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All across the world people are waking up and seeing what goes on behind the closed doors of many cosmetic companies. Testing cosmetics on animals, also known as vivisection, is viewed by the majority as necessary to protect the health of humans. The minority, on the other hand, see animal-testing as a cruel and unjust disservice to the non-human population of this planet.

Every year millions of animals will be subjected to cruel tests for the cosmetic industry. Some of these tests involve rubbing potentially harmful chemicals on the skin and eyes of test subjects or force feeding them chemicals. More often than not, this is an extremely painful experience for the animals. In the U.S., using animals for cosmetic testing is not required by the Food and Drug Administration, however, it continues nonetheless.

Many of the compounds tested on animals are already known to be safe for human use, but the reality is that even if the chemicals posed a threat to human health, using animal test subject would not clearly indicate this. Because animals are both genetically and biologically different from humans, chemical reactions can vary widely. So it seems that we subject millions of animals to horrific lives in cages, for very little reason.

As a Green Monster, being informed on whether or not the products we use are cruelty-free or not is important. To help you navigate the world of cruelty-free cosmetics, let’s take a look at the top four cosmetic companies in the world and see how they fare under the microscope.

1. Olay

Olay is probably the largest skincare company in the world and is owned by Procter & Gamble, like many cosmetic brands. According to their publically available material, Olay carries out 400,000 safety tests for its products each and every year. It is unclear as to how many of these are conducted on animals but due to its absence from the Leaping Bunny list and animal-tester status on the PETA list, it is likely that animals are used.

2. Avon

Avon speaks of an ethical duty to maintain standards, but only to the safety of its consumers. While Avon asserts that they do not carry out tests on animals, some of the ingredients they source from outside facilities are tested on animals. PETA has Avon on its animal tester list and Avon is also not Leaping Bunny approved. Keeping in mind a company’s commitment to only using ingredients sourced from other cruelty-free brands or companies is important. To avoid this issue, it is always best to go for a 100 percent cruelty-free brand when picking cosmetics.

3. Garnier

Garnier is owned by L’Oreal, is one of the most well-known cosmetic parent companies in the world. It is also probably the most notorious among cruelty-free shoppers. Although Garnier boasts their use of many natural ingredients, unfortunately, they also test on animals.

4. Neutrogena

Neutrogena is another one of the largest skincare companies in the world. It’s a household name everywhere. Yet it is blacklisted by PETA and not Leaping Bunny approved either. Some of Neutrogena’s products are labeled “not tested on animals,” but that does not mean they are 100 percent “cruelty-free.” Click here to read more about the delineation between these two terms.

5. M.A.C Cosmetics

M.A.C. Cosmetics is part of the parent company, Estee Lauder. In 2012, Estee Lauder resumed animal testing, after claiming to have sworn off the practice, to meet testing requirements in Chinese markets. Although the Chinese government no longer legally requires cosmetics to be tested on animals, M.A.C. still falls under PETA’s no-fly list.

What You Can Do

Choosing to shop cruelty-free is the only way to stop such cruel practices. One may think “I am just one person, I cannot make a difference,” but that simply isn’t true. As more consumers express their concerns over animal welfare in the cosmetic industry, more companies will be willing to look for alternative methods for testing. There is hope that in the near future, the use of animals for all chemical testing will be made obsolete thanks to computer modeling. As long as companies think there is a market for cruelty-free products, they will be willing to give up their antiquated methods and go 100 percent cruelty-free.

Until this time, check out the Leaping Bunny’s list for cruelty-free brands you can trust!

Image source: Captainsubtle/Flickr