I’ve always considered myself an animal lover, but never a hypocrite. Up until late 2017, I ate meat, fish, and dairy. Previously when buying makeup and skincare products and it didn’t even enter my mind whether they were cruelty-free or not. But…that doesn’t matter because I love animals, right? No.
That probably makes me sound completely awful, and you’re probably thinking that I’m so far in the denial closet that there’s not much hope for me. But I started doing a lot of research about it, and the more I read about the animal testing industry the more guilty I felt. I’d always been one to put my head in the sand. I didn’t want to think about how that burger or piece of chicken arrived on my plate in order to spare my own conscience. In my teen years, I was a vegetarian for a while, but I stopped when an (ex) boyfriend kept trying to force meat on me. I managed to hold my ground for a good while, but eventually, I was so fed up I gave in. (In hindsight, what I should have done was put him straight in the trash.)
(You’ll be pleased to know that since writing this post, I went fully vegan).
I’d always tried to justify it by thinking that one person isn’t going to make a difference – right?
A friend had recently told me to watch a documentary on Netflix called “Cowspiracy”. It’s not so much on the “meat is murder” train, but it’s more about the effects the meat and agriculture industry have on the environment and the planet. I was shocked to learn that it is literally the number 1 cause of the Amazon rainforest deforestation. I couldn’t believe how no one was talking about this, shifting the blame entirely on the transportation industry. There are many other documentaries about this, What The Health, Forks Over Knives, and The Game Changers, just to name a few.
Anyway, this post isn’t about meat, it’s about testing cosmetics on animals. The amount of companies that still test their products on animals is shocking. And it’s so unnecessary when there are so many smaller, lesser-known companies out there that are cruelty-free. Quite honestly, I never realised how many companies still do this.
I don’t understand how animal testing is still legal in a lot of countries, but any form of physical violence towards an animal is considered animal cruelty. What’s the difference? I’ve always hated the thought of animal testing in cosmetics. But I wasn’t educated enough on the subject to be able to really do anything about it.
So I decided to change that.
In 2013, a new EU law was passed making it fully illegal to sell animal-tested cosmetics in Europe. Even though that’s great, it still got me thinking: “Why are so many products still listed as being tested on animals? Wouldn’t this law prevent that?” The companies that do still test their products on animals will get around this law by either paying another company to test their products for them, test their products in China, or use ingredients which are known to have been tested on animals. So even though this law has been passed, there are still unethical loopholes.
For a company to be able to sell its products in mainland China, its laws specify for all cosmetics to be subjected to animal testing. There was a lot of controversy surrounding NARS when they made the decision to start selling their cosmetics in China. This meant they’d gone from being completely cruelty-free, to choosing to test their cosmetics on animals to comply with Chinese laws in order to be able to sell there.
Money over morals.
This begged the question: Can I make the switch cruelty-free makeup?
Could I get rid of any makeup from companies that tested on animals? At the time, I had quite a lot of makeup. I worried that if I got rid of everything non-cruelty free I’d have nothing left. I decided to separate my makeup into cruelty-free, and not cruelty-free to put it to the test.
This is all the makeup I had from companies that do test on animals:
A couple of these brands class themselves as being mostly cruelty-free. However, they still test on animals to be able to legally sell in China. In my book, that’s not cruelty-free. The NARS products shown here were actually bought when the company was completely cruelty-free, so technically these specific products were cruelty-free, but the brand no longer is. After weighing it up, I decided that because the brand was no longer cruelty-free, I wouldn’t be repurchasing the products so I may as well put them in this category.
Here are all the products I had from completely cruelty-free companies:
The divide was about 60%/40%, which wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it was going to be.
But it’s still higher than it should be.
I made the decision to bin most of the products from the non-cruelty free pile. Keeping only a small select few that I used on a regular basis (until I could find a cruelty free replacement). I hated the thought of being wasteful. But I had a word with myself and realistically, a lot of it was products I’d bought just for the sake of buying makeup, and I didn’t actually use them that often.
After thinking about it, I decided to keep the products that I’d spent a lot of money on. (And my husband would kill me if I chucked some of them out!) I figured that as the money had already been spent, throwing away products that I actually used would just be wasteful and wouldn’t do the planet any good at all.
In the years since I originally did this experiment, I have completely made the switch to cruelty-free makeup. There are so many lists on the internet of cruelty-free brands it’s so easy to make an informed decision. And once you’ve done it a few times you do remember which brands you can buy from. (I’ve saved these lists to my home screen on my phone so I can search on the go for any impulse buys). I’ve also switched to cruelty-free skincare, haircare, and a lot of home and cleaning products too.
Here are some great resources for cruelty-free makeup:
crueltyfreekitty.com: List of Cruelty-Free Brands (This gets updated regularly)
logicalharmony.net: Cruelty-Free & Vegan Brand List
There are plenty more resources available online other than the ones I’ve mentioned above. Also, I find that searching “Are ‘x’ cruelty-free” on google generally gives a pretty accurate result.
You can take a look at my other beauty posts here.
Could you do the same?