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What Does "Cruelty-Free" Really Mean in the Beauty Industry?

Are your favorite brands actually cruelty-free?
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You'd think the question of whether or not a beauty brand is cruelty-free would be pretty black and white — but there's actually a fair amount of gray area that can make things a little confusing.

The main source of this confusion? China has a law that all beauty products sold physically on its soil (excluding products sold online and in airports) need to have been tested on animals. This means that even brands that purport to be cruelty-free have to subject their products to animal testing in order to be eligible to be sold in China. And since the country represents an ever-growing hub of beauty consumerism, many brands are willing to sacrifice their cruelty-free status in order to continue turning a profit overseas.

Luckily, things are changing — it's looking more and more like China will soon overturn mandated animal testing and has even softened its laws over the years, thanks in part to initiatives against animal testing from the EU and bills like California's recent ban on animal testing, as well as Chinese consumers' own desire to purchase cruelty-free beauty products.

In the meantime, if you want to stick to cruelty-free beauty products, be sure to double-check the fine print. And if you want some guidance, check out some of these beauty brands, all 100 percent cruelty-free.

Image via @hourglasscosmetics

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Perhaps most famous for its Ambient Lighting Powder, $46, Hourglass is cruelty-free and offers a large selection of vegan products (including the stylish Vegan Leather Makekup Clutch, $58). The brand has plans to go completely vegan by 2020.

Image via @hourglasscosmetics

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Too Faced
Even after being acquired by non-cruelty-free parent company Estee Lauder in 2016, Too Faced has remained proudly cruelty-free. The brand also offers a number of vegan products (such as the popular Pro-Essential Teddy Bear Hair Brush Set, $65) and even donated $150,000 to the Best Friends Animal Society back in 2017 to celebrate the launch of the Clover Eye Shadow Palette, $49.

Image via @toofaced

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With offerings spanning body care, skin care and makeup, a cuter-than-cute aesthetic and wallet-friendly prices, it's tough not to fall in love with Pacifica. The fact that it's vegan, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly too? Well, we'll take the brand's entire crystal-themed collection to-go, please.

Image via @pacificabeauty

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Cover FX
We can't enough of Cover FX's highlighters (like the Glitter Drops, $44) and we're also quite enamored of its 40-shade Power Play Foundation line, $44. The fact that said products happen to be vegan and cruelty-free is just gravy.

Image via @coverfx

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