Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Cruelty Free Beauty & Parent Companies?

Have you ever watched Carnage by Simon Amstell? It's a BBC mockumentary set in 2067 when veganism is the norm and people look back in horror at the way animals were treated 50 years ago. Therapy groups are attended by those traumatised and ashamed by their omnivorous pasts. They take turns naming the types of cheese they have eaten, and break down in tears or run out of with room with guilt and stigma. It's a witty and compelling watch, I'd highly recommend it - but I'm bringing it up because this particular therapy group scene illustrates exactly how I feel with regards to cruelty free beauty. I have to be honest here - the prolific use of animal testing on cosmetics is something that  has escaped my attention for far too long.

As somebody that has been (and could still be considered) a full-blown beauty addict, I've been known to spend a lot of money on cosmetics. I'm a sucker for luxury packaging, the sheer excitement to try a product for the first time, the very real feeling that a lipstick or blusher in that exact shade has been missing from my life. I'm an art grad, and makeup is just another form of art to me. Sure, I mostly do the same thing with my face on the daily but the transformation of creating it has become a ritual: it makes me feel empowered and allows me to present myself to the world the way I want to. It's a form of self-care: time I take for myself in the morning to get myself together and get ready to face the day. But whilst I'd repeatedly justified my expenditure on these products as a vice for my own personal pleasure and self-care, I'd never considered whether some of my vices were actually making me a hypocrite. To quote Miley Cyrus (which I never thought I'd do) "If you choose to eat meat you love pets, not animals." Can the same can be argued for buying cosmetics which are not cruelty-free?


In 2013 the sale and import of animal tested products and ingredients was banned in the EU - an incredible step forward. But I was misled (and admittedly naive) when I believed that this meant the European beauty industry shelves were therefore cruelty free. Companies can get around this law by paying other companies to test their products for them, use ingredients knowingly tested on animals, or test the products outside of the EU. An example of this is in mainland China where it is required by law that cosmetics are tested on animals before they are made available for sale. Therefore if a company sells their products in mainland China it is not cruelty free.

Many brands state that they are cruelty free except where required by law. That's the catch: "except where required by law." Memorise it, because you'll see it in the FAQ of so many brands. But this isn't good enough - "it's OK because my mascara is a byproduct of animal abuse that took place outside of the EU!" That isn't cruelty free. Sadly, however, this is the testing stance of the majority of cosmetic brands. Both MAC and NARS, previously known for being ambassadors against animal testing, have infamously taken a huge step backwards by deciding to sell in mainland China where they will be required to test their products on animals. The sole reason for them to make this decision? More money. As a consumer, even if I hadn't already decided to go cruelty-free, I would no longer want to purchase from companies willing to turn their back on their morals purely for profit.

There is a debate over whether it's acceptable to buy from brands known to have cruelty-free policies if they are owned by a bigger company which condones animal testing. For example, Too Faced is owned by Estee Lauder, Urban Decay is owned by L'Oreal - both of these "parent companies" test on animals whilst Urban Decay and Too Faced remain true to their cruelty-free stance within their own brand. Some argue that by buying from a brand owned by a parent company that animal tests, it is putting money back into the bigger pot and still supporting animal testing. I personally feel that I am choosing to vote with my money to support products that are specifically cruelty-free. This makes sense to me in the same way that supermarkets are stocking so many more vegan options, and I'm not going to refuse to shop in them purely because they also sell meat. By buying vegan options, from local markets or large retailers, I'm voting with my money. By buying cruelty-free products, from independent brands or brands with parent companies, I'm voting with my money.

I could cry when I think of the ethics involved with these animal testing. It's bad enough when you think of the horrific experiments conducted on lab rats - but many people aren't keen on rodents in the first place. Okay - what about dogs and cats? Did you know that Beagles are one of the most commonly used breeds of dog in animal experiments due to their docile nature, and that tens of thousands of them are tested on each year? The thought makes me feel sick - how can I spoil my own fur babies, whom I love with all my heart, yet vote with my money to continue torturing what could have been someone else's best friend who is instead depraved of even the most basic rights our own pets are entitled to?

I have to hold my hands up and say I buried my head in the sand about a lot of this. I even used to work for Benefit, unaware of my misconception of their testing policy. I'll admit I hadn't done enough research, but I'm starting to make the change now and that's what matters. It will mean finding alternatives for some products I've previously purchased, but it's more than worth the search. There are amazing, pioneering cosmetic and skincare brands out there that don't test on animals at all - Kat Von D, Lush, Pixi, Real Techniques, Barry M, and even Superdrug's own brand products. Some amazing resources for finding cruelty-free brands are Cruelty Free Kitty and Logical Harmony, both of which I keep referring back to when needing to replace products (I don't see any benefits in being wasteful so am using up all cosmetics prior to repurchasing cruelty free versions where necessary!) If you are also on board with making a switch to cruelty-free beauty, I've signed the Body Shop's petition #ForeverAgainstAnimalTesting, an amazing campaign which I'd love to see reach the UN. There's no excuses for animal cruelty, so let's make the change together.
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8 comments

  1. Last year in school we did a whole unit all about animal testing, and the pictures were enough to make me feel guilty and horrified by the treatment of animals. I truly think it's disgusting that we practically do this for our own beauty and pleasure. I can't wait for the day all brands go cruelty free! x

    A Little Treat | Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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    1. I completely agree! It will be nice to have access to all brands when animal testing is finally banned, but until that day I will only be supporting those who don't condone such horrific practices! x

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  2. Love that this is an issue you've chose to write about and highlight on your blog. I think its something that still goes unnoticed far too much. I can't believe we are actually in 2017 and this is something that 'some' brands think are okay?? I buy from Barry M all the time for the reason they are cruelty free also because they do my shade of foundation but it goes hand in hand! If you can make the decision to move to a cruelty free brand I think people should. And stop giving other brands the time of day x

    www.heldtogetherbypins.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Paige. That's the problem - it's so so easy to sweep it under the carpet, to the point that even working when I was working in luxury cosmetics no one really talks about it and it's all quite hushed up. But I've reached a point now where I just can't ignore it any more. I'm so curious about this Barry M foundation however - I've never actually looked too closely at their entire range, I usually go to them for lipstick, liner and nail varnish! It'd save me a chunk from buying Too Faced all the time..xx

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  3. Fantastic post, Hannah! I can't believe that in 2017 there are cosmetics companies that still think it's okay to test their products on innocent animals. Besides being unforgivably cruel, it's so unnecessary in this day and age, as so many cruelty-free companies have proved. I don't know how they sleep at night.

    When I was at college, I was shown enough photos of animal cruelty in labs to horrify me for life. We once even had an animal testing facility come in to do a talk and try to encourage us to do work experience with them; we were all disgusted by what they were putting beagles and monkeys through, and of course nobody said yes. Who in their right mind would?

    I try to stick to cruelty free products as much as possible, although I admit not everything on my dressing table is. I'm working on that. Some of my fave cruelty free brands are Lush, The Body Shop, Burt's Bees, Urban Decay, Too Faced, Inglot, Tarte, and Barry M, and I'm sure I could name more. I've just discovered NYX, as well, which I think is another cruelty free company. xx

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting Louise. I completely agree with you. Your experience at college sounds absolutely horrific - did they really think you'd jump at the chance to observe and conduct some animal cruelty?!? I can only imagine how you'd have felt afterwards. My dressing table isn't completely cruelty free either yet, I've just made the conscious decision not to repurchase anything I know isn't cruelty free. I won't throw things out as it's wasteful (unless it's gone off) You've always made me want to try Inglot, and I have a better excuse to now. Yes NYX are cruelty free, and I recommend and like lots of their products, however just so you know Burt's Bees have recently started selling in mainland China though I'm not 100% clear whether they have managed to sell in an indirect way to avoid testing... it is all such a minefield!!xx

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  4. Love this post! I do the same thing as you when it comes to parent companies - I'd rather support companies that don't test on animals and show a demand for those products xx

    Toasty

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    1. Thanks so much, I love your blog :) xx

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