Hello beauty junkies and welcome to the first post in my Ethical Xmas series: Cruelty Free Beauty! Did you know the top 10 busiest shopping days of the year are in November and December?! As we approach the holidays, basically every mall becomes a nightmarish shit-storm of people frantically gift shopping. Although most people are shopping with good intentions, many shoppers are uninformed about the true cost of their purchases. And, unfortunately, a ton of the money spent on these popular shopping days goes towards supporting unethical brands and industries. I’m creating this series to help all of you lovely beauty gurus find the perfect gift this year without spending those hard earned doll hairs on unethical bullshit!
Today we’re talking all about cruelty free beauty!
What makes a product cruelty free?
This season, give a gift that supports ethical companies and industries! Today we’re focusing on cruelty free beauty. Some people mistakenly believe that cruelty free brands are expensive or difficult to find, but this isn’t true at all. There are tons of cruelty free options for any budget and style– many of which can be found in Ulta and Sephora. Here’s just a few popular cruelty free brands!
So what exactly makes a company cruelty free? And how can we be certain companies are telling the truth about their status as cruelty free? Let’s jump right in and learn how to be ethical consumers this holiday season by only supporting cruelty free brands!
Zero animal testing
In order to be completely cruelty free, companies cannot allow animal testing. This means they must follow a few rules:
- brands can’t hire a third party to test ingredients for them
- they can’t buy ingredients that were tested on animals
- and they cannot sell to a country that will require animal testing on the finished product
Unfortunately many brands fall short of meeting these criteria. And on top of that there’s some debate in the beauty community over what can qualify as cruelty free when it comes to issues like parent companies and selling in China.
Do parent companies affect a brand’s status
There are two sides to this debate. On one hand, supporting a brand owned by a non-cruelty free parent company means that some of your money will benefit the larger parent company. But on the other hand, supporting that brand is essentially voting with your dollar and showing the parent company that there is a huge market for cruelty free products.
Take for example the popular makeup brand Urban Decay. They are technically 100% cruelty free, but after L’Oreal purchased the brand many people argued this was no longer true. Some people believe that because L’Oreal will benefit from the sale of Urban Decay products, purchasing them is supporting animal testing. In my opinion, however, this is not the case. Although I never purchase L’Oreal products, I will continue to by Urban Decay cosmetics. Why? Because massive companies like L’Oreal are capable of making a huge difference in the world. Every dollar spent on Urban Decay is another reason for L’Oreal to phase out animal testing on their own products. Even if they stop animal testing for publicity and profit (instead of genuine values) they would still drastically reduce animal suffering.
Does selling in China affect a brand’s status
Most countries leave it up to brands whether or not they’d like to test on animals. Although there are some countries that are banning animal testing altogether, there are also countries that *require* it by law. Yes, I’m looking at you China. The current legal landscape in China requires that all cosmetic products (regardless of where they were manufactured) must be tested on animals before reaching the consumer. This means that some brands will claim they are cruelty free and then directly profit from sales in China that contributed to animal testing. Instead of standing up to these countries and working to make testing illegal globally, they’re just looking out for their bottom line. This year the cosmetic brand NARS made the decision to begin selling in China, and as a result will no longer be considered a cruelty free beauty brand.
Although there is some debate over this, most of the beauty community agrees that selling in China disqualifies a brand from being cruelty free. If a brand agrees to export to China they are knowingly supporting animal testing on their finished product.
Ethically sourced animal products
Although I completely support the vegan lifestyle, I think it’s possible to use certain animal products as long as they were obtained ethically. Take for example products that use eggs, milk, and honey. There are companies in these industries that are cruel to animals but there are many ethical ways to get these ingredients. Brands like Lush, for example, have some vegetarian products that include ethically sourced animal ingredients. This means that the animals are raised under excellent conditions, and treated humanely. As long as animals are treated ethically, these vegetarian products can still be considered cruelty free.
Cruelty free “fur-less” alternatives
Although it is possible to ethically source certain animal products, there are some that are inherently cruel. One example of this is mink fur used in cosmetic brushes and false lashes. In order to harvest hair for use in these products it must be violently pulled out of the skin. This process is extremely painful for the animals and definitely disqualifies a brand from being cruelty free. Even if they don’t test on animals, any brand that uses mink is still systematically torturing live animals.
Always check if a brand uses real fur or synthetic fibers. There are amazing alternatives to fur that are equally as soft and fluffy, without any of that nasty animal cruelty!
Brands to blacklist
If you want to support cruelty free beauty this holiday season (and all of the bunnies hope you do!) then there are some popular brands that you must blacklist. I’ve created a handy pin to save and help you when you’re fighting the crowds at the mall, but it is by no means comprehensive! Be sure to check the resources below if you’re not sure about the status of a company/brand!
Again, this list is by no means comprehensive, so please do a little research on your own before shopping! Check out some more amazing resources below to easily check the status of any beauty brand.
More Cruelty Free Beauty Resources!
Look for cruelty free logos
Sometimes brands will display a logo on their packaging showing that their products have been verified as cruelty free. Organization like PETA (America), Choose Cruelty Free (Australia), and Cruelty Free International verify the status of brands and compile databases of cruelty free companies.
These are three of the biggest organizations that verify brands as truly cruelty free and hold them accountable. If a brand displays one or more of these images you can rest assured that they are cruelty free. The Cruelty Free International “leaping bunny” logo guarantees the highest level of certainty that companies are truly cruelty free. They conduct regular audits and investigate where companies are getting ingredients from as well.
There is some controversy over whether all logos guarantee the same degree of certainty. Since PETA does not conduct regular audits on their list, there is a possibility that companies are breaking the rules. That being said, it would be an extremely unwise for a company to voluntarily agree to be verified as cruelty free and then continue testing at a later date. So don’t worry too much about the validity of the “caring consumer” logo.
Be aware of impostors: simply having a bunny on the packaging doesn’t make a product cruelty free. If a brand has a logo you’ve never seen before be cautious and try to verify their status using some of these other resources! Additionally, keep in mind that a certified organic and/or vegan logo doesn’t necessarily mean something is cruelty free. Usually these go hand in hand, but there are many instances of companies with eco-friendly, and animal-loving branding that still test on animals (ie. Origins skincare.)
Cruelty Free Kitty
If you’re going to be shopping for beauty products this holiday season, definitely check out Cruelty Free Kitty. This website is a bomb af resource for verifying cruelty free beauty brands. You can easily check the status of hundreds of brands, including whether they test, are owned by a non-cruelty free parent company, are 100% vegan, and more. They do amazing research and got those receipts! Be sure to read their cruelty free 101 post: Everything You Need to Know About Animal Testing.
Bunny Free App
If you want another resource to help you quickly verify unfamiliar brands when you’re out shopping download the “Bunny Free” app (available on both iOS and android.) This app allows you to search a database of brands to check their status! PETA developed this app to help shoppers quickly search by either typing the brand name or scanning the barcode! How convenient!
I hope this post will help you find the perfect gift for the beauty guru in your life (or a little treat for yourself)! Have you made the commitment to go cruelty-free yet? What are some of your favorite cruelty free beauty products? Comment below! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to subscribe and follow me on social media so you can be first to know about new blog posts!