What Does Cruelty-Free Really Mean?

Jenna Jolls

Do you love animals? So do we! Here at Mother Dirt, we’re paw-ssionate about making conscientious and humane decisions that benefit our furry friends. Here we’ll be exploring what cruelty-free means, how to find cruelty-free skincare products and more.

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?

Did you know that, in the United States and Canada, using claims like ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘not tested on animals’ isn’t regulated? The FDA says there are no legal definitions for these terms, meaning that cosmetic companies can use these phrases on their labels and in advertising without restriction.

The trouble with having no set standard for usage of these terms is that it allows individual companies to define “cruelty-free” on their own. Without hard and fast rules, brands can make broad claims to promote their products without any repercussions, greenwashing and misleading consumers.

According to the MSPCA, because of the lack of standardization, “cruelty-free” labeling can imply:

  • Neither the product nor its ingredients have ever been tested on animals.
  • While the ingredients have been tested on animals, the final product has not.
  • The manufacturer itself did not conduct animal tests but instead relied on a supplier to test for them -- or relied on another company’s previous animal-test results.
  • The testing was done in a foreign country, where laws protecting animals might be weaker than in the U.S. 
  • Either the ingredients or the product have not been tested on animals within the last five, ten or twenty years (but perhaps were before, and could be again).

In summary, since there is no official or government-sanctioned cruelty-free label, it can be difficult for consumers to know which brands to support if they want to be sure their skincare products haven’t undergone animal testing. Thankfully, there are resources to help concerned consumers find products that have met a strict cruelty-free standard such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA.

PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program & Logo

The only way to be sure a product is truly cruelty-free, meaning that the product and its ingredients weren’t tested on animals, is to only purchase from brands that are certified cruelty-free by a recognized organization like PETA.

PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program helps consumers purchase products from companies and brands that have banned all tests on animals. In order to be listed by PETA or carry the Animal Test-Free logo or the PETA Approved Global Animal Test Policy logo, companies and brands must commit never to conduct, commission, pay for, or allow tests on animals at any phase of development, for both ingredients and final products. They’re required to have agreements in place with their suppliers guaranteeing that the suppliers will never, from the moment the agreement is signed, conduct, commission, pay for, or allow tests on animals for the ingredients purchased by the company or brand.

Mother Dirt is Certified Cruelty-Free

While Mother Dirt has always been vegan and cruelty-free, we are excited to announce that we are finally certified and have joined PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program. You can view our PETA listing here.

We love animals and are proud to be certified by PETA under the global animal test–free and vegan designation. This designation recognizes companies and brands that have verified that they and their suppliers do not conduct, commission, pay for, or allow any tests on animals for their ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and that they will never do so in the future -- it also means that the entire product line is free of animal-derived ingredients.

Ready to start shopping Mother Dirt’s vegan and certified cruelty-free products for face, body and hair? Hop to it!

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