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Sunday, February 24, 2013


How do we know if these products are cruelty free?
I made the decision to try and use as many products that are cruelty free as possible some years ago (see Animal Testing: Let's Choose Cruelty Free Products.), and I have been trying my level best to use cruelty free skincare and cosmetics. But this endeavour is proving to be an uphill task as companies are constantly changing their policies on animal testing or are being purchased by companies that do test on animals! 

I am quite disappointed to learn that recently, a number of skincare/cosmetic companies that used to be Cruelty Free are no longer listed under PETA's list of companies that DO NOT test on animals. The reason for this is that these companies have chosen to market their products in China whereby animal testing is a requirement by law!

So, some of my favourite brands are now listed on PETA's list of companies that DO TEST on animals. These include Bobbi Brown, Clinique and L'Occitane.

This effectively means that I have had to make changes to brands that I can use. So I have been shopping around for "new" brands that do not test on animals, but as in the past, this is more difficult than it should be. The main reason still lies in the fact that most of the sales personnel selling the cosmetics are not actually aware of animal testing and what it means.

Whenever I ask, if they test on animals, most of the time I still get a yes! And even when I know for a fact that the company does not test on animals. I really wish that companies who do not test on animals would spend a little more effort in educating their staff on this matter. But then again, I am not sure if it would be worth the effort, because I have also been told many times (after lengthy explanations on what animal testing is), that no one ever asks them these questions.

Additionally, it is also important to note that PETA's lists may be slightly skewed depending on their take of where a company stands. For example, The Body Shop is listed as a company that DOES NOT TEST eventhough it is owned by L'Oreal who is listed on their list of companies that DO TEST.

Another example, is Bare Minerals/Bare Escentuals - both of which are NOT listed on the DO NOT TEST list although they do not test on animals or work with manufacturers that test, but are owned by Shiseido which obviously does test on animals.

So, how do you choose? I am of the opinion that if the brand does not test on animals or use suppliers that test on animals or chemicals that have been tested on animals, then we should support that brand even if the parent company tests. The reason for my rationale is so that we can send a message to the parent company that there is demand for products that are cruelty free and that we do not support their products that are NOT cruelty free.

However, please note that this is slightly different from purchasing from companies that do not test on animals unless required by law - e.g. Estee Lauder and it's brands, L'Occitane etc - whereby these companies have chosen to test on animals in order to be able to sell their products in certain parts of the world.

For example, on Estee Lauder's FAQ section, they have clearly stated:

The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is committed to the elimination of animal testing. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety, and bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold. We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. We evaluate our finished products in clinical tests on volunteer panels. Estée Lauder fully supports the development and global acceptance of non-animal testing alternatives. To this end, the Company works extensively with the industry at large and the global scientific community to research and fund these alternatives. 

Another example, on Benefit's FAQ section:

Does Benefit Cosmetics test on animals?
Benefit does not test our cosmetic products on animals. When selecting the ingredients to be used in our cosmetic products, Benefit requires raw material suppliers to provide safety information based on scientifically accepted alternative testing methods that meet international safety standards and regulations. Benefit products must meet both consumers' needs and consumer safety, while respecting animal life. Benefit continues to strongly support & favor alternative testing and is committed to following all animal testing laws and regulations in order to ensure our products' safety for the end consumer.

So please read the information stated on each companies' websites carefully when trying to determine if they are cruelty free or not. If they are vague, or if they state that they test where required by law, then they are not deemed cruelty free.

At the same time, there are companies such as L'Occitane, who have decided to sell in China, but are striving to change the animal testing requirements in China. So should we still support these companies or not? This is something I have not quite come to terms with. So for the moment, as much as I love L'Occitane's products I have decided to stop purchasing their stuff.

See L'Occitane's Position on Animal Testing

L’OCCITANE does not and never has tested its products on animals and guarantees that the active ingredients and raw materials have never been tested on animals at any point in the product development or manufacturing process.

L’OCCITANE has long been committed to the suppression of animal testing for beauty products, along with associations including One Voice and PETA. It was one of the first companies to be admitted to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) in 1997.
China’s policy is to test cosmetic products which are to be sold in the Chinese market in order to safeguard consumer safety. These tests are conducted by external laboratories in China. In December 2011 the BUAV decided to remove their accreditation from all companies operating in China. PETA followed suit this year.

Since December 2010, L’OCCITANE has been meeting with representatives from the Chinese authorities and in February 2011 the company took part in a colloquium in Beijing - together with the BUAV and the Chinese authorities - which aimed to implement alternative tests to animal testing, recognised by these same authorities.

L’OCCITANE is fundamentally committed to the abolition of animal testing of beauty products worldwide and by working with the Chinese authorities and promoting our products, which are not tested on animals during the product development and manufacturing process, to Chinese consumers, we believe we are more likely to encourage positive dialogue and prove the case for the removal of animal testing for beauty products.  

L’OCCITANE continues to work alongside the BUAV as one of the main beauty brands represented on its China Taskforce. This group works with European and Chinese groups in order to promote alternative testing methods.  The last meeting took place in May 2012 and regular meetings ensue. To this end, the Chinese authorities have recently launched a new program to investigate alternative testing protocols and L’OCCITANE continues to proactively participate to push for these alternatives to be implemented as soon as possible.

I hope that this post has provided some insight into how you can choose cruelty free products. There are also some other sites that you can use to help make informed decisions about companies that do or do not test on animals as I personally do not believe that PETA's list is the most comprehensive or the most objective, although it is probably the most up todate. These include:

Leaping Bunny
Choose Cruelty Free Australia
Not Tested UK
Go Cruelty Free
National Anti-Vivisection Society

Additionally, you can also download some apps for your iPhone to help you figure out if a brand or company is cruelty free:

Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free App for iPhone
Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free App for Android
PETA Be Nice to Bunnies App for iPhone

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