Clarity in a swarm of certifications – the V-Label for cosmetics

Plant-based products are continuing to rise in importance for a growing number of people. This applies to personal care items as well. A ProVeg survey on the labelling of cosmetic products has shown, however, that people following a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle often find it difficult to recognise whether a product meets their requirements. The V-Label offers transparency and clarity for toiletry and cosmetic products.

Many vegetarians and vegans choose to change more than their diet, making sure that their beauty and body care products are free of animal testing and suffering as well. However, because of complicated ingredient lists, consumers find it difficult to judge whether a product suits their preferences. ProVeg has been campaigning for more transparency in the food sector for many years. Part of this strategy has been to promote the V-Label. Now the organisation is increasing its efforts towards better labelling of cosmetic products.


Trust in independent certification is strong

Respondents cited another reason why it is difficult to identify vegan and vegetarian cosmetic products: the lack of certifications and labels. Certification labels enjoy the greatest trust among consumers when it comes to judging whether a cosmetic or personal care product is suitable for their lifestyle. If a product carries a label, it is the first thing 59% of those surveyed turn to for guidance. Only 16% of those surveyed look at the list of ingredients first, whereas 8% initially judge a product by company labels.


ProVeg survey confirms the necessity for a cosmetics label

The discrepancy between a lack of labelling on the one hand, and the use of labels and seals as the most important means of guidance on the other, clearly shows that there is a great need to catch up when it comes to labelling vegan/vegetarian cosmetics. A total of 905 people took part in the ProVeg survey. The majority of the predominantly female participants follow a vegan lifestyle (56%), followed by vegetarians (32%), people reducing their meat consumption (9 %), as well as those eating a conventional diet (3%).


Reducing animal suffering cited as the main reason for buying animal-free products

97% of those surveyed said they deliberately use vegan cosmetic and personal care products to reduce animal suffering. 53% of all correspondents associate vegan cosmetics with a lower environmental impact, while 48% connect them to healthy ingredients. Some also expressed an aversion to products made from dead animals. The V-Label criteria, which apply to food products across all of Europe, also cover non-food items, and offer ProVeg’s familiar guarantee: products marked with the V-Label “vegan” may not contain or be processed using animal-based substances.


Consumers desire a label certifying vegetarian cosmetics

In addition to a vegan label, 81% of the respondents who do not have an entirely vegan lifestyle would like to see a label specifically for vegetarian cosmetics, which do not contain ingredients from animals. The V-Label fulfils this need by also licensing vegetarian cosmetics. These products may contain honey, milk components, and lanolin (wool fat), for example. The V-Label is the first certification for vegetarian cosmetics and body care products, providing additional guidance on natural cosmetics, as the criteria used for the certification of these do not exclude the use of insects and other invertebrates. They may, for example, contain the colorant carmine, which is made from lice, or jellyfish-based collagen.


V-Label products are free of animal testing

It was important to the survey respondents that products did not involve animal testing. Products bearing the V-Label are not allowed to be (or have been) tested on animals — neither by the manufacturer nor on their behalf. In the EU, a general ban on animal testing for cosmetics and their import from other EU countries has been in force since 2004. The V-Label extends this condition to products tested before 2004 and to those imported from outside the EU. Companies may also not use animals to test a product’s individual components with regard to the final product. They are furthermore obliged to immediately notify the V-Label of any changes made in this respect. Compliance with the V-Label criteria is checked annually. If the criteria can no longer be met (for example, in the case of animal testing for non-EU markets), the V-Label will be revoked.


The V-Label follows strict verification procedures

Among other things, the V-Label pays close attention to manufacturing practices, limiting the need for listing trace amounts of unwanted ingredients on the product. V-Label products are also free of genetically modified organisms (GMO). To deliver its promised services and uphold its credibility, the V-Label carries out a number of quality assurance activities, which start with a strict audit of the main and supplier companies. Inspections at the production plants are carried out in cooperation with various oversight bodies. Laboratory analyses may perform spot checks at any time.


The V-Label for cosmetics – clear criteria offer reliable guidance

The V-Label, which has become a household name in food retailing, will be available this year for cosmetics and body care products as well as for detergents and cleaning agents. Products carrying the label will start popping up in German retail such as drugstores and supermarkets. The V-Label is also present in other countries, such as Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands, and now offers the transparency and guidance customers have come to know for cosmetic products. Just look for the familiar V-Label the next time you go shopping.


More information about the V-Label can be found at

The V-Label

The V-Label is an international trademark for the labelling of vegetarian and vegan products. Through standardised criteria and regular inspections, it provides consumers with simple and reliable guidelines. Companies can use the V-Label to create transparency and clarity, and provide a guarantee that a product is vegan or vegetarian.

Last updated: 10.03.2020

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