You may have read about how food industry terms like “natural” and “humanely raised” do not actually mean a whole lot.
They’re unregulated and wide open to interpretation. Unfortunately, the same concept applies when you’re shopping for cosmetics or personal care products and you’re trying to take into consideration claims that products are “cruelty-free” or even “not tested on animals.” In a market where animal-conscious is a trendy selling point (think “vegan leather” versus good old “pleather”) how can you be sure a company’s claims are up to your standards?
You also may be wondering what the difference is between the products tested on animals and ones that are not. Maybe it sounds appealing to take the animals out of the equation… but then, how do companies know they aren’t going to burn your skin, cause your hair to fall out, or have some other negative reaction?
If your shampoo wasn’t tested on an animal, how do they know it’s safe for a living being?
European Union residents may not know the specific answer to how to test without animals, but they’re living proof it works. The E.U. has banned all cosmetic animal testing and early versions of the ban were in place by 2004. (Sadly, China REQUIRES animal testing so many large companies that sell both there and in the E.U. make multiple versions of their products for the different markets. This often prevents them from obtaining cruelty-free certifications in markets where they don’t test.)
So how exactly do companies confidently market new products? The easiest way is to use tried and true natural materials and/or traditional ingredients which may have been tested on animals in the past but are now known to be safe. Advancements in technology offer testing alternatives, such as using donated human blood or synthetic skin. The Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal welfare organizations even state that some of these methods are faster and cheaper than animal testing.
Leaping Bunny, PETA, and many vegan associations offer cruelty-free certifications to companies or their products. Leaping Bunny has the most stringent verification process, including on-site audits. You’ll want to hear the company say their products and ingredients are never tested on animals by the company or by anyone on their behalf. Those two stipulations – ingredients and other entities testing – close up a common “not tested on animals… by us” loophole.
Producer/Writer, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360° Opinions