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
Humane Society International has a great global campaign called
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Chemicals in Our Cosmetics: Is it Only Skin Deep?
Spraying Yourself With Toxic Chemicals is Not Sexy