How to Tell If Your Make-Up Is Tested on Animals

If you’re an animal lover, then chances are you believe in buying cruelty free cosmetics, but in today’s marketplace with so many labels and misinformation flying around, how do you know what is and isn’t tested on animals?

Whether you’re already pretty clued in or you’re just getting started, check out the following tips to ensure you’re not unwittingly funding the ugly side of the beauty industry.

Third Party Testing

Third party testing is a loophole that many cosmetic companies are using to distance themselves from the controversy of animal testing while still being able to market themselves as a cruelty free brand. What third party testing really means is that the company itself may not test on animals, but their parent company, or an outside organization, does the dirty work for them.

Misleading Labels

Another way companies are getting away with leading consumers to believe that their products are a compassionate option is by adding the term “this finished produce was not tested on animals” to their labels. The reality of this labeling is that the individual ingredients could have all still been tested on animals, but the combination of ingredients that have been used to make the finished product was not.

Common Animal-Derived Ingredients

If you’re interested in both animal testing free and animal ingredients free, then you’ll want to be on the lookout for these common animal derivatives that may be hiding in your make-up bag. While this list is not comprehensive, it does outline the most common ingredients. If you spot one of these then be sure to do some follow up research on the brand and how the ingredient was sourced:

  • Ambergris – Produced in the intestinal tract of whales and used as a fixative in perfumes.
  • Beeswax – Extracted from the honeycomb of honey bees and used in lip products, creams, foundations etc…
  • Carmine/Carminic Acid /Cochineal – A red pigment used in red, pink and warm colored make-up made from crushing the female cochineal beetle.
  • Casein/Caseinate/Sodim Casienate – Extracted from cow’s milk and widely used in hair products and face masks.
  • Cholesterol – Derived from numerous animals sources including fat, tissue and eggs and used in eye creams and shampoo.
  • Estrogen/Estradiol – Extracted from the urine of pregnant horses and found in lotions, perfume and restorative creams.
  • Glycerin/Glycerol – Byproduct of animal fat and widely used in lip products, lotions, toothpastes and soaps.
  • Keratin – Animal protein made from hooves, horns, and even fur, and a common ingredient in hair products.
  • Lactic Acid – Derived from both blood and muscle tissue and found in many skin products such as exfoliators.
  • Lanolin – Extracted from the oil glands of sheep and commonly used in lip and hair products.
  • Lecithin – Often derived from eggs and used for waxy cosmetics including creams, soaps and shampoos.
  • Glycerides/Monoglycerides – Animal fat derivative used in glycerin based products.
  • Musk – Traditionally sourced from the genital secretions of animals including musk deer, otters, beavers and wild cats, and used for fragrances.
  • Oleic acid – Fatty acid found in the animal fat known as tallow and often used as emollient.
  • Placenta – Organ found in pregnant mammals and used in skin and hair treatments.
  • Polypeptides – An animal based protein used most commonly in anti-aging products.
  • Polysorbates - Fatty acid derivative used as emulsifier in a range of cosmetics.
  • Progesterone – Animal-based steroid hormone used in anti-wrinkle creams.
  • Retinol – Animal-derived vitamin A used in skin products and anti-aging creams.

5 Top Tips for Cruelty Free Make-up

When you’re feeling unsure, stick to these top five tips and you can’t go wrong:

  • Buy vegan – The easiest way to know whether your make-up is cruelty free is if it’s labelled vegan or comes from a vegan brand.
  • Look for the bunny – If you see a product stamped with the Leaping Bunny logo, it means that no animal testing is used throughout ANY phase of the product development.
  • Do your homework – Use the following searchable database to see a current list of companies that do and do not test on animals.
  • Watch out for new ingredients – Products touting newly developed ingredients are often the ones still testing on animals so beware and make sure to investigate further.
  • Ask questions – When in doubt, simply get in contact with the company directly and ask. Not only is this the best way to get a reliable answer, it’s also a good way to show that there’s a demand for cruelty free products.

Photo Credit: Idhren


Danuta W
Danuta Watola21 hours ago

Thanks for sharing

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson4 years ago

Still confused.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H5 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Carolanne Powell
Carolanne Powell5 years ago


Past Member 5 years ago

I have a brilliantly simple way making certain that no one's using make-up that tested on animals: STOP USING MAKE-UP!! Seriously! It's disgusting and unnecessary crap that only gives a completely false sense of beauty. If you're having to rely on make-up in order to attract someone, then you're attracting the wrong kind of people as they're obviously more interested in a lie than they are in the real you!

Melania Padilla
Melania P5 years ago

Great article, I keep a list from PETA & BUAV

Fi T.
Past Member 5 years ago

Beauty lies in the heart, not on the skin