It’s a quarter to one in the morning as I lie here, illuminated by the harsh glow of my phone, starting a blog post. Fun fact, most of my blogs are written when I can’t sleep. Might as well, huh?
What am I thinking about? Just how many of the items in my make up drawers are tested on animals, come from companies that pay for testing on animals or claim they are cruelty free but cannot be declared as completely cruelty free because they sell to the Chinese cosmetic market?
This is a topic that has been on my mind for a long time. It’s been niggling away at me. The questions. The guilt. The feeling of needing to make a change.
Up until last year maybe, I hadn’t given it much thought. I found products I wanted to try, I’d research them a bit and if my interest was peaked, I would make a purchase. Never did I think to check if the brand I was buying into was cruelty free. Never did I pick up an item and wonder if it had been tested on an animal. Maybe it was naïvety, maybe I was burying my head in the sand and choosing not to think about those things. I don’t know. But whatever it was, something has changed.
I have always been an animal lover. I’ve said from I was quite small that if I ever had to “do time” it would be because of a reaction to someone hurting an animal. I can’t watch rescue programmes or advertisements about animal abuse. I can’t think about dogs being abandoned. As wonderful as the work of animal shelters is, I can’t go in because I don’t like seeing all those furry little faces behind bars! I can’t even bear it when someone chooses to have a pet and then keep them outside, not integrate them into their home, as part of the family. The only movie that has ever made me sob uncontrollably (bar My Sister’s Keeper) was Marley and Me. And may I point out, all of the above have become a thousand times more poignant since getting Oscar, almost four years ago.
If Paul O’Grady is at Battersea, I want all the dogs. Even the ugly cute ones. The old ones. I well up at the stories and I’m angry at the thoughtless, inhuman monsters who totally abandon their fur babies for no reason other than laziness or ignorance. (I am well aware, of course, that there are genuine, well intentioned people who need to find a new home for their pet, through no fault of their own or for reasons beyond their control.)
Oscar gets cuddled a bit tighter if one of them is sick or at risk of being put down. I can’t bear it. If I’m watching a movie and someone is killed, sure I’m sad but I won’t cry. Touch a hair on an animal’s head in that same movie and the hands go up to the face (picture “The Scream”) and I’m in bits.
Animals are so simple. They want to please and to be loved. They don’t judge us. They don’t take from us. They aren’t greedy or nasty. They give so much. They love unconditionally. If I’m at your house and you have a dog, I’m sorry, but I’m going to talk to your dog more than I talk to you.
Yet, I have products in my make up stash that, in the “interests” of safety, have been tested, fully or partially, on animals. Little ones with no choice and no voice. So as I sit in disgust at how some people treat all kinds of creatures, am I really any better?
Cruelty Free Rules: The Basics
A company can only be branded as entirely cruelty free if they, under no circumstances, ever test any of their products on animals. Zilch. NADA. None. This also includes using third parties to test final products or any ingredients contained within that product.
Some are sneaky and will claim to be CF (quicker to use initials, although this usually means Cystic Fibrosis!) even though, somewhere along the production line, someone has tested something on an animal. Others will declare their love for nature, openly support animal charities and shout to the industry “We do not test on animals.” Except their statement comes with a caveat “Unless required by law.” What does that mean? Simply put, they don’t test their cosmetics on animals for the global market EXCEPT when their products are sold over the counter in mainland China. Chinese law states that any cosmetics manufactured outside of and imported into the country must be tested on animals before they can be sold in stores. (This rule doesn’t apply to online shopping or in Hong Kong.) As far as I can gather, the law exists to protect customers from potentially harmful products, particularly counterfeit cosmetics, and their focus is product safety. Ironically, China is the leader in producing counterfeit cosmetics, but that’s for another day!
Then you have the company/parent company debate. This is where a cosmetics brand IS cruelty free e.g. Too Faced, they don’t test on animals and don’t sell to China BUT their parent company (the owners of the brand) DO sell to China and/or test on animals. Estée Lauder own Too Faced and Estée Lauder are not cruelty free.
How can I, as an animal lover, continue to purchase from brands who are not entirely cruelty free, effectively condoning animal testing and lining the pockets of cosmetic companies, who willingly pay for their products to be trialed and re-trialed on defenseless little creatures? Doesn’t my naivety make me all the more guilty? Couldn’t it be said that I, as a consumer, am part of the problem?
This has been my conflict. Actually, let’s get real. It’s not a conflict. Heck, it’s pretty darn obvious what needs to happen. What I should be doing is going through every item of make up I own, researching the brand and if they aren’t CF, tossing that little bugger right in the bin. What that means is losing a good half, I would estimate, of my collection. I have no issue with that and weighing monetary value against the product’s actual cost, well, there’s no contest. Regardless of what I paid for the item, it’s not worth keeping if something has suffered for it.
So why haven’t I done it? Why haven’t I culled? Sheer cowardice.
Once you start looking into brands that you use on a daily basis, brands that produce your favourite products and you discover that they aren’t cruelty free, you panic. It’s so idiotic, but you do. Your favourite foundation…gone! That concealer you repeat purchase? See ya laters! The holy grail mascara? Out you go! Or the eyeshadow palette that you keep coming back to like a faithful friend? Nope, can’t have it.
How conditioned have I become? It’s disgusting. It’s been eating away at me so much. Legally Blonde 2 came on TV the other week (the one where Elle seeks to rescue her dog’s mother from an animal testing facility and change the law) and I felt physically sick.
As I’m typing, I have the angel/devil shoulder situation going on.
👼“Julie, you have to get rid of it. Think of what some poor creature had to go through for that product.”
😈”Ah, but you always have a great make up day when you wear that foundation.”
It’s ridiculous. I’m mad at myself as I’m thinking these things. Do I care more about how I look or how well my make up is sitting, than the animals I have loved and adored since no age?
No. I don’t. I’ll always wear make up. I love it too much and it does have a positive effect on my mood. It makes me feel good. That wee bit stronger. Presentable. But there is NO EXCUSE for me to use products that aren’t cruelty free. Now that I’ve taken my head out of the sand, I cannot, regardless of my love for a product, I simply cannot continue to use items from my collection that another living thing has had to suffer for. It’s barbaric. How can I purport to love animals more than people, and then slap something on my face that may have caused one of those animals pain? I just can’t.
My first pet was a white Netherland Dwarf rabbit named Snowy. A cute little bunny, with its fluffy little tail and adorable little face, like Snowy, could have been used to test if my favourite mascara would cause eye irritation. It’s beyond barbaric. It’s cruel, it’s so not necessary. It’s just wrong on every level. How can it be, with the miraculous scientific advances we hear about on a daily basis, that any animal testing could ever be deemed unavoidable?
I’m boiling over with anger as I write. Anger at myself for being so stupid and anger at cosmetic companies for valuing pound signs over ethics. Rage at my vanity (which I didn’t think I possessed until now) and rage at the cosmetic companies for not breaking the cycle. Fury that I am part of that cycle and fury for brands that don’t take the easiest, fastest first step…pull their products from China. Stop the madness.
I have to make a change. Now. I’ve decided that any products that I own which are not CF will either be used up and not repurchased, or thrown out, as of today. Part of me feels I should cull the lot but then I think, I’ve already purchased this, the damage is done and throwing out a barely used concealer or mascara isn’t going to make any difference whatsoever. So if it’s something that I do use, I’ll use it up and that’ll be an end to it. If it’s not CF and I don’t use it regularly, then it’s for the bin. This won’t be an overnight process, but it’s a start.
With regard to the parent company debate, I’m a little torn. Should I purchase from (to go back to my original example) Too Faced when their parent company, Estée Lauder, test on animals? Part of me is thinking no, if I want to use CF products then that means CF all the way. But then I watched a video on the YouTube, and I am so sorry but I can’t remember whose it was, but she was explaining her stance on this in a very coherent manner. She uses cosmetics from cruelty free brands, even if their parent company is not CF because she feels that every penny she spends is like a vote. And all those votes for CF make up will tot up and send a very clear message to parent companies that this person will only purchase from a selection of our brands and only if they’re CF. The idea is, if we, as consumers, dictate the market, and enough of us dictate that only CF brands will make the parent companies any money, then they will see the importance of being entirely cruelty free. At the end of the day, they want as much money from us as possible. If their profits for CF cosmetics far outweigh the non, that sends them a very clear message.
So, What Now?
I’ve done a little bit of research and, I’m well aware that I haven’t even scratched the surface BUT what I have discovered is this…
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who I was very conscious of and assumed would provide the basis for my collection cleansing, is apparently not the most reliable source for up to date, certified information.
From what I can gather, PETA do not go in-depth when researching the testing practices of cosmetic brands. That, for me, calls their stamp of approval into question. Personally, I take this to mean that if a brand is keen to hide the fact that there may be some testing on animals along the line, then it’s possible they might hoodwink PETA with some fancy talk or claims of being green and clean. PETA adds them to their list of cruelty free brands, we think they’re great and the circle keeps on spinning.
So that lead me to a search for the most reliable information. This lead to the fact that seeing a bunny on packaging DOES NOT mean a product is CF. I think the most reliable, from what I can gather, is the Leaping Bunny. Their research, testing and investigative processes appear to be accepted as more thorough and they constantly update their list of CF brands.
With that being said, it’s important to point out that if this is something you wish to take seriously, you need to look for up to the minute information. Some brands have made the switch in the wrong direction and are no longer CF, so making sure the research you compile is current, is of vital importance.
Another source that I’m finding very helpful is other blogs. Bloggers who have been campaigning for all cosmetics and beauty related products to be CF for a long, long time. Cruelty Free Kitty compiles her own lists of CF brands, updates it regularly, keeps her finger on the pulse and even conducts her own research. She holds cosmetic companies to a very high standard and that, to a novice, seems a great point of reference.
There is so much information out there. I have so much to learn and, I’m certain that at some stage I’ll make a mistake. So I have to think of this as a process. A step in the right direction. I know there’ll be days when the most talked about, raved about, highly rated cosmetics are the only thing I want, but I’ll deny myself those products if they aren’t CF. I have visions of standing in front of beauty counters in Debenhams, House of Fraser, Space NK, Boots and Superdrug pulling my hair out with frustration and sheer FOMO!
That being said, the cosmetics industry is vast. There are millions of products out there that are worthy of my money. There are undiscovered gems out there, that I may have previously overlooked, which will become new favourites. That’s exciting!
I’ve gone through my make up collection and grouped everything into brand categories. Brands that are cruelty free went straight back into my regular storage system. Brands that are not CF face the cull.
I had 48 products from companies that test on animals. FORTY EIGHT! Ridiculous, I know. I’m ashamed. I was ignorant. Of those 48, I’m keeping 21 items (for however long it takes to use them up or they go past their best) and getting rid of 27.
The items I’ve decided to use up are…
- Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder in translucent extra coverage
- Benefit Brow Zings in shade 5
- Benefit Watt’s Up
- Mac Mineralise Blush in Warm Soul
- Mac Prep and Prime Fix + in lavender scent *
- Mac Amplified Lipstick in Blankety
- Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti Fatigue Blurring Primer *
- Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti Fatigue foundation in Vanilla (this one hurts!!)
- Bourjois Universal Illuminating Powder
- Bourjois Push Up Volume Glamour Ultra Black Edition
- Clarins BB Skin Detox Fluid in Light
- Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express mascara in Glam Brown
- Stila Perfect Me, Perfect Hue Eye and Cheek palette in light/medium (hurts a little bit too!)
- Stila Perfect Me, Perfect Hue Eye and Cheek palette in medium/tan (stings!)
- Morphe 35K eyeshadow palette
- Clinique Superbalm Moisturising Gloss in raspberry
- YSL Rouge Pur Couture in Beige Tribute (oh YSL, how could you betray me like this?!)
- Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Lipstick in #45
- Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Lipstick in Rock’n’Roll Nude (little tear for this one)
- Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creamy Beige
- Maybelline Color Tattoo in On and On Bronze (my go to for a quick summer look!)
(Products marked with a * are pretty much done already. Three or four uses left, or thereabouts.)
I can’t lie, there are a few items on this list that I can hardly believe I’ll not buy again. If you can’t tell! Old favourites that I repeat purchase regularly and some newer beloveds that I was so pleased to find worked for me. But this requires logic. Logic I can do. There are new, CF foundations and lipsticks and mascaras out there with my name on them and I’ll be able to use them with a clear conscience.
The items I’ve decided to get rid of are from non cruelty free brands but I rarely use them. They’ll sit gathering dust and never be finished. I’m getting rid of…
- Rimmel London Magnif’eyes Eye Contour Palette Spice Edition
- Rimmel London Sculpting palette in Coral Glow
- Rimmel London Instagram Duo Contour Stick in light
- Rimmel London Eyeshadow Stick in Rose Gold
- Rimmel Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner in East End Snob
- Rimmel Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner in Addiction
- Sephora Lipgloss in Rose Petal
- Sephora Retractable Eyeliner in Shimmer Bronze
- Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear foundation in 023
- Clinique Superbalanced foundation in Alabaster
- Clinique Superbalm Moisturising Gloss in lilac
- Mac Studio Fix Fluid in NW20
- Mac Mineralise Skin Finish in medium
- Mac Lip Pencil in Subculture
- Benefit Blushin’ Babes blush palette
- Benefit blush in Hervana
- Maybelline Instant Anti Age Eraser in Neutraliser
- Maybelline Instant Anti Age The Eraser Eye in Light
- Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creme de Rose
- Maybelline Color Tattoo in Fantasy
- Maybelline Super Stay 24 Makeup Locking Setting Spray
- Maybelline Lasting Drama Automatic Gel Pencil in Volcanic Bronze
- L’Oréal Paris Eye Paint in Keep on Khaki
- Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti Fatigue Concealer in medium
- Stila Perfect Me, Perfect Hue Eye and Cheek palette in tan/deep
- Stila Stay All Day Matte’ificent Lipstick in Mon Ami
- Mally Evercolor Poreless Face Defender
I have two palettes which require a little more investigating before I decide if they need used up or they’re ok to stay- Freedom system quad from Inglot and the Pippa for Blank Canvas Cosmetics palette.
Cruelty Free Kitty contacted Inglot to check just how genuine their PETA status really is and was not convinced that their responses could allow her to definitively say that all their suppliers do not test on animals.
We do not test on animals or work with manufacturers/suppliers that do either. Some of our palettes may contain animal derived ingredients which may not be considered vegan friendly.
One, why was this so hard to find? Two, why so vague? Three, why not mark this on palettes? There’s more about their brushes being vegan friendly than info on animal testing. I shall investigate!
Update on Blank Canvas Cosmetics as of 21/3/19
I asked the following questions…
Are your products cruelty free? Do you test your products on animals at any stage during the production process? Do you have any third parties who test on animals on your behalf? Do any of your suppliers test ingredients contained within your products on animals?
They responded with …
Thanks for contacting us. Our products are all cruelty free and not tested on animals, however some of our palettes may have animal derived ingredients so these would not be considered vegan friendly.
I was still uncertain as their response seemed vague so I asked…
Many thanks for your response. I really appreciate it. Just to clarify, are any of the ingredients within your cosmetic products ever tested on animals, even by suppliers? I am a blogger and don’t want to feed my readers any false or misleading information. I’m sure you understand.
Again, they replied and said…
None of our products are tested on animals and are all cruelty free.
Still too vague for me so…
No one has, as yet, confirmed or denied if any of your suppliers test ingredients within your products on animals.
My apologies. In our previous emails we confirmed that our products are cruelty free so this means that we use cruelty free suppliers too. I hope this clears up any queries.
I just don’t get why, for peace of mind for their customers, they wouldn’t have made this absolutely clear from the first response. Why isn’t this written on their website?
Anyway, they have now answered my questions and for now, my palette can stay. I will, however, be keeping a close eye!
Inevitably, at some stage, I’ll look into using all cruelty free products. Skincare, body products, household products, the lot. The thought is a little daunting when I’m only on the first rung of the ladder but some day, I’ll get there. It’s going to take a lot of research, time, patience and a little trial and error, I get that. Skincare in particular (when I think only one or two of my regular skin routine products would make the cut), could be a big problem, particularly when my skin likes to tell me it ain’t happy with a new moisturiser or mask in the form of angry, protestors (also known as cysts). We’re on a journey here.
Should you go cruelty free?
That’s not a decision I can make for you. If what I’m saying rings true, maybe look into it. If it’s pulling at your heart strings, maybe that’s a sign of something you might like to pursue.
I should add at this point that I won’t become an activist lady who will swipe a Double Wear bottle from your hand at the Estée Lauder counter or empty the shelves at BareMinerals into your basket in a department store. If you wish to use your beloved lippy from Rimmel, use it. I won’t judge. I won’t rant and rave on Instagram and Facebook. That’s not my style. I’ve chosen to make a change for me. Myself. I. It’s something I want and feel I need to do. If you don’t, fine. If it’s not for you, you continue to purchase what you want. It’s your money and it’s your choice. You do you. Whatever makes you happy.
Phew, that was a long one! Congratulations if you’ve made it to the end and thank you for taking the time to read it!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this whole topic in the comments below and, if anyone reading this has any advice on going cruelty free I’d really appreciate your help!
Thanks for stopping by!
J x 🐰