A Few Tips For Ethical Beauty Shopping

Curious where/how to find cruelty-free beauty products? Read our tips!

Image Credit: Cassie / Veda House

We've chatted before about what's really in your make-up, but sometimes it's hard to know how to apply what we're learning. How do we avoid making an unethical beauty purchases in the future? What should we be looking for? And what's the deal on animal testing? Luckily, we've got the 411 from Santosh Krinsky, head of the international personal-care brand Beauty Without Cruelty (the first to ban animal-testing for its products in 1963!). Here's what Santosh wants us all to know about smarter, ethical beauty shopping...

On animal-testing:

The Problem: Labels can be misleading, such as “not tested on animals.” While there are multiple organizations dedicated to animal well-being, there is no strict set of rules governing product labels that read, “not tested on animals” or “we are against animal testing.” The claims may simply mean that a third party does the testing, or they acquire raw materials that are being actively tested on animals by the raw material vendor to supply to the manufacturer. Or, companies may have a loose interpretation of “cruelty-free.”

The Reality: Most chemicals in most products were, at some point, tested on animals. The certifying agencies, recognizing this fact, have set a “fixed cut-off date” (such as 1996), which acknowledges that no one can undo what was done in the past. “It deepens my joy that BWC, since its inception in 1963, has never commissioned nor accepted animal testing either on its own or by its suppliers for the ingredients used in its products,” Krinsky says.

The Solution: Look for the endorsement of groups with high certification standards, such as the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, whose “leaping bunny” logo is an internationally recognized and trusted symbol. The Vegan Society of England is the stringent clearing house for vegan trademark registrations – look for the word “Vegan” with a flower forming the V.

On organic, cruelty-free claims:

The Problem: “Natural” and “organic” do not necessarily mean a product is cruelty-free. These buzzwords may fall short of certification from a reputable organization. “Natural” and “organic” doesn’t necessarily equate to cruelty-free and “not tested on animals.” Suppliers are required to assess safety for natural and organic ingredients just as for synthetic materials, and evidence may be gathered using animal tests, so those products are as likely as any others to have relied upon animal testing.

The Reality: “Of course, most of these companies probably are doing their ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product ethically,” he says. “I encourage conscientious consumers to dig deeper if it’s not clear.” Also, it’s sometimes the case that ingredients not being tested by a company or its suppliers may still be actively tested for other purposes, or by other companies or in other parts of the world. That is outside the control of the company using the ingredient in a conscientious way.

The Solution: Look for the country where the product was manufactured. The EU agreed on a European ban on animal testing, but animal testing is still common practice in the United States, Asia and other parts of the world. American companies no longer test on dogs and cats, however, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and other creatures are subject to various tests that constitute torture.

So what do you think, Clementines? Do you shop cruelty-free as much as possible, or do your health concerns lie elsewhere? We'd love to hear!

p.s. These 8 beauty brand up-and-comers get two thumbs up!