Thursday, 27 February 2014

Animal Testing - wake up to your blood soaked make-up

During my brief time as a blogger, and before that from the blogs I read, there is one thing that I can't quite believe, yet see from so many: the use of animal tested cosmetics. It's no secret that I am a huge animal lover and always have been. What gets me is the number of people who make the same claim, many of whom have incredibly cute pets, yet continue to use and promote products made by companies who employ hideous animal testing policies.

I can't help but wonder why this is. Do they not realise? Do they just not care? Is beauty more important to them than the pain and torture of an innocent animal?

One thing is clear; there is still wide-spread ignorance around the subject of animal testing. I think a lot of people associate it as something from days past and that things couldn't possibly still be being tested on fluffy bunnies. Well, let me tell you unequivocally: they are.  Another culprit is celebrity endorsement of make-up, skincare and even fur products: hey, if Beyonce's wearing it, it must be OK!

The excuses of "It's too hard to find cruelty free products", "Cruelty free products are more expensive" and the like, are complete and utter tosh. In fact, it is many of the high-end, expensive brands, in addition to the mid-range corporate conglomerates, that are the guilty culprits.

So, what exactly is animal testing? 

It is not

  • Painting fluffy animals' claws to test a nail polish colour
  • Giving them baths and washing their fur to test how soft a conditioner makes it
  • Any other ridiculous scenario you may imagine in an attempt to justify it

It is:

  • Horrific
  • Painful
  • Torture
  • Examples: being shaved and high doses of chemicals applied to the skin, to test for reaction, leading to chemical burns, blisters and lacerations. Eyes being forcibly held open whilst products are squirted into them, leading to pain, burns and blindness. Chemicals being forcibly ingested, leading to poisoning, disease, organ failure and death. Plus many more.

How would you feel about such an experiment being carried out on your pet? Completely abhorrent, right? So why is it ok for the thousands of voiceless, anonymous animals out there?

I cannot bear the thought of an animal being treated this way and the sheer terror and pain they must feel makes my heart hurt.

Companies to avoid include:
Avon, Armani, Aussie, Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Cacherel, Cetaphil, Chanel, Clairol, Clarins, Clearasil, Clinique, Coty, Essie, Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Dove, La Mer, L'Oreal, Lancome, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, MaxFactor, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Olay, Pantene, Proctor & Gamble, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Redken, Revlon, Rimmel, Unilever, YSL, and Vichy.

A lot of companies who were previously cruelty free now aren't, including MAC, Benefit, Avon amongst others. This is due to them wanting to sell their products in China, which dictates by law that all cosmetics must be animal tested. Rather than uphold their cruelty free policies, these brands have chosen profit over ethics. So whilst they themselves aren't doing the testing, they are allowing others to conduct animal testing experiments on their behalf, in China, which has virtually no animal rights/protection/welfare laws.

Packaging has a lot to answer for. Even I sometimes yearn for that supercute Benefit item, because it looks so nice. Remember that this is marketing at its finest, pure and simple. They are not selling products to help you, or make your face/life better, they are selling products to make money. They do not care about you or the animals they are torturing. Companies have made this abundantly clear by allowing their brands to be sold in China.

For a less rambling, more concise account of the China situation, I found this article by Melody Marks and this article by Harriet Williamson both give really good explanations.

It is also important to remember that big brands like L'Oreal, Unilever and Proctor & Gamble encompass a huge range of other brands, including household products such as Pampers, Ariel, Persil, Bold, Colgate, Hellmans, Flora, etc . Always check who the parent company is.

Cruelty free companies include:
Asda, Barry M, The Body Shop*, Burt's Bees, Collection (formerly Collection 2000), Co-Op, Dr Hauschka, ELF, GOSH, Hard Candy, Illamasqua, Lush, Liz Earle*, Marks & Spencer, Models Own, MUA, Neal's Yard, OCC, Paul Mitchell, Sainsbury's, Soap and Glory, Sugarpill, Superdrug, Tarte (available in US only, unfortunately), Urban Decay*
* The Body Shop and Urban Decay are now owned by L'Oreal, and Liz Earle owned by Avon, but all three still operate independently and are cruelty free. Whether you choose to buy from them is a tough one.

For more comprehensive lists, check out places like PETA and Go Cruelty Free, from where you can order a free copy of the Little Book of Cruelty Free, listing cruelty free brands available in the UK.

Many companies, even when directly asked, have a very vague 'policy' about animal testing, especially when it comes to the China debate. These policies are often misleading and are very carefully worded to avoid admittance of any cruelty. Phrases to look out for include "We do not test our products on animals and uphold this policy except where required by law" and notice how they have all kept silent about any change in policy (see China, above). DO NOT BE FOOLED. If a company does not clearly state that their products and ingredients are not tested on animals, then they most likely are. For example, Superdrug marks all products "Superdrug is against animal testing" - you can't get much clearer than that. You can also look out for the leaping bunny logo, which tells you a product is cruelty free.

This is an important subject for me and I want as many people as possible to realise what they're doing when they part with their money for these cosmetics. 

Ignorance is not an excuse. Educate yourself and spread the word.


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  1. Hi Tiny Grey.

    As a former Beauty Hall manager for a high end department store, and following on from your parent company comment, if readers are keen to avoid animal testing in all forms they really should research *who owns what*. For example, over 25 distinct brands come under the Estee Lauder umbrella, including Aveda, Origins, and Tom Ford.

    1. Hi, yes exactly - that's the point I was trying to make about parent companies owning so many other brands and to check who owns it.

  2. Thanks so much for this, I had no idea that MAC was no longer cruelty free. But i love urban decay and soap and glory, so yay! It can be so hard, even for a committed, seasoned ethical shopper to avoid buying into the horror :(

    1. You're welcome :) I know so many people who didn't know about MAC, Benefit etc. Companies are so sneaky :( This is by no means an exhaustive list - I highly recommend checking every brand you use regularly and if they can't give a clear answer on animal testing, AVOID. x

  3. Yes after I got my bunnies I started looking into it. It's such a complicated issue and some companies really are sneaky and tried to hide things. I always used Vichy but gave up on that. I found it hard sometimes though finding good alternatives you really have to dig in.... but it's worth it! No animal should suffer for something lame as make up or a cleaning product! Ugh.

    1. It is hard sometimes, especially if you're looking for something really specific, but definitely worth it :) Completely agree - hurting animals so we can have make-up is stupid and heinously wrong xo

  4. Thanks so much for this, I have been worried about accidentally buying things from companies which test on animals. It seems extremely cynical and deceptive of the companies like Avon, MAC and Benefit not to have told customers that they are no longer cruelty free, and I will not only be boycotting them myself but will tell people I know to avoid them. Thankfully a lot of the brands you listed as cruelty free are brands I use and like, so I will just stick to those ones in future :) Another thing to be careful of is "natural" or "organic" skincare. I have made the mistake of buying such products before, assuming they would be cruelty free, but the two do not always go hand in hand. It's also a good idea to let friends and family know that you do not wish to use products tested on animals and give them a list of suitable brands, to avoid them buying gifts from companies which test on animals.

    1. Those are some great points, Polly. Really glad the post was helpful - so many people aren't aware of those companies selling in China no longer being cruelty free, so it's important to spread the word to as many as possible. Thanks for your comment, have an awesome Friday! x

  5. I'm glad MUA is a cruelty free company,their products are lovely and so affordable.I knew about L'oreal but I was so surprised about some,Dove for example.

    1. I'm currently compiling a list of guilty parent companies and all the brands that fall under them - there are SO MANY that it's taking a long time! I'll put it in a new post when it's done, along with a longer list of 'safe' brands. I'm on a mission to open people's eyes! x

  6. Glad to see one of my favourite brands in the cruelty free list, barrym. Is shocking how many brands aren't.
    This has been so enlightening!


    1. Yep! Love Barry M! Glad this post helped - keep an eye out for my comprehensive list of guilty and safe brands, coming soon! Meanwhile, share this post far and wide - everyone needs to know.


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