What to Look for When Buying Cruelty Free and Ethical Beauty Products

rabbits separated by a fence

Image credit: Pixabay/Alexas_Fotos

It seems barbaric, but many health and beauty companies still use outdated forms of animal testing for beauty products. Despite the fact that scientists have developed more efficient and more reliable forms of humane testing that use artificial skin and eyes in order to mimic real human tissues more closely than any animals’, a lot of companies still choose to stick with cruel forms of testing that date back to the 1920s.

To give you an idea of how awful some of the tests routinely conducted on animals are, here are the two most common forms of tests for beauty products: the Draize test and the Lethal Dose test. In the former, substances are placed in conscious rabbits’ eyes to test how irritating they are to this incredibly sensitive tissue. In the second test, a specific number of animals are forced to ingest the substance being tested until half of them die.

If, like a lot of consumers, you find this situation unacceptable for products that you are simply buying to make yourself more beautiful, then you have the right mindset to become a cruelty-free shopper!

How to be an informed and ethical shopper

In the controversial world of animal testing, it pays to be an informed consumer. Many companies who still use animals for cosmetic testing will try and fool you into believing they are ‘cruelty-free’. Watch out for the phrase ‘We do not test on animals’, as this might simply mean that the company in question has outsourced their animal testing to a different organization. Similarly, a product might boast that it is ‘cruelty-free’ or that it has not been tested on animals when, in reality, this description only applies to the finished product and not to the ingredients used in its manufacture.

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The good news is that there are a few organizations out there that are determined to help you have the information you need to make an informed and ethical choice on all products you buy.

Firstly, when you’re out shopping, there are two logos you can look for on products that will guarantee that the item you’re buying is cruelty-free and that the company you’re giving your money to has an animal-testing free philosophy.

The Leaping Bunny

leaping bunny logoFirstly, The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (the CCIC) has developed a ‘leaping bunny’ logo. Any company who uses the logo on their products must stop any animal testing in any stage of their product development. According the CCIC, “the company’s ingredient suppliers make the same pledge and the result is a product guaranteed to be 100 percent free of new animal testing.”

The Pink Bunny

peta pink bunny logoThe second logo also features a bunny (this one’s pink) and comes from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This organization also has a great resource on its website, which you can use to check out which companies or products are genuinely cruelty-free.

A brief history of cruelty-free cosmetics

Cosmetic animal testing allegedly began after several women were blinded by a permanent eyebrow tinting product called Lash Lure. As public outrage grew about the lack of control over toxic substances in the marketplace, the US government’s reaction involved introducing the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 – it didn’t stipulate animal testing, but it did require that all products for sale were guaranteed safe for human use. Many companies took up animal testing as a quick and easy way to verify their safety record.

There are several key companies who set the trend for animal-testing free cosmetics, helping to prove both that customers wanted cruelty-free products and that it was economically and legally viable to provide that service. For example, the Body Shop and Dermalogica are both hugely popular skincare and beauty brands that have never (and will never) test any of their products or products’ ingredients on animals.

The future of animal testing

Although animal testing on cosmetic products is still widespread, there is a lot of progress. For example, in 2003, the European Union passed a ban on the use of animals in cosmetics testing that started in 2009. They are also introducing a near-total sales ban that will come into effect in 2013, even if alternative methods of testing have not been fully implemented!

However, in America and elsewhere in the world, cosmetic animal testing is still a big problem. Wherever you are in the world, you can make a difference by using your power as a consumer to only give your money to cruelty-free organizations.

This article was written by Lucy Langdon. Lucy writes for The Face Beauty, an online shop that specializes in Dermalogica products and offers free, next-day delivery on many orders.

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