Something I have wanted to write about for a few years now, but haven’t gotten around to, is animal testing on cosmetics.
Now, when you hear the phrase animal testing, you think, a product that is tested on animals right? They took blush and put it on a bunny? That’s only a small part of it.
Animal testing can fall into more than one category, it can mean that
- The final product was tested on an animal
- The ingredients of the product were tested on an animal
- They allow third parties to test their products on animals
This complicates things a bit, because you may read a label that says “not tested on animals” and you think it is cruelty free. That might not be true. It may mean that the final product was not tested on animals, but it still includes ingredients that were tested on animals.
In the EU it is easy to buy cruelty free products, because the EU banned animal testing in 2009.
In South Africa, that is not the case yet. Now, it is completely unnecessary to test on animals, and yet, we still do it.
How did I become cruelty free?
Simple; Pinterest. One night I was scrolling through my newsfeed at work, and a picture of a bunny with its ears burnt off came onto my feed. I scrolled past it because it made me so sad. Then I scrollled back. I couldn’t ignore it. I read the article and realised, to my utter astonishment that an unbelievable amount of companies still test on animals. I read all I could about animal testing before my shift ended. Then I cried all the way home. Ignorance is bliss. I could not ignore that ALL my cosmetics were tested on animals. Every. Single. One.
I felt so guilty for using these products and not knowing they were being tested on bunnies like one I saw on my Pinterest newsfeed. I thought about using up all my products and buying new, cruelty free ones. I could not do it. When I looked at my makeup, my cream, my shampoo, I absolutely could not do it. I threw everything away immediately.
I already felt better.
I read up on some more products and went shopping. First I went to The Body Shop, got some fruity smelling cream and shower gel. And then I went to go buy some new makeup. I stumbled upon an article about how NXY is cruelty free. Awesome, they sell it at Clicks, it’s inexpensive and it works damn well. It’s been years since I started using their products, and they are still my go-to brand.
Buying new products that aren’t testing on animals is really hard. There are so many products that you think is cruelty free, but really aren’t.
Unilever is one of the biggest problems when it comes to animal testing. The reason for this is that Unilever’s policy on animal testing as of 2020 says “The Anglo-Dutch multinational is one of five companies – along with Colgate and sexual wellness brand Good Clean Love – to be listed by PETA as “Working for Regulatory Change”.
The title means that the businesses are said to only conduct tests on animals when required by law and that they are actively working towards non-animal methods.”
That is absolute, utter bullshit. Do you now why? Because Unilever owns:
Dove, Lux, Fair and Lovely, Lifebuoy, Axe, Brut, Pears, Pond’s, Tresemme, Toni and Guy, VO5, Vaseline, Dawn, Organics, and 48 more cosmetic companies.
Honestly, this is a very good example of doing the bare bloody minimum. So many other companies are showing us that they can be 100% cruelty free, but not Unilever. They’re still ‘working on it’.
So that means, that even though Dove or Vaseline don’t necessarily test on animals, Unilever allows third party testing. So if they have a market in China, for example, Unilever will give consent to have its product tested on animals.
The same thing happened with The Body Shop, unfortunately. I loved them. But they were bought over by L’Oreal in 2016. This again means, that even though their products are vegetarian and cruelty free, if a country of company wanted to test the products on animals, L’Oreal would give consent. So Body Shop is still cruelty free, but not 100% because of their parent company.
The Chinese government requires any cosmetic product sold in their country to be tested on animals, so any product that has a market in China, (excluding duty free shops at the airport) cannot be considered cruelty free.
All this information may seem daunting, and it makes shopping A LOT harder. More than once I have stood in Dischem or Clicks, researching a company to make sure that a company us cruelty free. Some companies do not list that they are cruelty free on the labels, because in the country that they were made, it is illegal to test on animals. So they don’t deem it necessary. So that makes it a bit more difficult to find products, just because it doesn’t say ‘’cruelty free’’ on the label, does not mean that it isn’t. An example of this is Dabur.
The best thing you can do is get a reliable list of products, and by reliable, I do not mean PETA. PETA does not mean the basic criteria for a product to be considered cruelty free. If a product is cruelty free, but the ingredients are still being testing on animals, PETA will still list them as cruelty free.
The most reliable source I have found so far is Beauty Without Cruelty. Theirs is very strict and very comprehensive. The cool thing about them is that they are also a South African company. Because it’s easy to find a list of American lists of cruelty free products, but if they aren’t sold here, how will that help?
Over time is does become easier to buy cruelty free, I have memorized a lot of brands that are cruelty free that I am happy with, and I stick to them. It has made my shopping a lot easier.
Here is a list of brands available locally that are completely cruelty free:
If you would like to read more about animal testing, please check out this blog by @kaylashivana.
All in all, it has been difficult to fund the right companies to support, but luckily, the one thing that hasn’t been difficult was to throw all that old cosmetics in the rubbish and start fresh.