a rabbit with laboratory worker who put the brush toward the rabbit

Cruelty-Free Beauty Products as an Alternative to Animal Testing in the Cosmetic Industry

Cruelty-free and animal testing

A rabbit is sitting with some flowers
Image from Peta India

Cruelty-free means a product and its ingredients weren’t tested on animals. However, most of the beauty products companies have processed animal testing to sell their items on the market.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there’s no standard legal definition of the term. This means brands are free to use “cruelty-free” in whatever way they want. However, cruelty-free products don’t equal vegan products.

The basic rule of Cruelty-free

Even though the FDA says it “does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety”, numerous companies in the US still do animal testing when it comes to beauty products.

Despite this fact, China requires brands to test animals for all cosmetics. Some of them claim to be cruelty-free people who change their position in the Chinese market.

Since there are no legal specifications cruelty-free, various brands use several meanings. These 9 meanings were mentioned in one of the articles from PUBLIC GOODS.

  1. The ingredients have been tested on animals, but the final product has not.
  2. The brand hired another company to conduct tests.
  3. The brand or manufacturer relied on test results from an outside organization.
  4. The testing occurred in a different country than the one the brand is based in (usually China because it requires animal testing).
  5. The brand only uses animal testing when it is required by law as part of expanding into foreign markets (usually China).
  6. At least one animal was harmed or killed and used for ingredients (what “animal products” means), but there was no testing.
  7. The brand, or companies involved in its supply chain, have relied on the results of past animal tests from other organizations, but they have not conducted any tests themselves, harmed any animals, or sourced any animal-derived products or byproducts.
  8. Neither the ingredients nor the products have ever been tested on animals, and the companies involved have not harmed or slaughtered any animals.
  9. The brand has a cruelty-free certificate (not a legal regulation, but still provides a higher level of accountability).

Why doesn’t the beauty industry stop animal testing?

Among EU countries, animal testing for cosmetic products has been banned for almost more than 10 years. In 2018, the United States has declared to ban launching beauty products that did animal testing. However, there are still so many companies that examine products on animals. The key is, there are two exceptions to EU and U.S. laws that allowed animal testing.

The first one is that they obligate animal testing when a company develops a new ingredient. And when they introduce it into the market. In addition, there is a list of the safety of ingredients in the beauty industry. And these ingredients no longer need animal testing. However, the ingredients that aren’t on this list must prove their safety by testing animals.

Animal testing law in China

The graphic shows how animal testing process works in China
Image by Ethical Elephant

The second one is the obligation that the Chinese government requires to cosmetic brands. And in these requirements, there are two types of animal testing. Pre-market animal testing and post-market animal testing. In particular, pre-market animal testing affects every brand that is based outside China. International brands must prove their safety and submit documents to the Chinese government. Regarding proof, they must test them on animals. Even though their own country exempts animal testing.

However, this might’ve changed.

“On May 1, 2021, China implemented updates and changes to its animal testing laws. Under the new regulations, some cosmetics may qualify to be exempt from their animal testing requirements.”-ethical elephant

Ethical Elephant also explained that “General imported cosmetics can be exempted from China’s animal testing requirements after May 1, 2021. But only if they qualify under the permitted cosmetic category. And they have the proper certificates and documentation from the proper authority.”

So what is general cosmetics? According to Ethical Elephant, general cosmetics are also called ordinary cosmetics. In general, this means pretty much everything, including makeup, skincare, haircare, etc.

What’s the difference between vegan and cruelty-free for the beauty industry?

The graphs shows the difference between vegan cosmetics and cruelty-free
Image by Ethical Elephant

So now we know about cruelty-free. But the difference between vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics is very gray and depends on the companies. Cruelty-free products are products that do not test on animals. However, it’s not necessary to be vegan. And it may still contain animal ingredients.

Sustainable Jungle said.

“For example, a moisturizer may tick the cruelty-free box but contains beeswax and is therefore not vegan. On the flip side, a vegan shampoo or vegan sunscreen is free of animal ingredients or by-products. But they may, at some point in its development, have tested on animals and are thus not cruelty-free.”

What are vegan cosmetics?

The question is, what about vegan cosmetics? Is it cruelty-free as well? Because of the definition of vegan, people tend to think they are synonymous.

Vegan cosmetics are products that do not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. It describes the ingredients more, rather than the process.

Logical Harmony described. “To many, the term “vegan” also means that a product is free from animal testing as well. Because the term is not official by law, the companies often use it to simply note that a product does not contain animal ingredients. Which means they can claim their items to be “vegan” even if they tested animals.

In 2017, retail research company Mintel there has there was a 100% rise in the number of “vegan” claims for cosmetics. Roshida Khanom, an associate director of beauty and personal care at Mintel explained.“It is definitely a growing trend.” “Where, before, consumers were looking for products that didn’t contain the perceived ‘nasties’ such as preservatives, they are now becoming even more demanding. And driven by being more conscious of both their health and the ethical practices of the companies they are buying into.”

Vegan certification

Not as famous as cruelty-free certification, but there are few for vegan cosmetics. The Vegan Society, Vegan Action are the two top famous organizations.

Vegan Action was created in 1995 as a nonprofit organization. They claimed. “Our logo is a registered trademark for products that do not contain animal products. Or by-products that have not been tested on animals.”

The Vegan Society was established in 1944. Their vegan and cruelty-free certificates are strong. They described. “The Vegan Trademark has been helping users identify that a product is free from animal ingredients since 1990. Registration with the trademark gives brands the confidence to shout about their vegan credentials.”

The cruelty-free choice is better for the environment

a big mountain is illustrated in the middle and there are the words on top
Illustrated by @graphicsandgrain on Instagram

There are a few major reasons why switching to cruelty-free is important for the environment.

Firstly, they use fewer chemicals for their production. In general, the chemicals in products are harmful. Not only to apply them to the skin, but also the planet. The chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, and synthetic dyes. The cruelty-free cosmetics decrease breakouts, allergies, and inflammation.

Secondly, the companies and brands that are committed to cruelty-free production more eco-friendly. They use natural, more sustainable ingredients and materials. The products include makeup, skincare, home cleaners, and also their packaging. Using more eco-friendly materials leads the company to a better choice for the environment.

Lastly, it will save animals. Still, there are major companies that continue to operate animal testing even though there is technically no obligation. For instance, Maybelline and Avon do experiments with animals like rabbits and mice.

Biofriendly Planet, the web magazine to help to make the environment cleaner described.

“Their skin is exposed to harsh chemical products and their eyes withstand many-times painful drops, causing them bodily harm and physical pain.”

They also explained.

“Cruelty-free products, though, take advantage of the 40 tests that have been created to test products without involving any animal testing whatsoever. These companies also use the thousands of chemicals and ingredients that have already been determined to be safe, sticking to their mission to leave animals unharmed and in their natural habitat where they belong.”-Biofriendly Planet

So what can we do as consumers?

Switching cruelty-free will lead us to a more minimalistic lifestyle. Cruelty-free kitty says it’s “a great excuse to give more thought to your purchases” and reminds us to be more conscious and less wasteful. And also encourage us to be better for the environment and our wallets.

In addition, our purchase will help the organization that is helping companies. Biofriendly Planet described.

“Many companies that make it their business to go cruelty-free have a vested interest in issues plaguing our planets, like animal species extinction and global warming. For that reason, they have partnerships with organizations and pledge to donate money with every purchase they receive to these noble and worthwhile causes.”

7 big circles means the parent companies and it contains many their small brands name inside.
image from INSIDER   

In 2017, Bussiness Insider published how each cosmetics brand has 7 big parent companies. These 7 companies didn’t announce them as they are all 100% cruelty-free. If the market or country such as China required animal testing, they would do it. Especially if they are selling items in China, the facts of their cruelty-free claim will be uncertain. So it’s very difficult for consumers to spot something which is 100% cruelty-free.

For example, Tom’s of Maine or The Body Shop may be cruelty-free. But their parent companies, Colgate-Palmolive and L’Oréal, are not.

How do we spot if a brand is cruelty-free?

To spot the brand’s concept, consumers need to search by themselves. Check the brand’s concepts, policy, cruelty-free labels, the brand lists on the website.

However, there are so many websites that we might get the wrong information. Also, a company’s policy can be very tricky, since there are so many exceptions that still exist. So here are some trustworthy organizations and websites that will help to spot.

・Cruelty-Free International(Leaping Bunny)
・PETA(Beauty Without Bunnies)
・Logical Harmony(Cruelty-Free Brand List)
・Ethical Elephant(Cruelty-Free Brand List)

 Logical Harmony is a very proud website. Tashia Combs, the owner of this website, is an expert on cruelty-free. She created this website in 2011.

“I created Logical Harmony with the goal of making cruelty-free beauty easy. Here you’ll find all sorts of shopping guides, vegan product lists, reviews, tips. And tricks to make it simple for you to pick the best cruelty-free options out there.”- Tashia Combs

She also cleared her process is very unique and only allowed to use for Logical Harmony. But she also explained basic rules to prove cruelty-free.

“We personally reach out to every company, the brand that you think you can trust. Grey area brand or brand to avoid specific questions, requirements, and information needed from them. In order to list them as a trusted brand, I make sure that the company or a representative of the company can completely answer all of my specific and unique questions in a clear manner. If I am unable to get a clear response, the brand is on the list as a grey area brand. I cannot speak for the process of any other blog, website, or organization.” -Tashia Combs

Cruelty-free certificate

6 Cruelty-free and vegan certificates marks line up
Image by Ethical Pixie

PETA requires brands to give them specific information to confirm their cruelty-free products. “must complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance. To verify that they do not conduct, commission. Or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients and formulations. Or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future.” Also, to earn their certification from PETA, brands will need to pay a licensing fee of 100$ for one-time use. They also described a more specific process.

“Companies applying for the program must also submit detailed paperwork. This describes how the companies test their products, where they sell their items, what kinds of products they offer, and what kinds of ingredients they use. We also require all companies to have agreements in place with their suppliers. Where don’t operate animal testing at any stage on any of the ingredients or raw materials that they supply to the company for its products.”

Leaping Bunny’s certification program is very extensive. Their contract requires brands to implement a “Supplier Monitoring System”. They also have an app that consumers can check for products easily.

They explained. “The brands must promise to operate as stand-alone subsidiaries with their own supply chains. And must continue to meet the requirements of the Leaping Bunny Standard in order to remain on our list”

The consumer’s action will be the next revolution

A hand with green color soap with many leaves
Photo from Getty Images(Light Field Studios)

Cruelty-free and Vegan brands and their products are on the rise. The Economist announced that last year was the year of the vegan. The consumer’s conscious decision toward becoming cruelty-free/vegan will potentially support the brands that are heading on an ethical journey.

Finally, cruelty-free production is in high demand. Consumers want to be environmentally clean with their lifestyle. To encourage this, we can make a difference by choosing where to spend our money. The companies that continue animal testing will know when the needs for their products decrease. It can be an indirect but direct message to them. If enough numbers of consumers boycott brands that test animals, they have no choice but change to be cruelty-free. Consumers are the biggest influencers, more than any famous person on social media.

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