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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.

Join The Conversation
leahtron leahtron 8 years
oooh, i just noticed this post in search. Thanks so much for that helpful list!
myystque myystque 9 years
Thank you for posting this article! I was pleasantly surprised at the support for cruelty free products. Unfortunately, it seems to me that most of the brands that continue to test on animals are those that are inexpensive and widely available, such as Proctor and Gamble (one of the worst offenders), CoverGirl, Johnson & Johnson, Maybelline (I love their mascara but had to stop purchasing) and Neutrogena. Plus, it sucks that those companies also manufacture tons of products. For example, I've had to purchase MAC face wipes because Oil of Olay tests on animals. :( @ honeysclerose: it is not necessarily true to state that all products MUST have been tested on animals since there have always been different methods and some newer ingredients may now be tested via different methods. Still, the point is not to stay rooted in the past but rather to support those companies that have switched to more ethical (and safer) alternatives.
sephoragirl sephoragirl 9 years
It's so cruel to test on animals, as a pet owner I'm extremely against it. I just checked the cosmetics brands I use and thankfully all of them do not test on animals. I'll be paying much more attention when I'm shopping since now I know exactly which companies test on animals.
Rose-Cullen Rose-Cullen 9 years
God how can companies test on animals! If they test on kitties....:MOB:
camiland camiland 9 years
I'm switching to cruelty free products (not only cosmetics) and indeed is a little difficult, specially with products to clean the house. L'Oréal is buying everything! Just bought YSL, which I hated because my favourite anti-cellulite product is from this brand. The best mascara for me, Fatale, is from Lancôme, also owned by L'Oréal. I want to get rid of this, does anyone knows a dramatic mascara, as good as Fatale, not tested on animals? Johnson and Johnson (Neutrogena) tests also.
ehadams ehadams 9 years
Over the past few weeks I have switched completely to cruelty-free brands for beauty, healthcare, and household products. It has been difficult, but rewarding- and I found a lot of new products I like even better than my old ones (such as Method and 7th Generation for household items). All of the Estee Lauder brands (Clinique, MAC, La Mer, etc) don't test on animals. Revlon & related companies also don't test- they were one of the first to stop! For hair, I suggest Tresemme and Nexxus. Sephora also has a large number of cruelty-free brands- Jonathan Product, Rene Furturer, Boscia, Stila, Juice Beauty, etc. Also, all ingredients have been tested on animals at some point in the past- the FDA requires it. However, I think it is very different to give money to a company that continues to test, versus one that has stopped testing or has never tested (and instead uses ingredients know to be safe).
babygal14 babygal14 9 years
smashbox and clinique are cruelty-free !!!!!!!! :)
katiedid0985 katiedid0985 9 years
I hate that its so difficult to just find companies that don't test. Like with Burt's Bee's having parent company Clorox, it makes it so complicated. I also HATE that Proctor and Gamble keeps buying up companies that previously didn't test on animals, like Clairol and Wella. It drives me crazy! I really hope the US follows the EU's lead soon, although somehow I doubt it.
missj5 missj5 9 years
honeysclerose, i don't see anything deceiving about my post. if you have a problem with companies claiming to be "cruelty-free" and "never tested on animals" then by your standard nothing you could ever buy would be considered cruelty-free. take it up with PETA, the Leaping Bunny, Vegan Action, etc. all of which support Arbonne as a cruelty-free company.
honeysclerose honeysclerose 9 years
Your post is very misleading! ANY and ALL cosmetic raw ingredient HAS already been tested on animals..why do you think they are allowed in cosmetics???? The testing was done in the past so there is nothing you can do about it except to use cosmetics that dont test the final product on animals. Even if a product contains no animal products (just veg ones as posted here) those veggie ingredients HAVE already been tested on animals...again to determine if they are skin safe. It is naive to believe that you can use/make ANY cosmetic product that does not contain an ingredient that was not animal tested in the past.
missj5 missj5 9 years
i just wanted to add that anyone interested in skincare and beauty products that are animal-friendly, should consider Arbonne. arbonne products are NEVER tested on animals and do not contain ANY animal ingredients. they are all botanically based, and vegan. it doesn't make a lot of sense to look for products that aren't tested on animals, but they contain dead animal by-products like tallow and other yucky stuff. i'm biased towards arbonne b/c i am a rep. but you should check it out for yourself. the company and the products are awesome.
Tokyosugar Tokyosugar 9 years
Animal testing isn't right. It's so cruel. I don't work with animals. I'm so mad Neutrogena tests on animals. They make my favorite foundation. I will switch. EKatrinaBallerina BTW scientists don't put chemicals in your shampoo, the company does. Most of the time the government and companies don't listen to us(scientists) and put many organic chemicals in the shampoos anyway. If I had my way everything would be vegetable based and earth friendly. I'm glad this subject was brought up.
trixiebell666 trixiebell666 9 years
Great article! Animal testing is sick.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Pantene is a really big offender too (I forget the parent company right now). If you do drug-store shampoo, I suggest Tresemme, because they don't test on animals, it's even CHEAPER, and I think it works a little better too, though I am sure they are virtually the same. The thing that bugs me with Pantene is that they come out with a "new" shampoo every other month and probably test each new version. Come on, all drugstore shampoo is pretty much the same, do we really need to keep testing these chemicals over and over again?
seven7 seven7 9 years
Thank you so much for posting this Bella, it's a good cumulative list of both, and if any cause is close to my heart it's protecting animals in any way I can.
camiland camiland 9 years
Looks like L'Oréal has protested the proposed ban by lodging a case at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, asking that the ban be quashed:
camiland camiland 9 years
Johnson & Johnson tests on animals, they confirmed to me by e-mail. The brand includes Neutrogena.
camiland camiland 9 years
Peta says L'Oréal tests on animals. I don't know who tells the truth. I looked at Procter and Gamble website and they say they don't test cosmetics on animals, just food and medication, cause they didn't find a reliable alternative test yet. I'm very confused about it.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Good to know.
genabobena genabobena 9 years
Thanks for posting this! I think it's great that the EU is going to ban it, hopefully the US will take a hint & follow suit soon.
Advah Advah 9 years
Thanks a lot Bella. :) I'm trying to be careful about what I buy, but as you mentioned with the Burt's Bees examples, it's not always that easy..
Tullia Tullia 9 years
I absolutely HATE companies that test on animals, and there is no way I will purchase any products tested on animals. European countries seem to be very concerned on this subject, and many countries have already banned cosmetic animal testing, so I'm not surprised the UN made this decision :)
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
Is Yardley soap cruelty free?
hottpink hottpink 9 years
While I am very appreciative of this post Bella, I don't think it's right to describe animal testing so lightly such as, "shampoo in the poor bunnies eye." It's not that nice!!!!!! Chemicals are force feed to animals stomachs, dripped on to open wounds..repeatedly, chemicals (not the shampoo) are dripped into animals eyes inflicting pain we can't even imagine. No anesthetics, no nothing. Again though, I do really appreciate this post so it let's consumers know what really is "cruelty free"!!! :)
ehadams ehadams 9 years
Thanks Bella! This is so helpful. I am going to start looking for the bunny logo and reading labels more carefully. I am sad to see that companies like Olay are still testing on animals. Although it does make me happy that the list of companies who DONT test is 30 pages while the ones who DO is only 3 pages. :bunny:
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