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What Does Cruelty-Free Mean and Why It’s So Important for Our Products

  • by GR0
  • 6 min read

When it comes to choosing products that won’t harm you or the environment, cruelty-free is a term you will likely come acrossa lot. This term can be slightly confusing, largely because it can actually mean many different things, which can be frustrating when you are simply trying to be a a little more ethical, conscious consumer. 

A good rule of thumb is to further investigate any company’s ethical principles in order to get a better understanding of the way they approach the production process, and whether or not animal cruelty is involved in any step of that process. 

Whether you are just starting your cruelty-free process, or if you have already embarked on the journey but are hoping to get a clearer understanding of the terminology, this is a good place to start. So, what exactly does cruelty-free mean, and how does it factor into the ethicality of the products you buy? Let’s take a closer look. 

What Does It Mean for a Product To Be Cruelty-Free?

The termcruelty-free as a whole is largelyunregulated, so it could really mean a lot of things, but generally this language is associated with products that have not been tested on animals -- and this is what it means when this term is used to describe aDr. Brite product. 

Generally speaking, if you see a label marking a product as “cruelty-free,” and you have any doubts when it comes to what exactly the brand means by that, you should check out their website to get more information. There is actually no standard legal definition for the term, which means that brands with disingenuous intentions are able to get away with deception. 

Brands using more specific terminology, such as vegan, or “not tested on animals,” may be better options if you have uncertainties about the use of the term cruelty-free. 

When a brand says it is “cruelty-free” it can mean a whole lot of different things with a whole lot of fine print: 

  1. Some or all of the product’s ingredients have been tested on animals, but the final product has not been tested on animals. 
  2. Another company was hired by the brand in order to test the products.
  3. Test results from an outside organization were relied on by the brand. 
  4. Testing took place in a different country than that in which the brand is based. 
  5. Animal testing is only used by the brand when it is required as part of expanding into foreign markets. This is usually the case when expansion into China is occurring, but the FDA does not require animal testing. 
  6. At least one animal was killed or harmed in some way, but no animal testing occurred. 
  7. The results from past animal testing were used in some way by the brand, but they did not conduct any tests themselves. 
  8. Neither the ingredients nor the final product were tested on animals, and the brands and manufacturers involved in production did not harm or slaughter any animals throughout the process. 
  9. The brand is certified cruelty-free, which provides a higher level of accountability. 

Some companies that claim to be cruelty-free may actually justrely on other companies to conduct animal testing for them, such as raw material suppliers or contract laboratories. Other companies may use controlled human-use testing along with scientific literature reviews and raw material safety testing in lieu of animal testing in order to ensure product safety. 

Any time you are left with questions about a brand’s transparency and production process, you should look at their website. A brand that has good intentions will not try to hide anything from you, so this information should be easily accessible to you online. 

If you cannot seem to find any further information about what exactly the company means by “cruelty-free,” you can try calling a brand representative to get your questions answered. Generally, though, information that is difficult to find is a pretty good indication that a brand is not transparent with you for a reason. 

What Does It Mean for a Product To Be Vegan?

A more specific term for brands to use when describing their products and production process is “vegan.”Vegan products are products that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, or animal ingredients in a more general sense. Common animal ingredients include carmine, collagen, gelatin, and lanolin, and vegan products will not contain these. 

It is important to note that a product marked “vegan” may still have been tested on animals, even if it does not contain animal products. Similar to the term “cruelty-free,” there is really no concrete definition, so it, too, remains an umbrella term of sorts. 

For this reason, you should look for products that use several ethical terms in combination, such as products that are both cruelty-free and vegan. Products that incorporate a few of these terms are more likely to be holding themselves to higher ethical standards, and this is the best way to hold companies accountable when terms are used that can mean several things. 

I Want to Make the Switch to Cruelty-free Products -- Where Should I Start?

When you decide it is time to switch your household products out for cruelty-free and vegan alternatives, we have your back. 

Dr. Brite is committed to offering safe and effective products that have not been tested on animals, making it easier for you to swap out your products with confidence. Dr. Brite is asponsor for The Gentle Barn, which is a non-profit animal sanctuary, so you can rest assured that our brand is committed to creating products that do not endanger an animal’s life along the way. 

One of the easiest things to swap out when you start the journey to a more ethical household is your multi-purpose cleaner. This is a product you use for virutally everything, and you probably may not even think about the fact that it has likely incorporated animal testing into its production process.

OurCitrus Multi-Purpose Cleaner is nontoxic, cruelty-free, and vegan, and it has the same citrus scent that you have come to know and love when it comes to household cleaning products. Our multi-purpose cleaner is highly effective, and because it is non-toxic, it is much safer than many other store-bought products that contain sulfates and parabens. 

Maybe you are looking for cruelty-free products for an animal lover in your life rather than for yourself. 

If this is the case, ourcosmetic gift guide for animal lovers and lovers of green beauty is a great starting point. Dr. Brite offers a variety ofcruelty-free and vegan oral care products as well ashousehold cleaning essentials, so all of your needs are covered! 

We value animal welfare because we believe effective and easy-to-use products do not have to come at the price of an animal’s life. There is no good reason why safe and effective products should have to involve harm when it comes to the animals we share our planet with, and our products have been made with this in mind. 

If your values align with ours and you are looking to move towards a cruelty-free beauty routine, cleaning routine, or pet-care routine, we welcome you to join us on our company’s mission. 


When you are on the hunt for ethical products, you will likely come across many that label themselves as cruelty-free. 

While this term is sometimes a great indication of whether or not a company tests on animals, the term itself is actually very much unregulated, meaning it is possible for a brand to label themselves as cruelty-free even when it may not be true in the ways that you might expect. 

Cruelty-free can mean many different things. It might mean no animal testing was used, or it might mean a company hired someone else to conduct the animal testing for them. A brand that has nothing to hide will not try to hide anything from you, so if you are uncertain, checking out the website should tell you what you need to know. If not, it might be best to bring your business elsewhere. 

Brands that call themselves vegan may be more trustworthy, because even though the term vegan also does not have a concrete definition, it generally means no animal products were used. If this term is used in combination with “cruelty-free,” you can assume that animal testing has not occurred, and animal products also have not been used. 

Dr. Brite is committed to providing products that are ethical in the sense that they are both vegan and cruelty-free. We believe great products can be made without animals being harmed along the way, so whenever you begin the search for effective products that do not involve animal ingredients, we have you covered.