Beginners Guide to Cruelty-Free Beauty
September 5, 2016
I’ve been quite hesitant to write about this topic as emotions seem to run high on the subject of cruelty-free beauty. But since I’ve been researching the topic I wanted to create a beginners guide to cruelty-free beauty. If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed me asking for blog posts and information on cruelty-free beauty as I wanted to learn a little more about the topic. To be honest with you I thought it would be a pretty simple topic and I would just need a list of brands, but the topic is very complicated and there is way more to it than a list of cruelty-free brands. So here is my beginners guide to the subject of cruelty-free beauty.
Lack of Regulation
There is no regulation on the use of the term cruelty-free and brands are under no obligation to tell you anything. This means that brands can have third parties test products on animals on their behalf or buy ingredients tested on animals and still say they are cruelty-free. Brands will tell us that their finished products are not tested on animals, while many of the ingredients might well have been. It’s really difficult to tell what has been tested on animals and what hasn’t as brands will obviously want to appear cruelty-free as that is what consumers want.
The EU Ban
Animal testing for cosmetics is illegal in the EU which is a huge step forward in the cruelty-free movement. I’m going to put my hands up here and admit I was really naive about the EU ban, I assumed that because animal testing was banned in the EU that my cosmetics (brought in the EU) were going to be cruelty-free. However the EU can only regulate what happens in the EU, so although brands can’t test on animals within the EU they can elsewhere. Until there is a worldwide ban on animal testing, we just can’t be 100% sure that all our cosmetics haven’t been tested on animals somewhere.
The China Issue
Animal testing is required by law for all foreign cosmetic companies selling in China. Unfortunately, this has led to a massive step backwards for large cosmetic companies such as MAC, Clinique and Benefit (to name a few). It’s really disappointing after the progress made to end animal testing in Europe. I can understand the appeal of the Chinese market, it’s currently worth around 26 billion dollars and is growing daily. But these brands are choosing profits over ethics and trying to hide it from their western consumers. If you notice a disclaimer like ‘We do not test on animals, except when required by law’ then that company is probably selling in China.
Some companies can remain cruelty-free after being purchased by big brands which aren’t cruelty-free (or sell in China). For example NYX, Urban Decay and The Body Shop are all owned by L’Oreal which tests its products on animals whilst remaining cruelty-free companies. I’ve found this one of the trickiest issues to get my head around as the companies themselves are cruelty-free, everything they make is completely separate from the parent company, however, the parent company will get a cut of the profits. These profits could then be used to fund animal testing. However, by choosing to purchase from a cruelty-free company you are at the same time sending a message to the parent company that you want cruelty-free products. If the likes of L’Oreal notice that their cruelty-free brands are more popular it could lead to change.
Can you be Cruelty-Free if you’re not Vegan?
I didn’t even consider this an issue until someone brought it up on Twitter. She felt it was hypocritical to say you only used cruelty-free cosmetics if you weren’t vegan as well. I have to disagree with this issue, I think there is a very clear difference between animal husbandry and animal testing. I think that it is better for people to change one thing than nothing at all. If someone decides to eat meat that is their decision, but you can eat meat and not want to use products tested on animals. It’s about making ethical decisions which work for you.
These are just a few of the issues relating to Cruelty-free beauty and it’s completely up to you whether or not you decide to purchase a product. I think the best thing we can do as consumers is to educate ourselves on the topic and make informed decisions. When given a choice it is up to us to make the ethical decision.