Beautopia: Why the search for cruelty-free is so hard | Part I

leapingbunnyIt seems like it would be pretty easy to determine if a beauty product was vegan friendly. You check the back label for a leaping bunny logo that declares a company cruelty-free, no animal testing or animal ingredients. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so clear-cut.

In 2012 numerous big name cosmetic companies were forced to remove the leaping bunny logo from their labels as a result of entering the Chinese market [1]. China is one of few countries that have legal requirements to test all consumer products before they can be sold in their market. As a result, many of these companies wanting to sell in China, once again began animal testing. Not all have been upfront about it either, making such claims as “we only conduct animal testing when regulatory authorities require it for safety or regulatory purposes” [2]. Then in 2014, China passed a law no longer requiring animal testing on “ordinary” cosmetics, however, this law doesn’t apply to imported cosmetics [3], which means these companies continue to test on animals.

With the help of consumer backlash in the late 80s and 90s, animal rights groups made headway in persuading cosmetic companies to abandon animal testing. Huge brands, like Revlon, MAC, and Estee Lauder were at the forefront of committing to the elimination of these practices. And in recent years, with the help of in vetro testing and advanced computer modeling it almost became unnecessary. Many countries, such as the European Union, India, Israel, U.K. to name a few, banned the selling of any cosmetics tested on animals [4]. But legal loopholes exist, allowing these companies to hide their practices, often sourcing third parties to conduct testing on their behalf or even conducting these tests abroad.

When you add in foreign market legal requirements, companies being bought and sold and third-party testing, the lines get blurred and hard for a caring consumer to determine if a brand they support is genuinely cruelty-free.

So what can a caring consumer do? Luckily there are some good resources. Groups such as PETA, the Leaping Bunny Program, Beautypedia and Humane Society International all offer searchable databases. PETA in particular breaks up companies between those that conduct testing (internationally, domestically or otherwise), companies that do not test but their parent companies do, and companies that do not test. Making it easy for a consumer to decide whom they want to support.

In the end, it’s up to us as consumers to determine who we support with our purchasing power. The good news is that there are many companies, like Lush, Urban Decay, Paul Mitchell, to name a few who are committed to being cruelty-free and being upfront with their consumers. My next post will highlight just a few of these brands.

Featured image via

1. Suzannah Hills, “L’Occitane and Yves Rocher: The big-name beauty brands among those ditching cruelty-free animal testing policies to sell their products to China”, The Daily Mail, 31 July 2012.
2. Martin Hickman, “Beauty companies return to animal testing to exploit Chinese demand”, The Independent, 31 July 2012.
3. Alicia Graef, “It’s Official! China Ends Mandatory Animal Testing for Cosmetics”, Care2, 3 July 2014.
4. Michelle Kretzer, “Countries Around the World Work to Ban Cosmetics Testing on Animals”, PETA Blog, 21 July 2015.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s