NEW YORK(CBS 2) — It’s a popular claim, but how do you know if your favorite beauty products aren’t really tested on animals?

As CBS 2’s Asa Aarons explains, many brands that say “cruelty free” are stretching the truth.

READ MORE: New York Relaxes Most COVID Restrictions After Reaching 70% Vaccination Rate: 'A Momentous Day'

For some, buying beauty products labeled cruelty free is a priority.

“I buy makeup products that aren’t tested on animals. I think it’s inhumane,” said Samantha Zuckerman.

Others are brand loyal no matter what.

“There are products that I really do love, and I don’t research it. I just don’t want to know,” said Joelle Lazar.

But either way, how do you really know when a company does or doesn’t test their products on animals?

“Maybe you can believe them, maybe you won’t, but obviously there’s something going on in their products,” Nora Thomas said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearly states there is “no legal definition for these terms.” The FDA goes on to say “the unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetics companies is possible.”

READ MORE: Actress Lisa Banes Dies After Being Struck By Scooter On Upper West Side

“The Food and Drug Administration says they will not and do not regulate those terms,” said Vicki Katrinak of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. “Therefore companies have free will to say whatever they want, make their own ‘no animal testing’ claims and have no data to back it up.”

“I’m a little shocked and kind of upset by it,” said Patricia McGarry.

The FDA admits some companies may claim their product is cruelty free, while still using animals to test some outside elements that go into the making of the product.

“It could still be tested on animals, the component ingredients could definitely be tested on animals,” Katrinak explains.

In reality, experts say fewer companies test on animals today. Many common ingredients are now known to be “safe” and don’t have to be re-tested, Asa Aarons reported.

And then, there’s public opinion.

“Many companies are putting big investments into developing new methods that don’t depend on the use of animals because of public opinion against the practice,” said Dr. Nancy Beck of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

So how do you know if a product is really “cruelty free?” The short answer is you don’t, Aarons reported. Websites like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics provide lists of companies and their products  that sign a pledge saying they don’t test on animals.

MORE NEWS: Will The Ford Maverick Be A Game-Changer In The Auto Industry?

Consumers can also look for a bunny image on those products.