Vegan means that a product does not contain any animal products or ingredients that have been derived from animals; so no animal extracts or animal-byproducts are used in the distributing or manufacturing process. It’s quite common for skincare products to contain animal-derived like hyaluronic acid, collagen, honey, silk or keratin however vegan skincare products will exclude them or use the ones that can be produced in vegan-friendly ways.
Cruelty-free skincare, on the other hand, refers to ingredients or components that have not been tested on animals. It’s important to keep in mind that cruelty-free products refer to the testing process and not the product’s components themselves. It sounds fairly straight-forward, but a lot of confusion comes when we consider that a vegan product isn’t necessarily cruelty-free and vice versa. It actually is possible for non-vegan ingredients to be found in cruelty-free products and vegan products could be tested on animals, therefore not making them part of vegan cruelty-free skincare.