What you need to know about cruelty-free beauty
When Elle Woods set her sights on having her Chihuahua’s mom at her wedding, she hired a private investigator to find her, stormed in the V.E.R.S.A.C.E animal testing center to call them out for testing products on animals, and basically turned Washington DC inside out to have a bill passed against animal testing. But Legally Blonde 2’s sugary happy ending barely touched the surface of a broad topic. Being cruelty-free as a brand is more complex than simply having a bunny logo on the product packaging.
What does it mean to be cruelty-free?
In basic terms, being cruelty-free means a brand did not test their products on animals at any stage of production of their items. “Cruelty-free”, “Does not test on animals” and “Against animal testing” all mean the same thing. The logos and wording may differ according to the certifying body – and yes, brands can’t make these claims or use the logos with proper certification.
There is also a difference between being “cruelty-free” and “vegan”, the latter term meaning that it doesn’t contain raw materials that are produced by animals. It can be surprising to realize that many cosmetics actually use animal by-products such as: natural makeup bristles (from squirrels, minks and horses), the pigments in blushes and eyeshadows (from pearls and crushed bugs), lotions (animal-derived glycerin), shampoos (animal-derived keratin) and even beauty supplements (animal-derived biotin and collagen).
If it has a bunny logo, does that mean it’s alright?
Unfortunately, that’s not a guarantee. Just like “authentic” replicas, cruelty-free logos can be stamped on without undergoing proper certification. Also, while the brand may not have been directly involved in animal testing, it may not be able to guarantee that no third party animal testing was involved or that the ingredients used were not tested on animals.
Accrediting companies like PETA, Leaping Bunny, CCF and others try their best to assure that these technicalities are covered but a large part of the credibility profile lies on the brands themselves. It’s not unusual to hear about certifications being revoked because brands continue to perform animal testing in other territories that do not have bans in place. Currently, animal testing is illegal in places like the European Union and India. In the Philippines, Republic 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act does not expressly ban animal testing.
Should you make the switch?
Subjecting animals to testing products is a complex and sensitive topic that requires more than just a quick read. Cruelty-free certifying companies encourage consumers who support non-animal testing to do their research and contact the brands themselves to find out their policies against animal testing. Some companies who perform animal testing do so because of legal requirements, but are working towards regulatory change and developing tests that do not involve animals.
Which beauty brands should you consider?
Cruelty-free: Human Nature, a local brand that carries well-loved natural products like Sunflower Oil and other beauty and skincare items is one of PETA’s recognized cruelty-free brands. Pink Sugar, carrier of some of the best lip and cheek tints and matte lipsticks, is another. Other local brands are Happy Skin and Zenutrients. ELF Cosmetics and The Body Shop are also proud of the fact.
We promise to make a more comprehensive list when we finish calling up most of the local brands we are in contact with.
Vegan: Ecotools produces brushes that are loved by many, not only because they’re soft and actually perform well, but also because they’re also vegan.
Cruelty-free and Vegan: Great-smelling soap and bath bombs from LUSH assures cruelty-free products and 100% vegetarian ingredients. They even have dedicated an explanation on their site, and have labeled items that are vegan. Avalon Organics, which is known for their shampoos and shower gels, features the Leaping Bunny logo and uses 100% vegetarian ingredients.
If you want to check if your favorite brands are cruelty-free, you can search for them in these online databases:
- Leaping Bunny Compassionate Shopping Guide
- PETA’s Cruelty-Free Company Search
- Choose Cruelty-Free List
Have you made the switch to cruelty-free products? Was it difficult to find alternatives? What are your favorite cruelty-free brands?
Cover image by Maira Sansuste