Today, I’d like to talk about going cruelty-free. This is something I've been working through quietly, and I've now come to the point where I've got information to share. This first part will discuss my reasons for going CF and give some definitions, misconceptions, and resources. If you’re interested in the specifics behind overseas testing and markets, parent companies, and voting with your dollars, please do check out Part 2 HERE as well.
This information comes largely from logicalharmony.net, crueltyfreekitty.com, and from my own additional research. If you’d like further information, please let me know. :) In addition, my reasons are my own and they are not meant as a judgment of anyone else’s choices.
How I got here
Over the last year or two, I’ve been slowly transitioning my eating habits toward the vegan end of the spectrum. I did this partially for health reasons, but also because I did not want to support animal cruelty/exploitation and realized it was in my (small) power to channel that support to plant-based products.
During this same time, I began to truly discover a love for makeup. I had always felt it was something to cover flaws and act out a prescribed societal role. But seeing lots of passionate, creative, norm-defying people and their positive relationship with makeup helped me to build one that I really enjoy.
These parallel discoveries eventually led to a decision in the latter part of 2016 to extend my cruelty-free/vegan stance to makeup and personal care products as well. One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to continue and hopefully assess my clothing, footwear, and household products as well.
So what does cruelty-free mean?
In the context of products, it means that no animal testing occurred at any point in the creation of products - meaning no raw components, partial products, or finished products were tested on animals.
The term cruelty-free does NOT refer to the inclusion of animal-derived ingredients. That is, products designated cruelty-free are not necessarily vegan.
Wait, what's vegan then?
In this context, vegan refers to products containing no ingredients that are animal-derived. These can include insect-derived products (honey, beeswax, carmine), invertebrate derivatives (snail secretions, algae), and those from other animals (collagen, lanolin, glycerin, gelatin, albumen). Some vegans consume/use insect derivatives, but products marked vegan should not contain any animal-derived ingredients.
The term vegan does not guarantee products are cruelty-free. A lot are, but I have personally seen products in drugstores marked vegan which are produced by MNCs that conduct animal testing.
What do I do with this information?
Well, vegans argue that killing animals for use in cosmetics/products also constitutes "cruelty" beyond that caused by animal testing. For yourself, you can decide to what degree you wish to implement a cruelty-free lifestyle. Some would argue that a total change is ideal or best, but my opinion is that any lessening of animal suffering/usage is a good thing. So basically, I'm placing this info in front of you, and you decide what to do with it. Good? Good.
A few misconceptions about going CF
1. It’s too difficult and expensive.
Honestly, it is an adjustment. It means a lot more googling and reading ingredient lists (especially if you’re vegan as well). But there are lots of CF brands at the drugstore and grocery store - it doesn’t have to mean you shop only at natural foods stores or online (though that’s half the fun ;).
Also, before I went CF, I had a lot of trouble with buying too much at the drugstore. Having these guidelines in place makes it a lot easier to avoid grabbing everything, and this actually means I can spend a little more on thoughtfully-chosen products that fit my values.
E.L.F., Wet n’ Wild, Physician’s Formula, GOSH cosmetics, Milani, Marcelle, and NYX are CF makeup/skin care brands available at the drugstore. Nature’s Gate, Kiss My Face, JASON, and Green Beaver are personal care lines found in most grocery stores. Real Techniques and Ecotools carry CF makeup brushes and tools. Colourpop and MakeupGeek are affordable sites for high-quality single shadows, palettes, lip products, etc.
There are also Sephora brands (Tarte, Too Faced, ABH, Urban Decay, Kat Von D, First Aid Beauty) and luxury brands (Charlotte Tilbury, Jane Iredale, Hourglass, RMS Beauty, 100% Pure) for CF products, some of which are independent and some that are owned by parent companies (this concept is discussed at length in part 2).
Local and internet-based small companies like Bare Bones Skin Care, Cake Beauty, and Sugarpill Cosmetics are more often vegan as well as CF and you get the added benefit of supporting niche products and cool, diverse people.
Tl;dr There are loads of CF products in every price point. It takes mindfulness, but that has its own benefits as well.
2. It’s only weird products.
I guess this depends on what you think is weird. Cruelty-free doesn’t necessarily mean “natural” as far as scents or forms go. Lots of big-name cosmetics companies are cruelty-free and their products are on par with the rest of the marketplace. Vegan products will tend to be more on the natural side, in terms of fewer additives, dyes, etc. But really, it’s not that different from the products available to you before. You’re in a different pool, but the products have to do what people want in order to be competitive just like any others.
3. I’m going to lose things I love.
This was definitely a concern to me when I first started out. There were products I absolutely LOVED and was extremely upset to find were not cruelty-free (I’m looking at you, Origins!). As I’m now aiming for vegan products as well, I’m going through this all over again (goodbye, most of NYX).
Ultimately, though, when I find something I really love that fits both CF and vegan criteria, I love it HARD. Because I know that there’s nothing in it or in its conception that I need to feel guilty or anxious about. And while some things were and are hard to let go of, the more we support CF and vegan companies, the more those profits drive innovation. There is so much available now even compared to a year ago, and while it takes some digging, you will find new loves, I promise.
If this has intrigued you, I encourage you to do the “How cruel is your makeup bag?” challenge. Check your products against the Logical Harmony Cruelty-Free Brand List (which is easily searchable with ctrl + F5) and, if you can, pledge to replace non CF products with CF ones when they’re finished.
Logical Harmony is an incredible resource for all kinds of CF/Vegan information, and the brand list is updated weekly (important, as brands’ standing can change - Stila has recently become CF, for instance :).