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Each year, an estimated 115 million animals — rabbits, mice, dogs, cats, pigs, and other species — are used globally in tests conducted by the medical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in tests of cosmetic and household products. It’s a staggering number, especially when you consider the alternatives available for many outdated testing practices. In the U.S., cosmetics aren’t even required to be tested on animals and the practice has already been banned in several countries, so why do they allow subjecting animals to such cruel and inhumane practices?

During cosmetic and household product testing, animals undergo painful experiments that involve exposing skin and eyes to potentially dangerous substances, forcing animals to inhale toxic fumes (such as oven cleaner), and injecting them with toxins to determine long-terms effects. These animals are just like our beloved household pets, yet they’re subjected to unimaginable cruelty, only to be euthanized once they’re no longer of use to the company.

Sadly, a lot of popular household brands test everything from shampoo to laundry detergent on animals, even though it’s not necessary. More products claiming to be produced without the use of animal testing are hitting the market, but what do all of the labels mean and how can you be sure that what you purchase is truly cruelty-free?

Reading Product Labels

When you’re reading the labels of products, you might see a logo or a variety of phrases saying the product wasn’t tested on animals. Labels stating “This Finished Product Not Tested on Animals” or “Not Tested on Animals” mean the product itself wasn’t tested on animals — but the individual ingredients could have possibly been tested on animals by the company or a third party. And according to Leaping Bunny, even the words “Cruelty-Free” aren’t a guarantee that animal testing hasn’t occurred somewhere in the process.

The FDA doesn’t regulate the use of these terms, and their website states that: “Some companies may apply such claims solely to their finished cosmetic products. However, these companies may rely on raw material suppliers or contract laboratories to perform any animal testing necessary to substantiate product or ingredient safety.”

It’s all a bit confusing, but don’t give up on trying to find the right products. To ensure you’re buying products that are actually cruelty-free, look for those featuring the Leaping Bunny logo or PETA’s bunny logo. Both organizations thoroughly vet companies and their procedures to determine whether they meet cruelty-free standards.

Leaping Bunny has an app and comprehensive online guide to approved brands that you can browse, making it easy to find cruelty-free products for your entire home. And Beagle Freedom Project has a Cruelty Cutter app that allows you to scan the barcode of a product to see whether it’s cruelty-free. You can also share the results on social media to help spread the word about popular products that meet (or don’t meet) cruelty-free standards.

Finding a Company’s Animal Testing Policies

If you have a favorite company and want to find out their stance on animal testing, check their website. You might have to dig for the information, but using the website’s search tool can usually help you find it fairly quickly. When you’re doing your research, be sure to read between the lines. Some companies may not do the testing themselves, but rely on third-party companies to do the testing for them — or they might claim to “only test when it’s required by law,” which basically means they do test on animals.

There are also larger companies that conduct animal testing on some products, but not others that are part of a “natural” or “organic” product line.  In other cases, you’ll find the cruelty-free logo on a product line only to find out that company is the subsidiary of one that tests on animals. Again, in these instances, you can turn to resources like Leaping Bunny that tell the full story about a product so you can feel confident about your purchase.

Other Ways You Can Help

The road to cruelty-free living doesn’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of amazing cruelty-free products on the market, or you can make your own at home. By going the DIY route you’ll not only save money but reduce your exposure to toxins and prevent harm to wildlife and marine animals by reducing the amount of plastic waste you generate.

Take additional action against animal testing by supporting legislation like The Humane Cosmetics Act, which aims to ban animal testing in the U.S. You can Support this important piece of legislation by contacting your legislators, and by signing this petition urging the U.S. to ban cosmetic testing on animals.

Beauty doesn’t need to hurt, so let’s make sure we cut it out of all our personal products for the sake of animals!

Lead image source: Pixabay