Sunday, January 15, 2012
What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?
But if a product claims that it's "cruelty-free" or "not tested on animals," does that really mean it hasn't been tested on animals? Not necessarily according to Leaping Bunny, "Designation as “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals,” or even the image of a bunny on a label may only refer to the finished product, when in fact, most animal testing occurs at the ingredient level. Furthermore, while a company may claim, “We do not test on animals,” it could still contract other companies to do the testing."
Unfortunately, "cruelty-free" products are not regulated in the United States like "USDA Organic" products are. In fact, "cruelty-free" products aren't regulated at all. It's a Buyer Beware market for consumers. Even with a product being labeled "cruelty-free," there is still a chance that the product or the ingredients in the product have been tested on animals. My Beauty Bunny explains that even though the brand doesn't test their finished products on animals, they might be purchasing their ingredients from a supplier who does. Other points to keep in mind? The ingredients used in a "cruelty-free" product may have been tested on animals in the past. Then there is also the possibility that the ingredients supplier might not be 100% honest with the brand about their ingredients being tested on animals.
The only real way for a consumer to know if they are purchasing a truly, "cruelty-free" product is to do their own research. My Beauty Bunny is a website run by animal lovers who are dedicated to providing reviews of beauty, makeup, skin care and hair products that are "cruelty-free" and not tested on animals. The writers on My Beauty Bunny strongly believe in the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" school of thought. If they don't like a product, they wont write about it. Readers can count on their product reviews to always be honest and positive. My Beauty Bunny also has an exhaustive list of brands they have deemed to be "cruelty-free."
Leaping Bunny is the logo for The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC.) CCIC consists of eight national animal protection groups who's goal is to make it less confusing for consumers to find brands and products not tested on animals by helping to administer a cruelty-free standard. Leaping Bunny has created the Cruelty-Free Compassionate Shopping Guide that contains a list of U.S., Canadian and European companies they deem to be cruelty-free. Their list also includes numerous cosmetics, animal care, personal care and household products they have also deemed as being cruelty-free.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an animals rights campaign that is famous for their stance against product testing on animals. PETA is making it easy for consumers to search for brands who are "cruelty-free" with their "Don't Test" list. PETA's "Don't Test" list consists of brands and companies that have signed PETA's statement of assurance stating that they are cruelty-free. This list also includes companies and brands who have provided a statement to PETA verifying that they do not conduct or commission any non-required animal tests on ingredients, formulas, or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future.
Even Sephora has been proactive in providing consumers with information regarding "cruelty-free" products. On BeautyTalk, Sephora's online community where clients can receive real-time beauty advice and answers to any of their beauty questions, there is a topic labeled "Animal Testing." This list contains information on the brands and products Sephora carries that are considered to be "cruelty-free" and do not test on animals. This information comes from the brands directly. Products and brands don't get added to this list until the company confirms with Sephora that they are indeed "cruelty-free."
As with anything you read on the Internet, it's always important to do your own research. While websites like My Beauty Bunny, Leaping Bunny, PETA and Sephora are great places of references to start from, the only way to truly know whether a brand or company is "cruelty-free" is to do the research yourself. Logical Harmony has an amazing article, How to Find Out if Products are Animal Friendly, that covers all the different ways you can research whether or not brands and companies are indeed "cruelty-free" and don't test on animals.