When it comes to cosmetics, health, beauty, body care, hair care, and other personal-use products – you always have to think about price and quality.
When products costs are equal, a survey done by Vitacost.com showed that 74.6 percent of consumers will choose a cruelty-free product over a competing brand that tests on animals.
As great as this is – are cruelty-free products actually more expensive for the most part?
"Cruelty-free" doesn't automatically mean it's more expensive than products tested on animals. Cruelty-free companies price their products depending on the ingredients used and their benefits. For the most part, market conditions and lower costs help drive the prices down.
We have proof of cruelty-free brands that are low-priced and are cheaper than their non-cruelty-free counterparts.
Read on and find out that supporting cruelty-free is not necessarily a more expensive undertaking.
Cruelty-Free Brands: Low to High Price Points
There are cruelty-free products at any price range. At the low end, you have the drugstore products that cost less than $10, such as e.l.f. and Wet ‘n Wild cosmetics, Alba Botanica hair care products, plus Tom's of Maine's line of body wash, toothpaste, and deodorants.
Mid-Priced Cruelty-Free Brands
Those who don't like harsh chemicals know that Burt's Bees has a moderately priced makeup line. Another cosmetic brand worth checking out is Pixi, which prices its products anywhere from $15 to $30.
Lush is well-known for making hair and body products like soaps, shampoos, and conditioners that are never tested on animals. Better yet, nothing from the body care brand costs more than $15. Young Living, known for its essential oils, has some EO-infused products that range from $10 to $30.
High-End Cruelty-Free Brands
If you're looking to splurge, there are also high-end brands that you can buy. Thrive Causemetics offers makeup that costs $20 to $50 and comes from an animal-friendly company.
Teadora has shampoos and conditioners that cost a little more than $25, while vegan company Derma E has body care products that fall within the $15 to $45 price range.
Is It Really Cruelty-Free?
Just because a product is labeled "cruelty-free" doesn't mean you have to take their word for it. You need to make sure that the products you choose have not been tested on animals and are cruelty-free in every sense of the word, and not just a false claim.
Thankfully, if you're one who doesn't trust the claims on product labels, you can check the list of certified cruelty-free products here from Leaping Bunny.
Leaping Bunny also has a mobile app that will help you find cruelty-free products and save more with their deals, discounts, and freebies.
If you are concerned about the legitimacy of your products’ labels – you can find out more on how to tell the genuine stamps of approval from the scams in this article: What Cruelty-Free Logos Can You Trust in 2021.
Price Check: Cruelty-Free Options Are Cheaper
If you have ever thought that cruelty-free products are more expensive, then you will be pleasantly surprised to find that some of these products cost a fraction of what their competitors cost.
According to this PETA article, some of the biggest cosmetics brands are not cruelty-free. These include:
And there are some products where you can find cruelty-free alternatives and save some money.
Benefit Cosmetics GALifornia Sunny Golden Pink Box O' Powder Blush
Cruelty-Free Option: Too Faced Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush
Clinique All About Eyes Cream for Unisex
Cruelty-Free Option: LilyAna Naturals Eye Cream
L'Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream
Cruelty-Free Option: NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP HD Photogenic Concealer Wand
MAKE UP FOR EVER Let's Gold Eye Palette
Cruelty-Free Option: Milani Soft & Sultry Eyeshadow Palette
Maybelline the Falsies Lash Lift Washable Mascara Volumizing, Lengthening, Lifting, Curling, Multiplying, Eye Makeup, Very Black
Cruelty-Free Option: wet n wild Mega Length Waterproof Mascara, Very Black
OPI Nail Polish, Nail Lacquer, Blue Nail Polish
Cruelty-Free Option: Sally Hansen Insta Dri Matte Metallics, Violet Velvet
How Can Cruelty-Free Products Be Competitively Priced?
A New Zealand survey found that vegans in the country often have a problem when they're finding shoes. This is because non-leather alternatives are often seen as more expensive than leather shoes.
For the most part, however, it's all a matter of looking for the right alternative. As we have shown, there are more affordable options if you don't want to use something that has been tested on animals.
Some of these products are not only cheaper, but they have comparable quality and sometimes even better features and benefits.
Costs of Animal Testing
One reason for this is that animal testing is often much more expensive than in vitro tests, which are only done with computer simulations and cell-based procedures.
To give you an idea of just how expensive animal testing is, here's a rundown of the various tests used in the making of cosmetics and beauty products, as well as costs of equivalent in-vitro tests.
Type of Test
Sister chromatid exchange
Unscheduled DNA synthesis
$500 - $850
Non-genotoxic cancer risk
$83 - $160
Estrogen hormone interactions
Androgen hormone interactions
According to these figures, animal testing can be anywhere from 128.6% to 3,181% more expensive than non-animal testing.
Consumers are the ones who need to absorb the additional cost. Understandably, manufacturers will be increasing their prices to cover the cost of testing the product and the ingredients that go into it.
Compared to in vitro non-animal tests, the higher costs of animal testing could also mean that some of the ingredients might not get tested at all.
What's more, animal testing often takes far longer than in-vitro tests. This adds to the overall cost because more time is needed for research, development periods, and getting the products to market.
While some tests have no in vitro equivalents, such as tests for inhalation toxicity, technology continues to improve. In time, not only will we have alternatives to certain animal testing processes, but in vitro tests will also be cheaper.
Cruelty-Free Is No Longer the Exception
The misconception that cruelty-free products are more expensive comes from the thinking that brands use special ingredients with different manufacturing processes.
Much like how organic food items are generally expensive because of the higher production costs, inefficient distribution, and other factors.
But in reality, companies cannot afford to ignore going cruelty-free as gradually more consumers are demanding cruelty-free products.
A Humane Society International study showed that at least seven out of ten people worldwide want to stop using animals for testing cosmetics and other products.
This is one of the main reasons that cruelty-free products are actually not always more expensive. With companies facing more competition every day – they are forced to price their products fairly.
Their main goal is to consider the benefits they bring and the cost that goes into making them. If they price their products too high, most consumers will not be willing to pay for them when there are other cruelty-free alternatives.
Ban on Animal Testing
In some countries, you can only buy cruelty-free cosmetics. For instance, the European Union has banned animal testing for cosmetics since the mid-2000s.
Other countries that currently ban the sale and use of cosmetics that were tested on animals include:
More countries, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Russia, the United States, and Ukraine, are all following suit.
So, if consumers want cruelty-free products and animal testing is fast becoming illegal worldwide and more expensive to conduct than in vitro testing, why then do big manufacturers continue to harm rabbits and other cute creatures?
It's probably because of one market that they cannot ignore. China requires animal testing for beauty products sold in the country. For the Chinese market, the industry earned CNY394 billion ($58.02 billion), and that is expected to rise to around CNY485 billion ($71.42 billion) by next year.
Compare that to the United States market, which was expected to bring in $16.68 billion in 2020. That means that the Chinese market is roughly three to more than four times bigger than the US market.
If you are based in China or need to shop for cosmetics in that market – we have got your back. Take a look at this article to find out how to look for cruelty-free products there and how their legislation is evolving: Are Cosmetics in Made China Cruelty Free in 2021?
Certification Makes Cruelty-Free More Expensive? No!
There are a lot of misconceptions about companies getting certification for being cruelty-free. Even consumers think that cruelty-free products are expensive because of the certification and accreditation process.
Australia's Choose Cruelty-Free asks for an administrative fee of AUD$ 100 (USD70.40). That fee will cover the cost of accreditation and get you listed on the CCF list for the duration of your certification .
Leaping Bunny doesn't collect anything when you apply or become accredited with their program. They only charge when you want to use their logo on your packaging. This one-off charge will be a percentage of your company's gross annual sales. This blog puts the cost at $500 to $4,500 for a company to put the Leaping Bunny logo on their merchandise.
It's also free for companies to get certified with PETA's Global Beauty Without Bunnies program. If you want to include their logos in their packaging, you will need to pay a one-time licensing fee of $350.
Cruelty-Free Holds No Sway over the Product's Price
Not testing on animals doesn't necessarily make a product more expensive. Not only is animal testing more expensive than other testing alternatives, but it also takes longer.
What's more is that ingredients often only account for up to 15 percent of the cost of manufacturing the product. Most of what you pay for is because of brand recognition, where it's being sold, the prestige, marketing, and packaging.
Cruelty-free goods, like any other products, are priced according to what benefits they can give you. Plus, several factors help make cruelty-free, more affordable, such as the ban on animal testing forcing brands to go cruelty-free.
The influx of cruelty-free products, and improvements in technology that help pave the way for alternative in-vitro tests that are cheaper than those performed on animals.