How to Buy Cruelty Free and How to Separate the Honest Brands from the Fakes

The phrase ‘cruelty free’ or ‘CF’ is thrown around a lot these days. We’ve heard people chatting about it, we’ve seen it promoted on social media and we’ve even seen some of our favourite brands mention it on their product packaging. LUSH and The Body Shop are two popular brands that come to mind when we first think of cruelty free cosmetics and skincare, and The Body Shop are even trying to ban animal testing all together! All of these positive changes have made cruelty free beauty products a lot more accessible, and it has us all questioning – is it worth going cruelty free?

I feel like this post has been a long time coming, cruelty free is a really important topic (and lifestyle) for me, so it was essential that I wrote a blog post about it at some point. Even though I enjoyed writing this post it sort of caused me to stress out because so much research and cross-checking was needed – it actually felt a bit like I was back in uni. writing my dissertation (which I enjoyed BTW). What’s sad is that even though this post is informative, its actually quite sad. The topic isn’t the most uplifting one, but I hope I have managed to help and inspire you in some way or another.

So, with my super long intro over, we’re finally here. Today we’re chatting about all things cruelty free and vegan cosmetics…

Oh, and if you haven’t guessed already this post is going to be another super long one so you might wanna get comfy.

The Definitions – Cruelty Free and Vegan

Most of us instantly associate the phrase cruelty free (AKA CF) with ‘cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals.’ Although this definition 100% correct, this is the real world and things aren’t always this simple (are they ever?). There’s so much more to cruelty free than what first meets the eye. Today I’d like to go into this further and give you some useful tips and advice so you can make your own decision on whether you’d like to buy cruelty free or vegan cosmetics or not.

Here are some more formal definitions:

Cruelty Free – (of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods which do not involve cruelty to animals (source)

Vegan A vegan product doesn’t include any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. The term “vegan” also means that the product hasn’t been tested on animals (source)

The word “vegan” is not very regulated, so some shady companies who label their products as vegan can still test on animals (as all of the ingredients in the product can be vegan), so make sure you watch out for this! It’s also important to remember that cruelty free products can still contain non-vegan ingredients.

The Cosmetic Animal Testing Industry

I think we can all agree on this one – what goes on in the animal testing industry is cruel. Whether we know the specifics or not, animal testing for cosmetic reasons needs to be stopped. Without making things too sad, typical practices include painful skin and eye irritation tests, force feeding and “lethal dose” tests where animals are forced to swallow large amounts of test chemicals to determine the dose that causes death. To learn more about what happens inside animal testing labs, please visit the Humane Society’s website.

One of the most annoying things for me is that the results from these cruel tests are unreliable, inacurate, and unsafe, making the suffering completely unnecessary. Forgein brands that wish to sell their products in China must test on animals for legal reasons, and In America animal testing for cosmetics is legal, but isn’t a requirement. If you live in the EU however things are a little different, animal testing for cosmetics is illegal, but this doesn’t stop these EU brands from selling in China.

How to Take a Stand Against Animal Testing

Ok so… now you probably want to know how you can actually take a stand against animal testing right? This may surprise you, but taking a stand against animal testing is a lot easier than you might think. Take a minute to consider what you’re putting into your shopping basket at Superdrug, or what you grab from Boots while you’re picking up your prescription. Your shopping habits really do matter for animal testing…

Look at it from a supply and demand perspective. Its something that’s really important for businesses – if no-one is purchasing a brands’ products then that product is not making a profit, and the brand cannot continue to invest in making products that they can’t sell. They’ll be forced to have a rethink and might decide that they need to enter the ever-growing world of vegan cosmetics i.e. the products that are in demand in a market that has a lot of potential!

How to Know if Cosmetics are Cruelty Free or Vegan

Like anything new, going cruelty free does require research, and you may even make mistakes which is something I did a lot when I first went vegan. But the fact is that your intentions are good and you’ll get there! Reading this very blog post could be your first step.

You don’t need to ditch your non cruelty free products to begin with, just actively look for new ones when your products run out. This way the transition will be wayyyy smoother and you’ll learn and remember more. I still have products from years ago that aren’t even cruelty free, so when I need new ones I won’t be rebuying them, I’ll be searching for a better, more ethical version instead.

Picking out the cruelty free and vegan brands without access to the internet can be pretty tough. The term “vegan” is not well regulated at all. Luckily in the UK most high-street brands label their products correctly, so if you’re shopping in Superdrug or Boots you’re pretty much safe. The two most recognised CF and vegan logos are:

The Leaping Bunny is an internationally known symbol for products that have been certified by Cruelty Free International. If a product has the Leaping Bunny on that means the product is completely cruelty free and is safe to use. This does not mean that the product is vegan.

The Vegan Society Logo represents products with 100% vegan ingredients. This also represents no animal testing by the company its suppliers, manufacturers or third parties.

Watch out for “100% Vegan” “Suitable for Vegans” “Contains Vegan Ingredients” – these are very loose terms that take advantage of the grey area. There are no organisations that regulate these terms, so brands can literally mislead anyone. “100% Vegan” products can still be tested on animals. “Suitable for Vegans” could mean anything, as well as “No animal Ingredients” or “Contains Vegan Ingredients” so do watch out!

Head to Ethical Elephant’s page about cruelty free and vegan product labelling. Vicky has done so much research and made a lovely little table to organise the pros and cons of each logo – you can’t go wrong with this.

Researching Cruelty Free Products

We’ve all been there, in the isle of Superdrug looking at a really interesting new product. It’s a little different when you’re vegan or shopping cruelty free because you can’t just buy it. You have to think. The first thing I always do when I’m in this situation is bring out my iPhone and tap Safari to begin my research. Here are my tips for finding out if a brand is cruelty free:

Tip 1 – Look at the symbols on the back, does it have any symbols on that might indicate that its cruelty free or vegan?

Tip 2 – If it doesn’t have any cruelty free or vegan symbols on, it doesn’t mean that its not suitable for you. Some brands haven’t tapped into the CF world yet. Do your research anyway, you never know you could find something amazing!

Tip 3 – Google it!

Tip 4 – Use a couple of sources before you make your decision. Try trusted websites, vegan YouTubers or even a friend who’s into cruelty free. If they all say the same thing its more likely to be correct.

Tip 5 – Never go by what a brand says on their website, especially if their wording is a bit odd. That’s probably a sign that they’re up to no good.

Tip 6 – If you feel uneasy or unsure, don’t buy it! Wait until there’s more information available.

My Favourite Brands for Cruelty Free and Vegan Beauty

I get the majority of my toiletries from Superdrug (their own branded stuff). Their products aren’t all vegan but they have over 1000 vegan products overall and they are cruelty free.

Kat Von D Beauty does amazing vegan lipsticks and eyeshadows, all made by the vegan queen herself.

Maui Moisture Haircare was recommended to me by a vegan friend. Their ‘Thicken and Restore’ products are my favourite. Get 3-for-2 when Superdrug has their offer on.

Illamasqua has a vegan category on their website, as does Charlotte Tilbury and The Body Shop. My CT base helps me achieve that dreamy dewy look.

LUSH is my go-to place for cruelty free and vegan skincare, their sets make great gifts too!

Spectrum and Real Techniques do fabulous vegan makeup brushes.

The Future of Cruelty Free Beauty

Isn’t it amazing to see brands converting their products to vegan and promoting veganism as a whole? A couple of months ago The Body Shop had full campaign about vegan beauty, and Superdrug have their own vegan pop-up at Boxpark, Shoreditch. There will only ever be more and more options to choose from in the future. Even through cruelty free and vegan beauty is a relatively “new thing” we can already see the impact it has had on the publics lifestyle and choices.

Shopping cruelty free and vegan cosmetics may seem complicated, but just like anything, it gets easier as you go! The hardest bit is the first step. Good luck!

Pictured: Illamasqua Beyond Powder in Dynasty (vegan & CF), Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick, can’t remember what shades (vegan & CF), and Urban Decay Naked 3 (CF)




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