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Your Guide to Deciphering Cruelty-Free Beauty

When it comes to animal testing, there's really no reason to do it with cosmetics. And it's not just me and PETA who think this way; the European Union has banned all cosmetics-related animal testing, effective next year. It's not only about saving bunnies from having shampoo poured in their eyes — although that seems like a good-enough reason to me. It's about creating new ways to test ingredients, too; for instance, L'Oreal is developing ways to test on in vitro skin tissue, which is not only cruelty-free, it's also more reliable.

But that's the European Union. In the States, animal testing is unregulated, with major cosmetics companies such as Procter & Gamble continuing to test on our furry friends. If you'd like to avoid animal testing, here are some things to look out for.

  • The Leaping Bunny, shown here. Whenever you see this cute rabbit, you'll know that the product has been developed without any animal testing in any phase of product development by the company, its suppliers, or its outsourced laboratories. Independent audits confirm this, so the seal is trustworthy.
  • Final product not tested on animals. Pay attention to the wording here. The final product isn't tested on animals, but its ingredients probably were.
  • This brand does not test on animals. Again, the phrasing is tricky. Maybe Brand X doesn't test on animals, but its supplier does. Or Brand X has a laboratory formulate its products, and some mad scientist is injecting poor little mice with poison.

If you're interested in finding out which companies do and don't test on animals, these lists should help. Keep in mind that most beauty companies are owned by a corporate parent who owns other companies. For instance, Burt's Bees does not test on animals, but Clorox, its parent company, does. So when you shop, you may want to keep that in mind.

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