For even the most savvy shoppers, it can be daunting to distinguish what sustainable and earth-conscious products look like. Clever marketing tactics make this process more difficult – but luckily, we’ve compiled a smart guide to shopping cruelty-free skin care!
We strongly believe that cruelty-free should be a part of your decision-making process. In this guide, we’ll cover why cruelty-free skin care is the way to go, distinguish between different labels, and give you 6 tips on how to find truly cruelty-free products.
Why Shop for Cruelty-Free Skin Care?
While the term cruelty-free isn’t regulated in the U.S. beauty industry, it’s intended for cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals. The FDA doesn’t have a specific definition, but for a product to be truly cruelty-free, it should meet certain criteria:
No part of developing the product should include animal testing. This includes the final or unfinished stages of the product. This means no individual ingredients should be tested on animals either.
The product cannot be sold in physical or retail stores in a country that requires animal testing, like China. While a company might not use animal testing in some markets, they may do so to reach other markets. Brands should instead be using a third-party warehouse or other methods to bypass animal testing requirements.
We’ve covered what cruelty-free means. Let’s dive into another question: why is it that cruelty-free skin care is a better option for both consumers and animals?
Animal testing is a wasteful process
Using animals in cosmetic testing doesn’t necessarily mean that humans will reap the benefits. Our biology, while similar in certain ways, isn’t the same. Ingredients can have a host of negative effects on us that don’t occur in animals.
That’s why we don’t approve ingredients solely based on animal tests – human trials and other forms of testing are necessary to truly prove efficacy. It’s a wonder that companies are wasting time, money, and other resources on testing that doesn’t prove effective! This happens in spite of the FDA not requiring animal testing.
The number of animal lives lost to testing is immense
100 million animals are killed each year due to animal testing. This happens all while better methods are available to us. Some of these methods include cell and tissue cultures, in vitro tests, and clinical human studies.
The Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan
We often assume that “cruelty-free” and “vegan” are synonyms. While these labels might go hand in hand, they’re not one and the same.
Similar to food, the term vegan is intended for cosmetics that don’t include any animal products. This includes byproducts like honey or beeswax. Unfortunately, even vegan products may be tested on animals. Not all cruelty-free products are vegan, either; if you’re concerned about both, find the right labels for each one!
6 Ways to Verify the Authenticity of Cruelty-Free Skin Care
Now that we’ve clearly defined the skin care labels, here are 6 tips for finding genuinely cruelty-free skin care.
#1: Identify vague or misleading claims
Don’t rely on a “cruelty-free” label or bunny logo. Even if a business states that they don’t test on animals, be wary of these claims! While the final product may not be tested on animals, the separate ingredients certainly might have. A business may also hire another company to test on animals.
#2: Look for proper certification
The Leaping Bunny logo is a good way to determine if products are really made without animal testing. This certification requires that absolutely no animal testing take place at any stage “ of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers.” These companies are subject to independent audits; others are Canadian cruelty-free companies.
Some companies included in Leaping Bunny’s shopping guide may not be officially certified, but still commit to their stringent standards. Always double check the brand with the Leaping Bunny database.
#3: Find out if companies sell in China
Since the consumer market in China is big and rapidly growing, this is often where brands will revert to animal testing – even if they normally carry cruelty free skin care. China requires non-Chinese manufacturers to use animal testing on any products they sell in this country.
Fortunately, selling to these markets doesn’t mean companies have to revert to cruelty-laden ways. As we mentioned earlier, there are ways to go around China’s requirements for animal testing. Companies 100% PURE® use a third-party warehouse to bypass those requirements.
#4: Figure out if the parent company is cruelty-free
Even if the company you’re buying from has cruelty-free skin care, their parent company may still use animal testing in their products. You may not want to unintentionally give your money to any business that tests on animals.
#5: Make sure ingredients are well-established
New ingredients will often use animal testing to provide some form of proof that they work – but there are a host of different ingredients out there with tried and true benefits. Instead of buying from companies that ride the waves of skin care fads and trends, buy from companies that use research-backed ingredients. This will mean less animal suffering and better results for your skin.
#6: Ask about animal testing
Maybe a company you’re interested in doesn’t include any information about animal testing. One of your obvious options is to steer clear. This is a good way to ensure you’re not buying from a brand that uses animal testing since there’s no independent, third-party certification involved.
You might instead choose to call or email them directly, to ask about whether or not they carry cruelty-free skin care. Make sure to include questions about the criteria we mentioned earlier!
While shopping cruelty-free requires a little extra effort on your part, the benefits far outweigh the short-term work you do. Cruelty-free skin care isn’t always super expensive or hard to find. In fact, many of the brands you already love might be cruelty-free. On that note, you can find both Puristry and 100% PURE® on the Leaping Bunny guide!