Sunday 16 February 2014

The Quest for Cruelty-Free Beauty

Since I switched to a Vegan diet it's been increasingly important to me to source beauty products and cosmetics that are cruelty-free wherever possible. Perhaps I was a little naive (some might even argue ignorant) in thinking that most companies in this day and age had scrapped animal testing, following EU legislation last year banning it as part of the development of cosmetics. By the end I became scared to death that, by loving certain brands/products, was I unwittingly promoting it?

When I started doing my research on brand policies regarding animal testing, however, I soon realised that I was going round and round in circles, hopping from list to list and getting a different answer every time. It's not as black and white as it seems. It's not as simple as 'you either test on animals or you don't'. I'm no expert. In fact, I've barely begun to get my head around how rubber the ethical ruler is. What I thought I'd do today is share a few fundamental, basic principles behind company policies on animal testing and things to take into account when considering more ethical product choices. These are just the main points I've picked up from the searching I've done so far and are, by no means, the whole story but I just thought I'd share...

The Basics

The Cruelty Free Family Tree
I personally LOVE The Body Shop. I love their products, their message and everything they originally set out to achieve. They have always spoken out (loudly) against animal testing and, yes, no Body Shop products are tested on animals to this day. Great, no?? Well, in more recent years The Body Shop was acquired by L'Oreal, a huge parent company with somewhat hazy policies regarding animal testing and no straight answers. Does this mean The Body Shop is guilty by association? Maybe, but massive corporations such as L'Oreal and P&G make judgements based on sales. If everybody opted to buy Body Shop products instead of L'Oreal's own branded products would that then encourage them to crack down further? Or does this automatically mean that we should boycott The Body Shop? It's personal choice when it comes down to it. 

Peer Pressure
As I mentioned before, animal testing for cosmetics purposes was outlawed in March 2013 by the EU. However, other continents have their own policies. A simple way to establish whether a company undertakes animal testing is to find out whether or not they sell their products in China. It is a legal requirement in China that any cosmetic/beauty products that go on sale must first be subject to animal testing. As a result of this you'll now find that a lot of company policies regarding animal testing will include the phrase "... except when required by law". 

State of Independence
I've found, during my search, that independent companies are more forthcoming, adamant and clear on their animal testing policies. I'm so happy to report that some of my favourite brands such as Nails Inc, Barry M, Original Source and Origins are against animal testing for ingredients as well as finished products. A lot of them will even state on product packaging that a product is Vegan/Cruelty free. In my experience so far, the trend seems to be the bigger the company, the sketchier the policy. 

'Cruelty Free' and 'Vegan' are not Exactly the Same
One point I'd just like to make is that even legitimate, organic, independent companies that abhor animal testing still sometimes use animal derived ingredients in their products which are unsuitable for Vegans and, in some cases, Vegetarians. Anything labelled as containing Collagen, Elastin, Beeswax, Honey, Casein (milk protein), Lanolin, Cetyl Alcohol (the last two are VERY common and you really don't wanna know where they come from), or Silk is NOT Vegan. To be honest, the list goes on and on and I'd need a whole blog post to tell you about all of them but those are the top culprits. The good news is that nowadays brands are slowly beginning to label their products as Vegan and Cruelty Free. Below are two common logos to watch out for... 

The Leaping Bunny
One fantastic organisation that has sprung up in recent years is The Leaping Bunny, as part of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC), as a cruelty free standard for consumer reference. They have produced a list, last updated in 2012, of approved Cosmetic, Personal Care and Household brands which are internationally recognised as being cruelty free. A product with the Leaping Bunny Logo (above right) has NOT undergone animal testing at any stage of its production or development. Below are a few well known UK cosmetics brands, and drugstore/supermarket own brands, included in the most recent list. To download the full list as a PDF see Here

I'm really sorry that I can't give you a definitive list of makeup/skincare that is cruelty free. To compile one would surely take months. I'm making a huge effort to discover new cruelty free brands and products and hope to be able to review loads on this blog for you in the future now that I'm a bit more switched on to it. I'm still doing my research. I'd like to stress that I am still a NEW Vegan and by no means an expert. Here are a couple of helpful lists I've come across that may help anyone looking to make similar changes and present information in more detail...

 PETA (also available as PDF)

Are you looking to make more ethical product choices?? Are you a new Vegan like myself?? Where can I find more information on these issues??



  1. Absolutely amazing blog post, more people should be aware of the leaping bunny and understand how animals are affected within the beauty industry. Thanks for sharing.

    Katy xxx

    1. Definitely! I don't think we're told enough about what goes into our products and how they are developed. There is definitely a double standard in the cosmetics industry regarding the treatment of animals.

      Thank you for the lovely comment. I'll be sure to report back if I discover anything new :) x

  2. Really good blogpost! I would love to read more about this subject, because it's really hard trying to stay true to your beliefs when it comes to make-up and skincare I think...
    Anyway, here's a link to a continuously updated list of companies that DO TEST on animals... :(
    It's directed towards the US market but helpful anyway I hope:

    1. I think that's the same PDF as the PETA one I linked to. You're right though, it's more geared towards the USA. I find PETA to be very black and white on the subject and they don't give any additional information on their list at all regarding individual policies but it's a good place to start for sure!

      Thanks for your comment :) x


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