Congrats! You’ve decided to take the cruelty-free plunge, and the animals thank you. The task seems easy enough: only buy products that say “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals.” That’s definitely the ideal, but it isn’t that easy.
It took a few scandals for me to realize how little I knew about what it truly means to go cruelty-free. I’ll spare you the drama. But did anyone else have a head-scratching moment over the recent Seventh Generation scandal? How does a company that benefits from the cruelty-free market support animal testing?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when going cruelty-free that should save you more head-scratching moments.
Stay Informed About China‘s Mandatory Animal Testing
While China’s not the only country to require animal testing, it does have one of the biggest cosmetic markets that many companies are eager to enter.
We already know that China has ended mandatory animal testing for some products manufactured in the country. While this is an important first step, this isn’t the best news for cruelty-free consumers abroad.
However, cruelty-free users shouldn’t automatically equate China with animal testing. A few legitimate cruelty-free companies are still manufactured in China. As this PETA thread highlights, China’s current mandatory animal testing policy only applies to products sold — not manufactured — in the country.
Don‘t Forget That Ingredients Are Tested On Animals, Too
Companies usually make sweeping cruelty-free statements that forget to mention whether or not their ingredients are tested on animals. Let’s be real: just about every ingredient has at one point been tested on an animal. But it doesn’t mean that companies need to keep testing those ingredients on innocent animals.
Uncaged breaks it down to three types of companies:
1) Companies that test on animals or pay others to test on animals on their behalf: These will tend to be larger companies with many subsidiaries. Verifying the parent company is key here.
2) Companies that don‘t test on animals, but benefit from ingredients tested on animals: Uncaged describes this as the largest category where companies will knowingly buy and use products from suppliers that are tested on animals.
3) Companies with a “fixed cut off date“: This company will not buy or use an ingredient from their own company or a supplier after a certain date. There are already thousands of chemicals that have been proven safe, so this is the most proactive stance that a company can take to fight unnecessary animal testing.
Remember Not All Bunny Rabbits Are Created Equal
While all bunnies are equally adorable, not all of them mean the same thing on packaging. If you’ve gone through enough aisles, then you’ve probably noticed that the bunnies are starting to look a little different.
It’s not your imagination. As Go Cruelty-Free explains, different companies use different icons. Some use globes, leaves or rabbits to convey their pledge to environmental responsibility. Using the image of a bunny or rabbit says nothing about a brand’s animal testing policies or practices.
There’s only one cruelty-free bunny — the Leaping Bunny, of course. The Leaping Bunny logo is your guarantee that a company has met the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) strict standards. Plus, they make it ridiculously easy. The Leaping Bunny lists the companies that have met their requirements right on the website. Concerned consumers can also download and print the shopping guide for free, order a free pocket guide or download the free app.
Pay Attention to Parent Companies
Okay, so this is the murky area of cruelty-free shopping. Is a company still cruelty-free if their parent company is not cruelty-free? It boils down to personal opinion. One one hand, cruelty-free consumers say “no” because the profits are still funding animal testing elsewhere. On the other hand, cruelty-free consumers say “yes” because it sends a message that there’s a profitable demand for cruelty-free products and money talks.
Don’t worry if your favorite company sells out. This could be a blessing in disguise. You’ll see who has a real cruelty-free stance and get to try new products (fun!).
Looking For More Info?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s also impossible to complete because what it means to go cruelty-free is always changing. Anyone that I’ve mentioned is awesome, but I also have some honorable mentions that will keep you in the cruelty-free know. Logical Harmony is an award-winning blog focusing on vegan beauty and lifestyle. The Vegan Peach is an insanely in-depth database full of cruelty-free and vegan items. Pumpkin and Poppy, also known as Veggie Beauty, has a form letter that you can email to any company about their cruelty-free stance if you want to take your own action.
Happy cruelty-free shopping!
Have a great cruelty-free shopping tip or a holy grail cruelty-free resource? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo Credit: David O