all that you were doing before you made the transition.

What is ‘cruelty-free’ makeup?

Cruelty-free or animal cruelty-free makeup is one where no animals were harmed during the testing of the products.

You’ll be surprised to know the amount of tests done on animals before a product reaches you. Even when you buy a product which has no animal ingredient in it, it still might have been tested on animals.

India is one of the few countries which have banned animal testing for cosmetic brands since 2013. However, a lot of FMCG products are still tested on animals. India also doesn’t import products which are tested on animals. This, however, doesn’t mean that the cruelty isn’t being done on animals because the following can be true:

  1. Product testing: There are companies that test their end products aka lipsticks, nail polish, etc. on animals. Thankfully end products that are both home-grown and imported cosmetics are not tested in India before sale.
  2. Ingredient testing: There are companies that do not carry out product testing on animals. However, some or all of their ingredients might be tested on animals. Companies may often claim that the product is not tested on animals, but it doesn’t necessarily means that their ingredients are also not tested. Sadly, not many companies give an explicit list of whether or not the ingredients are tested as majority of the ingredients are sourced. In India, this is still a possibility.
  3. Product and ingredient testing: Another possibility is of companies testing both their ingredients and end product on animals. But this is highly unlikely in India as cosmetic end product testing is banned.

Please note: Brands that sell products in India and are made in China are all tested on animals. This I feel is sheer misguidance in terms of how to rationalize and trust brands as any product entering China or being exported are mandatorily tested on animals. So I personally avoid each and every cosmetic which mentions “Made in China” or “Ingredients sourced from China”.

When you’re making a conscious effort to avoid every form of cruelty towards animals, a little more information about the country it’s made in can also be very helpful.

What is vegan makeup?

Vegan makeup refers to cosmetics in which none of the ingredients are animal-based; hence the end product is absolutely vegan.

There are two kinds of vegan makeup:

  1. Vegan and tested on animals: Not every brand or product which is vegan is cruelty-free. A brand may be using plant-based, natural or non-animal based ingredients but still be carrying out animal testing. Make sure you don’t fall prey to the so-called vegan labels thinking they’re cruelty-free.
  2. Vegan and cruelty-free: There are brands that are making conscious efforts in being both vegan and cruelty-free. These brands or products do not use ingredients which are animal-based, nor do they test on animals. This type of a makeup brand or product is what you should look out for.

Here are some icons that are used to represent if a brand is vegan and cruelty-free:

cruelty free Indian Vegan Diary


Products which have the bunny icon on it are cruelty-free and hence this is the symbol to distinguish cruelty-free makeup brands from the one which tests on animals.

Indian Vegan Diary Vegan logo.png


Products which have a black or a green V symbol on it are vegan in nature and hence symbolize that the ingredients used are not animal-based.


indian vegan diary.jpgProducts that are both vegan and cruelty-free may or may not have this logo as there currently isn’t any particular logo for this segment. You may also find both cruelty-free and vegan logos on products which neither test nor use animal-based ingredients.

Make an informed decision as your choice can either promote animal suffering or eliminate it. It’s a different topic of debate and discussion when it comes to eating animals, but we can always choose not to harm them by making these little changes in the way we wear our makeup.

I’ll soon be taking out a list of brands, globally and in India, which are both vegan and cruelty-free. I hope this article helps you make a conscious effort and an ethical choice the next time you’re buying cosmetics. Don’t forget to let people in and around you also know about this. Who knows, it might actually make a difference as a lot of us remain unaware of what goes into the making of our makeup.




    1. Hi Pooja, thank you so much. I am compiling a list and will post it soon. But to start with, you can look into Plum Cosmetics, Disguise Cosmetics (both are vegan and cruelty-free). Biotique is also cruelty-free and a wide range of their products are vegan (but not all).


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