The Nitty Gritty of Cruelty-Free Skin Care
More skin care brands than ever are making the commitment to be cruelty-free, which means that their products won’t be tested on animals, a cruel practice that results in the injuries and deaths of millions of animals worldwide.
You might be wondering:‘ Does this term hold any weight?’. If a company says they are cruelty-free, what does that really mean? And besides, why is buying cruelty-free skin care products so important anyway?
To answer these questions, we’ve compiled a brief guide that will give you all the details of the cruelty-free movement and why skin care brands are moving away from products that get tested on animals.
The Importance of Buying Cruelty-Free
Testing cosmetics on animals often results in severe injuries and, in some cases, even death to the animals being experimented on.
The purpose of testing skin care ingredients and products is to assess the degree of eye or skin irritation, the potential to cause brain damage, carcinogenic properties, and any other toxic effects.
So, when it turns out that a product does, in fact, cause one of these effects, the animals being tested on will experience them.
Although many animal testing methods are no longer being used, there is one that remains as popular as the day it was invented.
The Draize test was developed in 1944 as a way to test the toxicity of cosmetics. It is performed by applying the product that is being tested to the skin or skin of an animal (most typically a rabbit) and leaving it on for a set amount of time so that the scientists can observe the effects.
It is important to note that the animal is awake and conscious throughout the whole procedure. What’s more is that if the product being tested causes irreversible damage to the eyes or skin, the animal will be euthanized.
Although many countries have outright banned testing on animals, while others don’t require it at all, there are millions of mice, rats, rabbits, cats, dogs, and other animals that are held in captivity so that they can be experimented on. These animals live in a constant state of stress and experience a variety of behavioral problems.
Are Cruelty-Free Products Safe to Use?
In general, animal experimentation is considered the gold standard by many scientists and regulatory agencies for testing the safety and efficacy of cosmetics. As such, you may be wondering if the ingredients used by skincare brands that don’t test on animals are safe.
It turns out that animal experimentation is actually not as great a method for testing cosmetics as previously thought.
There are a few reasons for this. The first, is that the animals being experimented on are held in conditions that can interfere with the results of the experiment. Animals that are extremely stressed out have a much higher secretion of the hormone cortisol.
For this reason, they have higher rates of redness and swelling. This can cause the animal to interact in a strange way with skincare products that won’t necessarily be observed in humans.
What’s more, there are distinct genetic, biological, and anatomical differences between animals and humans. Just because certain ingredients affect (or don’t affect) animals in a certain way, does not mean it will be the same in humans.
For this reason, many products that produce an effect in animals fail to do so when consumed by humans. While animal experimentation was the only method to check for the safety of skin care products a century ago, today there are…(today there are numerous advanced testing methods that won’t need to harm any animal. For example, scientists can now create artificial human skin tissue to run these experiments on..
Another prominent technique is simulating a computer model to see how a certain chemical will react when exposed to human eyes or skin. With more research and funding, more and more advanced experimentation methods will be created for testing skin care products.
The Standards of Cruelty-Free Skin Care
There is currently no legal definition for the term “cruelty-free.” As such, a company can call itself cruelty-free and create the appearance that there is no relation between their products and animal cruelty.
There are cases in which companies that use the label actually collaborate with ingredient suppliers that test on animals. The final product is not tested on animals, but the individual ingredients may be.
In order to ensure that no part of the product harms animals, you can check if the skincare brand you’re eyeing has been certified as “cruelty-free.” The global gold standard for cruelty-free certification is provided by the Leaping Bunny Program that is operated by Cruelty Free International.
This program works with brands that produce cosmetics, personal care, and household products. If a company has a Leaping Bunny certification, then the brand has not worked with a supplier that conducts animal testing.
In addition, the brand is required to consistently monitor their suppliers to ensure that this does not change. Brands are constantly audited to ensure compliance.
Becoming Cruelty-Free Certified
Today, there are thousands of skin care brands that are certified by Leaping Bunny, and more are being added every day.
However, just because the skin care brand you buy from is not certified by Leaping Bunny does not mean that you should give up on it. In reality, applying for a Leaping Bunny certification is hard for some companies.
First of all, you must be based in the U.S. or Canada, which many great skin care companies are not. Next, Companies must pay to use and license a certified Leaping Bunny logo. This means that your favorite brand may be cruelty-free and meet all the criteria but simply be unable to afford the logo.
Luckily, there are other ways to make sure your favorite brand is cruelty-free. You can check for other certifications, such as the cruelty-free certification from PETA.
Another option is to just ask the company!
If you can’t find any concrete information on the company’s website, then email to ask about their testing policy, suppliers, and whether they test on animals. You can also ask if they allow their products to be tested on animals when selling in a foreign market.
You can also consult with leading experts in the cosmetics industry. Some animal rights activists, fashion bloggers, or even scientists may be able to illuminate if a brand is cruelty-free or not.
Cruelty-Free vs. Standard Skin Care Products
The switch over to cruelty-free skin care will not only make an ethical impact on the word, but it will do wonders for your health, as well.
When you buy cruelty-free skincare, you are likely getting a formula that is free from potentially harmful chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, fragrances, and other synthetics.
These chemicals are linked to a host of health problems, such as disruption of the hormone or central nervous system. Some of the products used by mainstream companies are even said to be carcinogenic.
In addition, there are thousands of safe ingredients that are available to skin care companies.
So, when mainstream companies are testing their products, they are probably testing something that has recently been formulated, which makes it chemically complex. However, it’s hard to determine what the long-term impact of this new ingredient will be on your body.
When you shop cruelty-free, you will likely notice that the products are mainly composed of natural ingredients that are common and well-known.
They have been proven gentle and safe for human use, which is why there is absolutely no need to test them on animals. An added bonus is that these ingredients are better for the environment.
Going cruelty-free is an important step towards a more humane world. Testing skin care products on animals is not only cruel, but not even the best way to ensure the safety and efficacy of these products and their ingredients .
In addition, you will be doing your body and the environment a huge favor by switching over to cruelty-free ingredients.