I don’t know about you, but I never used to think about what was done with my makeup before I purchased it in stores. It’s not that I didn’t know animal testing existed, I just didn’t ever think about it. And ironically, while there are many reasons why people may choose to go cruelty-free (they’re Vegan or Vegetarian, they live in a country where animal testing is banned, they don’t find it ethical, etc. etc.), I originally began my cruelty-free investigation to prove that animal testing was totally necessary to create safe and non-toxic products for humans! Boy was I wrong.
As it turns out, not only is animal testing 100% not necessary as there are several cheaper and even more accurate ways for companies to test products, but it’s actually been banned in many countries as well.
These countries include (but are not limited to):
- (EU) The European Union
- New Zealand
But whatever your reason for looking into Cruelty-Free today, I’m sure you have several questions. So I’ve done my best to answer them all for you. But if I fail, please feel free to leave one in the comments section so I can answer you!
What Does Cruelty-Free Even Mean?
First coined in 1983, the term “Cruelty-Free” is an adjective that simply refers to makeup, skincare, haircare and any other cosmetic and/or household product that is manufactured or developed without any type of testing on animals.
What’s Wrong With Testing on Animals?
Some may not agree that there is anything wrong with testing cosmetics and household products on animals, and that’s fine; I’m sorry to get a little philosophical on you, but nothing in life is innately right or innately wrong because society bases ethics and laws off of the moral conscious of the majority.
It was due to a change in the moral conscious of the majority that Women’s Suffrage began in the 1800’s and that slavery was abolished in 1865 within the United States. And most recently in 2015 this same change in moral has lead to the legalization of gay marriage.
Things change. Opinions change. Technologies change. And those of us who chose to live a “cruelty-free” lifestyle do so because we believe that testing cosmetics and household products on animals is wrong, cruel, unnecessary and should be illegal.
But why do we think this way?
Well, I can’t speak for everyone. But here is my perspective:
When products are tested on animals, scientists don’t simply slap a mascara on a monkey and wait to see if it flakes. They inject the chemicals that are being considered for use directly into the monkeys eye and stand by to observe the painful and often fatal results.
Seriously think about that for a minute. How many times have you accidentally gotten mascara in your eyes and felt it burn? That burn is from an approved formula. Imagine how many animals had to suffer with that mascara in their eyes to get it to the point where scientists and makeup companies thought it was safe enough to sale to you.
If you’re still not convinced please bear in mind that anesthetics are not prescribed for these animals when testing is done. This is for several reasons but namely because they (anesthetics) are considered an unnecessary cost and they can interfere with research results.
So I’m going to warn you, this looks (and I can imagine, feels) much worse than it sounds. If you’d like to see pictures of what I’m talking about, click the following links.. but just be aware that what you will see is the result of ingredient testing on animals and I personally cried for days after seeing them:
And as I stated earlier, these tests are not even necessary! There are several cheaper and even more accurate ways for companies to test products.
But How Do We Know Products Are Safe if They Are Not Tested on Animals?
I’m so glad you asked! Did you know that via stem-cell research, modern day science is able to produce testing samples that are not only super cheap, but that are also more accurate than animal testing? See for yourself [here].
I Want to Go Cruelty-Free, But I Have So Much Stuff That Isn’t Cruelty-Free in My Stash… What Should I Do With It!?
Chances are you, like me, don’t have hundreds of dinero sitting around just waiting to replace everything you own with a cruelty-free version. And that’s ok! Personally, I’ve been cruelty-free since August 2014, and yet I still have a stash of Dove deodorant and Panetene Pro V hair-care a mile high in my garage from my extreme-coupling days. I use these products because I already own them and see no value in wasting them.
Therefore, I encourage you to make the transition one product at a time; as you run out of foundation, mascara, shampoo (WHATEVER) replace it with a cruelty free version.
On the other hand, I did also clear loads of stuff out of my collection when I first switched just because I couldn’t apply eyeshadow in the morning without thinking about how the product I was putting on my eyes had been put into an innocent animals eyes… So my second suggestion is that if the revelation of animal testing is so strong that you can’t apply your makeup without crying then throw the shit away and go makeup free until you can amass the products you need again.
If you need suggestions for affordable cruelty-free options, keep reading!
I Want to Go Cruelty-Free, But I Hear It’s Expensive; Are There Cruelty-Free Brands at the Drugstore?
- Wet N Wild
- Physicians Formula
- Hard Candy
- Sonia Kashuk
- Pixi by Petra
- Flower Beauty
- Burt’s Bees
- Colour Pop
- Shea Naturals
- BH Cosmetics
- Coastal Scents
- Makeup Geek
Shall I go on?
I Want to Go Cruelty-Free, But I Hear All Cruelty-Free Products Are Natural-Hippie-Shit That No One Has Ever Heard of; Are there Cruelty-Free High-End Brands?
- Urban Decay
- Kat Von D
- Anastasia Beverly Hills
- Napoleon Perdis
- Too Faced
- Charlotte Tillbury
- BECCA Cosmetics
- Laura Geller
- butter LONDON
- Deborah Lippman
- It Cosmetics
And the list goes on and on…
Ok Great… I See You Are Good at List Making… But How do I Know if a Company or Product is Cruelty-Free When You’re Not Around?
There are several methods. I’m glad you like my lists, cause here are a few!
- Ask them. Just send the company an email and see what you get back!
- Check the label. Many products will actually advertise that they are cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified, or do not test on animals right there on the packaging!
- Consult lists from bloggers/websites you trust; keep reading for more info on a few websites I personally use.
What Websites Can I Go to for Cruelty-Free Product Lists?
This is totally going to sound like I’m passing the buck, but my honest answer is to go to websites you trust! Courtney runs a blog that I consult for everything and I mean EVERYTHING. Here is a link to her Cruelty Free Beauty List for your reference, but I highly suggest you don’t just take my word for it; take the time to explore her blog and decide for yourself if you feel you can trust her.
Other resources I use include:
I Read that Some Brands Do Not Test on Animals Unless It’s Required by Law… Are There Really Laws that Require Animal Testing?
Yes and no. Although there are many countries that have banned the testing on of animals by law, there are others (like China) who still require it for reasons that are unclear. By default, any brand who chooses to sale their products in China does so knowing that those products and/or ingredients will be tested on animals. And yet these companies will often still advertise to consumers that they themselves are a Cruelty-Free brand because “it’s not their fault that the testing was required by law.”
Some Cruelty-Free shoppers are okay with that excuse as they believe it’s within the companies right to be successful, and that we shouldn’t fault that company for China’s laws. I’m not one of them.
In my opinion, these types of companies are the lowest of the low. Feigning innocence by pointing the finger at China (as if it wasn’t their choice to sale in China to begin with)? I don’t buy it. So I choose not to support brands who sale in China and I feel that the majority of Cruelty-Free consumers I’ve interacted with do not support brands who sale in China either.
Why would Companies Claim to Be Cruelty-Free but Sale Their Products in Chine KNOWING that China Will Test Them on Animals?
I honestly don’t know, but the only logical reason I can think of has to do with profit margins.
What if a Company or Brand Says that They “Only Test When Required By Law” but They Are Not Sold in China?
Products are only required to be tested by law in China, so if the company or brand is using this statement but they don’t sale in China there are several possible answers as to why:
- The company or brand may be in the process of or intending to move into the Chinese market.
- The company or brand may be using ingredients in their product(s) that are tested for purposes that are not cosmetic or household related (medicinal, for example).
- The company or brand may not have anything to do with testing (by law or otherwise) but may have a parent company that tests and requires the statement be used on all packaging.
- The company or brand may not understand the phrase and could be using it because they see other companies using it (which sounds stupid, but I’ve seen it happen).
So this is where you will want to consider contacting the company for clarification or let your conscious be your guide. Personally when I see the the “when required by law” disclaimer I do not automatically write a company off, I just do a little extra research to ensure that they do not test and they are not sold in China. If I can check those two boxes, I will support the company.
What Does it Mean if a Brand is Cruelty-Free but Their “Parent Company” is Not?
This is a whole other can of worms, but I’ll give you a real-life example:
► L’oreal does not test their products or ingredients on animals but they do sale in China where animal testing is required by law so they are generally NOT excepted as a cruelty-free company (you can read more about their testing policy here).
► Urban Decay is a cruelty-free company that does not test product or ingredients on animals or sale in China.
► Urban Decay is owned by L’oreal.
► Therefore, L’oreal is a parent company to Urban Decay.
► This also means that a portion of Urban Decay profits do go to L’oreal.
You will want to take some time to decide for yourself if you want to support L’oreal, Urban Decay, and other brands whose parent companies are not cruelty-free or who sale in China. Personally, I choose to support brands like Urban Decay whose parent companies I don’t consider to be cruelty-free because I admire them (Urban Decay, and others like them) for holding on to their values and not letting their parent company run the show.
But like I said, this is a personal choice for everyone and I would never judge you for not feeling the same.
I’m Not Vegan, Can I Still Go Cruelty-Free?
Yes, yes, yes and a thousand times yes!
Do the best that you can.
I know some people may consider it hypocritical to care about the well being of animals when it comes to cosmetics and household products, but not to care about their treatment when it comes to food, but I feel that living a cruelty-free lifestyle is about being the best person that you can be within your own moral compass, budget and heath restraints.
For me, that means not buying makeup, skincare or haircare from brands that test on animals, trying to find cruelty-free household items whenever possible (and whenever I can afford it, cause let’s face it.. Purex is cheap and it works) and trying to feed my family the healthiest food that we can afford (that embraces our omnivore nature).
What is the Hardest Part About Going Cruelty-Free?
This is different for everybody. For me, the first thing I struggled with was so shallow I’m embarrassed to admit it… I was so worried I would miss out on products and brands that everyone else gets to use and I’d be stuck with a bunch of grass and fruit based stuff no one has ever heard of. As it turns out, there are soooooooo many great brands that are cruelty-free that I don’t feel I miss out at all! And furthermore, I’ve had the chance to try tons of fruit based stuff since switching and you’d be surprised how much of it is actually pretty freaking good!
The other hard part for me was accepting that I’m not an evil person if I buy Sensodyne (cause it works) or Purex (cause it’s affordable). For the most part, there are a ton of affordable products out there. But not all of them are. And not all of them work! And if you’re like me, you’re not made out of money and you value your health! So sometimes I buy the store brand over the natural/cruelty free cleaner. And sometimes I eat a burger cause it’s delicious. But at the end of the day, the switch to cruelty-free is about doing good and living well. So just find your balance and take your time getting there. No one is perfect!
Any sect of people will have their extremists, and the cruelty-free makeup world is no exception to that. Don’t ever feel like your choices (no matter how big or small) don’t matter, don’t make a difference or don’t count because they are not “cruelty-free” enough for someone else. Do what you can with what you have.