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Looking Beyond the Label: Organic vs. Vegan vs. Sustainable

Looking Beyond the Label: Organic vs. Vegan vs. Sustainable

Have you noticed that nowadays almost every skincare product on the store’s shelf is labeled clean, cruelty-free, organic, vegan, or sustainable? Oftentimes they have an icon of a green leaf, which makes you think right away that these products are safe for the environment. Am I right? Well, surprise, surprise: not all of those labels mean that a particular product is good for the planet.

As we are entering 2022, one of the main concerns our society is dealing with is obviously climate change. People are tackling this issue with various ideas: zero-waste movement, switching to veganism, or, what we are actually doing at Clean Beauty Spot, using skincare products that are safe for the environment. If you need help deciphering the meaning behind the labels put on skincare products, this article is just for you.


Before we begin with explaining what organic skincare product is, you need to understand how the ingredient lists are created. Manufacturers list ingredients from highest to lowest percentage. They can also list ingredients at random, or place ingredients under 1% in any order they choose. However, there is no legal definition or requirement regarding labeling a product as being organic.

Confusing, right? So what makes organic products different from the others on the store’s shelf? Organic cosmetics carry certification from USDA, which basically means that the product was made from ingredients produced, handled, and packaged to a certain standard.


Since veganism means avoiding animal by-products, the same holds for vegan skincare products. Vegan means a product has no ingredients such as beeswax, carmine, etc. The lack of animal byproducts does not always mean that the product is cruelty-free too. A product can be cruelty-free and not vegan, and vice versa. A lot of cruelty-free products still contain animal byproducts.

In order to make sure you are using both vegan and cruelty-free products is to look for the Leaping Bunny logo which is the only internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing no animal testing was carried out in developing the product.


What makes a brand sustainable? While the term itself is still very broad and unfortunately is very often used more as the means of marketing, I follow a couple of criteria that help me decide whether a particular brand or product is sustainable or not:

  1. The company practices ethical sourcing of ingredients (e.g. from sustainable plantations) and uses renewable materials.
  2. The packaging is eco-friendly.
  3. The brand has a recycling program.
  4. The brand has proper accreditations.
  5. The products are not tested on animals (aka they are cruelty-free).

Hopefully, I managed to help you decipher the true meaning behind the labels you see on skincare products. Each label on your product leads to a different story that every skincare brands want to show you. The only question that I will leave with is weather the brands tell us the whole truth about their practices?

Till next time!



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