The Path To Cruelty-Free Beauty

I’ve been a bit lame on the cruelty-free beauty front if the truth is known. I put my trust in the fact the UK has the strictest animal testing laws in the world and didn’t think how I could use my consumer power to invest in more ethical global business practices.

So I’m on a path to switch all my beauty and skin care to cruelty-free (and eventually household products, although I already make my own cleaning spray). As a recovering makeup addict, this isn’t as easy as it looks. I have favourite products in my bag of tricks I have used for decades and rely on for my quick busy-mum fixes.

But with vegan cosmetics companies making great strides in the market, with some amazing products, there’s no excuse. I’m on the path to 100% cruelty-free beauty.

Buying with integrity

batiste dry shampoo
Bafflingly Batiste have their own bunny on the bottle. But it’s not the official Leaping Bunny.

For my generation, it started in the 80s with The Body Shop. Founder Ms Roddick got us all thinking about where our products came from and how they are made, above all, tested. The public backlash became a media sensation and large multi-national corporations were under the spotlight. This lead to cosmetic testing on animals being finally banned in the UK in 1998 and in 2013 an EU ban on cosmetic sales which have been tested on animals.

What does cruelty-free mean?

Kat Von D makeup
Kat Von D makeup is cruelty-free and vegan.

During the 1990s The Body Shop were accused of being faux ethics warriors and not being so stringent when it came to checking whether ingredients had been tested on animals. Which further raised the question with consumers – is that really looking out for animal welfare? (Their sale to L’Oreal didn’t help either, who at the time, were certainly not cruelty-free). And that’s where the Leaping Bunny scheme comes in . “The only way to be 100% certain a company is cruelty-free is to buy products from companies that have been certified by the Leaping Bunny Program which requires that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers.” It couldn’t be plainer, could it? And I should say, having used The Body Shop as an example in this post, they are now Leaping Bunny certified and have just been sold to a better corporate outfit than L’Oreal.

Where do I start?

marks and spencer
Marks and Spencer proudly sport the Leaping Bunny on their perfume.

For those who are looking to invest in companies who truly believe in cruelty-free throughout the supply chain, then the Leaping Bunny is the best way to guarantee this. Download the UK shopping guide here (which I’m excited to see Marks and Spencer plus Burts Bees firmly on the list).

The PETA list can also give you a steer, as not everyone takes part in Leaping Bunny but may not test on animals nor have ingredients which are. Next stop is the Cruelty-Free Kitty blog, which U.S. based, founder Suzi,  maintains a list of cruelty-free bloggers all over the world.  I have also signed up to The Pip Box, a vegan and very reasonably priced, monthly beauty box. I haven’t received my first one yet but will review when I get it!

The MAC conundrum

The reason it’s taken me so long to go 100% cruelty-free is my love affair with MAC. While clearly, they meet EU requirements on testing, they market their products in China who require animal testing. The parent company Estee Lauder have a number of brands marketed in China with no signs of pulling out of taking a stance on it. Changing a $30b industry in China ‘from within’ is not going to be easy.

The cosmetic cupboard shuffle

My mission over the next months is to slowly switch out my existing supplies with new, cruelty-free products. There are many companies to explore on PETA’s list and Leaping Bunny who have nice ranges of commonly used products; eyeshadow, lipsticks, blushers, face powders. But the hardest to replace will be some of the more innovative applications like MAC Paint Pots, simply one of the best products around, especially for my 43-year-old eyelids!  It prevents creasing and keeps eye shadow firmly in place. But it’s incredibly hard to find a cruelty-free version, any tips received gratefully.

Liz Earle
Liz Earle is cruelty-free but owned by a company which isn’t.

My first shopping excursions weren’t entirely a success. I hadn’t really asked myself how far I wanted to go with cruelty-free and look for the Leaping Bunny. Soap and Glory’s Thick and Fast Flash Extensions Effect mascara seemed like a good bet but and their stance on animal testing is admirable but in their FAQs, they admit they can’t vouch for their ingredient suppliers. My Kat Von D palette with lush hues, strong definition and durability is equal to any MAC palette and is listed in PETA’s cruelty-free directory but not Leaping Bunny certified. Liz Earle, however, is but are owned by Avon, who isn’t a cruelty-free company. You can see why consumers are CONFUSED.

What can you do?

Firstly, HELP ME! If you have any suggestions for reliable products.

If you’re not 100% cruelty-free, hopefully, I’ve laid it out here in a way that most people can also make the change. Animals most certainly are not ‘ours’ to use. Humans are a funny species, knowingly destroying our habitat and natural resources for immediate, short-term gratification. And as consumers, we can vote with our wallets.