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What's the Difference Between Vegan vs Natural vs Clean Beauty Products?

by Jessika Noda |

It's no secret that clean, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, vegan, natural beauty is hot right now, and many consumers are willing to pay more for these types of products. That also means that companies are more inclined to have their marketing in line with this trend, but may not always be as truthful as we think about the ingredients going into their products. 

This is called "greenwashing" 

Greenwashing is a term used when companies share or market misleading information about their products, ingredients, or practices so that they appear to be clean, natural, eco-friendly, etc. 

At this point in time, there is no legal regulation for product labels that claim to be clean, vegan, or natural. So the only way to really understand what you’re purchasing is to understand the differences, know what’s important to you, and understand what ingredients you want to be using in your routine. 


Let’s get started on what these different marketing terms mean. 



Vegan products are the most straight-forward to discern. This means that they have not been tested on animals, and the ingredients do not contain any animal byproducts like dairy, honey, or gelatin. They can still contain ingredients not naturally derived from plants.



This term natural is a very commonly used word in marketing and is a very general blanket statement. A product can be called “natural” if it has only 1% naturally sourced plant based ingredients. If you’re working on incorporating more plant based ingredients into your routine, you’ll want to look at the ingredients list to double check what’s inside. Typically you’ll find any synthetic ingredients at the bottom of the list, usually after a preservative. 



What classifies a product as “clean” typically means that it does not contain any known toxins to our health and environment. This does mean that products can contain “safe synthetic” ingredients that don’t cause health problems. 


So, how can you ensure that you're getting what you paid for? The best way is through education:

  1. Understand the difference between vegan, natural, and clean and decide which best fits your wellness goals. 
  1. Always read product labels and if you're unsure about an ingredient, Google it.
  1. Be informed about animal testing claims and use credible resources like Leaping Bunny or Cruelty-Free Kitty to check if a brand tests on animals.

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