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Quick-Start Guide to Cruelty Free Curly Hair Products

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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Considering transitioning to cruelty-free products for your curly hair care, or perhaps you’re already dedicated to the cause? As demand for cruelty-free hair care grows, so does the market, though navigating the options can feel daunting.

No worries—I’ve got you covered with an easy guide to cruelty-free curly hair products to begin your journey. First, let’s define what “cruelty-free” really means to ensure we’re on the same page.

Understanding the Definition of “Cruelty-Free”

The term “cruelty-free” lacks a universally accepted legal definition. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not specifically define or regulate the use of “cruelty-free” for cosmetics labeling, leaving it somewhat open to interpretation. While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers guidance on making cruelty-free claims, these guidelines aren’t enforceable by law.

Cruelty-free criteria vary, with some based on strict legal standards and others adhering to voluntary practices. In Europe, any cruelty-free claims must align with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive to avoid misleading advertising, ensuring claims are both accurate and substantiated.

At its core, the cruelty-free movement is driven by ethical considerations concerning animal welfare. Organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) set their own voluntary standards for cruelty-free products. To meet PETA’s criteria, a company must forego all forms of animal testing during product development, neither conducting nor commissioning tests on animals. Additionally, companies must formalize their commitment through a clear policy that verifies their compliance with these standards.

Identifying a Truly Cruelty-Free Brand

A brand earns the “cruelty-free” designation when it neither conducts animal testing on its products nor supports such practices indirectly. This label spans across various industries, including cosmetics, personal care, household cleaning products, and even extends to food and clothing.

However, the authenticity behind a brand’s cruelty-free claim requires careful examination. Consumers are encouraged to delve deeper than the surface label, ensuring that the brand upholds its no animal testing policy throughout every stage of production and across its entire supply chain.

Cruelty-free labels are not all equal. Some brands may identify as cruelty-free but still engage in animal testing indirectly, such as through third parties within their supply chain, or when mandated by law in certain countries.

To make informed decisions, it’s crucial for consumers to conduct thorough research into a brand and its claims of being cruelty-free before proceeding with a purchase.

Beyond Cruelty-Free: Broader Ethical Considerations

The designation of “cruelty-free” primarily focuses on the absence of animal testing, leaving other significant ethical concerns, such as environmental impact and labor practices, unaddressed. A company might forego animal testing yet incorporate detrimental chemicals in its products or engage with suppliers known for unfair labor practices.

Certain cruelty-free certifications, like Leaping Bunny, consider these broader ethical issues, offering a more comprehensive view of a company’s commitment to ethical standards.

To ensure alignment with one’s personal ethics, consumers are encouraged to thoroughly investigate a brand and its claims of being cruelty-free, considering the wider implications of their purchasing decisions.

Your Guide to Choosing Cruelty-Free Products

If you’re eager to support cruelty-free brands but don’t know where to begin, this checklist is for you. Use it to ensure the products you choose align with your ethical standards.

  • Ingredient Testing: The brand does not test its ingredients on animals at any stage.
  • Finished Product Testing: No animal testing is conducted on the completed products.
  • Third-Party Testing: The brand neither commissions nor permits third parties to conduct animal testing on its behalf.
  • Policy Transparency: The company maintains a clear, written policy affirming its adherence to these criteria.
  • Supplier and Manufacturer Standards: Ingredient suppliers and manufacturers also abstain from animal testing, substantiated by proper documentation or certification.
  • Brand Transparency: The brand openly shares its cruelty-free commitments and offers contact information for inquiries.
  • Market Presence: The brand avoids selling in markets, like China, where animal testing is mandated by government regulations.
  • Fair Labor Practices: The company upholds fair labor practices, ensuring no exploitation within its supply chain.

Understanding Vegan Hair Products

Vegan hair products are defined by their lack of any animal-derived ingredients, such as keratin or silk amino acids, commonly found in many hair care formulations. While vegan products inherently align with cruelty-free principles, not all cruelty-free products are vegan, as they may still contain animal-derived ingredients.

To ensure a hair product is genuinely vegan, scrutinizing the ingredient list is crucial. This vigilance ensures the product avoids animal derivatives entirely.

Natural vs. Vegan: Clarifying the Difference

The term “natural” does not automatically imply a product is vegan. Natural products may still incorporate animal-derived components, like lanolin, sourced from sheep’s wool. Thus, a product being natural does not guarantee its vegan status.

For those seeking assurance about a product’s vegan credentials, checking for specific certifications can be helpful. The Vegan Society’s cruelty-free and vegan mark, when present on packaging, confirms a product’s adherence to vegan standards, offering an additional layer of confidence for consumers.

Animal-derived Ingredients

PETA has a list of animal-derived ingredients as well as alternatives to help you avoid animal ingredients in food, cosmetics, and other products. Click here to learn more.

Choosing Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free Products

Graphic image showing Vegan or Cruelty-Free.

Deciding whether vegan or cruelty-free products are better suited to your needs is inherently subjective, as each option serves a distinct purpose and aligns with different ethical considerations.

Your optimal choice depends on the values you prioritize. If avoiding animal-derived ingredients is paramount to you, vegan products may be your preference. Conversely, if your primary concern is ensuring products are not tested on animals, cruelty-free items might align more closely with your ethics.

Cruelty-free standards can vary significantly, highlighting the importance of identifying which specific criteria resonate with your personal beliefs. Take the time to research and understand these distinctions, empowering you to select brands you feel good about supporting based on your ethical convictions.

Identifying Cruelty-Free Hair Products: A Guide

Discovering whether your hair care products adhere to cruelty-free standards requires a bit of research and due diligence. Here are several effective strategies to ensure your products respect animal welfare:

  1. Visit the Company’s Website: Many companies committed to cruelty-free practices proudly declare their stance against animal testing on their websites.
  2. Search for Certification Logos: Recognized cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny, PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies, and Cruelty-Free International set rigorous criteria for certification. Products displaying these logos meet these strict standards.
  3. Reach Out to the Company: If information on the company’s website is unclear or missing, don’t hesitate to contact them directly for clarification.
  4. Consult Cruelty-Free Directories: Resources such as Cruelty-Free Kitty and Logical Harmony offer curated lists of verified cruelty-free brands and products.
  5. Conduct Independent Research: Beyond directories and databases, independently researching a company’s animal testing policies can provide additional assurance.
  6. Download a Cruelty-Free App: Apps like Cruelty Cutter and Bunny Free offer convenient tools for checking the cruelty-free status of products on the go.

Cruelty-Free Curly Hair Products

The market is expanding with an increasing selection of cruelty-free products tailored for curly hair. While compiling an exhaustive list of all available products is a monumental task, here’s a starter list of widely recognized brands that cater specifically to the needs of curly hair, all while upholding cruelty-free standards. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it serves as a solid foundation for anyone looking to integrate cruelty-free options into their curly hair care routine.

  • Adwoa Beauty
  • Acure
  • AG Hair
  • Amika
  • As I Am
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Aussie
  • Bed Head
  • Boucleme
  • Bouncecurl
  • Briogeo
  • Camille Rose
  • Cantu
  • Carol’s Daughter
  • Christophe Robin
  • Davines
  • dpHUE
  • EVOLVh
  • Giovanni
  • Innersense
  • It’s a 10
  • Jane Carter
  • Jessicurl
  • Kinky Curly
  • MopTop
  • Moroccanoil
  • Not Your Mother’s
  • Olaplex
  • Oribe
  • Ouai
  • Ouidad
  • Redken
  • Righteous Roots
  • Shea Moisture


What’s the difference between cruelty-free and vegan products?

The terms “cruelty-free” and “vegan” are frequently mentioned in the same breath, yet they signify distinct concepts. A product labeled as “cruelty-free” indicates it has not been tested on animals; however, this does not automatically imply the product is vegan. A vegan product is defined by its formulation, which excludes any animal-derived ingredients.

Do all cruelty-free products have a bunny logo on them?

Not every cruelty-free product features a bunny logo. The most widely recognized cruelty-free logos include the Leaping Bunny and PETA’s cruelty-free bunny, symbolizing adherence to non-animal testing standards. While there are other cruelty-free certifications, these two are the most identifiable. It’s important to note that a product can adhere to cruelty-free practices without having official certification, but it cannot be considered certified cruelty-free without genuinely being cruelty-free.


I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

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