Vegan Washing

As veganism becomes more mainstream there is more and more vegan washing that is going on in the beauty industry and I only see this as getting more prevalent. So what is vegan washing and how can we protect ourselves from falling victim to it.

What is the difference between vegan and cruelty free?

This is a question that I see frequently being asked in Facebook beauty groups and this really is a good place to start.

Something being vegan means that it does not include any animal ingredients. Whether this is an obvious ingredient like fish scales in nail polish or beeswax in a candle to the less obvious like lanolin in skincare or bulls seamen in hair care. If a product includes anything that has come from an animal it is not vegan friendly.

Cruelty free is where a product is not tested on animals, whether that is the end product or any of the ingredients that have gone into the product.

As someone who follows a vegan diet does not want to cause any harm to any animals for a beauty product to be truly vegan friendly it needs to not only be vegan friendly and not include any animal ingredients but it also needs to be cruelty free.

So in summary….

A product can be described as vegan friendly (because of its lack of animal ingredients) but isn’t Cruelty free.

Or a product can be cruelty free but not vegan because it contains animal ingredients.

While really for a product to be truly vegan friendly it has to be both free of animal ingredients AND cruelty free


Unfortunately a lot of companies are not crystal clear when it comes testing on animals.

Here in the UK it is against the law to test on animals but unfortunately some companies still pay overseas ingredient suppliers to test on animals and use these ingredients in their products.

In addition to this it is also currently the law to test any cosmetics and toiletries on animals if they are sold in China and this is a huge loophole! A lot of companies claim to be cruelty free while selling in China so are in fact not cruelty free in all respects.

There is one official loophole when it comes to selling in China and that is companies that retail online do not need to test on animals and that is how some brands can trade there without loosing their cruelty free status. But this is not the common practice.

China announced in March 2021 that from May 1st 2021 the mandatory animal testing requirements for imported ‘general’ cosmetics will no longer be required. There is still some way to go until China is totally Cruelty Free. This change in law will mean that ‘General’ cosmetics such as shampoo, body wash, lotions and make-up which comprise the bulk of the market do not need to be tested. However products that have claims such as anti-ageing, anti-acne, hair dyes, hair perming products, freckle-removing and whitening products, sunscreens, anti-hair loss products and some cosmetics will still need to be tested on animals.

There is also a lack of transparency within these companies where staff are told that they are cruelty free when they are in fact not, so you can’t always rely on what counter staff tell you all the facts despite their best intentions.

If you want to find out a company’s real stance on animal testing the best thing is either do your own research or there are a number of beauty bloggers who can help.


This is where there is a lot of division in the vegan community as to whether you should buy a product from a company that is vegan and cruelty free but is owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

My own personal opinion is that I will not buy any products made by a company that has an animal testing parent company. No exceptions, ever. Even if my brand of favourite mascara sells out I will simply stop using it! And this is how I run Greener Beauty too.

However with anything I am a big believer in knowledge being power, so I am going to set out the argument for and against and you can make your own decision.


By purchasing products from a vegan and cruelty free company with an animal testing parent you are sending a very clear message to that parent company that there is money in cruelty free and vegan products.

This is exactly what Anita Roddick tried to do when she sold the Body Shop to Loreal, she was trying to change them from the inside and stop them testing on animals.

The product you are buying is technically vegan and cruelty free. This individual product doesn’t contain any animal ingredients and it isn’t tested on animals.


Any money you spend on products from a brand with animal testing parents, a portion of that money will end up in the pockets of the parent company.

This money could therefore be supporting animal testing.

As someone who is vegan and runs a vegan business it would not matter how much money any company offered to buy me out of Greener Beauty, if they test on animals I would never ever do so. So are these companies that were vegan friendly and cruelty free selling out their morals?


Whichever path you decide to take when it comes to parent companies is completely up to you but my suggestion is to not get into discussions about it on social media. Both sides are very passionate that they are right and it can seriously lead to some argumentative comments being flown around! I prefer to avoid this conversation and keep my peace!


So what is vegan washing?

I am sure you will agree that there has been a rise in adverts for shampoos, skincare and really any beauty product that talks proudly about how the particular product has a vegan formula. But what does that mean.

Quite a lot of the adverts I have seen that proudly say that there product has a vegan formula but its from a brand that still test on animals so while it may not include animal ingredients it still isn’t vegan friendly.


There is also an issue with companies claiming to be cruelty free when in fact they are not.

Brands proudly state that they do not test on animals in the UK when they do test on animals in other places around the world or pay other corporations to test on animals for them. Strictly speaking if a company is doing the later they are cruelty free as they themselves do not test, I don’t know how you feel about this but for me this makes them not cruelty free.



As you can see its not always easy to ensure that your products are both truly cruelty free and vegan. To be sure that you are only purchasing products that align with your ethics you can easily do one of the following: ⁠

? Only purchase items with the vegan society logo on. ⁠

? Ingredients don’t always state where it has been derived from and whether its plant based. So if you aren’t sure contact the brand to ask or google to see if someone has already asked the brand. ⁠

? Finally shop with a vegan business that you trust.. such as Greener Beauty.

As a vegan run and vegan friendly business, all of the products found at Greener Beauty will be from a vegan friendly source with no animal ingredients. Everything we sell is also truly cruelty free with no products having animal testing either in house or on any of the product ingredients. We also don’t sell any brands that are sell in China and are required by Chinese law to test on animals.


Pin it Vegan & Cruelty Free Washing
Pin it Vegan & Cruelty Free Washing
Pin it Vegan & Cruelty Free Washing

2 Responses to “Vegan Washing”

  1. Eli Marsh

    Is it likely that a cosmetic/skincare company are going to tell you the truth about being vegan and cruelty free if you make that request to them? Is there any voluntary list published so that you can check without actually asking them? I only use good quality products that I believe don’t test on animals and that are plant based but I haven’t considered the ‘parent company’ aspect and now I need to. I have just discovered your site and I like your ethic.

    • victoriagreenerbeauty

      Thank you so much for your comment Eli. I am so pleased that you like our site and that you gained so much from reading our blog, if you have any questions about parent companies or anything else please don’t hesitate to get in contact to ask, we literally love to help. It is actually much easier than you might expect to find out a brands true ethics and there are many amazing vegan bloggers who make this easier such as Logical Harmony and Ethical Elephant. We have a process that we follow in addition to this that we carry out on all potential new brands and all existing brands to ensure their vegan and cruelty free status. I hope that helps but let me know if you have any other questions. Vic x


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