How to Shop Cruelty Free: A Guide For Beginners

Wanna make the transition into a cruelty free lifestyle but don’t know where to start? Have no fear, this blog post is for you! Whether you’re considering going cruelty free or have already made the decision but you’re feeling a bit lost, this post is geared towards cruelty free beginners.

The Body Shop, Milani, and Physician’s Formula are 3 examples of some popular brands that are also cruelty free!

The Body Shop, Milani, and Physician’s Formula are 3 examples of some popular brands that are also cruelty free!

Why Shopping Cruelty Free Is Important

Before we get started, I want to briefly discuss the gravity of the situation. Big corporations like to sweep happens behind  the scenes under the rug, and the majority of people out there are unwittingly purchasing from them, therefore, helping them fund the animal torture that they perform. I’m not going to get too much into it, but terrible things happen in these laboratories. Animals are blinded, poisoned, forced to inhale toxic fumes, injected or force fed toxic substances to see if it causes things like paralysis or seizures, and are confined in cages, only released when they are being tested on. These animals never see the light of day, never experience fresh air or sunlight, and ultimately lose their lives after years of torture in a laboratory. Hundreds of thousands of animals EACH YEAR lose their lives to animal testing. This includes dogs, cats, rabbits, amongst many other animals. This is what’s happening, right under our own noses, yet few people stop to consider this issue before making their skincare, cosmetics, nail polish, hair care, and toothpaste purchases. By purchasing from non cruelty free companies such as Rimmel, L’Oréal, Bath and Body Works, Maybelline, Chanel, Dior, Makeup Forever, Garnier, Neutrogena, MAC, Colgate, Crest (and many many more), you are second handedly funding animal cruelty. 

This is Echo, who was saved from an animal testing lab in China. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of animals each year don’t get so lucky. 

Follow Echo on Instagram @one_eyed_echo

Follow Echo on Instagram @one_eyed_echo

Here is a common argument that you may hear from someone who is uneducated on the topic: “we need animal testing because it would mean that humans would have to be poisoned and burned instead!” Actually, with modern science, computer based analysis and laboratory produced skin allows companies to produce safety checks that don’t harm anyone.

Yes, we do have a cruelty free alternative to animal testing. Yes, this means that all this torture and the loss of innocent lives are for nothing.

So why do companies continue to test on animals? I don’t know too much about that part in particular, but I assume that they continue to do it because it’s what's always been done. In some cases, they are not cruelty free because they sell to China, and any company that sells to China is automatically not cruelty free because they require animal testing by law there. These companies don’t wanna give up that $$$ they could make from sales in China, so they allow animal testing on their products.

Want to start shopping ethically but don’t know where to start? Here are my cruelty free tips!

So many people say that they would love to go cruelty free, but don’t know how to because they just can’t bring themselves to memorize all those brands. Memorizing which brands are cruelty free and which aren’t does come (pretty effortlessly) in time, but it is completely unnecessary to memorize any info to be cruelty free. It’s a common misconception to feel like you have to know all this info off the top of your head every time you go shopping. If you find yourself at the supermarket, holding a product you’re unsure about, here is what to do:

  • Look for the leaping bunny


This bunny photo on the packaging means that this company/product is leaping bunny certified. If you see this logo on the back of a product, it means that it is you can be certain that it is certified cruelty free, and no further research is needed!

Side note: just because a product is not leaping bunny certified doesn’t mean it automatically isn’t cruelty free. Being certified is done on a voluntary basis, therefore, there are some ethical companies that have not been certified.

  • Don’t see the leaping bunny? Do some quick research!

Can’t find the bunny? Have no fear, your product may still be cruelty free. Pull out your phone and do some quick research of that product before purchasing it, right in the drugstore aisle if you need to. It literally takes a few seconds to plug the brand into a reliable resource, and you’ll be saving lives with just that little bit of effort! I personally use Cruelty Free Kitty, because it’s so easy to navigate and I know it’s trustworthy. You type your brand into the search bar and you get a yes or no answer instantly. It’s that easy and fast! 

Cruelty Free Kitty: my personal favorite resource to use!

Cruelty Free Kitty: my personal favorite resource to use!


This is in all caps because it’s important. Don’t trust what you see on google, and do not trust the website of the company that makes the product. Often times, they’ll claim their products are cruelty free on their website and on their packaging, but are lying by not telling the whole truth (which I’ll get more into later). Best solution to this is to use a trustworthy third party source. You can use Cruelty Free Kitty as mentioned before, or another third party resource, as long as you know it’s trustworthy! If you would like to see a comprehensive list of cruelty free brands, my friend Stephanie has comprised an ultimate guide to cruelty free makeup over on her blog, so feel free to browse through this list to see if any companies you frequently shop at is cruelty free. There are some amazing cruelty free blogs who spend hours reaching out to companies, so they essentially do all the research for you so you don’t have to! 

Additional Things to Know:

It is super important to be aware that many companies lie about their cruelty free status on their packaging. How often have you seen a shower gel or lotion then flipped it over, saw on the back “not tested on animals” then rejoiced because the product is “cruelty free?” NEVER ASSUME. Some examples of companies that partake in this deception are Bath and Body Works, Bodycology, and Dove, amongst many others. All these companies have “not tested on animals” on their packaging, yet NONE OF THEM ARE ACTUALLY CRUELTY FREE. Dove has even gone as far as to acquire a PETA certified cruelty free label that will be plastered on all their products in 2019 (FYI, only trust leaping bunny certification, not anything that PETA claims. In the words of my best friend, “why would anyone trust a cruelty free list from PETA?” She knows what’s up). Dove is deceiving a lot of people with this PETA business, and people are now flocking towards their products because they are now “ethical”. They really are milking this marketing scam, huh? The Dove situation in particular is a bit tricky to explain, so if you’d like to know more about why Dove ISN’T cruelty free despite their claims about not selling to China, I’d like to point you to this post where the lovely Cruelty Free Kitty explains it better than I ever could.

You may be wondering, why do these products say “not tested on animals” if they do test on animals? Here’s the tricky part: they aren’t completely lying, but they aren’t telling the whole truth either. By saying “we don’t test on animals”, what they really mean is, “we don’t test on animals but our ingredients suppliers do” or “we don’t test on animals except where required by law”. In the first case, sometimes the finished product produced by the brand is not tested on animals, however, the ingredients that the brand has purchased to make this product HAVE been tested on animals. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t done the testing themselves, they have purchased and used ingredients that have. As for the required by law part, again, any company that sells to China automatically is not cruelty free because animal testing is required by law there.

To sum everything up, don’t trust what companies claim on their packaging or on their website because they often can very conveniently leave out details. Always use a reliable third party source. 


There you have it, going cruelty free for beginners! I tried to sum up the most important information to the best I could, and I hope it wasn’t too overwhelming. If all this is too overwhelming, just stick to the three main bullet points above and you’ll be just fine!

To sum up the key points:

  • Keep in mind that many companies lie about their cruelty free status, so do not blindly trust any cruelty free claims on the packaging

  • Research the company from a reliable third party source before purchasing rather than the company’s own website (Cruelty Free Kitty is my preferred resource)

  • Leaping bunny picture on the product is a shortcut that tells you that product is certified cruelty free, no further research necessary

  • Don’t trust any PETA “cruelty free” certifications on product packaging; only trust leaping bunny logo

  • Companies that sell to China are automatically NOT cruelty free regardless of their testing practices in the USA 

I hope that this article is a resource that will help you on your cruelty free journey. Don’t be overwhelmed; I know it’s a lot to take in at first, but trust me, it becomes second nature quicker than you think. Until our society decides to become more ethical, these are the steps we have to take to be a voice for the animals. And trust me, it’s so worth it! I’m forever against animal testing, what about you?