With so many cruelty-free certification logos on the market, it can be difficult to decipher which ones are authentic and trustworthy. Not only that, but there are a variety of other certification logos that may also grace the packaging of products you wish to purchase. So, which certifications can you really trust?
Today on Mind Over Mango, we will be dissecting some of the most popular logos. This article discusses cruelty-free, vegan, vegetarian, organic, and even religious-based certifications commonly found on cosmetic and personal care products. There are several overlaps categorically between certifications. If you wish to learn more about a specific category or organization, please reference our Table of Contents below.
Table of Contents
Cruelty-Free Certification Logos
Leaping Bunny is by far the most reputable of all the international cruelty-free certification logos. In order for a company to be Leaping Bunny certified, they must make a pledge that all stages of product development are free from animal testing. Furthermore, their suppliers must commit to the same pledge that the ingredients are also cruelty-free as well. Finally, all Leaping Bunny companies agree to independent audits, and their commitments must be renewed on an annual basis.
The Leaping Bunny standard is practiced throughout North America and the European Union. For example, Cruelty Free International is 1 of 26 groups in the Leaping Bunny coalition. Cruelty Free International is stationed in the UK but has direct ties with Leaping Bunny and works on an international scale to end animal cruelty.
PETA Beauty Without Bunnies
PETA is perhaps the most widely used of all cruelty-free certification logos worldwide. Unfortunately, it is also the least reputable. PETA does not strictly enforce regulations to ensure a company’s cruelty-free status. In fact, there is only one step between a company claiming to be cruelty-free and getting PETA certified: a promise.
In order to be PETA certified, a company must simply fill out a questionnaire and pledge that they cruelty-free. There are no other requirements. PETA does not audit companies or conduct further research in order to confirm whether or not companies are actually cruelty-free. Case in point: Dove became PETA certified in 2018. However, Dove continues to sell in mainland China, where animal testing is still legalized, and in many cases, required.
Overall, PETA is not a trustworthy source. Companies who claim to be vegan can freely choose to use the “PETA Certified Vegan” logo, whether or not they really are vegan. This doesn’t go to say that every company that is PETA certified is inauthentic. Many companies are in fact 100% cruelty-free. However, use excessive caution and research companies prior to purchasing their products if their only cruelty-free certification is from PETA.
Choose Cruelty Free
Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) is an Australian-based non-profit organization. This organization certifies companies that are 100% cruelty-free. Moreover, they do not certify companies that sell in mainland China, making them more reputable than PETA. Choose Cruelty Free is for Australian companies, but many of these companies sell their products internationally. Thus, it’s not unlikely to come across products with CCF cruelty-free certification logos. With that being said, they are the lesser-known of the three cruelty-free certifications because they are regionally based.
Fake Cruelty-Free Certification Logos
Companies will often create their own “cruelty-free” logos for their packaging. These logos vary in form, some saying “Not Tested on Animals”, while others simply say “Cruelty-Free”. Some logos simply will only have a bunny icon with no other information.
Companies do this for multiple reasons. For one, these companies choose to not become certified because they aren’t truly cruelty-free. They are looking to trick their consumers into believing that their products have not been tested on animals. Some companies use it as an excuse to compliment their packaging so that everything looks cohesive. In reality, many are purposefully deceiving their customers.
This doesn’t go to say that companies with a fake logo are not actually 100% cruelty-free. In many cases, companies are. In order to know for a fact, however, consumers must directly contact the company and ask specific questions. These questions should include, “are your ingredients tested on animals?” and, “can you ensure/provide proof that your suppliers do not test on animals?” Exercise caution when you see a fake cruelty-free logo on a product.
Vegan Certification Logos
There are several vegan certifications that are available. These certifications can be applied to cosmetic, personal care products, and of course, food items. Companies who wish to prove that their products are free from animal ingredients can certify with the following organizations.
The Vegan Society
The Vegan Society is perhaps the most well established vegan certification on the market. This organization takes extensive steps to ensure that a company’s products are 100% vegan. First, experienced team members evaluate applications to query for potential animal ingredients. Afterward, The Vegan Society performs audits in order to confirm that vegan ingredients are not cross-contaminated with animal ingredients in manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, registrations must be renewed annually to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
Note: The Vegan Society does not certify whole companies. Rather, they certify individual products.
Vegan.org is another well known vegan certification organization. Similar to The Vegan Society, Vegan.org certifies individual products from various companies. They too have an extensive application process in order for products become vegan certified. Moreover, they are rigorous in their application process. Products must not contain any animal ingredients, which includes cross-contaminated items. Vegan.org is a reputable company you can trust.
The PETA-Approved Vegan certification is specifically aimed at companies outside the beauty realm. Examples include fashion, accessories, or home good companies. Like other PETA logos, this certification is not necessarily reputable. The PETA-Approved Vegan certification applies to both companies that are 100% vegan and companies that sell some vegan products. Therefore, individual vegan products can be labeled with this logo, but it is not an indication that the company is 100% vegan.
It’s easier to spot whether or not a fashion or home goods brand uses vegan substitutes such a vegan leather. Still, always exercise caution with any PETA logos. Previously discussed PETA logos apply to beauty-related products only.
PETA Cruelty-Free & Vegan
It goes without saying, but the PETA Cruelty-Free and Vegan logo is not in itself a reputable claim to 100% truly vegan status.
Vegetarian Society: Vegan Approved
The Vegetarian Society (as seen in the next category), also has a Vegan Approved Certification. This certification is one of two that they offer. Like The Vegan Society or Vegan.org, the Vegetarian Society has strict criteria that a company’s products must meet in order to be certified vegan. These criteria include no animal-derived ingredients, no cross-contamination, and the products must be GMO-free. Furthermore, animal testing is not permitted on any level.
All Vegetarian Society approved trademarks are for products only, not entire companies. Moreover, all of their approved trademarks involve independent ingredient and production method audits.
Vegetarian Certification Logos
Vegetarian Society Approved
As previously stated, the Vegetarian Society has two categories of certification. Their Vegetarian Certified category is its primary certification. Considering it is vegetarian based, products are allowed to have animal-derived ingredients. However, in order to qualify, there is strict criteria that companies must meet. To start, ingredients must not be a result of slaughter. Next, only free-range eggs are allowed. Finally, products must be GMO-free, have no cross-contamination of slaughtered ingredients, and no animal testing is allowed.
Organic Certification Logos
Another category of certifications would include organically certified products. There are an array of organic logos and certifications. The above Certification Bodies (organizations) all fall within the COSMOS-standard association. In fact, there are 10 Certification Bodies that directly partner with COSMOS-standard.
The COSMOS-standard certifications apply specifically to cosmetic products. Individual Certification Bodies, however, may also target other areas such as food, farming, or fashion. Additionally, COSMOS-standard certifications only apply to individual ingredients, raw materials, or products. They do not certify whole companies.
Body certifications, such as Ecocert and the Soil Association, have various subcategories. These subcategories define specific criteria. For example, “COSMOS Organic” and “COSMOS Natural” apply to whole products. “COSMOS Certified” and “COSMOS Approved” apply to individual or raw ingredients.
Organic certifications are perhaps the most rigorous in terms of the application process. The COSMOS-standard covers in detail all aspects of the sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, and control of cosmetic products. The application and process are extremely meticulous and intended for companies who are serious about selling organic products. All of these logos are recognized as reputable industry-standard certifications.
USDA Certified is most often recognized by consumers in food products sold in the US, but some cosmetics or personal care products can also be USDA certified. Another USA based organic certification available to companies is Oregon Tilth, though this certification is not as well known as the USDA Organic certification. Biogro is yet another legally recognized organic certification but on a much smaller scale. Like the Choose Cruelty Free certification, this certification is based in Australia and New Zealand. None of these certifications are part of the COSMOS-standard.
B Corp certified companies fall into a special certification category. When a company is B Corp certified, it means that the company is part of a global movement that uses their business as a force of good. B Corp Certified companies must meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, legal accountability to balance profit and purpose, and have public transparency. B Corp Pending certifications indicated companies that have applied to be B Corp certified, but have not yet been given the approval.
Religion Based Certification Logos
Religiously based certifications fall within a niche market. More beauty product companies are opting to create products that are religiously backed. Companies do this in order to ensure that faith-following consumers can comply with their religious beliefs while wearing their products. These certifications are typically not well regulated.
Halal Certification is a growing niche. The term “Halal” translates as “permitted” or “lawful” and refers to all things and actions that are permitted under Islamic law. Therefore, Halal accredited products refer to products that are manufactured, produced, and composed of ingredients that are permissible under Islamic law. In the case of cosmetic and personal care products, this means that they do not contain animal byproducts and do not contain prohibited alcohol. However, in the case of food items, certain meats and animal products are allowed.
Unfortunately, Halal Certifications are not yet standardized. Meaning, there are many certification bodies that vary from country to country, set by various Muslim organizations and Islamic Development Corporations. This results in a complicated and non-transparent international distribution. That being said, Halal products and certifications serve a valuable purpose on the lives of many Islamic followers.
Products that are Wudu Certified fall somewhat adjacent to Halal products in Islamic culture, however, they apply specifically to the Wudu religious ceremony. Wudu is a ritual purification for cleansing parts of the body. In order for one’s Wudu to be valid, cosmetic products must be “Water Permeable”. Therefore, water must permeate through cosmetics or personal care products when washed. However, just like Halal certifications, these are not well regulated or established by a standardized association.
Certification Wrap Up
As you can see, there is an overwhelming number of logos, certifications, and information available. It can be difficult to sift through every single one. This guide is intended to help educate consumers and break down each classification.
This article provides the most comprehensive overview of the majority logo categories that cosmetics and personal care companies utilize. Remember to be aware of fake logos. When in doubt, always conduct your own research to learn more about a company and its products.
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