Cruelty-free Cosmetics

Animal testing for cosmetics is something we hear a lot about in the media, from Pamela Anderson’s lettuce bikini to photos of baby bunnies poked and prodded under microscopes. It’s something everybody is clearly against, but when it comes to facts, such as which companies do it and what exactly they are doing, it’s not a topic that’s well known at all.

The truth is that in the process of experimenting with beauty products, animals aren’t just sprayed and dabbed with creams and powders. They are injected, poisoned and even burned. PETA estimates that 219 animals are killed every minute in a U.S. lab alone. The justification is these monkeys, rabbits, mice and guinea pigs are used to test the safety of products for human use. But the reality is that technology is now so advanced, having animals do this is not only cruel but also unnecessary.

That’s why only cruelty-free cosmetic products can be bought and sold in all the European Union countries, Israel and most recently, India. Despite this, there is no ban against animal testing in the United States and Canada. In China, testing products on animals is actually a mandatory regulation by law. So in order to sell there, many companies that promote themselves as cruelty-free in Western countries have changed their policies – completely unbeknownst to public discourse.

M.A.C., a beauty brand known for its loud and proud cruelty-free campaigns, is one of the companies that denounced its own morals to sell in China. Others like L’Occitane, Yves Rocher and Caudalie have even removed a special logo against animal testing from their packaging, in order to get a piece of China’s 10-billion-dollar make-up industry.

The good news is there are plenty of cruelty-free cosmetic brands to choose from, and they aren’t necessarily posh or pricey. Here’s how to know exactly what you’re buying:

• Look for the leaping bunny. This little bunny logo is the brainchild of nine animal protection groups, used to set an internationally recognized standard for what cosmetics can be considered animal-friendly. This is the same logo that L’Occitane, Yves Rocher and Caudalie removed from their packing two years ago.

• Search by specific products. Take a look through your make-up bag and the products that you love to use. Search them individually online and the results may surprise you. Companies to avoid include M.A.C. (as previously mentioned), Dove, Maybelline, Clearasil and Redken. Thankfully, there are all alternatives…

• Get to know this list. On its website, Leaping Bunny has this list of brands that are certified cruelty-free. Urban Decay, Arbonne, Burt’s Bees and The Body Shop are just a few of the names.

• What about natural remedies? Let’s face it, we don’t know nearly enough these days about the products that we put on and in our body. There are a lot of natural remedies out there that are cheap, easy and even more sensitive on the skin than manufactured goods. For example, did you know honey is an excellent facial cleanser? And beer is a way to give your hair good shine? There are a few good tips here.

• Write letters. PETA says the best way to let companies know you don’t support their actions, is to not buy their products and to write to them. Doing so online just takes a few minutes.

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