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When is "cruelty-free" REALLY cruelty-free?

The cosmetics industry has come a long way and we are THRILLED that many brands are finally moving in the right direction in an effort to reduce animal testing. Hoorah! But the hard truth is that lots of brands still test their cosmetics needlessly on animals, and many of them try to hide that fact from consumers. This makes finding truly cruelty-free beauty brands difficult as many times you have to wade through thick, murky waters of misinformation.

There's hope! But first, some background...

According to the FDA, "at least tens of millions of animals – and perhaps as many as 100 million – are used in experiments in U.S. laboratories every year. Precise numbers are impossible to obtain because rats, mice, or birds used in experimentation are not protected by any law, and laboratories are not required to count these animals. These animals make up at least 95% of the animals used in experiments". (Cruelty-Cutter)

That being said, more and more people are demanding their products to be free of animal testing, and the industry is listening. However, since animal testing is so ingrained in the policies of these companies, simply switching to alternative testing methods is simply not an immediate option.

This difficulty in letting go of bad habits, coupled with the fact that cosmetics labeling isn't regulated, means brands are still testing and yet they are able to say otherwise on their products. Therefore, that means that you have to be wary when you see products that say "No Animal Testing", "Cruelty-Free", and "We Do Not Test on Animals", as they might actually have been tested on animals.

The frustration. You want to buy cruelty-free, you consciously seek out cruelty-free products, but now they might not actually be cruelty-free?! 
It's true, but don't despair - even with so much misinformation out there, there are still ways to know you are purchasing products that are truly 100% cruelty-free! 

Here's how:

1. Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo on your products, or search their online database. The Leaping Bunny program is a voluntary certification program that brands can apply for to ensure to the public that their products are cruelty-free. Really cruelty-free. The Leaping Bunny program has the highest standard for what is deemed cruelty-free as they perform onsite audits to assess the validity of each licensee's claim. However, as this is a voluntary program, and there is a fee, not all truly cruelty-free brands have Leaping Bunny status. Furthermore, as licensing the logo is an additional fee, not having a logo on the product does not necessarily mean they aren't Leaping Bunny certified - a product/brand can be Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free without having a logo. Leaping Bunny also indicates which companies are owned by companies that do test their products on animals. 

2. Look for the PETA logo on your products, or search their online database. The PETA Beauty without Bunnies program does not conduct audits of the licensees but goes off the word of the company as indicated by a questionnaire on their testing policies.  Furthermore, this certification does not assure that the ingredients themselves weren't tested on animals or whether the products are sold in a country that makes animal testing mandatory. There are many companies that might be PETA approved but are not 100% cruelty-free.

3. Use the Cruelty-Cutter App. This app is completely free and has hundreds of brands in its database. They have the same high standards as the Leaping Bunny program but this is not a certification. This is just an easy and thorough way to check the cruelty-free status of your brands. You can scan products while out on the go, or search their database for brands that "TEST" or "DO NOT TEST". They do not include any companies that sell in mainland China as cruelty-free. They also vet those companies who are owned by parent companies that do test and make sure "they a) [provide] substantial and clear documentation that they will NOT test on animals, b) [do not] use ingredients/raw materials obtained from suppliers who test on animals, c)  [do not] sell in China, and d) pledge not to do so in the future. Some notable examples are: Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, and The Body Shop. Each is owned by a parent company that tests on animals, but they have satisfied the above criteria and are listed separately in the app." (Cruelty-Cutter)

4. Shop on our site. Many of our products are either Leaping Bunny certified or Peta certified, but all of them have been vetted by the Cruelty-Cutter App. All of our brands have signed pledges confirming that they DO NOT/ARE NOT:

  • Test their products or ingredients on animals themselves.
  • Have a third party test their products or ingredients on animals.
  • Sell their products in mainland China. China requires mandatory animal testing on any products that are sold in their markets. Therefore, any company that chooses to sell in China is choosing to subject their products to animal testing by law.
  • Owned by a company that tests their products on animals. (We have made the decision not to partner with companies whose profits will benefit a parent company that chooses to still test on animals.) 

5. Email brands and ask them whether they can answer "no" to all of the above criteria. Doing so will also help show the growing demand for cruelty-free products!

The main takeaway from this is that just because a brand or product says they are cruelty-free, it doesn't mean that they are. They are not obligated by law to tell the truth - they might just be using it to help sell their products. It's important to do your homework to make sure you are supporting truly, 100% cruelty-free companies!


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1 comment

  • Hard to live without being responsible for so much animal cruelty. The fact that some animals, perhaps considered vermin, are not even considered life, is very disturbing. I love your mission, and cannot fathom why more folks do not care about these poor creatures. Yet tell them it’s Beagles who are bred for this sole reason, and then they care? So, so sad.


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