Is My Men’s Aftershave Fragrance Vegan & Cruelty Free?

“Is My Men’s Aftershave Fragrance Vegan & Cruelty Free?”

I’m afraid to say – most probably not.

This was the exact same question I asked myself when I came to the realisation that living a vegan and ethical lifestyle transcends far beyond the limits of what food you consume.

It’s a question that eventually led me to starting my own ethical aftershave fragrance brand – Kings!

So firstly, why isn’t your current men’s aftershave fragrance vegan or cruelty free?

Well, there is short answer to this…

If it doesn’t have the appropriate stamps of approval from The Vegan Society (the ‘Vegan’ sign) and Cruelty Free International (the ‘Bunny’ sign) you can’t be 100% sure. So my advice is to ensure any product you buy has the relevant credibility to back up their claims of being vegan and cruelty free.

The long answer to this question is…

It depends on the ingredients that are being used, what countries the brand sells its products in and if that business uses a third party for animal testing. It’s complicated!

ethical aftershave fragrance

Ingredients to Look out For

There is often little or no information on the packaging of men’s aftershave products. Sometimes you will be faced with a list of obscure ingredients which origins are untraceable by name.

For example – ingredients such as honey or musk, the latter of which is often referred to as civet, ambergris, or castoreum, are all traditionally derived from animal’s glands. Companies often use a similar trick when they try to hide the fact that they are using palm oil but that’s another blog in itself. Another factor to consider is that some scent formulas have ‘trade secret’ status so they don’t have to declare their animal derived ingredients.

There is also the added complexity that an aftershave brand may be vegan and cruelty free but it’s parent company could own brands that aren’t vegan or cruelty free. It really depends on how deep you want to go down the (cruelty free) rabbit hole. I’ll refrain from naming names though as it really isn’t my style. A quick google should arm you with the relevant information if you are intrigued.

Here are a list of some of the ingredients you should look out for:

  • Ambergris / Amber is produced in the digestive system of sperm wales.


  • Castoreum is a secretion produced by bears. In the wild, is secreted mixed with urine to mark their territory. Castoreum is sourced from an anal gland.


  • Civet is a secretion produced by type of cat that lives in Asia and Africa. The African Civet is most commonly used to source this musky ingredient. In the wild, is secreted mixed with urine to mark their territory.


  • Hyraceum / African Stone is a solidified mixture of urine and feces produced by the Cape Hyrax.


  • Kasturi is a secretion produced by male Moschidae deer. These deer live in Nepal, India, China, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Siberia. Kasturi is sourced from a gland located between it’s back and rectum. After removing the gland, it is dried and a paste extracted to be used as a fixative for perfumes.


  • Musk is a commonly listed ingredient that can come from a variety of animals. Aside from beavers, civets, and Moschidea deer, musk can also be sourced from muscrat, ducks, turtles, alligators, crocodiles, and snakes. In these animals, the musk is extracted from an anal gland or glands located in the mouth.


  • Lanolin is oil derived from sheep wool. While it is often presented as a harmless ingredient, sadly it often is not.

Animal Testing

This is where determining if your aftershave fragrance is cruelty free gets even more complex.

Some countries around the world require animal testing by law. For example – in China depending on where the aftershave fragrance is made and sold it may mean that animal testing is legally required.

As noted on Humane Society’s website, here is a short version of the state of cosmetic animal testing laws in China as of 2018:

  • Foreign imported ordinary cosmetics – still require animal testing.
  • Domestically produced ordinary* cosmetics – animal testing no longer an absolute requirement.
  • Both foreign imported and domestically produced ‘special use’** cosmetics – still require animal testing.
  • Domestically produced ordinary cosmetics for foreign export only – have never required animal testing.
  • Any cosmetic bought in China via a foreign e-commerce website – has never required animal testing.

To add to this, many manufacturers who claim not to test on animals can still legally hire third party tests or use animal-tested ingredients.

So there you have it. Good luck in your mission to find a vegan and cruelty men’s aftershave fragrance and rest assured, if you ever decide to buy a Kings fragrance, it comes with the credibility of being registered with The Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International.

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