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Cruelty-Free RecSys

A recommender system that supports shopping consumers in finding Cruelty-Free cosmetic products

About the project

Increasing consumer awareness of animal cruelty in the cosmetics industry has led to a rise in purchases from brands that do not engage in or endorse animal testing. However, many consumers find it challenging to identify true cruelty brands amongst the many brands that present false claims and end up abandoning this effort. To support these consumers, an intelligent mobile application was developed.


The data-driven app utilised Pyzbar to scan and decode product barcodes. It combined a constraint-based and community-based recommender system to help users discover cruelty-free cosmetic products that align with their ethical preferences. By scanning the barcode on a product using the camera feature embedded in the application, users could learn if the item had undergone animal testing. They could also customise their ethical preferences during the onboarding phase. If a product did not meet their criteria or involved animal testing, the app would suggest suitable alternatives.


The development process followed a qualitative and iterative research methodology. Concepts were evaluated with potential users, and insights from user tests informed subsequent improvements. The results highlighted the importance of making product information transparent and allowing users to bring in their personal ethical values provided optimal support.

This project was done independently. During this project my role included: problem identification, academic research, concept development, UX and UI design, prototyping and user testing, evaluation and iteration, and technical development.


Best Paper Award 2022

Received the Best Paper Award in November 2022 for my master thesis on how recommendation systems can use data obtained from computer vision technology to support shopping consumers in finding suitable cruelty-free products. This award was granted by the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.

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