At it’s most simplistic definition, Cruelty-Free Beauty refers to beauty and personal care products that are manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals. This includes the raw materials used to make the products, too. However, Cruelty-Free Beauty is much more complicated to navigate in real life. Despite the straightforward book definition, there is no legal definition of what constitutes a Cruelty-Free brand. Keep reading to better understand the basics of Cruelty-Free beauty.
A Note About my Methodology
In a recent video from JenLuvsReviews, she classified Cruelty Free Beauty into three, easy-to-understand groups. Like her, I will use the same methodology for explaining the levels of Cruelty-Free consumption.
Bunnies are often a symbol for Cruelty-Free Beauty, Photo by Ulrika Joutseno on Pexels.com
The Basics of Cruelty-Free Beauty
Cruelty-Free Beauty Level 1 | Brands that don’t personally test on animals, but pay for third-party animal testing
First, despite claims on certain companies’ websites, the brands that fall into this category are not considered Cruelty-Free by Cruelty-Free standards. Why? These brands are still paying for third-party testing on their products. Moreover, I do NOT consider brands that pay for third-party testing as Cruelty-Free. As such, I do NOT label them as ”CF” on my blog.
Most mainstream Western beauty brands fall into this category. Prominet examples include L’OREAL, Estee Lauder, MAC, NARS, Lancome, and Maybelline. These brands do not conduct animal testing in the United States or Europe. However, they pay for third-party testing to sell products in mainland China.
On a personal note, I fall into this category. This means that I am not a Cruelty-Free consumer. However, 84% of my beauty collection is Cruelty-Free.
Cruelty-Free Beauty Level 2 | Brands that do not sell in China and do not pay for Third-Party animal testing, but are owned by a conglomerate that tests on animals
The brands in Level 2 do not sell in markets that mandate testing nor do they conduct animal testing. However, these brands are owned by parent companies that sell non-Cruelty-Free products.
Major CPG parent companies include Coty, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Revlon, Shiseido, and Unilever. None of these parent companies are Cruelty-Free. However, they own sub-brands that comply with Cruelty-Free practices. For example, L’Oreal owns Cruelty-Free brand, Urban Decay. Meanwhile, Estee Lauder owns Cruelty-Free brands, Too Faced and Smashbox.
Many mainstream Cruelty-Free consumers will purchase from Cruelty-Free brands that are owned by parent companies. However, some staunch Cruelty-Free consumers will not purchase from these brands.Those shoppers do not want to fund the larger non-Cruelty-Free organization.
Cruelty-Free Beauty Level 3 | Brands that do test on animals, do not sell in China and are not owned by a parent company
Many American and European indie beauty brands are 100% Cruelty-Free. These are brands that do not test on animals and are not owned by large conglomerates that sell in territories that mandate animal testing.
Popular examples of indie, Cruelty-Free brands include ColourPop, Melt Cosmetics, Persona Cosmetics, and more! Also, these just happen to be three of my all-time favorite brands.
Overall, this is the brands that fall into this category are the most clear-cut, Cruelty-Free options. By supporting these brands, no money is going towards a company that profits from brands that are not Cruelty-Free.*
Note: retailers such as Sephora and Ulta, as well as platform providers such as Shopify or Woo Commerce may still profit off of brands that are not Cruelty-Free.
Cruelty-Free Beauty News
In the US,starting in January 2020, California is set to become the first state to ban the importation and sales of cosmetics tested on animals. This mandate includes personal care and hygiene options, too.
However, this law has little impact on Cruelty-Free standards. More specifically, brands that do not conduct testing in the United States will still be permitted to sell products in California. For example, MAC Cosmetics is not going to be banned from selling products in California even though they submit to animal testing regulations in China.
Helpful Resources for Transitioning to a Cruelty-Free Beauty Collection
If you want to learn more about Cruelty-Free Beauty or are considering going Cruelty-Free, please check out the following resources:
YouTube is another great resource for anyone looking to go Cruelty-Free. At first, it may be daunting to find and replace holy grail items in your collection. However, it is 100% possible to make the transition.
Consider checking out some of my favorite Cruelty-Free Influencers for bomb product recommendations:
Cruelty-Free brands are less harmful to animals in some ways. However, these brands are no necessarily any less toxic or environmentally detrimental than non-Cruelty-Free alternatives.
In fact, many Cruelty-Free brands still use ingredients that are harmful or toxic to humans. These ingredients include sulfates, parabens, talc, essential oils, etc. Also, many Cruelty-Free brand use unsustainable ingredients. Specific ingredients include palm oil and titanium dioxide.
Additionally, tons of Cruelty-Free beauty brands continue to use bulky, wasteful plastic packaging. Brands will use packaging that cannot be recycled. Moreover, can brands with ‘fast-fashion” business models truly be considered Cruelty-Free if they encourage wasteful overconsumption?
Also, there are Cruelty-Free beauty brands that produce products in China, where animal testing is mandated for international brands. Is it ethical to produce products in a country that mandates animal testing?
Finally, some Cruelty-Free brands use questionable or deceptive sales tactics to encourage consumers to shop. These tactics include false-scarcity marketing, and non-disclosed sponsorships. Meanwhile, other Cruelty-Free brands align themselves with controversial figures with questionable morals and behaviors.
To note: Cruelty-Free does NOT mean Vegan. In fact, Cruelty-Free brands may use animal by-products (like carmine or beeswax), in their formulas.
Making a Cruelty Free Beauty Transition
If you are considering transitioning to Cruelty-Free beauty, please try donating or giving away your non-Cruelty-Free products. Some charities and sites will take gently used products.
All-in-all, I have so much respect for anyone who keeps a Cruelty Free beauty collection. It is my hope that animal testing for cosmetics will be banned in the future. I hope this post on the basics of Cruelty-Free beauty helped you to understand the intricacies around Cruelty-Free brands!
New to Persona Cosmetics? Please consider using my referral link for 15% off your first purchase. If you make a purchase I will receive 5% cashback for the sale, but please know that I’ve been purchasing from Persona long before I had a code. I would never recommend products I didn’t truly love.
Are you Cruelty-Free or are you considering going Cruelty-Free? What is your favorite Cruelty-Free beauty brand? Please let me know in the comments below.