Why Your Cruelty-Free Cosmetic Purchase May Still Support Animal Testing and Exploitation

I have shopped “animal testing free” for a long time, even before I became a vegan, as I never felt that it was acceptable for an animal to suffer for my makeup or lotion. The “not tested on animals” label was my calling card that that particular product was safe to purchase.

Then my cruelty-free balloon was popped when I learned about third party testing and the real truth behind the phrase “this finished product was not tested on animals”.

The need to be cruelty-free and the loopholes companies use

The controversy surrounding animal testing for cosmetics purposes as well as the growing popularity of being cruelty-free has resulted in companies attempting to distant themselves from animal testing by finding none-animal ways to test their products or through the loophole of third party testing.

The controversy surrounding animal testing for cosmetics purposes as well as the growing popularity of being cruelty-free has resulted in companies attempting to distant themselves from animal testing

Third party testing is the term used to describe the situation when the company itself may not test on animals, but their parent company tests the ingredients on animals or they pay an outside organization to test their product/ingredient on animals. By doing this, a company can market themselves as cruelty-free while knowingly contributing to animal testing and suffering.

Misleading labeling

Another loophole that companies use is labeling their products with the term “this finished product was not tested on animals”. In reality what this labeling means is that the individual ingredients could have all been tested on animals, but the combination of ingredients used to make the final product was not tested on animals.

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So what does cruelty-free really mean?

According to Mission of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals the problem with the term “cruelty-free” is that it is not clearly defined by law, so it can be used to mean just about anything a manufacturer wants it to mean.

In addition to that, most vegans consider products that contain animal by-products, even if they were not tested on animals, as un-ethical and cruel.

The easiest way to know whether your product is both animal testing free and animal ingredients free is if it is labeled as vegan, or comes from a vegan brand.

So when you can’t trust the labels, what can you do to ensure that the products you buy are truly cruelty free?

1. Buy vegan.

The easiest way to know whether your product is both animal testing free and animal ingredients free is if it is labeled as vegan, or comes from a vegan brand.

2. Utilize Youtube and blogs to learn about cruelty free beauty.

Not sure what vegan brands are out there? There are numerous blogs and vlogs that focus solely on cruelty free beauty. Blogs such as Veggie Beauty and Cosmetic Couturier not only review animal friendly products but they do tutorials that teach you how to use them as well.

Just because a product is mark with an animal-testing-free label, does not mean that it’s vegan. Check the ingredient list to be sure.

3. Discover new products through listings

Try a new product from the Leaping Bunny Website or similar organization. The Leaping Bunny program testifies that it “provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.” (Please note though that Leaping Bunny lists 100% animal-testing-free products but not necessarily 100% vegan so please still read the ingredient list).

4. Purchase from trustworthy brands.

When shopping buy only from a company that have proven themselves reputable and trustworthy. Companies such and Beauty without Cruelty and 100% Pure not only sell good quality products, but they were also founded on the idea that animals should not suffer for beauty.

A great way to get the answers and show that there is a demand for cruelty-free products is to simply contact the companies themselves and ask

5. Contact the company and ask them.

Whether you are concerned only about animal testing or the use of animal based ingredients as well, a great way to get the answers and show that there is a demand for cruelty-free products is to simply contact the companies themselves and ask.

When asking make sure to not only ask them if they test on animals or use animal based ingredients or by-products, but if their parent company tests on animal or if they hire an outside company to do so.

Your money is your vote, so choose to vote cruelty free. As a vegan fashionista it can be frustrating to know that companies are doing whatever they can to mislead you into thinking that they are something that they are not. Have confidence in knowing that there are many companies that produce great products and do not hurt animals, and you can support them.

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Leolin has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and is currently a Master's Candidate in Humane Education from Valparaiso University. She is one of the co-founders for the Chicago Veggie Pride Parade, teaches people how to live an authentic life on her personal blog My Life Outside the Box and she also is an independent consultant for the vegan beauty and wellness company, Arbonne. Leolin has been a vegetarian since 2007 and a vegan since 2009 and loves sharing the vegan message with others.

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