Cruelty-Free Cosmetics 101
By Natacha Cole
Despite bans on animal testing for cosmetics in several countries, many still allow testing to occur and Canada, United States, and Australia are among them. Many people still believe that the archaic practice of animal testing for cosmetics ended decades ago, but this is far from the truth. Many cosmetic companies test their new products and ingredients by forcing rabbits, hamsters, and mice, among others, to endure horrific practices such as breathing in poisonous fumes or having lethal chemicals poured into their eyes and rubbed into their skin. Until Canada, United States, Australia, and other countries outlaw animal testing for cosmetics and join the likes of India, Israel, Norway, the European Union and most recently New Zealand as cruelty-free, it is of the utmost importance that as consumers we support cruelty-free cosmetic companies.
Have you been interested in switching your cosmetics to cruelty-free alternatives but do not know where to begin? Are you unclear about what exactly cruelty-free cosmetics mean? Do you wonder if the cruelty-free alternatives would perform just as well and be as luxurious as the products you currently use? If you asked yourself any of these questions, the following information will help you understand the importance of purchasing cruelty-free cosmetics and will also provide useful tools to aid in transforming your beauty stash to an animal friendly one without sacrificing performance and luxury.
What Do The Words Cruelty-Free And Cosmetics Mean?
For the purposes of this article, the word cruelty-free means: the individual ingredients of a product, the finished product itself and at no point during the production of a product have been tested on an animal. The word cosmetics means: soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, perfume, nail polish, skin care, body care products and make-up products (lipstick, mascara, etc.).
Men and women use cosmetics every day for hygienic, grooming, and beautifying purposes, although most women tend to use more of these products than men. If you pay attention, you will be astonished as to how many cosmetic products we use in a day, from the shampoo, conditioner, and soap we use in the shower, toothpaste, deodorant, perfume, and make-up products, which can range from a couple of products to a huge amount for a full coverage make-up application.
Why Choose Cruelty-Free Cosmetics?
The beauty industry makes people look and feel beautiful but is horrifically ugly when it comes to the treatment of animals in laboratories. Throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of animals endure unnecessary suffering and eventually die from animal testing for cosmetics annually. According to Humane Society International, cosmetic animal testing is still legal in 80% of the world and an estimated 300,000 animals die each year in cosmetic animal tests in China alone. These tests cause an enormous amount of pain and suffering and there is no pain relief administered to the animals. The only time that these animals are relieved of their torture is when they die.
Many people identify themselves as “animal lovers” and perhaps they are when it comes to their rabbit, cat, dog, or horse, but how come this love for animals does not extend to all creatures? Would you condone your family pet being put through cosmetic animal testing so that you can have a new, more effective deodorant? I am sure the answer would be an overwhelming, “No.” Cats and dogs feel pain when they are hurt and so do rabbits, hamsters, and mice that are forced to be in laboratories. We should ask ourselves: Why is one species loved and protected more than another?
Alternatives To Animal Testing
Animal testing for cosmetics is an outdated practice and does not provide the most reliable results regarding the safety, performance, or possible reactions that cosmetic products or ingredients could have in a person. There have been scientific advancements in alternative testing methods and not only can these alternative methods be cost-effective for companies to use, they yield a quicker and higher accuracy rate than animal testing. Methods like artificial tissue testing and test tube testing are alternative methods that can now be used. Artificial tissue grown in a laboratory has proved to provide better results on how likely a skin irritation on a person will occur compared to traditional animal testing. The use of test tube testing methods eliminates animals from being poisoned in order to differentiate toxic from non-toxic cosmetic ingredients.
What You Can Do To Make A Difference
As consumers, we need to make our voices heard loud and clear and sometimes the most powerful way to do that is by how we spend our money. We need to demand that cosmetics are no longer tested on animals and support brands with a strong stance against animal testing. Once you have discovered that your favorite cosmetic brand participates in animal testing, reach out to them and explain that you will no longer purchase from them until they change their animal testing policy.
Support Organizations Working to End Animal Testing Cosmetics
Humane Society International has a great global campaign called #BeCrueltyFree, the largest campaign in history that works towards ending animal testing for cosmetics. Visit Humane Society International to learn more about the work they do and make sure to sign the petition for the country you live in; every signature counts and it is what helps Humane Society International prove to governments that people want change. Cruelty-Free International and the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) work to help end animal testing for cosmetics as well, and are behind the Leaping Bunny program that provides global cruelty-free certification to brands by making them go through a rigid certification process.
How To Transition To Cruelty-Free Cosmetics
This is a great time to decide to switch to cruelty-free cosmetics because more than ever, there are many cruelty-free brands available on the market. With all the options and various price points available, it will not be difficult to find everyday basics or luxurious, high performing cosmetics.
Transitioning to cruelty-free cosmetics may seem daunting at first, but it does not have to be an all or nothing process. Once you discover which cosmetic brands are not cruelty-free, you do not have rush to your bathroom cabinet or make-up drawer and throw everything out (unless you strongly feel the urge to do so).
When you finish a product, replace it with a cruelty-free alternative. I recommend that when you are close to finishing a product, you replace it with one that is cruelty-free. Also, try not to wait to the last minute to replace your product. There is a possible risk that you will reach for the same non cruelty-free product off of the store shelf out of desperation because you did not have time to find an animal-friendly replacement product.
A little research goes a long way. You may be surprised and saddened by how many popular and widely used brands participate in animal testing or maybe you did not even know that you are using some cruelty-free products already! In the beginning, some time spent on research might be necessary to find a cruelty-free product replacement, but when you have the proper research tools, finding alternative brands will be easy to navigate. You will soon notice that your beauty arsenal will be filled with products from cruelty-free brands that will help you be your cleanest, look your best, and most importantly feel great because you will know that the cosmetic products you are using were not tested on animals.
At first, a quick search on a cosmetic brand website might look promising regarding their cruelty-free status because you will most likely come across a policy statement like this: “We do not test on animals except when required by law.” A “when required by law” policy means that if the cosmetic brand is currently selling products in a market (or as soon as they enter a market) that requires animal testing by law, this brand will comply with these regulations. This policy statement is meant to confuse and deceive consumers into thinking that the brand is cruelty-free. Many brands also use third-party testing and since the brand is not directly testing on animals themselves, they permit themselves to state they are “cruelty-free” but in reality they pay for the third-party animal testing. It is another deceptive tactic that cosmetic brands use.
Do not hesitate to contact cosmetic brands yourself and ask them questions. If a brand values its consumers, your questions will gladly be answered transparently.
Logical Harmony, a knowledgeable and trustworthy source. Logical Harmony is an award winning website that specializes in vegan beauty and lifestyle and is a knowledgeable and trustworthy source when it comes to cruelty-free and vegan brands. The site was created and is edited by Tashina Combs, who reaches out to brands with her own set of detailed questions to find out if they participate in cosmetic animal testing in any way. Logical Harmony has a Cruelty-Free & Vegan Brand List that is updated weekly and other helpful lists to make cruelty-free shopping easy. What is great about this list is that there is a note next to the cruelty-free brand indicating if the brand is owned by a parent company that participates in cosmetic animal testing. Tashina provides this information to allow her readers to make their own decisions when it comes to supporting cruelty-free brands owned by parent companies that participate in cosmetic animal testing. Logical Harmony’s informative lists, numerous cruelty-free product reviews, and website overall are extremely helpful reference tools for making cruelty-free purchases and adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo. As mentioned previously, Cruelty-Free International and the CCIC are behind the Leaping Bunny program that provides global certification to cruelty-free brands. Finding the cruelty-free Leaping Bunny logo on products while you are shopping can be very helpful. You can also consult Cruelty-Free International's Leaping Bunny Search Page and the CCIC's Compassionate Shopping Guide to see the cruelty-free status of the brands you are interested in. They also provide information on whether cruelty-free brands are owned by parent companies that participate in cosmetic animal testing. Keep in mind that some smaller brands that are cruelty-free are not able to pay for the cruelty-free certifications and logos, so do not count them out.
Cruelty-Free Beauty Box Subscription Services. There are also cruelty-free and vegan beauty box subscription services available that ship worldwide. These services send a monthly beauty box containing cruelty-free and vegan cosmetic products. It is a great way to try new products and to be introduced to new cruelty-free brands that you may not have ever heard of otherwise.
Things To Keep In Mind
Natural cosmetic products are not necessarily cruelty-free and vice versa. Be careful of natural ingredients that are animal derived; your product may have not been tested on animals but animal derived ingredients are usually not obtained in a cruelty-free way. Some common animal derived ingredients to look out for are: carmine, gelatin, and lanolin, to name a few. For more information about animal derived ingredients visit Logical Harmony’s Animal Ingredient List.
If you are interested in purchasing cruelty-free products that do not contain any animal derived ingredients, look for cruelty-free cosmetic brands that offer vegan options or for brands that exclusively offer vegan products. There are so many fantastic natural, cruelty-free and vegan cosmetic products on the market that you will not have any difficulty finding what you need.
As consumers, we have purchasing power and we can make a difference in the lives of innocent animals if we purchase in an informed and ethical way.
I leave you with this quote from Justin Mendez, a motivational speaker, author, and coach: “If you do not want oranges, do not plant an orange tree.” These words are important because they can be applied to many life situations and more specifically to the topic of cruelty-free cosmetics: If you do not want cosmetic companies to test on animals, do not purchase from the ones that do.
Natacha Cole is a former professional make-up artist and an advocate of cruelty-free cosmetics.
Here are some other articles you might like to read about cosmetics:
Chemicals in Our Cosmetics: Is it Only Skin Deep?
Spraying Yourself With Toxic Chemicals is Not Sexy