The terms vegan and cruelty-free are hot buzzwords in the current marketing world, where appealing to the environmentally-conscious improves profit margins. However, many consumers fail to understand exactly what vegan products are and what these terms mean as it relates to ingredients, products, and companies. In today’s post, we are going to break it down for you so that you can be a more informed consumer and be wise enough to invest in animal-friendly products rather than falling for false advertising schemes.
At Intelligent Nutrients, we don’t just offer vegan hair products that contain organic ingredients. When we say that we are an animal-friendly company, that means that we are concerned about our ingredient sources, manufacturers, and distributors. After all, we are only as strong as those we work with and as a company, we are committed to the safety of our customers and the health of our environment.
Cruelty-Free vs. Vegan ♥
First things first, let us discuss the terms we mentioned at the beginning of this post and how they translate into your hair care (or any) product. Cruelty-free products are those that did not cause harm to an animal, nor was it tested on animals. Cruelty-free products may still contain animal products, but it will contain those that are obtained from live or previously slaughtered animal’s byproducts or are products that are produced by the animal — milk proteins, honey, beeswax, etc. — without causing harm to the animal. There is some debate about the ethical use of these ingredients. On the one hand, some animal-derived ingredients can be obtained from living animals “naturally,” with claims that it “doesn’t hurt the animals.” The controversy comes from whether or not animals were misused or the products were obtained unnaturally for the sake of mass production. Even when the animal products are obtained through leftover by-products of other animal uses — i.e. tallow rendered from slaughterhouse waste from animals that would have been slaughtered anyway — contributes to the demand that produces the supply. What is important is the transparency of the company and its policies and the certifications they obtain (we will get to that!).
Vegan, on the other hand, means that the product contains no animal products whatsoever or anything produced by an animal. Yes, there are vegetarian products that don’t contain products that were part of an animal, but still may contain products that were made by an animal — honey, beeswax, etc. When a product is vegan-certified, this allows consumers to rest easy knowing that there is nothing in the product that contributed to taking from a living being or fed the demand for animal use in commercial manufacturing. However, being a vegan product doesn’t mean that it wasn’t tested on animals after the fact, it simply means that it does not contain animal products.
- A product can be cruelty-free and contain animal products.
- A product can be vegan and be tested on animals.
- A product can be both cruelty-free and vegan.
- A product can be neither cruelty-free or vegan.
Making the choice about what is important to you and what products you are willing to use all comes down to your personal beliefs and which companies you choose to support. Any company that makes the claims to be cruelty-free and/or vegan should be certified and able to explain their practices. Transparency is the key to understanding a company and the products that they offer. Hiding behind confusing ingredient lists or vague statements should be a red flag.
When it comes down to your beauty products and hair care products, what is more important to pay attention to than the product descriptions or company claims is the ingredient list. The Food and Drug Administration requires that beauty companies include a full list of product ingredients, drugs, fragrances, and incidental ingredients. Although one would hope that this means that the ingredient list is a fail-safe in determining whether a product is vegan, vegetarian, or just safe, the FDA does allow a company to list trade secret ingredients as “and other ingredients.” Additionally, the FDA does not require companies to list whether the ingredient is sourced from animals, plants, or is a synthetic component.
Ingredients are listed in chemical names and not always easy to understand. For instance, do you know what tocopheryl acetate is? It’s vitamin E, created by combining acetic acid and tocopherol. Good for your skin and hair, but you wouldn’t know that by reading the ingredient list. Let us help you clarify some other common beauty product ingredients that are derived from animals or animal products so that you can better understand which are acceptable to you.
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it does include some of the most common non-vegan ingredients in beauty products. If any of the products in the third list — ingredients that may come from animals — it is important to clarify whether or not it comes from an animal. You can contact the company or look for the vegan-certified trust badge on the product.
How to Be a Wise Consumer
Understanding what vegan products are is helpful when shopping, but it is important to note that companies do not have to be certified as a vegan company to offer vegan products. Being a vegan-wise shopper takes some know-how. Simply checking an ingredient label is not always enough because companies are not required to distinguish between ingredients that are sourced from an animal, plant, or synthetic source. However, for a company to be able to mark a product as vegan, it cannot contain ingredients made from animals or by animals.
Understanding the Trust Badges
Now that you understand the difference between cruelty-free and vegan products, you can have a better understanding of what the trust badges on products mean for the consumer.
Common trust badges you may see include:
At Intelligent Nutrients, we believe in protecting and saving the environment. We are committed to creating cruelty-free beauty products that you can feel good about. When you invest in Intelligent Nutrients, you are investing in yourself and helping to protect the animals of the world. Some of our products include beeswax or milk proteins, none of which caused harm to the animals and those products are not marked as vegan. Don’t worry, though, no beeswax is collected for our products at the risk of the colony! In fact, we are so dedicated to the bees, we invest in their future with funds from our proceeds. Visit the HMR Pollinator Project page for more information and visit our ingredients guide for a full list of our product ingredients.