How to choose cruelty-free products

Nowadays more of us are concerned with where and how our products are made. This is particularly so with beauty, as more of us realise the dangers of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. But aside from natural and organic beauty products, there is also the question of ethics. In the case of beauty, animal testing is a major part of the ethical discussion as most beauty products are typically tested on our furry friends.

Animal testing is proven to be a cruel – and unnecessary – practice, which is why so many of us are now turning to cruelty-free products. If you’re eager to adopt a cruelty-free beauty routine, then read this guide to get started.

What is animal testing and cruelty-free?

Animal testing refers to the practice of testing ingredients and finished beauty products on non-human animals. These frightening and even painful procedures and the conditions that these animals must live in – small, barren cages – have all been proven to harm the animals involved, causing them serious distress and health problems. Cruelty-free refers to products that are not tested on animals but instead use other safe methods of testing.

A product can claim to be cruelty-free if the finished product wasn’t tested on animals but the ingredients inside it were. A brand can also claim they don’t test on animals even if they outsource and contract other companies to do so for them. The best way to ensure that a product and brand you’re buying is cruelty-free is to choose ones that are certified cruelty-free (more on that later).

You might be wondering whether cruelty-free products are safe if they’re not tested on animals. In short? Yes! There are many reliable alternatives to using animals for testing a product. These include cell and tissue cultures and even sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients that are already determined to be safe. Cruelty-free brands use a combination of scientific methods like in-vitro testing and clinical studies on humans to ensure a product is safe before it goes to market.

Cruelty-free vs vegan

Vegan and cruelty-free, although similar, are two different things. When talking about skincare and beauty, vegan refers to products that don’t contain animal-derived ingredients. All the ingredients in a vegan product are sourced from plant matter such as trees, flowers, bushes, fruits and vegetables. People avoid products that have animal-derived ingredients, like lanolin and shellac, because of the cruel practices that are associated with them.

Extracting animal-derived ingredients means putting the animals under stress, holding them in poor conditions or putting them through harm to extract the ingredient. Vegan is different to cruelty-free in that it refers to what the ingredients are inside a product and not how they were tested. A vegan product isn’t necessarily cruelty-free/not tested on animals, and the reverse is true too: a cruelty-free product isn’t necessarily vegan.

Common animal ingredients to look out for

There are a range of common ingredients to look out for if you’re wanting to switch to vegan products. Lanolin is a common emollient that’s derived from sheep wool but can be easily replaced in vegan products with olive, coconut or shea oil/butter. Glycerine is an ingredient that might be animal-or plant-derived. Glycerine is often extracted from animal fats, however, and is common in moisturisers and soaps for its slippery texture. Casein is a protein found in cow’s milk.

This might be in your skincare if you’re using shower milk or a strengthening hair treatment. Collagen is a common ingredient we use to help reduce the signs of aging. However, you might not know but lots of collagen is derived from animal tissues, bone and skin (often cow’s). Yes, your anti-aging products might contain collagen from animal flesh! Luckily there are plant-based alternatives like soy protein or almond oil collagen.

Keratin is a protein that we see used in lots of hair and nail treatments, but keratin is so often derived for animal horns and hair. If you’ve ever painted your nails, you’ve probably used a product that contains shellac. Although there are plant-based shellacs, most shellac is made by crushing thousands of lac bugs.

Beeswax is another common animal-derived ingredient that’s used in things like lip balms and creams for its thick emollient texture. And lastly, carmine/natural red 4/cochineal – this red colourant is derived from insects commonly found in coloured makeup like lipstick.

Choosing cruelty-free – a guide

When you decide to choose cruelty-free and/or vegan beauty, research becomes your best friend. Unfortunately, brands don’t have to be very truthful and will often use misleading claims and packaging. For this reason, choosing certified cruelty-free and/or vegan is the best option if you want to be as careful and as certain as possible. There are a few main certifications and logos you can look out for.

PETA has a cruelty-free and vegan logo that certifies a product is both vegan and that at no point was it or the ingredients tested on animals. The logo certified that our product is 100% free from animal products and animal testing. The ‘Not Tested On Animals’ bunny logo from Choose Cruelty-Free indicates that a product is entirely cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

Not every brand will have a certification as it can take time and a lot of resources to secure one. The best way to ensure that a product or brand is cruelty-free is to write to them. If a brand can’t confirm they don’t test on animals or that a product is vegan, then avoiding it (if this is important to you) is the best way to proceed. Luckily there are lots of brands that are certified cruelty-free in Australia.

Ere Perez is one such brand. This ethical, green beauty company ensures that every ingredient and the finished product is free from animal testing. Ere Perez products are certified cruelty-free by PETA and Choose Cruelty-Free. Ere Perez has a whole range of cruelty-free and vegan skincare and makeup that’ll make your beauty routine ethical and beautiful from start to finish.

Choosing cruelty-free is a great choice for animals and for your conscience. Beauty doesn’t have to be pain and with modern science, it really doesn’t have to be.

Aida Rejzovic
Aida Rejzovic

Aida Rejzovic is the proud founder of Sassy Organics – an all-natural, vegan and organic eCommerce store, committed to helping others adopt a healthier and more considered lifestyle. After battling some serious health issues, Aida discovered the power of organic living. She started Sassy Organics to share the benefits with others and make shopping natural, eco and organic products effortless.

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