A beginner’s guide to navigating the world of cruelty-free cosmetics
Finding cruelty-free beauty products can be complicated. Some skincare brands say that they don’t test their products on animals...except where required by law. Others get tricky with the wording, which leaves room for testing individual ingredients rather than products or having a third party perform testing on their behalf.
For many buyers, this superficial “cruelty-free” qualification is just not good enough but tracking down skincare companies with a real commitment to animal wellbeing can be mind-boggling.
When companies are less than forthcoming with this information, how can you be sure your money isn’t going toward animal cruelty?
Well, it’s easy, because we’ve done the detective work for you. Scroll down for a list of some of the best beauty and cosmetic brands that are 100% cruelty-free.
Or, if you’re not sure what that means exactly or why you should care, stick around for a little intro course!
What does it mean to be ‘cruelty-free’?
At its most basic level, cruelty-free products do not cause harm to animals. It sounds simple enough, but there are actually several different stages in the production of a cosmetic that may involve animal cruelty.
Firstly, the product may contain ingredients derived from animal sources, like squalene, collagen, gelatin, lanolin, retinol, and many others.
If the product is made without these ingredients, we’re still not out of the woods yet. It may use ingredients that are tested on animals, which causes them suffering.
Once the product is fully formulated, it may go through another round of animal testing before it’s released for sale to the public. Many conventional products are even guilty of all three.
Without being too graphic, the animal testing process is undeniably cruel. And if you’re imagining a line of rats being shampooed with more or less the same products you use, who may or may not have a bad reaction, it’s not like that at all.
Plus, even if the animal survives the cruel rounds of testing, at the end of its ordeal, it will be killed.
Are there alternatives to animal testing? How can I be sure these products are safe?
There are. Modern technology has afforded us new ways to test products for safety that are actually faster and more accurate than tests done on animals.
They use lab-created skin cultures developed from human cells, which give a more reliable result than the reaction observed in a completely different species. 3D printed cornea-like structures can easily stand in for the eyes of living rabbits.
Even without these new methods, the cosmetics industry could produce hundreds and thousands of new product formulations using the many ingredients that are already known to be safe for human use.
Where can I find truly cruelty-free products?
Once you realize what animals really go through in testing and how unnecessary it is to achieve a safe product, it’s natural to want to find cruelty-free alternatives.
Luckily, there are lots of people who realized the importance of preventing animal cruelty in the cosmetics industry long before you and me, and they have gone on to start amazing cruelty-free skincare companies!
Here are some of my favorites.
As you can probably tell by the name, Badger Balm is a brand that loves animals. They are Leaping Bunny certified, so you can be sure that none of their products or ingredients were tested on animals.
Badger makes an extensive line of organic skin care products for the face, body, and even a dedicated line for men. From massage oil to bug spray, there are few things you won’t be able to find at Badger!
Many of their products are completely vegan, with the exception of some that contain beeswax and a sunscreen lotion that includes a whey derivative that comes from dairy. Depending on your personal beliefs and preferences, you may or may not be comfortable with that.
All Good is a Leaping Bunny certified, PETA-backed maker of natural, sustainable, reef friendly, and non-GMO skincare products.
They make a variety of lip balms, lotions, zinc-based sunscreens, and even deodorants.
If you’re in need of some cruelty-free basics, All Good is the place to shop!
If you want to indulge in a little luxury skincare with a clear conscience, Teadora has got just what you need. All of their products are 100% vegan and completely cruelty-free. You can shop their whole site without worrying about accidentally buying something with animal-derived ingredients.
And there’s tons of great stuff to try out! Not just basic cleansers and moisturizers, but also masks, scrubs, and serums.
There’s enough animal-friendly stock at Teadora to keep you trying out new products for a long, long time!
A freelance writer working with bighearted businesses who want to better our world.