Deciding to go cruelty free when it comes to cosmetics can be a bit of a minefield to navigate. What does it even mean? Does it rule out the drugstore? Does that make it super expensive? What’s all this about China? The good news is that I, and a bunch of super lovely helpful bloggers have your back, buddy.
Lately on Twitter I’ve seen more than a couple of tweets asking for advice on going cruelty free, asking for more information, or flat out being shocked that some brand favourites actually aren’t as cruelty free as people think. I’ve also had more than one conversation about how it is to find new products, replace old ones, and how to find brands that you can trust. And so here we are: this isn’t a typical post for me, but I sort of felt an overwhelming desire to toss together a bit of a masterpost of my favourite tips and the best advice I read during my transition to cruelty free. Here we go!
5 Tips For Going Cruelty Free
Put simply, going cruelty free means no longer using cosmetics that have been tested on animals or using products which contain animal derived ingredients.
Tip One: Learn The Difference
When I first went cruelty free, I actually thought that eliminating any product made by a brand tested on animals meant that I had a cruelty free stash.
There’s a line between “cruelty free” and vegan cosmetics, and the ingredients list makes it.
The real confusion comes in because there are no real, law-binding regulations or guidelines that make a cruelty free product. There’s a great post from MSPCA which explains the difficulty in identifying cruelty-free products, but the gist is that while there is nothing stopping a product being labelled cruelty free where it isn’t, there is also nothing that makes brands label products which are cruelty free, either.
So in essence, a product may not be tested on animals but the company is not required to tell you where it’s ingredients come from. Are they tested? Are they synthetic, plant based or animal based? There are no rules in labelling.
Parent companies and their implications
And it’s not just ingredients to think about – some companies (The Body Shop, Nyx, Urban Decay, Tarte…) actually don’t test on animals. Fabulous! But they’re owned by testing parent companies.
There’s two main standpoints on this, from what I’ve seen:
- We should still buy products from cruelty free brands owned by these parent companies as it shows the brand where we, as consumers, are willing to put our money, creating a demand for cruelty free products.
- We shouldn’t buy from these brands as, ultimately, the money lands in the parent company’s pocket and therefore indirectly funds animal cruelty.
Whether or not you do this is entirely your own preference, I’m not here to boss you about! Hello Gemma has one of the best posts I’ve seen explaining this and her stance.
What’s the deal with China?
And then there’s the elephant in the room that is China. There’s some info in the links below and some of my recommended bloggers also post about this – but in short companies selling in China are required by law to test their products on animals even if they claim not to elsewhere in the world. As of 2015 this has been altered to that not all products are required to be tested and you can read more in this post from Ethical Elephant(complete with infographic!).
- Cruelty Free International’s Product Search – helpful for looking up products and brands you’re unsure of, and provides some decent reading if you’re getting started. Also check out their “Little Book of Cruelty Free”!
- This Humane Society Article on how to find out if your products are really cruelty free.
- MyBeautyBunny.com – A fab blog full of cruelty free resources and tips for going cruelty free – and why you should.
Tip Two: Learn The Ingredients
Back to that pesky point I mentioned earlier: ingredients.
Ingredients you should be keeping an eye out for include lanolin (from sheep), carmine (colouring made from crushed beetles), beeswax (from bees, obviously), casein (from milk) elastin (from tissues), glycerin, hyaluronic acid, keratin, and the list goes on.
These names can be a bit intimidating at first; I know because I’m still learning. I’m guilty of still forgetting to thoroughly check products and most importantly where they come from – because a lot of these can be either plant, synthetic or animal based (and don’t be fooled into thinking companies are nice enough to just go for the plant/synthetic based alternative).
This is the part that takes the most time, and there’s a million resources for learning all about these things. If in doubt, look up posts from bloggers who check these things for you, or find a way to ask the company yourself.
- Peta’s list of animal ingredients – a little overloading at first and I don’t really love Peta, but this list is helpful to spot a lot of the derivatives and different names animal ingredients fall under.
- 13 Animal Products In Cosmetics – a helpful article from HerbHedgerow which details exactly where some common ingredients are coming from.
- This Gentleworld article on spotting vegan cosmetics.
Tip Three: Get Social
If you’re a blogger, you’re in a fantastic spot for getting to know other people who are cruelty free and honestly, the best advice I’ve received has come from other bloggers. I used to be terrified of speaking to other cruelty free bloggers until I realised that most aren’t nearly as scary as they seem, and most are super happy to help you out.
Some of my favourite cruelty free bloggers are:
Tip Four: Control Your Shopping
Trust me when I say I am the ultimate impulse buyer, but this is usually where mistakes start to happen. Going cruelty free is good for your purse because you’ll no longer be swayed by the latest hype on new products – instead you’ll learn over time to research your products, really look into what you’re buying and hopefully end up with some quality products at the end.
Superdrug, Marks and Spencer, and the Co-Op are your best friends for own brand beauty and toiletries, and there’s a whole world of online stores selling organic, cruelty free products if that’s you’re thing.
Again for this, bloggers are your best friend. Surround yourself with them and you’ll be surrounded by recommendations in no time and will soon have a make up bag filled with products that are both mind-blowingly good, and kind.
Tip Five: Identify What You Already Have
Chances are you already shop from some cruelty free brands and have products which you can keep hold of. For me this stage was all research, organising and streamlining. I pulled out very product I owned and had a Marie Kando style clear out, before listing all the products I had that were/were not cruelty free. From here this made it super easy to identify which products I was going to keep and use up, and which needed replacing.
It also made the flat about 20 times tidier.
Lastly – go easy. It’s likely a full transition isn’t going to happen over night, and that’s okay!
Do you have any more tips? Leave them in the comments below!