The other day, I was on a perfume shopping site, offering scents with cruelty free musk. And, as I got an email the same day where a consumer asked me whether my scents are "cruelty free", I figured it is time for a post.
Of course, all my fragrances that I sell are cruelty free, meaning not tested on animals, not using animal derived products. It is the law in Europe that cosmetics are not tested on animals; the history of this ban of animal testing for cosmetics in Europe is shown in the picture (larger version here).
So... that's one part of the story. The cosmetic product is not animal tested. Good. But, individual ingredients are tested for toxicity.
Linalool, a common ingredient in perfumes and a major component found in Lavender essential oil, for instance, has been extensively tested and following this link, you may find out that the LD50 of Linalool is 2.79 gr/kg body weight for rats. This means that 50% of all animals in a test died when given 2.79 gr /kg body weight.
I am not an expert, but you safely assume that most chemicals and many essential oils are/were at some point tested on animals.
Rose essential oil for instance has an LD50 (oral) of 2.98 gr/kg body weight (http://www.dweckdata.com/).
And in that sense, there is a lot of cruelty.