Vegan and Cruelty-Free Cosmetics: Is There a Difference?

Vegan and cruelty-free are two labels that get a great deal of attention by both the media and consumers. They often get used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion because one cannot necessarily be used for the other.

What is Vegan?

The “vegan” label is one of the most popular terms that consumers look for when they purchase products such as cosmetics. In 2017, vegan cosmetics sales jumped 100 percent with people aged 16 to 34 years of age noting that they find animal welfare very concerning, according to Mintel, a retail research company.

In order for cosmetics to be labeled as being vegan, it must not contain any products derived from an animal nor can it contain any animal ingredients. This means that makeup that is tested on animals can still claim to be vegan if they don’t contain any animal products. However, a vegan product might still be tested on animals before being released to the market.

What is Cruelty-Free?

In contrast to the vegan label — which refers to the ingredients that comprise a product — the cruelty-free label denotes the process of testing. Makeup that sports the cruelty-free label means that none of its ingredients or components, as well as the final product, has been tested on animals. However, a cruelty-free product could still contain ingredients derived from animals so it wouldn’t necessarily be vegan.

The Confusion

Sometimes confusion arises because there are no standardized definitions of what a product means when it carries the vegan label. To many people, vegan cosmetics are those that don’t have any ingredients derived from animals. Others see the vegan label and think it means that the makeup doesn’t have any animal products nor has it exploited animals during the manufacturing, development or testing phases.

In reality, this thought process is actually referring to cruelty-free testing and not necessarily to whether or not a product is vegan.

As companies move toward a more animal-friendly approach and legacy, it’s important to partner with a business that offers products that support the appropriate label.

As a pioneer in the development and application of cruelty-free testing methods, InVitro International has been meeting the needs of animal-conscious companies since 1985. InVitro International provides a range of products and services that companies can utilize to meet those goals. Contact us today for more information.

The Importance of Testing Products for Skin Irritation Prior to Mass Production

For your company, nothing is as important as the integrity of your product. This is especially true in skincare. Your customers want a product that delivers what it promises. They don’t want adverse side effects.

For your company, getting the right formula before mass production is a key to success. If you find out that there’s a high rate of toxicity or that consumers are having major issues with your product after the release, it’s difficult to recover from that type of set back. Depending on the adverse reaction, there may be legal ramifications. If the product is poorly rated by consumers, the negative publicity is almost impossible to overcome.

The Importance of Testing

In producing any type of skin care for the public, you’re required to make sure that it’s safe when used correctly. Testing for safety is an integral step. Your team should also research and compile information on ingredients so that you can benefit from studies which were already completed. However, research alone isn’t enough. Considering that your product will be proprietary, information on individual ingredients can’t tell you how they’ll react together with human skin.

Some people may be more sensitive to certain ingredients or have allergies. While you can’t possibly know how each individual’s skin will react to your product, you can test widely so that you’ll be able to judge whether people with sensitive skin might not be the best consumers.

Here are a few key reasons that you’ll need to test thoroughly before releasing your product to the public:

  • Liability. You’re required to make certain that your product is safe if used according to the directions. If you release a product that has a widespread negative impact on consumers, you may be legally liable.
  • Quality. The main reason that you should test your product thoroughly is to maintain the highest quality. Your product should do what it advertises for the widest swath of consumers.
  • Consumer Satisfaction. There’s no quicker way to sell a product or sink a product than word of mouth. Testing thoroughly will give you the ability to accurately assess how successful your product is in use. Word of mouth recommendations from satisfied customers will help you build a loyal consumer base. A great many dissatisfied consumers can do the exact opposite. Today, many people research new products before buying. Negative reviews can cost you customers for a long time, which is why it’s important to get the formula just right prior to launch.

In Vitro Testing for Your Products

In the past, many cosmetics companies used animal testing to make certain their products were safe for consumers. This type of testing was deemed the most scientific for many years, but it has traditionally caused some ethical issues. Many consumers and companies today prefer to use testing methods that are cruelty-free and don’t in any way harm animals.

Today, there are in vitro testing methods which prove safe and even more effective than the animal testing predecessor. In vitro methods test the product in a lab setting, using an assay which yields comprehensive, accurate results. This testing method can be completed in less time and is more cost-effective than other options. It is also cruelty-free and can be a selling point for your line of products.

How to Create Customizable Solutions for Your Lab

If a testing lab has its own personality and culture, then it needs solutions that reflect how the staff really functions from day to day. The more workarounds a lab creates, the more likely it is the lab will be losing time or money in the process. See how owners can better address the obstacles that stand in their way without compromising their accuracy, efficiency, or safety.

Problem: Assembly for Testing Takes Too Long

Depending on the number of procedures a lab completes, it can become time-consuming to do the prep work for each one. Labs are often under pressure to hit a certain quota every day, and even a few minutes can add up quickly. Not only can several steps eat up precious minutes, it can also increase the likelihood of a mistake being made. The process of putting everything together for test after test can become so rote that workers may inadvertently skip a step without realizing.

Solution: Use Testing Kits

Testing kits are increasingly being used in the sciences because they’re convenient and effective. Testing kits ensure labs get exactly what they need and no more, which can make tests much faster. While some people find testing kits to be superfluous, forward-thinking researchers understand that a little help can go a long way. The more helpful tools people have at their disposal, the more likely it is that productivity will increase while stress decreases.

Problem: Testing Protocols Are Generic

Some companies prefer to do their irritancy and corrosivity testing in-house so they can have total control over the results. Outsourcing these services may yield inaccurate results or even dangerous products being sold to consumers. However, in-house testing for these safety attributes is often more complicated than owners think. Depending on the type of technology used, each lab may need its own specific instrumentation and processes.

Solution: Look for Personalized Advice

Labs need to seek out a partner who specializes in testing for both irritancy and corrosivity. InVitro International uses Irritection® technology that can be adapted to fit our clients’ needs. From developing testing protocols to advice on how a lab can implement the technology for themselves, it’s our job to look at the anomalies that make each lab unique. Whether a lab is developing all-new products or improving on their original concepts, they need a solution that fits company goals and meets safety requirements.

Problem: Compliance Worries

All companies have federal guidelines and regulations they need to follow as well as global standards they may have to meet as well. These regulations can change at the drop of a hat, and not every company is aware of the new restrictions imposed upon them. The end results can be anything from major fines from government organizations to endangering the lives of consumers all over the world.

Solution: Don’t Go It Alone

Decision-makers don’t always have time to do the research necessary for every change. For example, when the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) was first introduced, it caused labs to rethink how they made everyday decisions. But the stringent rules made it easy for labs to make mistakes, which made them liable for anything from a routine inspection to a serious problem. Partnering with someone who understands the minutiae of these rules is sometimes the only way to ensure that every audit is as quick and painless as possible.

InVitro International is staffed with experts who understand how to conduct accurate lab tests for eye or skin irritants without the help of live animals. Corrositex is globally accepted as an approved means of assessing dermal corrosivity while our Irritection technology is accepted and under review for full adoption by a major international regulatory body for ocular irritancy determinations now. Our proprietary methods, Ocular Irritection® and Irritection® Dermal, are the result of more than two decades of research and experience in this field.

In Vitro Testing in China: A Brief Overview

China recently made headlines when it opened a new laboratory that would use in vitro rather than animal testing to determine the safety of certain products, including cosmetics. They’ve also made a promise to explore in vitro for other testing facilities. The country is making these changes because the evidence that’s been presented to officials is irrefutable. In vitro testing is not only effective at determining safety for humans, it’s also cheaper and easier to perform than animal testing. See where China has been, and where it’s going.

The Role of the CFDA

The Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has historically considered animal testing to be the only way to authorize the safety of potentially dangerous products. Changing the opinions of officials and lawmakers won’t happen all at once, but it’s clear the nation is open-minded about different testing methods. In 2014, the CFDA made it easier for Chinese cosmetics companies to complete their paperwork. This change subsequently led to the removal of the mandate for animal testing on domestic cosmetic products.

Currently, the CFDA still requires all imported cosmetics to be tested on animals. However, they’ve also recently introduced the same administrative paperwork change for international companies that domestic companies benefited from in 2014. Each change in their regulations shows a major shift in their priorities for the future. Where they may have once thought that animal testing was the only way to keep people from dangerous products, they’re being persuaded by the many studies that prove this is not the case.

Changing Times

Companies have gotten the message when it comes to how the tides are changing, and many professionals in China are working hard to get their facilities ready for alternative methods of testing. Once regulations and laws have been worked out, they’ll be ready to hit the ground running to get new cosmetics to the market. The infrastructure in China right now for in vitro testing is unsurprisingly lacking, but the opening of this new laboratory is a good sign that it won’t stay that way for long.

In fact, China has already approved a phototoxicity in vitro test that tells the manufacturer how chemicals will respond when exposed to light. Certain products that may cause skin or eye irritation can be tested from the comfort and the safety of the lab, without the help of live animals. More and more experts from animal-rights organizations are volunteering their time and expertise to educate officials about the efficacy of in vitro testing to identify potentially harmful substances.

A Brighter Future

Appealing to decision-makers in charge is easier than one might think. While it’s true that animal testing has been a long-accepted practice there, business leaders are simply responding to how practical in vitro testing can be. Not only are animal tests difficult to perform, they’re also not very accurate. Statistics vary across the many tests performed on them, but it’s been established that an animal’s body chemistry is different enough from a human’s that animal testing results are unreliable.

In vitro testing can cost several hundred dollars less than animal testing, and it’s faster. It can test hundreds of substances in a fraction of the time and doesn’t require animal handlers to do so. It should come as little surprise that China has started to let go of its antiquated views on the most effective ways to bring their beauty products from idea to reality. Along with its new laboratory and changing regulations, it’s clear the country is on track towards a better tomorrow.

Beautiful Breakthroughs: How Non-Animal Testing Pushes the Cosmetics Industry Forward

One of the biggest reasons why people continue to advocate for animal testing is due to its proven ability to help companies understand how different products react to the human body. For a long time, it was the only way to ensure that cosmetic companies could call their products ‘safe.’ It made it possible for researchers and innovators to test their boundaries for the good of the business, and it preemptively saved the buyer from painful skin or eye irritations from dangerous chemicals.

But non-animal testing is not an enemy to progress, nor does it increase the odds of product liability. In fact, it may be paving the way for progress in the industry, as more companies discover the benefits of in-vitro testing. This method allows researchers to determine how a consumer’s skin and eyes will react to each new ingredient without the use of live animals. By simulating real-world situations, cosmetic companies can test and create at will without having to worry about legal implications or consumer backlash.

Learn more about just a few practical ways in-vitro testing has been put into action.

Anti-Pollution Skin Care

This is a category that’s expected to explode in the next few decades as the full extent of pollution effects begin to emerge. Companies are looking into measures far beyond what’s currently available on the market to combat an array of harmful chemicals in the air. From carbon dioxide to cigarette smoke, the skin is exposed to a number of unnatural elements that it hasn’t had a chance to adapt to. Companies have already started using in vitro testing to assess how well certain ingredients perform at blocking the free radicals that stem from pollution.

Niche Beauty Alternatives

The rise of awareness amongst young people today has them looking at far more than just a price tag. They’re looking for products that fit in with their lifestyle, whether it’s religious, social, or environmental. These buyers are certainly not looking to increase unnecessary suffering for any reason. In-vitro testing has made it possible to label products as cruelty-free, which has led the way for more independent brands to pop up in the public sphere. It’s afforded more entrepreneurs a chance to get their foot in the door, and it’s created more jobs. The best part about it is that workers can actually feel good about what they do and who they serve.

Consumers Spend Less

In-vitro testing is entirely cost-effective, which means that consumers often spend less money to get the same quality. The everyday consumer marvels over how it’s even possible to get such a healthy glow for just a few bucks. Not only do companies have to worry about the logistics of caging and caring for animals during the testing period, but they can also save hundreds of dollars on each test performed. One draize animal test on a rabbit may cost $1,800, but the same in-vitro test would only cost $1,400. It’s incredible how much of that cost savings can be passed directly down to the consumer. This is exactly the kind of thing that will spark the higher brand loyalty that companies crave today.

There are so many ways that in-vitro testing can facilitate doing more rather than less. Consumers are always going to be on the look-out for that next big breakthrough, but they’re also interested in exactly how that breakthrough came to be. In-vitro delivers for both companies and consumers looking to do more with their limited resources — without help from our animal friends.

Canadian Senate to Vote on Banning Animal Testing

Keeping an eye on global trends is one of the best ways for a government to prepare for the future. In late 2016, Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen aimed to make a change in Canadian law with the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. Learn more about Canada’s relationship with animal testing and how it may be set to change soon.

Bill S-214

In 2015, Stewart-Olsen introduced a bill into Senate to make cosmetic animal testing a thing of the past. It was solely focused on cosmetic testing (as opposed to all animal testing) and received support from other members of the Senate as well as the public and the cosmetics industry. The law would ensure no Canadian manufacturer could use animals to test their cosmetics and that no store could sell products from other countries that allowed animal testing. It was correctly pointed out by Stewart-Olsen that most cosmetic ingredients have already been tested at length, and that most cosmetics companies have stopped testing their products on animals completely. However, it did still manage to face opposition, with some Senators raising concerns about what the bill would mean for human safety.

Be-Cruelty Free Campaign

Stewart-Olsen’s bill is just one measure of many that the Be Cruelty-Free Canada movement has launched. Led by Canada’s Humane Society and the Animal Alliance of Canada, they found a partner in Stewart-Olsen to spearhead the bill. They’re hoping that Canada will follow countries like India and Taiwan when it comes to animal rights, and have already instituted the Leaping Bunny symbol on products. This little picture indicates that the product was made without animal testing. The members of the movement are advocates to end all animal suffering, and they also facilitate volunteer opportunities and pet adoptions.  Many people in Canada aren’t even aware that their cosmetic products may still be tested on animals, and 88% shun the idea of animal suffering in the name of looking better.

The Global Impact

The Canadian cosmetic industry is not very large, and there are no public numbers about the use of animals to advance their products. It is thought the backlash from Canadian lobbyists or business owners will not be a major factor when it comes to opposition. The real value in this bill is the tangential influences it may have on other cosmetic companies. Anyone who does still test on animals won’t be able to keep making a profit in Canada, which may lead manufacturers to reconsider how they develop their products. For the innovators in the industry who constantly want to improve their line, companies can use non-animal testing like in-vitro to ensure their customers’ safety.

Further Considerations

Most Canadians (81%) support a full ban on animal testing for cosmetics, agreeing that a new lipstick or eyeshadow simply isn’t worth it. As the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology reviews the bill, hopefully, they’ll see that the legislation has nothing to do with limiting progress in cosmetics, only in limiting how many animals are affected because of it. If it doesn’t pass, it’s likely because animal welfare issues are a bit of a controversial area in the Senate. Some members are afraid that the language used could lead to far more extreme consequences than proposed. For example, another bill that failed in the Senate was denied because voters felt it would limit or outlaw everything from hunting to medical research. If there is a hiccup in getting this passed, it will likely be for similar reasons.

InVitro International is fully behind Bill S-214, and we believe that it can help push Canadian law into a new era. Our test kits and lab tests are proven to give cosmetic companies the safety information they need without subjecting animals to harm. We know that banning cosmetic animal testing doesn’t have to stunt progress or limit other industries and hobbies. The consultations that the Standing Committee has to perform before giving their recommendation should hopefully give the thumbs-up to Senators to vote in favor of this important bill.

A note from the CEO

It’s my privilege as CEO & President of IVRO to be among the first bloggers on our site. The subject I’m raising for your awareness and support is our need for U.S. legislative action banning the use of live rabbits to determine corrosive materials.


Several states have already taken a leadership role in this effort by passing such a regulation. Europe has done so as well. Many countries (all of Europe, India, Taiwan) have even banned animal irritancy testing of new cosmetics and their ingredients, a much lower level of cruelty to animals than corrosion testing.

What are we waiting for??

The Doris Day Animal League (DDAL), now partnering with the Humane Society, negotiated the first ban on animal corrosion testing in 1999, in CA. Now 20 years later, only a handful of other states have followed. DDAL is the animal welfare organization which impacts our Federal government most and best. Let’s support them and also ask them to elevate the priority on the particularly painful and unnecessary use of animals.

I say unnecessary because DDAL was instrumental in gaining DOT acceptance of our Corrositex® in 1992 – the very first ever in vitro test to be government approved in the US. Global (GHS) acceptance took another 22 years though, but still no US ban on an animal use in corrosion testing. Now is the time – let’s just do it!!

How Involved Should US Federal Agencies Be in the Future of In Vitro Testing?

Conservatives and liberals alike are finding their way into the world of animal rights. With the Obama administration’s 2016 passage of the revised Toxic Substances Control Act and the current legislation on the table, the Humane Cosmetics Act, political momentum stands firmly on the side of animal rights. With money moving away from traditional animal testing methods, donors are looking for new ways to stay in the industry and stay in compliance with new laws.

In vitro testing has been vetted as a low cost, viable alternative to animal testing, and government interests on all sides are looking to use it as an in for continued funding. The race to fund the kingmakers is on, and it is one that animal rights activists should look into with a great deal of interest.

Invariably, when government interests get too involved in a scientific industry, that industry becomes bloated with less efficient research and development methods. The reason that animal rights has been able to move forward so drastically in the United States is because of the vetted success of alternative testing methods like in vitro testing. If budgets become bloated and ROI drops, there is no economic incentive for the cosmetics industry to continue along the same path. Legislation that is considered can easily be reversed – keep in mind that Obama had to revise the Toxic Substances Control Act. Nothing is to say that legislation cannot be revised in the opposite direction as well.

Moving alternative testing methods away from the private market is also moving power away from the dedicated activists that are truly protecting animals. If too much power is invested in politicians to protect animals, the issue will become one of many that move across their desks in any given session. This is guaranteed to produce less productivity in the animal-rights space, as it does with most of the scientific industries that rely too much on Washington.

InVitro International is in full support of moving forward on animal rights legislation. However, we are also incredibly wary of shifting too much of the power into the public sector. The incredible dedication of activists and research of private companies has provided the alternatives that the cosmetics industry is moving into today. There is no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

Legislation to Ban Cosmetic Testing on Animals is Officially on the Table

The United States may finally catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to cosmetic testing on animals. Building on the momentum of Obama signing the revised Toxic Substances Control Act in 2016, some members of Congress have reintroduced the Humane Cosmetics Act to the legislative floor. The Humane Cosmetics Act completely stops any animal testing on ingredients or finished products in the domestic cosmetics industry. It also completely bans cosmetics from other countries that have been tainted with animal testing.

The United States currently lags behind other Western countries on the issue of animal testing. Australia currently became one of the last major cosmetics exporters (excluding the United States) to put forward legislation to ban animal testing, joining New Zealand, Turkey, South Korea, Norway, India, Israel, Taiwan and Brazil. The entire European Union has banned all animal testing since 2004. However, the Humane Society still estimates that upwards of 200,000 animals may still be used to test product every year.

The fight to keep animals safe from the cruelty of cosmetics testing is far from over. However, the United States joining the right side of history is definitely a huge step into a better future. The Humane Society is currently encouraging all animal rights activists to place calls to their legislators in support of the Humane Cosmetics Act.

Experts within the cosmetics industry predict that the US moving away from animal testing will encourage cosmetics manufacturers to pursue alternatives that are actually faster, more reliable and cheaper than animal testing. Cosmetics companies within the United States will also become more competitive in the global cosmetics industry, as they will be adhering more closely to the global standard.

The testing kits created by InVitro International stand as one of the most thoroughly vetted alternatives to animal testing in the industry. We stand in support of the Humane Cosmetics Act. We hope that the United States and other major governments will continue to rally behind the idea that animals do not need to used to test cosmetic products, especially when there are better alternatives.