Cruelty-free and other labels: what exactly do they mean?

Many of you ask us if Absolution is a cruelty-free brand. But what exactly does it mean to be a “cruelty-free” beauty brand?

For a large number of consumers, animal welfare has become a very important issue, which explains why we’re seeing more and more “vegan” and “cruelty-free” labels on the packaging of cosmetic products. But, as with organic cosmetics, they don’t all have the same requirements, plus the ways in which these labels are obtained may differ.

It’s important to point out that the EU banned animal testing on cosmetics in 2013. So if a cosmetic product sold in Europe is cruelty-free, this doesn’t mean the brand has made an ethical commitment; it is simply complying with regulations.

Vegan, cruelty-free, organic… It’s easy to get confused!

Vegan and cruelty-free labels relate to animal welfare.

CRUELTY-FREE products have not been tested on animals. This applies to both the finished products themselves and the ingredients used in them.

VEGAN products do not contain any animal ingredients, or any animal-derived ingredients. Plus, they are not tested on animals. So, if a product is vegan, it cannot contain milk, honey, beeswax, royal jelly, lanolin and any other animal-derived ingredient. 

What about a product that’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC?

If a cosmetic product is certified organic, this means:

–       It is made with natural raw ingredients that come from organic farming and are therefore produced in a way that focuses on respecting natural balances, with no use of synthetic chemicals, GMOs, or pesticides.

–       It is held in packaging that is either biodegradable, recyclable, or made from recycled materials.

–       It may also be vegan, on the condition that no animal-derived ingredients are used in it (such as beeswax, milk, honey, etc.).

–       It is not tested on animals – although it is the case for all cosmetic products sold in Europe since 2013.

A cosmetic product that is not certified organic:

–       May contain GMOs and may also contain animal-derived ingredients that are prohibited by organic standards. 

–       May contain petrochemical ingredients (mineral oils derived from petrol, parabens, phthalates, etc.).

–       May contain synthetic colorants and fragrances.

–       May be vegan, but this is not a gauge of quality: a face cream made of mineral oils and water is vegan, but terribly bad for your skin and the environnement.

–       Is not tested on animals – as has been the case for all cosmetic products sold in Europe since 2013.


Not necessarily! A product can be cruelty-free without being vegan. When a product is certified as cruelty-free, this only refers to how the product has been tested, and not whether it contains animal-derived ingredients. However, if a vegan cosmetic product is sold in Europe, then it will be cruelty-free (again, because of EU regulations!).


No! If a product is vegan or cruelty-free, this doesn’t automatically mean that it’s also natural or organic. It’s perfectly possible for a vegan or cruelty-free product to contain undesirable ingredients derived from petrochemicals.

Can a product be vegan but not cruelty-free?

In Europe, a vegan brand will also be cruelty-free, but if the brand decided to set up stores in China, it could lose its vegan certification. If a brand chooses to sell its products in markets where animal testing is mandatory (which has long been the case in China, although positive changes are being made), then the product’s status may change.  

Are Absolution products cruelty-free? 

At Absolution, we want to care for the environment and animals just as much as we want to care for your skin’s ecosystem. That’s why none of our products are tested on animals, in line with European regulations (although they weren’t tested on animals even before these regulations became effective). Once our products have passed lab tests, we like to give them one final test on the skin of a few lucky people (our team!).

Absolution products are certified Cosmos Organic by Ecocert (now Cosmos, for products launched after 2017), – an independent organization that inspects every step in the supply chain and manufacturing process. 

If you don’t see the “cruelty-free” logo on our packaging (such as the famous PETA pink bunny logo), it doesn’t mean that our products aren’t cruelty-free. It’s simply that we don’t need to be certified cruelty-free. Ecocert already guarantees that our products meet European regulations. We’d also like to point out that in Europe, companies will soon be forbidden from using “cruelty-free” as an ethical selling point for their products, as they are simply complying with regulations in Europe.

If you have any questions or comments about Absolution, don’t forget, you can fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We’re always happy to help!