If you live on the planet, it’s hard not to have heard the term ‘cruelty-free’ when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products. But what is cruelty-free? A cruelty-free product is one that has not been tested on animals. But here is where we enter an gray area.
What is Cruelty-Free?
The first thing you should know if you’ve decided to go cruelty-free is that the term is not regulated by law. Just like the terms ‘organic’, ‘natural’ and ‘hypo-allergenic’. Any manufacturer can label their product in any of these ways whether or not it is true. Cruelty-free does not guarantee that the entire manufacturing process has been conducted in an animal-friendly manner. There are two types of companies that choose to label their products as cruelty-free, those that do not test on animals during any part of the manufacturing process and those that do not test their end product on animals. There are also companies, like The Body Shop, who are cruelty-free but have been sold out to a parent company who is not animal-friendly. The Body Shop, for instance, was sold to L’Oreal several years ago. While The Body Shop is cruelty-free, L’Oreal is not. You should also know that ‘cruelty-free’ does not mean vegan. A product may not be tested on animals but may still contain animal ingredients. If it is important to you to only use products that are 100 percent animal-friendly, that is, cruelty-free and vegan, you’ll need to do a bit of research into products that meet your preferences.
Why Should I Choose Cruelty-Free?
Now that you have the basic information, you may be asking yourself why it matters. Do you really need to turn into a tree-hugger as you walk down the cosmetics aisle? Our answer to that question is a resounding yes. The ‘why’ is very simple: there is no longer a reason to conduct painful testing on animals in the name of human beauty. We have made great strides in the use of computer models and have identified ingredients that are known to be safe. Yet, companies continue to test on animals both out of habit and because it is often cheaper. One such test is the Draize Eye Irritancy Test. Established in 1944, the test is conducted on a group of subjects, normally albino rabbits, who are locked into body-sized cages with their heads exposed. Chemicals are dropped into the eyes or onto the skin and the rabbit is watched for approximately 14 days for signs of irritation hemorrhaging or blindness. Imagine being tied down and having nail polish remover dripped into your eye with no way to wash it out. It sounds excruciating, doesn’t it?
How to Shop Cruelty-Free
If you are interested in shopping cruelty-free, there is a great app on iTunes from LeapingBunny.org. The app provides you with a complete listing of cruelty free companies. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can download a PDF or pocket-sized guide to cruelty-free products here: “http://leapingbunny.org/shopping.php” Be sure to familiarize yourself with the leaping bunny logo!
Many companies not on the list have designed their own bunny which makes simply looking at a label not as effective.
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