cruelty free shopping
Did you know that some of the most popular cleaning, skin-care, and makeup products come from brands that test on animals? It seems safe to say that most people don't want animals to be hurt or killed as a part of the manufacturing process of their favorite stuff, especially since many of these products are cosmetic rather than satisfying a base need. Knowing a few simple facts can make us more informed consumers, allowing us to support companies that do not test on animals and be conscious of the ones that do. In our helpful cruelty-free guide, we will review what animal testing is, what companies test on animals, and how to stop animal testing.
What Does "Cruelty-Free" Mean?
"Cruelty-free" refers to products not tested on animals in any part of the manufacturing process. But let's step back a minute: What is animal testing, exactly? Basically, scientific tests that experiment on animals in a way that may lead to the creature's pain, suffering, or harm can be considered by the cruelty-free community to be animal testing. In many of these tests, skin and eye irritation experiments in which chemicals are rubbed on shaved skin or dropped directly into the eyes are done without pain relief on small rodents like bunnies, guinea pigs, and mice. Naturally, an animal cannot tell us when it's hurting, and in some cases, the animal may even die or suffer permanent physical damage. These types of experiments, given current technologies, are often outdated, cruel, and completely unnecessary, at least within the United States.
Upsetting Cosmetic Animal Testing Statistics
- According to the Humane Society of the United States, about 500,000 animals suffer and die due to cosmetics testing every year.
- While 37 countries specifically ban testing, major markets like China had it as a requirement until very recently. This may be why many American cosmetics companies selling overseas have not abandoned the practice.
- According to Cruelty Free International, the U.S. is the top animal-testing country, followed by Japan, China, Australia, and France.
- What's possibly worse than all of that is that animal testing is often considered wasteful, unreliable, and inaccurate. Many drugs that have seen success in animal testing fail in human trials - about 90%, in fact, according to Cruelty Free International.
- There are many alternatives to animal testing, such as computer modeling and human cell culturing.
There has been a push for laws to ban animal testing, but it's been a long fight. In the meantime, many consumers - vegan and non-vegetarian alike - have made the choice to watch brands and boycott products that test on animals. How can you stop animal testing? Consumers can take at least some responsibility by voting with their dollars, buying products that are cruelty-free and avoiding those that aren't. But there's an unfortunate catch: Labeling of "cruelty-free," like the words "organic" or "natural," often happens on products that simply shouldn't use the term but get away with it because there's no legal definition for it. Some companies that call themselves "cruelty-free" are still companies that use animal testing. What's a consumer supposed to do?
What Is "Leaping Bunny Certified"?
When people want "cruelty-free" products, they are looking to make sure that the product has not be tested on animals in any part of the manufacturing process, involving either the final product or the ingredients, and the group that ensures that is the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. The Leaping Bunny program is the brainchild of eight different animal protection groups, including the Humane Society of the United States and Beauty Without Cruelty, and it awards products with a specific logo. Their standards are fairly strict, and the program offers a cruelty-free app that helps you find Leaping Bunny brands while shopping.
Another group to look at when finding safe companies to buy from is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which compiles its own list of companies that test on animals as well as ones that don't. PETA has their own cruelty-free logo, which is also a bunny. There's a great deal more on the PETA cruelty-free list than the Leaping Bunny list because PETA's list is based on a declaration of integrity; in other words, PETA is less strict than the Leaping Bunny program. But PETA also goes out of its way to point out problematic companies conducting tests. Another group to watch is Cruelty Free International, which does not point out specific companies/products but does serve as an advocacy group.
Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands
Do you like wearing makeup? Testing on animals doesn't have to be a part of that equation at all. Let's take a look at the cosmetic brands that test on animals as well as the best cruelty-free makeup brands 2019 has to offer! We're going to be focusing mostly on cruelty-free drugstore makeup brands as well as others that are commonly available. Many think that to go cruelty-free, one must spend a ton of money or go far out of the way to find good options, but it's just not true!
Leaping Bunny Certified, Animal-Cruelty-Free Makeup
These are the top recognized Leaping Bunny brands that are easy to find in stores. While these brands make great cruelty-free drugstore makeup, this is hardly the full list of options, especially since most companies on the Leaping Bunny certification list are small, local businesses. Check the official Leaping Bunny list of brands that don't test on animals to find more.
- BH Cosmetics - Completely approved, with no animal testing at any stage of the process, BH Cosmetics also follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure safety and offers some completely vegan products, like brushes.
- CoverGirl - Very recently, this mega-conglomerate of makeup pulled its products from China shelves and became approved by Leaping Bunny. This was a very exciting step, offering availability of options to most average American consumers. One catch, though, is that the parent company of CoverGirl may still be doing animal testing. Within the company, though, there is no CoverGirl animal testing of any kind.
- Naked Cosmetics - This is a cruelty-free cosmetics company that dates back to 2005 and prides itself on its as-natural-as-possible makeup.
- 100% Pure - "We have never and will never test on animals," the team says on their website, going into open detail about their process. Many of their products are also vegan.
Makeup Brands That Don't Test on Animals But Don't Have Leaping Bunny Certification
A company may make makeup that doesn't test on animals, but for one reason or another, they may not have the Leaping Bunny certification. Some have the PETA certification instead. Leaping Bunny requires a few things that are not possible for some brands: first, to pull products from countries that require animal testing, which, until recently, included China, and second, that every single ingredient sourced in the process also does not use animal testing. That being said, many on this list have pledged to stop animal testing. Makeup brands, however, have been known to sneakily put a bunny on their containers despite not having the Leaping Bunny certification or PETA recognition at all. Definitely do your research!
- E.l.f. - Despite not having official certification, one can easily call e.l.f. cruelty-free. They've pledged their dedication to the cause through PETA. Most of their products and all of their brushes and eyelashes are also vegan.
- Wet n wild - This company has not been certified but is recognized by PETA and offers many vegan products.
- BareMinerals - This company has been recognized by PETA and not Leaping Bunny for being cruelty-free, but their parent company, Shiseido, has been known to test on animals.
- Too Faced - This is one of the few Estée Lauder makeup brands to have been recognized with a PETA certification.
- Urban Decay - This company is owned by a parent company, L'Oréal, that does conduct animal testing, but Urban Decay itself has a clean record.
- Anastasia Beverly Hills - This is one of several cruelty-free brands that can be found at the makeup store chain Sephora.
- Tarte - While its parent company, Kose, is not cruelty-free, Tarte Cosmetics is recognized by both PETA and third-party group Logical Harmony.
- Becca - Another Estée Lauder company, Becca is certified as cruelty-free by PETA.
- Stila - Stila has been considered cruelty-free after pulling out of China a few years ago.
- L.A. Girl - Recognized by PETA and not owned by a parent company that tests on animals, L.A. Girl is a good option for bold looks.
- NYX - Is NYX cruelty-free? While it was bought by non-cruelty-free brand L'Oréal, the company has remained committed to being cruelty-free.
- IT Cosmetics - The company has confirmed that it doesn't test on animals and doesn't sell in countries where that kind of testing is required.
- Milani - This brand is good about not only their products but the sourcing of their ingredients. They have some nice vegan products, too.
- Buxom - Certified by PETA, Buxom is a great cruelty-free Sephora brand, but they're owned by Shiseido, which does do animal testing.
- Smashbox - It's certified by PETA but owned by Estée Lauder.
- Fenty Beauty - It's not on the official PETA list or the Leaping Bunny list, but industry experts recognize the company's status as being cruelty-free, and they also don't sell in China.
- Huda Beauty - Also on neither list, this company is still recognized for being cruelty-free by some experts in the industry.
- No7 - Not on PETA's or Leaping Bunny's lists, this company reportedly does not test on animals.
Makeup Brands That Test on Animals, According to PETA
These are cosmetic companies with makeup products that test on animals as of 2019, though it's possible that China's new laws may eventually change these companies' policies. Check for updates and more products on PETA's list of companies that test on animals.
- Almay - Despite their website claiming "Almay does not conduct animal testing and has not done so for over 20 years," the company admits selling products around the world that are "subject to local rules and regulations," and it has been included on PETA's list of beauty products that test on animals. Almay's animal testing makes it widely considered to be not cruelty-free, as is the case with parent company Revlon.
- Maybelline - Does Maybelline test on animals? Unfortunately, yes, Maybelline and its parent L'Oréal have been known to test on animals.
- Clinique - For both parent company Estée Lauder and makeup company Clinque, animal testing has occurred. Both are found on PETA's list.
- M·A·C - Does M·A·C test on animals? According to their FAQ, they don't own animal testing facilities, but their presence in China makes the situation a bit more complicated than they let on. The often philanthropic and progressive company suffered a social media firestorm from angry vegan customers.
- Lancôme - Parent company L'Oréal and cosmetic company Lancôme do not conduct testing "unless required by law."
- Avon - Avon also came under fire for their animal testing. While they don't conduct these tests in the U.S., they do in other countries
- Mary Kay - Does Mary Kay test on animals? According to PETA, it does. The company was one of the first to advocate for in-vitro testing overseas, so it may be possible that the company will switch over now that China's laws are loosening.
- Origins - As it is one of Estée Lauder's companies, it is on PETA's list. This is a great example of it sometimes being difficult to figure out what makeup companies test on animals, as they focus so much on nature and "doing good."
- Bobbi Brown - Another one of Estée Lauder's companies, Bobbi Brown says that it does not text on animals "except where required by law."
- Benefit Cosmetics - Due to sales in China, this company has been known to test on animals.
- Nars Cosmetics - The company's policies actually inspired a formal boycott.
"Gray Area" Brands
Note that many brands may not be on PETA's list but have disputed or convoluted claims to being considered cruelty-free. For instance, there's Rimmel London: While not on PETA's formal list of companies that do test on animals, the company has been caught by other watchdog groups selling their products to markets like China. Companies like Morphe have given "conflicting or misleading" information about their status, official listed in a gray area. Other brands like Laura Mercier, LORAC, and Younique are also in that gray area of potentially animal-testing cosmetics.
Our Favorite Animal-Friendly Makeup
Here are some of the top cruelty-free makeup products we've found:
- The Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: In Cruelty Free Kitty's poll of 10,000 readers, one mascara overwhelmingly won: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.
- The Best Cruelty-Free Foundation: Live Better By ranks the vegan, cruelty-free e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation as the top liquid option and bareMinerals Original as the top powder foundation.
- Better, Animal-Conscious Blush: Glossier's Cloud Paint has gotten the best reviews in the makeup world recently, and they're a very animal-welfare-conscious brand.
- Cruelty-Free Makeup Brushes: We love Eco Tools because it's a company with a full line of completely cruelty-free, vegan brushes.
- Best Vegan, Cruelty-Free Lipstick: Stylists rank bareMinerals BarePro Lipstick, Lush Vegan Lipstick, and e.l.f. Velvet Matte Lipstick among their favorites.
Vegan, Cruelty-Free Makeup Options
Brands like Urban Decay, Tarte, wet n wild, Too Faced, and theBalm offer vegan products as well as having a line of entirely non-animal-tested makeup. Other companies like e.l.f. andPacifica offer 100% vegan options for their whole line. Check out Logical Harmony's list of cruelty-free products to find which ones are 100% vegan.
Skin Care and Perfume brands
Of course, those in the beauty and cosmetics industry aren't the only companies that test on animals. Toothpaste, shampoo, and first-aid supplies are all products tested on animals frequently, as upsetting as that fact may be. Here are some other products to keep in mind as well as the readily available cruelty-free drugstore brands you can swap them for.
Cruelty-Free Face Wash
100% Pure offers face wash and is Leaping Bunny approved, as are the Yes To brand andAlba Botanica. These aren't Leaping Bunny certified but are recognized by PETA:Pacifica, First Aid Beauty, and Lush. Animal testing aside, many of these brands also offer a host of vegan products. More expensive brands Mario Badescu, Physicians Formula, and Glossier are also safe.
BAD: Common brands including Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Olay, Aveeno, Avon, Kiehl's, and Neutrogena are all on PETA's list of companies that test on animals. Cetaphil, while not being on the official PETA list, has been reported as being part of a pharmaceutical company that does use testing. Biore, CeraVe, Fresh, GlamGlow, and Soap & Glory are also in a gray area.
BAD: Lubriderm is on PETA's bad list. Jergens and Bath & Body Works reportedly may sell in countries where testing is required.
Cruelty-Free Body Wash
BAD: Bain de Soleil and Coppertone are on PETA's bad list. Nivea sells in China. Other companies, like Banana Boat and Le Tan are in the gray area.
Cruelty-Free Deodorant and Antiperspirant
BAD: Common deodorant brands often do animal testing. Old Spice, Secret, and Arm & Hammer area all on are PETA's bad list.
Cruelty-Free Lip Care
Cruelty-Free Shampoo and Hair-Care Products
BAD: Brands like Head & Shoulders, Aussie, Garnier, Suave, Pantene, L'Oréal, and Redken, are all on PETA's list for animal testing. None of these companies can be considered for cruelty-free hair-care products.
When shopping for simple things like spray cleaners or bandages, keep in mind that many of these companies test on animals. These are some of the worst offenders, as many of these tests can be extremely hurtful and abrasive.
Cruelty-Free Toothpaste and Oral Care
BAD: Most of the most common toothpaste brands are specifically on PETA's list for testing on animals: Crest, Equate, Aquafresh, Sensodyne, and Colgate all test on animals. Mouthwash products like Listerine, Scope, and Biotene are also on the bad list.
Cruelty-Free Cleaning Products
Apps to the rescue
Are you looking for clean, cruelty-free beauty products but don’t know how to identify them? These 5 apps will do all the label-reading for you, making it easy as pie to be a conscious beauty buyer. Take a few minutes to download them all and then have fun scanning the barcodes in your bathroom and in the beauty aisles!
This minimalist app was created by The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program and “provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.” While the current app doesn’t have a barcode scanner, it’s alphabetized lists make it easy to identify brands and products that are certified cruelty-free. This app is free!
The Beagle Freedom Project created this “Activism 101” app to help you identify brands that do and don’t test on animals. Their database includes brands certified by Leaping Bunny and PETA as well as cruelty-free brands that have not formally registered themselves in either of those two programs. The app has a barcode scanner that gives you a clear YES or NO cruelty-free status and it also offers the option to “Bite Back” on social media by exposing companies that test on animals. The $3.49 fee to download this app goes to support the Beagle Freedom Project which is money well spent if you ask us!
This app was created by an independent app developer – Margaret Lillian Pearce – and uses data from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) list of cruelty-free brands. With the option to use a barcode scanner or a search bar, this app quickly lets you know if a brand has been certified cruelty-free by PETA.
Developed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the SkinDeep Cosmetics Database app is a one-stop shop to find out if a beauty product and it’s ingredients are safe to use. The database can be searched using a barcode scan or a search bar, and provides you with a product-specific hazard rating.
A rating of 0-2 indicates a low hazard, 3-6 indicates a moderate hazard, 7-10 indicates a high hazard. The app also breaks down the hazard into 3 categories of health concerns: cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity and allergy. To top it all off, they even rate individual ingredients within a product so that you can learn which ingredients are hazardous, and which are safe. SkinDeep is a must-have!
5. Think Dirty
Think Dirty was created in partnership with the Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Despite the fact that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a controversial stance on animal testing, we do think this app is very helpful for determining whether a beauty product is safe to use.
It is very similar to EWG’s SkinDeep app in the way it measures the hazard of each product and each individual ingredient. This app also has a unique function that allows you to add the products you’ve scanned to your “bathroom shelf” to get an overall hazard rating on your beauty regime.
There you have it: Technology that’s making it easier to live clean and cruelty-free. We just have one more important note: Did you know that cruelty-free products are not always vegan (and vice versa)? Check out this video by Tashina from Logical Harmony to learn more about the difference between the two.