I recently got a somewhat frantic text message from a friend about wanting to switch all her cosmetics over to cruelty free brands. Let’s talk about it, without photos of tortured animals, because there are as many reasons to make the switch as there are people wanting to make it.
A “cruelty free” label might mean different things to different people. My personal checklist, in relative order of importance:
- brand, parent brand does not test on animals (finished product or ingredients)
- brand, parent brand does not sell in countries that require animal testing
- high ratio of recognizable and/or natural ingredients
- no animal ingredients (I’m not vegan, so I am okay with honey and soaps/etc. with goat’s milk, but I stay away from animal-derived dyes and colorants)
- free of preservatives, parabens, etc.
- eco-friendly packaging, etc.
- Fair Trade or made in the US
Decide what’s important to you. If all you’re worried about is animal testing, then focus on that.
Numbers 1 and 2 can mean doing a little more digging about parent brands, because sometimes labels aren’t 100% accurate, and policies/companies can change overnight. Generally speaking, I try to support brands that come right out and say that they are vegan and/or cruelty free. It means I can that much lazier. I talked about it a little bit in this post, but it’s getting easier to find cruelty free products on a budget. There’s no reason to be intimidated about the cost of switching over. You don’t necessarily need to go through all your stuff and throw everything out. Make the transition a little easier on your wallet. Replace your old products as you finish them, or find a friend who can get some use from them. You’ve already spent the money, no need to let it go to waste.
Let yourself be flexible. If there’s a product I love (a luxury product, or something I use regularly and am 100% happy with), I purchase it. My Venus five-blade razor comes to mind. It’s not made of recyclable material, and I’m pretty sure the moisturizing strips contain all kinds of garbage, but it’s the best razor I’ve ever used. I don’t use the disposable version, and I do my best to make the cartridges last a long time. So do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up. If someone were to hand me an alternative that fit my requirements and was comparable, I would switch in a heartbeat, but until that day comes I’m happy with my choice!
You should familiarize yourself with animal ingredients and the names of commonly used chemicals. This list is a good place to start, but provides no explanations. Some can be found here. Learn where these ingredients come from, how they’re manufactured, and what they do. Basically, understand what you’re reading when you read a product label. Not all chemicals with complicated names are bad for you and bad for the planet. Some are. Sometimes preservatives are necessary, and sometimes they’re not. Products without preservatives may not last as long. It’s a lot of stuff to to understand while shopping.
Keep in mind that “certified organic” and “certified cruelty free” labels cost money. Keep an eye out for small or local companies that you can support that may not be able to afford the label! Also, just because a product is labeled as “natural” doesn’t make it cruelty free. Many companies have a “natural” product line (which may or may not be tested on animals), but still participate in animal testing. Again, decide what’s most important to you, and shop based on that. Be prepared to compromise.
And please, if it applies, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a hypocrite for wanting cruelty free products while still eating meat (or dairy products, or whatever). I’ve gotten that before (no joke), and it seems to me, to quote Hank Hill, “just asinine.” Spending money on cruelty free products lets companies know that more people want these options. I call that a win for humans and critters alike. Besides, your diet is none of anyone’s business if you don’t want it to be. Heck, your shopping habits aren’t either. Don’t sweat it. Let your choices come from a positive place. Other people can be jerks if they want to be.
If you want to get to know some animal-friendly brands without making a huge commitment to a single product, check out the following curated subscription boxes:
- Vegan Cuts Beauty Box $19.95/month with free shipping, 4-7 products (full sized and samples)
- Petit Vour $15/month with free shipping, 4-5 products (full sized and samples)
Neither of these companies are affiliated with this website, but I highly recommend both. Vegan Cuts is perfect if you’re just starting on your cruelty free journey, and Petit Vour is such a treat to receive every month.
If you consider yourself a product junkie, have no fear! Going cruelty free will not cut you off. This is coming from a girl with a 45+ bottle nail polish collection.
Websites and brands to explore:
- Abe’s Market (affiliate link): You can browse beauty and bath & body products based on the qualities most important to you! Use the “featured qualities” and “certifications” drop downs on the side bar. Each individual product page will also list qualities and certifications. Some of my favorites (affiliate links):
- My Konjac Sponge charcoal face sponge
- Schmidt’s lavender and sage deodorant
- Antonym Cosmetics eyeshadow quad in “croisette”
- Karma Naturals lavender nail polish remover (reviewed here!)
- Vegan Cuts: Check out the body care and lifestyle sections, in particular.
- Nail Polish Brands I Love
- Julep (affiliate link): New customers get $10 off first purchase of $30 or more
- Spa Ritual
- Jamberry nail wraps
- Other Favorite Brands ♥
- Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs perfume
- EcoTools brushes
- Hurraw! lip balm (reviewed here and here!)
- Lily Lolo
- Other Resources, Blogs
Please share your favorites in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.