Cruelty-Free Shaving Cream: Everything You Should Know

Cruelty-Free Shaving Cream: Everything You Should Know

By Daniel Broadley

Cruelty-Free Shaving Cream: Everything You Should Know

Many shoppers are making more of an effort to choose the right products for their lifestyles. A lot of people are shifting away-from products tested on animals, products with animal derived ingredients, and products that are bad for the planet. We’ve all seen our fair share of what pollution and unnecessary animal cruelty can do to the world. 

A lot of health and beauty products, including shaving cream, aren’t cruelty-free. If you’re looking to swap out your current products for some more ethical alternatives, it’s time to take a look at the things you use during your shaving routine.

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?

“Cruelty-free” appears to mean that a product is vegan and has not been tested on animals. This is actually a misconception that the modern consumer has been deliberately misled to believe. The FDA doesn’t actually regulate the phrase “cruelty-free”, and any company can use it to mean whatever they want. 

Since it’s an unregulated term that looks comforting on a label, companies can use any manner of justification for labelling their products as such. It can mean that raw ingredients were tested on animals, but the final product never was. It can mean that the only animal harmed in the production of the product was the animal used in the ingredients (like bees for beeswax derivatives on beauty products). 

It can also mean that a workaround was utilized. If the company hired someone else to conduct animal testing or used an outside testing firm for their ingredients, they can claim that they’re cruelty-free. They’ve never done the testing themselves, and can therefore pawn the blame off onto the company that actually did the work.

There are more honest and ethical definitions of cruelty-free. Some companies who claim to be cruelty-free come by the claim mostly honestly. There are plenty of companies who refuse to use ingredients tested on animals and refuse to test their final products on animals. There are also companies that refer to older ingredient tests performed on animals for safety standards, but will not repeat them. 

Who Certifies Cruelty-Free Products?

There is no government standard for certifying a company or product as cruelty-free. There are two private companies who will evaluate a product to see if it fits their own set of cruelty-free standards, and they will award the product with a seal. These companies are PETA and Leaping Bunny. 

PETA’s Cruelty-Free certification works on the honor system. They ask companies to answer a few questions and sign a certification that essentially states that they are cruelty-free to the best of their knowledge. Then they buy the rights to the logo for $100, and they can put it on their packaging. Technically, anyone can do this as long as there are no animal ingredients listed on their packaging.

Leaping Bunny’s certification is a little more complicated. It works similarly to PETA’s system, but they add a step. Leaping Bunny requires companies to monitor their suppliers and allow their monitoring process to be audited. This keeps companies accountable. If Leaping Bunny were to observe them switching to or utilizing a supplier that tests on animals, their certification will be revoked. 

These certifications are not perfect, but they’re the only real way to have some kind of concrete assurance that the shaving cream you’re using is truly cruelty-free. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these logos, as companies can create similar logos and put them on the packaging to mislead people into believing they’ve been certified.

The best way to know if your shaving cream is truly cruelty-free is to ask the company or read their literature. Companies that are serious about creating cruelty-free products will often explain, in depth, what steps they take to remain committed to a cruelty-free philosophy. If they’re eager to explain going cruelty-free and happy to preach the benefits of doing so, they’re most likely being completely honest. 

Why Are Some Products Not Cruelty-free?

It’s 2020, and we’re still having trouble finding cruelty-free products. It seems strange. Poll results show that less than half of Americans support animal testing for medical research, with the number declining over time. It’s likely that the number of Americans that support animal testing for something as trivial as toiletries or cosmetics would be even lower. 

The problem isn’t America. The problem is the global economy. The FDA makes absolutely no requirements for things like shaving cream to be tested on animals. Other countries do, and some of them have huge markets. China is the best example. About 1.4 billion people live in China, and the government does not allow products to be sold in their country unless they’ve been tested on animals.

This means that companies are losing out on a market of about 1/7th of the world’s total population unless they agree to test on animals. That’s where the option of hiring an outside company to test their products on animals comes into play. They then represent themselves as cruelty-free to consumers in other countries.

This creates a morally ambiguous situation. Many people who are staunchly opposed to animal testing will not use products that are available in the Chinese market, as this means they had to have been tested on animals. Some people take things a step further and won’t use brands whose parent companies sell in China or test on animals. 

How far you choose to go with your definition of cruelty-free is a personal preference. Some people don’t mind using products that weren’t tested on animals, but include ingredients derived from insects like beeswax or carmine dye. Other people require every single aspect of their products to be safe for vegans. 

Are There Any Animal-Derived Ingredients in Shaving Cream?

Ingredients like glycerin and stearic acid can be derived from animals. These ingredients are not exclusively derived from animals. They can also come from plant-based sources. If they do, the company will generally specify this. If nothing is specified, it’s best to assume the ingredients come from animal-derived sources.

Another common ingredient in shaving cream is lanolin. Lanolin is animal-derived. It’s the oil secreted by a sheep’s skin beneath the layer of wool. Special sheep are bred to be oilier than others, and the lanolin is derived from the surface of their skin.

Like with dairy-from cows, sheep do not have to be killed for their lanolin. Sheep are shaved, and the lanolin is separated from the wool. The sheep regrows its coat and the process is completed. This makes lanolin a vegetarian ingredient, but not a vegan ingredient.


Truly cruelty-free products are very hard to find, and since there is no one to officially regulate the term and institute a universal standard, you’ll simply need to take a brand’s word for it. When in doubt, ask your shaving cream company how they source their ingredients, if they test on animals, and if they retail in China. That will most likely give you every answer you need. 

And in case you’re wondering -- yes, LTHR Shaving Cream is absolutely cruelty-free, and gluten-free, with no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates either. So the next time you’re getting that hot lather ready for your perfect shave, congrats, you’re keepin’ it cruelty-free.