Clean Beauty

Behind The Clean Sustainable Beauty Third Party Official Certifications: Certified Vegan

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Welcome back to the Independent Third-Party Verification Spotlight Series! Certifications we covered so far are MADE SAFE®, EWG Verified and Ecocert.

Continuing our deep dive into different types of cosmetics certifications, today we’re looking into the Certified Vegan seal. We’ll go over what the Certified Vegan verification means, what exactly it tests for, and how you can use it to guide your shopping choices.

The Certified Vegan seal is part of Vegan Action/the Vegan Awareness Foundation. While relatively young (founded in 1995), Vegan Action is one of the oldest and most popular vegan websites worldwide.

What Does it Mean for a Product to be Certified Vegan?

certified veganThe Certified Vegan seal has been around for 20 years. Its longevity and reputation have made it the most trusted and best-recognized vegan logo in North America. Today, over 1,000 companies have received the certification on at least some of their products. Over 10,000 individual products are Certified Vegan.

Their database covers not just cosmetics, but also food, beverages, home care, personal care, pet care, supplements, and textiles. It’s a wide-reaching resource.

How Does Certified Vegan Work?

Vegan Action certifies companies based in the United States, US territories, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. So even if you’re outside the United States or are shopping internationally, you can still use the seal as a resource.

To get a specific product certified, companies have to:

  • Guarantee the product is vegan.
  • Document that no animal ingredients or animal by-products are used in the making or manufacturing of a product.
  • Provide documentation on every ingredient used in the product to show it hasn’t been tested on animals since the year 2000. Even if the testing didn’t involve mistreating, hurting, or killing animals, that will disqualify the product from becoming Certified Vegan.

Keep in mind that Vegan Action only certifies individual products, not whole companies. So even if a brand has one product that’s Certified Vegan, that may not apply to the rest of the product line. This can be seen as a good thing – if a product is Certified Vegan, you know it’s been carefully vetted; no non-vegan products can slip through the cracks.

However, it’s something to be aware of so you don’t accidentally use a product that might not be vegan.

Can You Trust Certified Vegan Products?

Vegan Action and the Certified Vegan logo have been around for decades. They’re seen as a reliable, helpful resource for shoppers.

The Certified Vegan logo can’t be used on products sold to or distributed to China if animal testing is required. So if you’re located in China or use products that are distributed through China, there’s one area where the certification won’t help you.

They do allow products to contain non-animal GMOs. While this is unrelated to veganism, it might set off warning signs for some people who prefer to avoid GMOs.

Vegan Action also allows some extremely specific, limited uses of some animal products like clam or oyster shells in their certified products if they’re used as a secondary ingredient, not the sole or primary ingredient. Strict vegans may take issue with this.

How Does a Vegan Certification Benefit You?

Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to tell immediately whether a product is vegan, the Certified Vegan database is super easy to use. You can filter based on product type and check specific shades and colors of makeup products.

Vegan Action is also a valuable resource on its own. Their website offers educational materials, a blog full of vegan nutrition information and recipes, zines, and helpful recipe and shopping resources for the newly-initiated (or vegan-curious).

With a few specific caveats, the Certified Vegan logo is a thorough and reliable way to tell if a product uses animal products in its ingredients or manufacturing processes. While a product being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe in all respects, it’s a key qualifier for many people.

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