What Does "Cruelty Free" Actually Mean?

 Photo Source: @bangwpp via Tumblr

Photo Source: @bangwpp via Tumblr

In a perfect world, pizza would make me lose weight, sneaking wine into a thermos for work would be socially acceptable, and I wouldn't need 3 coffees by noon to engage in small talk with other humans. Oh, and I would actually be able to use that makeup palette that everyone keeps talking about from *undisclosed brand* without feeling guilty. But since I already feel guilty for about 10 awful decisions I make a day, there's no room for error when it comes to choosing beauty products that are both effective and cruelty-free.

Why? Because there's a ton of sh*t that goes on behind the scenes of the beauty industry that I just can't support. And not to throw shade at any of those brands, but like, I'm about to throw shade. It's 2017. Why are companies in the beauty & personal care industry STILL testing on animals?! 

And, NO. Animal testing isn’t just putting a dash of blush on a bunny’s cheek. It’s torture. “Sentient animals are forced to endure a life of confinement in an unnatural setting. They are restrained as chemicals are dripped into their eyes or rubbed into their skin, or as they are forced to inhale or ingest the chemical(s) being tested,” says Garett Auriemma, Director of Communications and Development for NAVS (National Anti-Vivisection Society), whose mission is to advance science without harming animals.

After even if animals live through the horrific tests, they are typically disposed of afterwards or killed. Yes, you read that right. Some animals are literally thrown in the garbage, half-alive or dead from the cruel testing they endure all for testing.

Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters are among some of the most commonly used animals for testing. Auriemma says that, “Rats and mice are also used, but since they are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act, there are no requirements in place to account for how many of these animals are used — whether for cosmetics or for other scientific uses.”  

But there’s good news: many companies are leading the cruelty-free movement and have committed to alternative non-animal testing methods, like in vitro (tests using cell and tissue cultures) and in silico (tests using computer modeling software). In addition to being cruelty-free, “innovative alternative testing methods are faster, less expensive, and better able to predict how these chemicals and products will affect people,” says Auriemma.

NAVS is one of eight animal advocacy protection organizations who form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC), which administers the Leaping Bunny Program. The strict certification program is made available to personal care and household product companies that provides consumers with the proper information to confirm their cruelty-free status.

“Many of the companies that we have identified as “cruelty-free” rely on an inventory of chemicals that are already recognized as safe and therefore are not compelled to do any further safety testing. They’ve made it a priority to refrain from animal testing and, in some cases, animal-derived ingredients, in the development, manufacturing and distribution of their products as a core policy,” says Auriemma. 

If you want to drive change and stop animal testing, Auriemma says you should use the “power of your purse” to choose cruelty-free alternatives when shopping. “Let the companies who animal test know why you will no longer use their products,” he says. You can also take action NOW by adding your name in support for the Humane Cosmetics Act bill, which seeks to end animal testing.  

And as you should with everything in life, lead by example. Auriemma says, “Tell children and others why you do what you do. This way, they will learn the lesson that it is better to live a compassionate life - one that is cruelty-free. In life, being beautiful is more important than looking beautiful.” Now, that, is a philosophy we can get behind.