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Guide to Cruelty-Free Cosmetics: Being a Cruelty-Free Brand & Accreditation


Next in our Guide to Cruelty-Free Cosmetics series, we’re going to be discussing what it takes to be cruelty-free, how they can be certified and best resources for finding those brands.

As I mentioned in the previous post, animal rights movements have been gaining traction and the term “cruelty-free” began making appearance on cosmetics labels. So, what does that term mean? As there are several different mentalities around the term. But “cruelty-free” company is solely a company that doesn’t test its products on animals, so just the animal testing aspect of animal cruelty. While “vegan” means there is nothing derived from animals. Like honey, fur, or beetles are all common ingredients found in cosmetics. Those can be cruelty free but are not vegan. However, vegan does not mean the product or ingredient is cruelty free since it has nothing to do with how the product was tested.

animal testing.jpg

Credit: Rebel Circus

Determining if a company is cruelty-free?

Through independent research and organizations. This is where blogs such as this one come in handy. There are several criteria to consider if you want to know if a company is 100% cruelty-free. A lot of companies will use confusing statements in their animal testing policy that do not mean they are cruelty free. Some of those statements include “finished product not tested on animals” or “not tested on animals” on the packaging. As those don’t apply to the ingredients or the suppliers. And that needs to be considered as well.

Suppliers provide companies with the ingredients or “raw materials”. Sometimes, these suppliers perform tests on animals to establish the safety of their ingredients. Other times, the ingredients are tested by a third-party or even the company itself. If a cosmetics company buys ingredients from a supplier that tests on animals, the company is not cruelty-free. Same if the ingredients are tested on animals by the company itself, or any third party.

Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, China requires all cosmetics products (skincare, makeup, perfume, nail polish, hair products, hair dye, deodorant, sunscreen, and whitening products) imported must be tested on animals before they can be sold. While they did lift the animal testing requirements on cosmetics manufactured within the country, anything from foreign countries must be tested on animals. But this doesn’t apply to hair dye, deodorant, and sunscreen. However, there are expectations to that rule:

  1. Online shopping is not subject to animal testing, only products sold physically in the country. If a Chinese customer purchases cosmetics on a foreign shopping site, that product doesn’t have to be tested on animals. The only safe way to know if a company complies with the animal testing law is to be aware of what brands are physically sold in China.
  2. Hong Kong is not subject to the same laws as the People’s Republic of China, “mainland China”. They do not require animal testing on products sold there. While they are part of China, products sold can still be considered cruelty-free. But mainland China, if sold physically are not.
  3. Airports are also somehow not subject to the animal testing laws going in, but the government can conduct tests once they are on the shelves as part of post-market animal testing as they have two different types. It’s therefore not safe to assume that airport stores will not test on animals, and if a company sells products in Chinese airports, it can’t be considered cruelty-free.

So, bottom line, if it’s sold in China it’s not cruelty free. And if a company tests on animals when required by law, they are not cruelty-free. I do make expectations for Hong Kong and online shopping in China since those are not safe but anything else with China is not. And I get the appeal of wanting to sell there. The market is quickly rising and worth billions, but it’s unethical to test on animals. And I can’t bring myself to buy from companies who would allow that to happen.

Last thing to consider is who owns the brand. Some brands are completely cruelty-free, while also being owned by a brand that tests on animals. While this doesn’t mean that the company is question has lost its cruelty-free status, you should still bear it in mind. Some people don’t buy products from those whose parent company isn’t cruelty-free. I personally do because if the sub-company (the ones that’s cruelty free) is thriving then it tells the parent brand “Oh I can still make money without having to test on animals.” In a way I’m voting with my money to the parent brands like L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Coty, and Unilever to change their ways. Recently, Covergirl who is owned by Coty pulled out of the Chinese market and stopped following Coty’s guidelines for animal testing. Which is massive! They are one of the biggest drugstore brands, so if they succeed compared to Maybelline, Revlon, and Rimmel the parent brands of those companies may change their policies as well and pull out of China until the country is forced to change their laws to get that business back.

Accreditation (Cruelty Free Certificates)

As I mentioned earlier, determining if a brand is cruelty-free is done through independent research and organizations. There are three major organizations who have a bunny logo that can trusted. Though to varying degrees. Those being: Cruelty-Free International (Leaping Bunny), PETA, and Choose Cruelty Free (independent Australian organization). And sometimes companies will use those logos without being certified as the FDA doesn’t actually regulate that

PETA is one of the most well-known animal rights organizations. Though they don’t really care about animals much based off everything I’ve read about them. But their Caring Consumer cruelty-free list is a good starting point as long as you do some additional research on those brands. As sometimes they will certify brands that sell in China or not remove brands right away when they decide to change that.

Next is Leaping Bunny which is more trustworthy than PETA… not that it’s saying much. The Leaping Bunny only certifies cosmetics as being cruelty-free. What this means is that a company that makes both cosmetics and drugs and test its drugs on animals can still be certified as cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny.

Okay, I think this post is getting long enough. In the next article in this series we’ll be discussing how you can get involved in making a change and getting more brands to go cruelty free. That will be up the next few days. So stay tuned.

Love ya,

Mae Polzine

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  1. Jenny in Neverland – London – Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.
    November 14, 2018 / 12:02 PM

    It can be so hard to determine if a brand are CF, some of the labeling is a bit misleading! But I’d love to start purchasing more CF beauty and make up. I’ve recently converted to a CF skincare routine!

    • Mae Polzine
      November 14, 2018 / 4:28 PM

      Yes, labeling on packaging is never the be all end all when it comes to cruelty free. And that’s amazing!
      ♥ Mae

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