Hello All! Thank you for visiting IntegriBeauty. Cruelty-free beauty is my passion. The primary goals of my blog are to share information I’ve learned over the past couple of years and to provide reviews on 100% cruelty-free products. In this post I will be covering the following topics:
- Animal testing in the cosmetics industry
- Alternatives to animal testing
- What it takes for a company to become Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free
- My personal thoughts on the term “cruelty-free”
- How you can go cruelty-free
What is animal testing in the cosmetic industry?
For many decades, cosmetics companies have been testing ingredients and finished products on animals to ensure that they are safe for human use. Today, animal testing is still a somewhat common practice and especially prevalent in companies that want to introduce new ingredients that have not been previously tested. The animals involved in animal testing spend their entire lives confined in small cages suffering through painful experiments. They are usually killed once the experiments are completed. Humane Society International states “We estimate that approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer and die just for cosmetics every year around the world. These are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice.”1
Some of the common experiments performed on animals in the cosmetics industry are as follows1:
- skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits
- repeated oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards, such as cancer or birth defects
- “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death
It is difficult reading about the horrible things happening to these innocent animals. The practice of animal testing is extremely cruel and unethical. It is also unreliable in some cases, as animals obviously do not always react to substances in the same way that humans would. Additionally, results can vary amongst different species of animals.
Alternatives to animal testing in cosmetics
The good news is that there are alternatives to animal testing. There are now methods for testing products that do not require animal or human test subjects. Many non-animal safety tests can now be performed and they provide more relevant data than the outdated animal tests. For example, tests for skin irritation can be conducted using human reconstructed skin, which is created in a laboratory. It is a lengthy and expensive process for these new safety tests to be scientifically validated, and that is one reason why many companies have not yet moved away from animal testing. According to Humane Society International, once these tests are validated, all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries are required to accept the results of the tests.
Which criteria allow a company to claim cruelty-free status from the Leaping Bunny program?
Any company can claim to be cruelty-free since that term is not defined by law. However, there are several criteria that must be met for a company to be labeled as “cruelty-free” by Leaping Bunny. Leaping Bunny is a widely-trusted program by the CCIC (Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics). Companies must comply with the following criteria to be approved for Leaping Bunny certification2:
- No animal testing on formulations or ingredients
- Company must not purchase any ingredient or formulation from suppliers that test on animals; there are specific requirements for documentation that must be obtained from suppliers to verify that they do not conduct or commission animal testing on any ingredients or products
- Company cannot allow animal testing to be performed by or for submission to regulatory agencies in foreign countries
- Note that this is the reason cosmetics sold in mainland China are not considered to be cruelty-free. In China, products can be pulled from the shelves to be tested on animals at any time.
- Company must submit Application for Approval to the CCIC and retain a copy of the document at the company’s principal place of business
Companies must recommit to these criteria annually to retain cruelty-free status with Leaping Bunny. Additionally, the CCIC may require independent audits of the company’s Supplier Monitoring System.
How does IntegriBeauty define “cruelty-free”?
I have a slightly unusual view of which companies I consider to be cruelty-free. There are a lot of cruelty-free companies out there that are Leaping Bunny certified, and that is great! Something that many consumers don’t consider, however, is that many of those cruelty-free companies are owned by parent companies that are NOT cruelty-free. In my opinion, a company that has not taken the steps to become cruelty-free, should not benefit from the profits of a cruelty-free company. As a result, I have made the personal choice to only support cruelty-free companies that are either independently owned, or owned by a cruelty-free parent company. This does limit the number or companies that I will buy from, but there are still plenty out there that are 100% cruelty-free by my standards. It is my goal to share many of the products that I use and love here on IntegriBeauty. You can feel confident about the cruelty-free status of any of the products that are shared here.
Please note that I am simply expressing my personal opinion here and do not pressure anyone else to make the same choice when considering what to buy or what not to buy.
How to go cruelty-free
I recognize that it can be a difficult decision for a lot of people to go cruelty-free. You might be wondering if it would be worth it, or if you would make a difference in the industry by only buying from cruelty-free brands. The answer to both questions is YES. Most companies only care about making money, so as more consumers move away from brands that are not cruelty-free, we are sending a clear message that they need to work toward earning that cruelty-free certification. Our voices are heard by spending our money on products from brands that are cruelty-free. The number of cruelty-free brands grows every year. Someday, and hopefully soon, animal testing in the cosmetics industry will be a thing of the past.
Have you decided to go cruelty-free? If so, these are some things you can do to make sure you are buying from truly cruelty-free companies:
- When shopping, look for the Leaping Bunny logo which indicates that a company is certified as being cruelty-free. If you see this logo on a product, it is definitely cruelty-free.3There are many other “bunny” symbols you will encounter, but the Leaping Bunny certification is the only one that can be trusted in the United States.
- It is important to note that not all cruelty-free products will have this logo shown, even if they are certified by Leaping Bunny in some cases.
- Utilize the lists of cruelty-free brands on Cruelty-Free Kitty and Logical Harmony. These websites even make it easy to see which brands have parent companies that are not cruelty-free.
- If you are interested in a cosmetics company that you believe to be cruelty-free, but you don’t see that they are Leaping Bunny certified and the brand isn’t listed on either of the websites listed above, you can reach out to the company directly and ask these specific questions. If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, then that company is not cruelty-free.
- Do you or any of your suppliers test ingredients or finished products on animals?
- Do you sell your products in mainland China?
If there is a cosmetics company you love, but you find out that they are not cruelty-free, you can contact them to let them know why you will no longer buy their products and also to encourage them to get certified as cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny. The more emails like this they receive, and as their profits go down compared to profits of cruelty-free competitors, the more likely it is that they will join the growing number of cruelty-free cosmetics companies!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this lengthy post. I hope it has answered a lot of your questions. For more information, Humane Society International and Leaping Bunny are excellent resources. If you have any comments or questions for me, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!