Cruelty Free Glossary

Home » Guide » Cruelty-Free Glossary

Last Updated on 02/21/2023

You’ll see many jargons thrown around everywhere. You may think you know what it means, but do you? As a conscious consumer, you should understand the definitions of these terms. So here is a glossary of terminologies that are mostly used in the cruelty-free space.


  • All the terms are related to the beauty and cosmetics industry. So all the definitions are within the domain of beauty.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by the information. We recommend not to try figuring out which sphere is better than the other.

Glossary – Meaning & Definition


Animal By-Products

It refers to the ingredients obtained from animals. These ingredients can be ethically or unethically sourced. For example – Silk, Tallow, Honey, Beeswax, etc.

Animal-Derived Ingredients

Same as animal by-products.

Animal Ingredients

Another term often used for animal-derived ingredients.

Animal Testing

Animal testing in cosmetics is the inhumane practice of testing beauty products on animals as a ‘safety’ measure. These tests are cruel, to say the least.

Animal Testing Cosmetics Meaning


Clean Beauty

Clean beauty refers to products that are free of toxic ingredients. There are no harsh ingredients, hence the label ‘clean’. It is synonymous with Non-Toxic Beauty. Free of harmful chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, etc.


An unregulated term that lacks an exact definition. It has many layers to it.

Cruelty-Free applies to the whole supply chain. From the ingredients to the final product and from the manufacturer to the suppliers – cruelty-free is applicable to the whole supply chain.

It implies that ingredients and/or products are not tested on animals in any way – neither directly nor indirectly. No funding is done to support the cruel tests.

Here is cruelty-free definition in simple words.

Cruelty Free Meaning



Another irregulated term that is often loosely used. You can understand eco-friendly beauty as the products being environmentally friendly. These beauty products have a low environmental impact. Eco-friendly Beauty offers recyclable packaging. It is formulated to reduce the environmental impact.

Similar to cruelty-free, it applies to the entire supply chain. From the ingredients to the finished products, everything must be eco-friendly.

Ethical Beauty

The term ethical beauty is defined as beauty with ethics. Ethics can vary from person to person. There is no set standard definition of ethical beauty. But in simple words, it is conscious beauty with humane practice for all – humans, animals, and our planet.


Finished Product Testing

It is the testing of produced or finished goods. For example, blush is a finished product. It is an important part while evaluating the brands’ cruelty-free status.


Green Beauty

Green Beauty is not a regulated term and is subjective in nature. It is synonymous with Sustainable beauty. It promotes sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, recyclable packaging, and using non-toxic ingredients.

Green Beauty = Sustainable Beauty
Green Beauty encompasses Clean Beauty

Green Beauty vs Clean Beauty


When a company poses to be environmentally friendly aka “green”, but that’s far from the reality is termed as greenwashing. It’s a marketing gimmick often used by brands due to a lack of strict standards and laws.

A company can get away with false labeling and claims, often hidden under finer print. Examples of such labeling are eco-friendly, sustainable, etc.


Halal Beauty

The term Halal means permissible in Arabic. So regarding makeup and skincare, Halal Beauty means permissible beauty according to religious beliefs and guidelines.

Vegan products can be halal just because of the absence of any animal ingredients.


Ingredient Testing

It refers to the testing of ingredients that constitute the product. Are the ingredients tested on animals? Again, a crucial part of determining the cruelty-free status of a brand.


Manufacturer Testing

Testing of the products and/or ingredients by the manufacturer. Cruelty-free is applicable across the entire production and supply chain.



Natural tag indicates that the products contain natural ingredients. These ingredients are produced by nature. For example – plants, flowers, and natural minerals. But they are not necessarily organic. Natural products can contain chemicals.

Organic ≠ Natural

No Animal Ingredients

Absence of animal-derived ingredients such as silk, milk, beeswax, honey, etc.

No animal ingredients meaning

Non-Toxic Beauty

Non-toxic beauty is similar to clean beauty. Harmful chemicals are absent in non-toxic cosmetics and beauty products.

Not Tested on Animals

This term means that no animal testing is performed.

It is correct when a company says it doesn’t test on animals. The company doesn’t actually test because third-party laboratories and research centers do that for them. So the brands are technically correct but factually incorrect.

To sum up,

Not Tested on Animals ≠ Cruelty-Free



Organic beauty products contain ingredients grown via organic farming. The term organic farming refers to the ingredients grown without any pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. It’s non-GMO and 100% free of any chemicals.

These products are often free from controversial and harsh chemicals like parabens, dyes, and artificial fragrances.

They may have a certain natural or small percentage of synthetic preservatives to prolong the shelf life of the products.

Organic is always natural.
But natural is not always organic.



Plant-based beauty means that the products contain ingredients sourced from plants. For example – flowers, roots, leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, etc.

Plant-based Beauty ≠ Vegan Beauty

Post-Market Testing

Post-market testing is defined as the testing of products once they hit the shelves. It is triggered by the consumers who complain of allergies or any other issues that question the “safety” of the product.

Post-market testing does occur on animals and is another part of the evaluation of cruelty-free status.

Pre-Market Testing

Pre-market testing is testing the products before it hits the market. Another common practice and a vital part of the animal testing chain.


Supplier Testing

Testing of ingredients and/or products by the supplier chain. We are concerned about animal testing specifically.

Sustainable Beauty

This terminology refers to the beauty that is sustainable. Sustainable Beauty considers the impact of its business on the environment and planet. It also works to reduce the carbon footprint and other impacts.

Generally, it involves sustainably grown ingredients, sustainable & biodegradable packaging, and reducing the usage of one-time plastic, among other steps.


Third-party Testing

Another sphere of testing that happens a lot. It is done by third parties, not the brand or supplier.



Vegan beauty is defined as beauty with no animal ingredients. It does not contain ingredients derived from animals. The active ingredients and formulations are sourced from plants.

Skincare and cosmetic ingredients obtained from animal sources are Glycerin, Collagen, Honey, Gelatin, Pearls, Algae extracts, Silk, Milk proteins, Retinol, etc.

Note – Vegan ≠ Cruelty-Free
Also, Vegan ≠ Organic
And, Vegan ≠ Natural

Learn the difference between cruelty-free and vegan.

cruelty free vegan similarity


Vegetarian beauty products refer to products that contain vegetarian ingredients. What is a vegetarian ingredient? It is an ingredient sourced from plants and/or animals excluding meat and fats. For example, milk is vegetarian but not vegan.

Vegetarian ≠ Vegan



Zero-waste refers to repurposing and reusing products in order to reduce wastage. The main aim is to avoid sending trash to landfills, oceans and the whole environment.

That’s the definition of jargon linked to the cruelty-free sphere. This cruelty-free glossary is updated regularly.

Share on Pinterest

Cruelty-Free Glossary
Photo of author

Aisha K. Ashi

Ashi K. is a beauty blogger and certified makeup artist. She loves to rescue cats and currently has 2 rescue babies. Join her on the journey as she uses this beauty blog to spread awareness regarding ethical ways of living.