5 Cruelty-Free Apps & Barcode Scanners | Review

I think that one of the main reasons why people don’t want to “go cruelty-free” is because they don’t want to spend their time researching brands, searching for bunny logos, and memorizing lists. I get it- a lot of effort goes into this lifestyle change, so one has to be pretty passionate about the topic in order to make that sacrifice. Most of the brands on the big international cruelty-free lists are not available in South Africa, and the beautiful local brands who are cruelty-free are not featured on those lists. It’s hard work. I’ve tried to make your lives a little easier with my Are They Cruelty-Free? series, but I know that it is easier to find all of the brands on one reputable list.

Not long ago, I came across Leaping Bunny on Instagram. I mean, I didn’t search for them or anything, they just popped up in my suggestions. That is when I came across their Cruelty-Free App. I downloaded it and, while on the App Store, I discovered MORE apps similar to that one. I ended up downloading five free apps: Cruelty-Cutter, Cruelty-Free, Happy Bunny, Choose Cruelty Free, and Bunny Free. I won’t lie- I was pretty darn excited about the apps. They all contain lists of brands who are cruelty-free and (this is super cool) some of them have barcode scanners! Using your phone’s camera, you hover over the barcode. It should detect the product and state whether or not it is cruelty-free. Now, although I’m sure that some of these apps are still in early stages, a few of them are a waste of time and space. I did all of the dirty work for you, so you can read about the pros and cons of each app, and then decide which one (or two) would be best for you.

Cruelty-Free

Cruelty-Free 

Cruelty-Free is Leaping Bunny’s app, available for free on iTunes and the Google Play Store. This is great because Leaping Bunny is extremely reputable, so you can rest assured that the products are indeed cruelty-free. It features a long list of brands in alphabetical order. Tapping on the brand, one can find more information about them (including if they are leaping Bunny certified or have a parent company who is not cruelty-free). One can skip to a certain letter of the alphabet or even search for a specific brand by typing their name. One can also search for brands according to the type of product that one is looking for. The brands are divided into Animal Care, Cosmetics, and Household Products, which is incredible for people who want to go as far as having cruelty-free everything. Each division has numerous sub-divisions too, making searching for products very easy (e.g. Household Products includes Dish Detergent and Bleach). This app has a barcode scanner which can be used to scan 8-digit, 12-digit or 13-digit barcodes. Better yet, there is a section where one can browse deals (such as exclusive promotions). Lastly, one can create a shopping list on the app. 

Unfortunately, I am not fond of this app. Most of the products on the list are not easy to come by in South Africa, and it doesn’t contain any local businesses. Also, the barcode scanner did not know a single product that I scanned. I even scanned a product whose brand is featured on the app (Montagne Jeunesse: 7th Heaven) and they did not recognize it. I scanned a Nivea (they’re well-known, although not cruelty-free) product and the app didn’t recognize that either. I also scanned an Oh So Heavenly product (not featured on the app’s list, but endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty) and again- nothing. Then, I tried to search for a specific brand in the search bar. It filtered all of the results until one was left over, but when I tapped on it nothing happened (actually, the app shut down). I figured you can only tap on the brand name if you are scrolling through, but when filtering the brands and tapping on them there was a glitch

Happy Bunny

Happy Bunny

Happy Bunny features a long list of brands who are cruelty-free. They only feature brands who are certified by PETA, Choose Cruelty Free (CCF), and/or Leaping Bunny. Once again you can rest assured that the brands are truly cruelty-free, although there is a chance that data may be inaccurate due to it being from external sources. This app lists the brands in alphabetical order and one can skip to certain letters of the alphabet or search for a brand. What is wonderful is that they also specify which brands are vegan too. When you tap on a brand, it will give you a link to their website and specify who they are certified by.

Unfortuntely, Happy Bunny does not have a barcode scanner. Their list of brands is also incomplete, only including international brands which makes it tough for us here in South Africa. Another thing that bothers me is the app’s definition of cruelty-free:

Companies that have been certified cruelty-free do not test or experiment on animals while developing or manufacturing their products, and neither do their suppliers.

There has been no mention of third-parties, when required by law, or mainland China

Cruelty-Cutter

Cruelty-Cutter

Cruelty-Cutter, from what I have gathered in the “About” section, is an app from the Beagle Freedom Project with the help of Mobile Matters. It contains an alphabetical list of brands who are cruelty-free AND an alphabetical list of brands who DO test on animals. You can skip though to a certain letter of the alphabet or you can search for a specific brand. When tapping on a brand, you can find some information about them. One can also search for products in a certain category (e.g. Animal Care, Body Care, Cosmetics, Household Products, and Personal Care). This app has the best barcode scanner out of all of them- it can scan and detect almost any product that you can think of. If the app has the product in its database, it will tell you whether or not they test on animals. If they do, you have the option of boycotting the company, “biting back” (which means sharing their cruelty on social media) and/or finding a cruelty-free alternative. If you choose to bite back, you can earn Doggie Dollars which can be redeemed for discounts and special promotions. If a product that you have scanned has an unknown cruelty-free status, you can send it in to them so that they may research the brand. I earned a Doggie Dollar by sending African Extracts to them. You have an option to donate money to the Beagle Freedom Project if you want, or even take a Cruelty-Free Pledge. You can add items to a “Favorites” section and look back at all of the products you scanned in the past. 

As far as I know, there is no mention of only using brands certified by a specific organisation. I think that Cruelty-Cutter does their own research. Is it accurate? I don’t know. This app doesn’t include local brands (as usual), but you can email any unknown brands to them. When tapping on a brand, not much information is given besides a website, email address and possibly a Twitter link. 

Bunny Free

Bunny Free

Bunny Free is PETA’s version of a cruelty-free app, and only features brands who have signed PETA’s statement of assurance or submitted verification. There is a lot of information available on the app about cruelty-free beauty in general, and the content is updated frequently. One can type a brand in the search bar and, if it is in their database, the app will provide some information about the company (including their website and products). One can also browse for specific companies by making use of a filter (e.g. companies that do test or companies that are only vegan). This app does include a barcode scanner, but there is also the option to type in the barcode. 

Of course the list on this app is limited to brands who are on PETA’s list, so you may not find many other brands who are cruelty-free. What I don’t like about this app, and PETA’s guidelines in general, is that there are so many grey areas. In fact, according to Cruelty-Free Kitty, getting on PETA’s list is as easy as signing a piece of paper. Unlike Leaping Bunny, PETA does not do research and, if you look carefully, you may find brands on PETA’s list who sell in China or buy ingredients that have been tested on animals. Cruelty-Free Kitty said: “The fact that a company can be included in such a trustworthy list by making nothing more than what’s equivalent to a pinky promise is alarming.” I have not read PETA’s guidelines or anything, but here are a few other things that bothered me on the app:

Although PETA is opposed to all animal testing, PETA’s quarrel in those instances is less with the individual companies and more with the regulatory agencies that require animal testing. 

and,

Companies on this list may manufacture individual lines of products that have not been tested on animals. They have not, however, elimated tests on animals for their entire line of cosmetics or household products.

See? Grey areas.

CCF

Choose Cruelty Free

Choose Cruelty Free is actually an app that aims to help Australian consumers, as they are an Australian organisation. Companies have to pay an annual fee to use their bunny logo (after proving that they are cruelty-free, of course). The list of cruelty-free brands is in alphabetical order, but one can search for a specific brand too. It is clearly marked which brands are certified by CCF, vegan, have some vegan products, vegetarian, and contain animal ingredients. One can also search for specific products, like toothpaste or gardening products. 

Unfortunately this app does not have a barcode scanner. Due to it being for Australian consumers, you probably won’t find any local products on here. Most of the brands on the list cannot be found in South Africa. When defining cruelty-free, there was no mention of China or laws that require cosmetics to be tested on animals. In fact, they only mention that the products should not be tested on animals and ingredients should not have been tested on animals for the past five years (similar to Beauty Without Cruelty).

In my opinion, Cruelty-Cutter is the best app currently available! Their barcode scanner is excellent and users have the opportunity to send brands for them to investigate, meaning that we can contribute to the expansion of their database. Remember that this is all based on my own experience and the information may be outdated by the time that you read this.

Would you find a cruelty-free app useful? Which one would you download?

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