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What does cruelty free beauty mean?

What does cruelty free beauty mean? -

It recently occurred to me that some of you may not know exactly what cruelty free beauty means. Cruelty free beauty, to me, is beauty products that are not tested on animals, nor do they contain ingredients tested on animals. It’s sort of a harm reductionist view point to choose to buy products that are made without harming animals. I went cruelty free on my blog in 2012.

What does cruelty free beauty mean?

I don’t often talk about it because it upsets me, but animals are used to test cosmetics in awful ways. They have ingredients or products rubbed onto their skin, put into their eyes or ears, and often they’re forced to eat them too. The animals are monitored to see if they have an allergic reaction. It’s pretty barbaric. (And no, I won’t include images, they make me cry.)

The alternatives to animal testing are better, in my opinion. Some of them use human skin (donated from surgeries) to test ingredients. There are also in vitro tests. Computers help too. These are all more precise tests that provide more accurate results on whether or not an ingredient is likely to irritate a human.

There is currently no legal definition for cruelty free (FDA’s site). This means that some companies will say things like not tested on animals, against animal testing, never tested on animals, we don’t conduct animal testing, or cruelty free on their packaging, but they may not actually be cruelty free.

To determine what is cruelty free, you can turn to Leaping Bunny, PETA, Logical Harmony, My Beauty Bunny, Paula’s Choice or my cruelty free beauty list. Tashina from Logical Harmony and Jen from My Beauty Bunny and I constantly communicate about brands and share information with each other. We all try to do the best we can to provide you with accurate information. However, I also urge you to email the company and see what sort of response they give you. If a company doesn’t respond, it speaks volumes. Also, if you disagree with a company that’s on one of our lists, don’t buy from that company! Voting with your money does make a statement and impact.

In the USA and Europe, animal tests for cosmetics are not required by law. However, to market a product, a company must demonstrate that it is safe to use (FDA’s site). This can be done by using approved alternative testing methods and the many ingredients already proven safe to use. There’s a long list of 20,000 ingredients that have been proven to be safe that companies can choose to use.

PETA has a list of ingredients that are commonly derived from animals in cosmetics. To quote the Beauty Brains, “There are few, if any, animal derived ingredients that don’t have some suitable, plant or synthetic replacement.” This is one of the many reasons that I believe that it’s possible to make cruelty free beauty products. Honey, milk and lanolin can be obtained without harming animals (though this is also debated).

People often throw the argument around that all ingredients were at one time tested on animals, so why bother to shop cruelty free. My opinion on this is that you should not let those animals have died in vain. I want to support companies that are not currently testing on animals or using ingredients currently tested on animals because I am against animal cruelty. Makeup is not a necessity, and while I certainly love it, I don’t think bunnies should die for it.

So far the following countries have banned animal testing for cosmetics – the European Union, Norway, Israel, India and New Zealand. The USA, Australia and Taiwan are considering banning testing. The Humane Society International works worldwide to help end animal testing.

I’ve been asked if it’s hard to go cruelty free for beauty. To me, not at all. I gave up my favorite makeup brand MAC and it opened up a whole new world of beauty companies to me. I fell in love with Urban Decay, Makeup Geek, Too Faced, Cover FX, and Sugarpill, just to name a few. I’ve been able to find replacements for all sorts of products I previously thought I’d be lost without.

What do you think about cruelty free beauty?

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  • Really well written post. I loved it 🙂
    And if I can just show support for my country – Israel for going cruelty free a few years back. The anonymous group faught very hard and with the help of a few open minded politicians the dream was realized. They even closed the last monkey farm a year ago (they bread monkeys for experiments).

      • I think the cf issue has gained a lot of supporters in the past years so maybe the USA will come around at some point. It all comes down to politics in the end…

  • I’m glad you explained more about this, because as you already know I was a total noob to this kinda stuff before our chat about it a while back, haha.

  • Very informative post! I know when I’m asked about Cruelty Free brands, I refer people to your site or My Beauty Bunny!

  • I think it can be difficult to navigate cruelty free when there isn’t clear cut vernacular yet, especially since it’s not legally defined!

  • This is such a great post! I know there has been ore of a push to ban animal testing here (Canada) but I think if the US could follow the EU model more countries would follow suit.

  • You explained this so well. I’m so much more aware of cruelty free now thanks to you and your posts.

  • Awesome information. I love our animal friends and am slowly trying to transition my products I use to cruelty free… it’s not an easy task and I’m thankful to have you to guide me.

  • I have a friend who is only trying to stick with cruelty-free and vegan makeup brands. Whenever I see you or others talking about these brands, I immediately point them to your reviews and then the site to the brands/products. She says it’s SO difficult to find brands that meet her needs so I am always trying to help her out.

  • Thanks for addressing this topic. There are quite a few misconceptions on this topic and am glad to get the gist of it.

  • Great post! I often check around to make sure I get cruelty free, but sometimes, I admit, I drop the ball and just buy what I want!

    • It’s definitely confusing. I try to set the tone with my blog that there are a lot of cool cruelty free beauty products out there, rather than shaming people for not buying cruelty free. I don’t like that whole ‘name and shame’ thing that some people will do. I try very hard to provide accurate information.

      • You do a great job. It can be so hard to track down the information. When I research, I frequently find outdated or conflicting info. I appreciate that you do the work for us and make it easily accessible.
        I don’t know about others, but it’s hard for me to know what to do, especially since so many non-CF companies own the bigger CF companies (so some of my money is going to animal testing anyway). I hate that MAC started selling in China and wasn’t very open about it, but I support the Viva Glam AIDS charity and the Back To MAC program for being good for the environment. I just don’t buy much MAC. I haven’t bought from Stila since I found out they pulled the same thing. I’m still figuring out where I’m drawing my lines on the gray areas. I often feel guilty or like a hypocrite, even though most of my stuff has always been CF.

        I hate animal testing and wish it were abolished everywhere. I sign petitions and share the links to them. It seems like so little when we need widespread political change. The world can’t even keep from mistreating other people, endangered species aren’t getting proper protection… we just do our little bit and hope it helps. Here’s hoping the US abolishes it and sets a good example.

  • Although I still use brands that are NOT cruelty-free, that doesn’t mean I believe it is okay. I hope and pray that one day all companies quit testing on animals because that is NOT okay.

  • Thank you for being so vocal about this issue! I may not be a cruelty-free blogger, but I respect your views and opinions on this topic, and I know of any of my friends and relatives are ever interested in cruelty-free beauty, your blog will be the first one I will tell them about.

  • It’s good to recap this topic often. I know you have been instrumental in helping me continue to move towards being totally cruelty-free. It’s not been totally easy, however, when I think of the bunnies, beagles and other animals…that makes my choice to be cruelty-free so much easier.

  • Thank you for the reminder and overview! I really respect your decision to support cruelty-free and stand behind your beliefs!!!

  • Great post. It is important to understand how your beauty items are made, and why it is important to support cruelty-free brands.

  • Thank you for posting this Phyrra, and for doing all you do on your blog! I am very grateful to have you as a resource as I try to convert to a CF life as best I can (it’s one thing to be a vegetarian, another thing to try to divest yourself of all products in your life that animals in some way suffered so you could have access to). Cosmetics-wise, this is not too painfully difficult, although even there I am not perfect. I make concessions or have “flexibility” sometimes (ex MAC Creme Cup is my fave lipstick of all time and I haven’t been able to find a dupe! But that’s the only MAC product I buy, so at least I am not supporting there new collections or other makeup). But my resolve should be stronger. And then when you think about all the skincare, deodorants and bodycare, housecleaning products, pharmaceuticals etc. we consume on a daily basis that have been tested on animals, the mission to go CF just seems too formidable. Baby steps are better than nothing so, again, I am trying to do my best while at least keeping informed. It becomes increasingly difficult when companies sell in China, as that is of course a large target market but one which requires animal testing, which is disheartening on many levels. But perhaps that will also change if enough of us speak up with our voices and/or our wallets. I just started a monthly donation to the Human Society to support their efforts to ban animal testing – it’s small, but it’s something I can do.

    I wish more bloggers and vloggers would be more concerned with CF cosmetics. I am sure it must be difficult – as a YT’er for ex, one would want to appeal to the widest possible audience, including younger girls who only really have the money and access to purchase drugstore brand products. And you want to stay relevant by reviewing the trendiest, latest collections from MAC, prestige dept. store brands, etc. But I sometimes wish they would make greater mention of the CF status of the products they use or show an indication they are even aware of the issue. Some bloggers/vloggers won’t even mention if brushes are synthetic or “natural” bristle, like it were an unimportant distinction. Anyway, that is why I am very grateful for you Phyrra and appreciate like whoah! the work you do on this blog. Thanks so much!! 🙂

    • You’re very welcome! I can tell you that a lot of advertisers do NOT want to work with me because of the cruelty free issue, which is why I do not blog full time and I work full time for a company.

      I think that by doing the best you can, even by reducing if not eliminating products really helps! Much like the ‘Meatless Monday’ thing that so many people do. Keep up all the good work that you’re doing by being conscientious 🙂

      • Thanks for saying that! At least I got the meatless part pretty much down (do you know how difficult it was to give up gelatin?!!? sigh….) And now I respect you even more for sticking to your principles despite the wariness of some brands. It’s like the big-truth-that-shall-not-be named, but we all know!

        • I can understand gelatin being hard. I can’t do soy and soy is in everything. I can’t eat a lot of meat substitutes because they all contain soy.

          I figure the brands that really do want to work with me will align with my morals, like Urban Decay, Too Faced, Sugarpill, Darling Girl, and Cover FX, etc.

  • Thanks for posting. Cruelty-free can be such a difficult issue since companies can be really vague or just outright lie about their testing policies. I hope that one day there will be more regulation on the matter. I wonder if there are any political committees working on it?

  • HI! I haven’t commented on your blog in forever (even though I’ve definitely been reading religiously). I really enjoyed this post and wanted to throw in that it’s so important for people to be informed mindful consumers, and many companies are forever vague with their testing policies. I really wish there were more government regulation on what products can be marketed as cruelty free.

    • Hi! So happy to hear from you! And you’re right, so many companies are vague. That’s why I mentioned that there is no legal definition of cruelty free from the FDA’s site :/ I wish there was too!

  • This is a really important post! Thank you for taking the time to write this! There is no reason that any company should be animal testing!

  • As a dietary vegan I need to be better about making sure everything I purchase is cruelty free. It is hard to do do it all,I feel like after all these years I am still reading labels on every single thing I buy because they hide so much crap in food that is really animal but they renamed it.I will eventually get there, thanks for sharing!

    • I knew you were vegan, but I wasn’t sure where you stood on cruelty free. Happy to hear that I’m not the only one who struggles with labels sometimes!

      • I do try to buy as much cruelty free products as possible, even for household items (cleaning products) but I am not as good as I should be with the cosmetics. Oh no companies are getting tricky with their wording for sure!

        • Seventh Generation and Method have been a life saver for me in cleaning products. Some things I still haven’t been able to switch because of Ray’s allergies.

  • Wonderful post. I often turn to your list to check out whether a brand is or isn’t cruelty-free. I’m hoping that the tide is beginning to turn and that more and more companies will give up animal testing. And I hope Too Faced’s new investors will support the company’s cruelty-free stance

  • Agree with everything you stated! I always have been against animal testing but I have known weaker times where I was flexible about it. Now I don’t tolerate any animal testing, especially when there are so many alternatives and as you said, makeup is not a necessity. Great article!

    • I think it’s really hard sometimes too, since there is no legal definition of what is cruelty free. I also support the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for alternative medical testing, but I see medicine as a necessity and makeup as not.

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