Thursday, 9 February 2012

Trying to be less cruel

Animal testing is one of the most controversial aspects of the beauty industry.  I’m not planning on writing a long and detailed piece today and it’s not my intention to try to convince anybody to change their beauty buying habits here (I’m not an entirely cruelty free shopper myself yet), but rather if you do feel that you would like to try to avoid products tested on or involving potential distress to animals then I’d just like to provide some extra information on how you can ascertain whether a product involves cruelty to animals or not.  Please note also that I have tried my best to provide information that is correct to the best of my knowledge at the time of publication some of which is time sensitive and subject to change in the future.

Contrary to popular belief a total ban on animal testing of cosmetic products has not yet been fully implemented in Europe, therefore it is possible that many popular cosmetics available on the market have been tested on animals.  There are also no bans in place in many other global territories such as the USA and Asia.  Currently the only way to be sure that a product in the UK is cruelty free is to check if it has Leaping Bunny accreditation, which can be looked up on the Go Cruelty Free website.  If a brand displays the Leaping Bunny logo then that’s basically the gold standard for being cruelty free.  Brands have to prove that they comply with a strict range of criteria in order to earn the Leaping Bunny.  However, not all brands which are Leaping Bunny accredited choose to display the logo on their packaging so if you have heard that a brand is cruelty free but it does not display the Leaping Bunny then the best idea is to check the list of approved companies here.

As part of their marketing many brands will state that they do not test their cosmetics on animals unless required by law (since they understand that animal testing is off putting to many consumers), yet will not have Leaping Bunny accreditation.  This is because some countries (e.g China) require that cosmetics are tested on animals before they will be approved for sale, therefore any companies selling in those markets will not be eligible for the Leaping Bunny stamp of cruelty free approval.  That seems perfectly reasonable to me – what’s the point of not testing the exact same products in Europe only to go and test them in other territories?  That is absolutely part of the same R&D process in my eyes.  However, there is an argument to be made that a boycott of those companies would make no difference to their decision to sell in those territories where testing is a legal requirement so they would go ahead testing even if all their consumers in Europe were to stop buying them as the markets in China etc are potentially much larger, whereas boycotts may be more successful if brands stood to lose a large portion of their overall market.

Finally a word on make-up brushes.  I basically try to avoid natural hair brushes entirely because I just feel there’s no way to guarantee that there was no cruelty involved to the animals – sure, some of them may well have been produced from hair already shed by the animals, or from hair collected by gentle shearing, but there’s also the possibility that obtaining the hair did well involve some cruelty or distress to animals, which in the case of make-up brushes I just find unnecessary.

I’m not an entirely cruelty free shopper yet so please be aware that this is not a cruelty free blog and as mentioned above the only way to know if a product is cruelty free is to regularly check for it on the Go Cruelty Free website (as brands can also lose their Leaping Bunny status).

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