As part of her new year’s resolutions, a friend of mine decided that she’d like to cut out animal cruelty from her daily beauty routine. She said this has always been something on her mind, but she’s not sure where to start and who or what to trust. Maybe this sounds like someone you know or perhaps you are like our label-baffled friend: aware of the issues but totally annoyed by unhelpful product labeling.
In either case, we have created this guide to help give a smooth transition to those who want to make the switch to cruelty-free beauty. There is a lot of information out there on different products, testing methods, ingredients, and everything under the sun, so I will be the first to understand that this process can be overwhelming.
Just think of me as your new bunny-friendly best friend, and let’s walk the aisles of cruelty free beauty together. It’s a great place to be!
1. Learn about the issues
First and foremost, here’s possibly the most important detail when it comes to cosmetics testing on animals. Absolutely NO ONE, besides individual companies, requires animal testing for cosmetics or household products. That’s right, not the FDA, not the USDA, not anyone. Companies are required to test for safety of their products, but animal testing is not required.
According to the FDA, “Cosmetic companies may rely on combinations of scientific literature, non-animal testing, raw material safety testing, or controlled human-use testing to substantiate their product safety.” It’s important to understand that animal testing is voluntary, to understand how important this issue really is, and how we can change it.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) provides a table outlining different tests performed on animals in the name of beauty. Some of the most recognizable testing methods are those that involve skin irritation. According to HSUS, this is when a “test substance is applied to the shaved skin of a rabbit. His skin may show signs of redness, rash, lesions, scaling, inflammation, and/or other signs of damage.”
Cruelty to animals just doesn’t need to happen. Alternative technologies are coming out on a regular basis, like the use of protozoa to replace bunnies in toxicity testing. As the FDA quote above explains, companies have many options when it comes to testing their products. There is absolutely no reason companies need to continue such inhumane practices.
2. Do your research — what’s the company’s stance on animal testing?
Now that you have an understanding of the issues, take some time to get to know your current products and decide what you’ll need to replace. For instance, let’s take a look at my friend’s routine. She uses Herbal Essences, Suave, Maybelline, Almay, and Aquafresh (to name a few). I suggest performing a quick Google search with the company name and the phrase “animal testing.”
In this instance, I went with Almay, and got a hit for their website’s FAQ section. Their statement reads, “Almay does not conduct animal testing and has not done so for over 20 years. We comprehensively test all of our products using the most technologically advanced methods available to ensure they are both innovative and safe to use.”
Sounds promising, right? It does, but I’d always recommend going one step further and checking for news stories about the product and animal testing, and to see if the company is listed on any cruelty-free lists (we’ll talk about those next!). In this specific case, because Almay is linked to Revlon, they are not listed as cruelty-free by PETA, or Leaping Bunny.
So, after your research, which will likely pan out like our Almay example, you have choices: trash the product and move on, OR trash the product, contact the company, and move on. I recommend option number two! Contact the company, and ask them about their policies. Especially if you have been a loyal customer, let your voice be heard, and let them know you are switching because of this issue and encourage them to make a change.
3. Make your life easier and check out cruelty-free guides
Now that you are ready to enter the world of cruelty free beauty products, you’ll need a few good guides along the way (in addition to this one of course!). The best two guides are PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies, and The Leaping Bunny (and there’s an App for that) or you can download the pocket sized guide. I personally consider the Leaping Bunny to be the best guide for cruelty-free. However, PETA’s guide includes helpful company contact information for while you’re doing your research. Check out my previous post, “How to Read a Cruelty Free Cosmetics Label” for the full lowdown on this topic.
4. Be conscious shopping in-store
Now you are ready to hit the shelves! You know what seals to look for, and how to investigate companies online and contact them about their animal testing policies. You are a beautiful warrior of change! The availability of cruelty-free products varies from store to store. In places like Whole Foods Market, you will be able to find a wide selection of cruelty-free products without worry. In Target or Wal Mart, you might have a slightly more challenging time. However, brands like Yes To Carrots and Alba Botanica can be found in such stores — so have hope!
5. Be conscious shopping online
This is the really fun part; oh, how the Internet amazes us! When you shop at crueltyfreeconsumer.com, vitacost.com/cruelty-free, and drugstore.com/crueltyfree you can be sure you are only looking at Leaping Bunny approved products! When it comes to makeup, once you’ve scoured the cruelty free guides for your favorite brands, you can buy directly online like at Urban Decay. Also, the wonderful online marketplace, Etsy, has some great all vegan and cruelty free beauty brands. Check out the Vegan Sudz Shop for some high quality fun choices, and browse the site for many more!
6. Stay positive, and keep it up!
I hope that this guide provides you with the information you need to make a smooth transition to cruelty free beauty. Making transitions in life is not always easy, and if learning about the issues gets a little overwhelming, talk to a friend about it, and gain support.
In the end, making the switch to cruelty-free beauty is about helping animals, and that’s really something everyone can get behind. There are many positive movements taking place to help get animals out of laboratories, and cosmetics play a big role in this. Just recently, Cruelty Free International and The Body Shop presented one million signatures against animal testing to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). We hope that the U.S. will soon be on the list of countries that bans animal testing, and thanks to all of you Green Monsters for choosing cruelty-free options!
Image source: Umberto Salvagnin / Wikipedia Commons