Did you know that the UK conducts more tests on animals than any other country in Europe? The latest figures for UK animal experiments were at 2.6 million in 2017.
Now that Europe has banned animal testing for cosmetic products, most of these experiments are in the name of progress, for drugs tests and so forth. But there is some blurring of the lines with cosmetics products too. So, where do we stand as consumers? It’s time to wake up globally and fight against the devastation of animal testing.
The cruelty of animal testing
Even if you’re not an animal lover, it’s hard to stomach the reality of animal testing. The kinds of animals experimented on include perhaps the more obvious ones, like mice and rats, but also dogs, horses, monkeys, cows, and rabbits. And many of these are experimented on in their thousands in the EU alone.
It can be all too easy to brush this under the carpet. But if you’ve ever joined PETA’s mailing list, you’ll know just how hard it is to look at the images and videos from labs across the world. But we need to take a good, hard look at this and demand change. This is why we especially love the short film by Taika Waititi, which gives us an unconventional and impactful spin on this story of cruelty.
And where do we stand as a country on animal testing? Can we pick up any beauty or household product from the shops and feel assured that it’s cruelty-free? In short, no. Although the EU announced a ban on animal-tested products in 2013, businesses with a global market still test on animals. If they sell their products in China, they are obligated to test on animals as the country demands it.
It’s also worth noting that some chemicals are still tested on animals if they are deemed a threat. And as for your household products, well, they don’t fall under this mandate. So, they can still test those without repercussions.
Is there a difference between cruelty-free and vegan beauty?
If you’re inspired to make a change and support cruelty-free products, what do you do now?
Part of the problem is that there are quite a few terms thrown around in the beauty industry, such as vegan and cruelty-free, and it can be hard to know what you’re investing in. As advocates for cruelty-free beauty, here’s our summary of the terms and the reality of these claims to help you in your purchasing decisions:
- Cruelty-free – this means that neither the products nor their ingredients have been tested on animals. But (and there is a big but here), it is not a legally binding term. So, for example, a company may put this on their packaging in the UK, then change that for markets that demand animal testing, like China. Businesses may also play it loose with the term, so maybe their final product hasn’t been tested on animals, but somewhere along the supply chain, an ingredient has been.
- Vegan – in beauty products, vegan products mean that they don’t contain any animal by-products. These could be something like beeswax or gelatine. Vegan products can be tested on animals, however. And just like the cruelty-free claim, it is not legally binding.
We know, without this legal assurance this can all make us feel powerless to enact change as consumers. But there is hope. PETA's Leaping Bunny is a stamp you can rely on, so just look for that cruelty-free logo on your products. And if buying vegan is important to you, look for the approval of The Vegan Society before you buy.
Make a change and support kindness to animals
There are so many reasons to support cruelty-free products. Despite some companies and organisations claiming that they are essential in the name of progress and safety, those claims just don’t stack up. There are alternatives that are cruelty-free and effective, and scientific advancements are helping us to find new, and better ways all the time.
And how can we help this all along as individuals? It starts with making informed choices. Now you know what accreditations to look out for, you can do as much digging as you like to see whether your favourite brands are truly cruelty-free or not.
In the meantime, here are our three final points which we hope will inspire you to go truly cruelty-free.
- Cruelty-free products are skin-friendly
It makes sense that cruelty-free beauty and skincare could be better for your skin and your body. Cruelty-free formulations often rely on natural, non-toxic ingredients that are free from chemicals. As our skin is our body’s largest organ, it absorbs the products you use. So, it’s wise to choose something free from nasties.
- Cruelty-free is eco-friendly too
Anything that’s bad for our bodies is going to be bad for the planet too. It’s already widely known that toxic ingredients found in cosmetic products are eco-hazards. The issue of microbeads and harmful chemicals is under the spotlight as we speak.
The other thing is the testing process animals endure is harmful to the environment too. It’s responsible for huge amounts of toxic waste and carbon emissions.
- There are gorgeous, affordable cruelty-free brands
If you’re thinking that the ease and price-point cruelty-free brands might count you out, think again. The rise of cruelty-free make-up brands and products means there’s something to suit any budget.
And this covers you from top to toe. You can easily find everything from cruelty-free nail polish to and cruelty-free shampoo on the market. So, if you’re wondering where to start, take it in your stride with these first three steps.
Animal testing is not necessary, It’s cruel. And most importantly, it’s still sadly a part of our modern world. We need to stamp it out. And it starts with you and the products you choose to stack in your beauty cabinet.