You’ve probably seen the rise in popularity of skincare brands deeming their products vegan & cruelty-free, but what exactly do these terms and certifications mean and how can you ensure no bunnies were harmed in order for you to attain glowing skin and unclogged pores? We’re here to take you on a voyage to learn about the ins and outs of what it means for a skincare brand to be vegan & cruelty-free (there is a difference!), a complete breakdown on what standards need to be met in order to be certified vegan & cruelty-free, how these certifications differ, the significance of these terms, and how consciously purchasing vegan & cruelty-free skincare gems will help you and the planet (and of course all the animals & sea creatures too)! At Earth Harbor, we’re passionate about protecting animal rights and only test our skincare gems on willing humans. Our skincare gems are all vegan & cruelty-free and we’re proud to hold both the Leaping Bunny® & PETA® Vegan & Cruelty-Free certifications.
Let’s dive in!
What is Vegan Skincare?
Veganism, by definition, is a way of living that strives to exclude (to the best of our abilities) the use of animal products and animal exploitation (source). When a beauty product claims to be vegan, it means it contains NO animal byproducts, including honey, beeswax, pearl, marine collagen, lanolin, carmine, or other ingredients that are derived from an animal byproduct. PETA is a common certifying body for veganism in products, and the only brands eligible for PETA’s Vegan certification are those whose entire product line is 100% vegan. Earth Harbor is certified Vegan by PETA. There is a special seal that only brands who are certified both Vegan and Cruelty-Free by PETA get, and we proudly display it on each of our products’ boxes!
Although some skincare brand’s may use vegan ingredients and even use the term vegan to describe their brand and products, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re also cruelty-free. This is why it’s always important to read the label & packaging, and do some research before trying a new vegan skincare product to ensure the product is also cruelty-free. For example, products may be tested on animals like bunnies, mice, or monkeys before being tested on humans and sold to the public.
Oftentimes brands will also highlight the vegan and plant-based skincare ingredients they use, but not technically be considered a vegan skincare brand due to not all of their skincare ingredients being vegan skincare ingredients. Although this may seem pretty straightforward, within the skincare industry there are actually a lot of animal-based or derived products that are hiding in cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and beyond. Below are a few common non-vegan ingredients to watch out for (source; source).
Common Non-Vegan Ingredients to Look For
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic Acid is a common ingredient in skincare serums and is typically found in the connective tissues, bones and cartilage of mammals. At Earth Harbor, we only use plant-based and vegan Hyaluronic Acid. Our gem CELESTINE Hydra-Plumping Peptide Serum even includes 3 molecular weights of vegan Hyaluronic Acid.
Ceramides: Ceramides are present in many moisturizers and lotions, and are often derived from animal sources, such as cows. At Earth Harbor, we use a botanical ceramides alternative. Merbabe alert: stay tuned for an exciting launch in 2022 featuring a new skincare gem that uses a botanical ceramides alternative.
Collagen: Collagen is found in many skincare serums and moisturizers and is not always plant-based. Non-vegan collagen is skincare usually come from bovine, fish, or porcine sources. Earth Harbor's AQUA AURA Reparative Eye Creme uses seaweed collagen as a vegan skincare alternative to collagen.
Beeswax, Royal Jelly, and Honey: Beeswax, royal jelly, and honey are found in many face masks and moisturizing balms and are derived from honey bees. Earth Harbor's NYMPH NECTAR Superfruit Radiance Balm is designed to be an alternative to honey-based masks and includes vegan alternative ingredients to beeswax (which is very common in many skincare balms).
Pearl: Pearl powder is found in many beauty products, including face masks, and is sourced from either freshwater or farm-raised pearls.
Glycerin: Glycerin is found in many skin care products and comes from animal fats but when a product is certified vegan and uses glycerin, it means that vegetable glycerin was used instead. Earth Harbor’s GLOW JUICE Refining Enzyme Mask uses the vegan skincare alternative vegetable glycerin.
Squalene: Squalene is known for its anti-aging properties and is extracted from shark liver oil – but don’t worry – a vegan alternative exists that is made from olives and wheat germ. At Earth Harbor, we use a plant-based vegan skincare ingredient alternative derived from olive fruit that is found in NEBULA Adaptogen Clarity Ampoule and MARINA Biome Brightening Ampoule.
Lanolin: Lanolin is commonly found in lip and hair products and is derived from sheep’s wool.
Stearic Acid: Stearic acid is used in soaps and moisturizers and is made from the stomachs of pigs, cows, and sheep. At Earth Harbor, we use vegan stearic acid in many of our moisturizers and cream, including MERMAID Milk Nutrient Glow Moisturizer.
Casein: Casein is derived from cow’s milk and is frequently found in conditioning and moisturizing products.
Shellac: Shellac is most frequently found in shiny nail polishes (and shiny candies!) and is derived from the lac bug.
What is Cruelty-Free Skincare?
Cruelty-free means that a product is not tested on animals. There are governing bodies that require strict scrutiny and certification of a beauty brand to make this claim. To gain these certifications and claims, the brand has to make a formal written statement that their products are not tested on animals. The organization also looks at the brand's supply chain to ensure the brand's suppliers do not test their ingredients on animals. Leaping Bunny and PETA are the two most popular cruelty-free certifying bodies in the U.S.
What Makes Earth Harbor and Other Skincare Brands Officially Vegan and Cruelty-Free?
Now that we’ve outlined what defines vegan & cruelty-free skincare, and the common non-vegan ingredients to watch out for, the question remains: how do you know if a brand is officially vegan and cruelty-free without having to look up confusing ingredient names every time?
There are several certifications to look out for that mean an outside company has reviewed or can, at any time, audit the processes and ingredients of products that are claimed as vegan and/or cruelty-free.
Leaping Bunny Certified
Another popular certification is Leaping Bunny, a cruelty-free certification used by producers in the skincare industry and beyond. The certification means that there is no animal testing at any point in the process for producers or manufactures, and brands are committing to finding alternative testing methods from the application point onwards. To get the Leaping Bunny certification, companies must fill out a detailed application which is then reviewed and verified by the team. And you guessed it - all of Earth Harbor’s products are proudly Leaping Bunny certified. This certification is recognized internationally.
PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is an organization that certifies products as vegan. To get this certification, companies need to fill out a detailed questionnaire and a statement of assurance which is then reviewed by PETA. If approved, the company will need to pay an annual certification fee to maintain that their products are vegan. When a company has this certification, you know that no animal products were used at any point in the creation of the product you’re purchasing. All of Earth Harbor’s products are proudly vegan and PETA-Approved!
Not only are we at Earth Harbor proudly PETA and Leaping Bunny certified (yup, we’re certified cruelty-free by both— the love is real), we’re also making history in sustainable beauty by being the first beauty brand becoming Climate Neutral and Plastic-Negative Certified on top of being a 1% For The Planet member. Below is a list of certifications we hold and certifications we’re working on. Because we focus on using food-grade and upcycled ingredients that are completely plant-based, vegan & cruelty-free, and consist of sea-active ingredients you can rest assured that you’re not only treating your skin well, but the environment and the animals too!
We're proudly certified:
- Leaping Bunny®
- PETA® Vegan & Cruelty-Free
- 1% For The Planet®
- Nontoxic (Think Dirty®)
- Forest Stewardship Council®
- Campaign For Safe Cosmetics™
- Truth In Labeling™
- Independent Beauty Association®
- Local Sourcing (Utah’s Own® member)
- USDA Organic or Non-GMO (for individual ingredients)
- Ethical Trade (for individual ingredients)
- Woman-Owned (Female Founder Collective®)
We're becoming certified:
- Carbon neutral (Climate Neutral®)
- Plastic Negative (RePurpose Global®)
- EU Certified
- ISO Good Manufacturing Practices
- Consumer Perception Tests
Why Should You Care If Your Skincare Products are Vegan and Cruelty Free?
First and foremost, vegan and cruelty-free skincare is of the utmost importance because of the animals. We're animal lovers through and through, and it is very important for us to remain vegan & cruelty-free. By using products that are free from animal ingredients and aren’t tested on animals, you’re helping eliminate cruelty in the skin-care industry. Your purchases tell the world what your ethics are, so put your money where your mouth is and invest in products that don’t just work for your skin, but that are also free from harm.
Of course, veganism and the environment go hand in hand. Most of us have heard about how producing animals for meat uses 75% more land than the plant-based alternatives (source, source). While skincare products don’t typically have beef or bacon in them, the same environmental issues exist for animal-derived products like lanolin, casein, and glycerin which are explored above. By saying no to non-vegan skincare products, you’re combating climate change and creating a greener world. Who knew it was as easy as choosing vegan skincare! At Earth Harbor, we’re vegan & cruelty- free, and also a carbon neutral and plastic negative brand.
Your Skin and Body
To find the ultimate skincare routine, we can’t neglect the actual skincare portion. Earth Harbor’s mission is to harness the natural power of the ocean and earth to bring you safe, ethical, and sustainable products that are free from unnatural additives and irritants and that can be customized for your skinuation. By using vegan ingredients instead of animal-derived ones, we go straight to the source to get nothing but the best gentle and effective ingredients for your skin. That means no more wondering if it’s supposed to sting, because the ingredients are so kind to your skin, the animals, and the environment.
Our Commitment to Vegan & Cruelty-Free Skincare
Protecting animal rights is a strong passion of ours and we encourage you to join us in supporting vegan & cruelty-free brands in the beauty industry. You can start by taking our Skincare Quiz to see what Earth Harbor vegan & cruelty-free skincare gems are your perfect match. ⠀