Just over a year ago, I started changing my beauty regime to only include Cruelty-Free products. Now I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences on buying and trying these products, The process has also raised a lot of questions with those around me, and within myself.
I don’t recall the actual date I decided to stop buying products that did not use or support animal testing, but I do remember the feeling of revulsion at realising I had been for years- without a second thought. I decided not to blog about this topic until I had enough experience walking the walk, before talking the online talk and publishing. Growing up in the 90’s, Beauty Without Cruelty logos were used in adverts and on products quite often. To my mind, the drive against animal testing seemed to become less prevalent for a long while and has a received a huge swell of support over the last few years.
In short, I don’t think animals should be restrained and tortured, or suffer for our vanity. My need for longer lashes, shouldn’t require animal testing. It’s 2016 people. We can, and should be doing better in a lot of spheres. When it comes to showing support or condemnation for the practices of big corporations, there is power behind the purchases we make. Through research and education, where we put our money is the clearest way to show companies our opinion of how they do business.
Here are some quick facts on animal testing:
In South Africa, laws about Animal Testing are so vague that there is no form of protection or monitoring of animal used for research across industries. The South African National Standard – The Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, was published in 2001 as a guideline for experimental tests on animals however, it is completely voluntary. 1
It is estimated that 100 000 animals are used in South Africa every year. 1
Types of experiments:
The Draize Eye test involves constraining a rabbit and then placing the substance into one eye of each rabbit and then measuring the effects of the eye over time. Results are recorded usually include painful burning, bleeding, swollen eyelids, irritated and cloudy eyes, or blindness. Animals subjected to this test suffer extreme pain and often suffer from broken necks and spines from attempting free themselves from constraints” 2
The LD50 test stands for the lethal dose (LD) of a given test substance in 50% of the test’s animal population. The LD50 is done to test acute oral systemic toxicity where animals are orally force-fed doses of a certain chemical.” 2
Developmental toxicity, a pregnant female is exposed, usually by force-feeding, starting at the initiation of pregnancy (through implantation) and continuing throughout the pregnancy. She is then killed on the day before she is expected to give birth (on average, 22 days for rats or 31 days for rabbits). Her pups are extracted and evaluated for signs of developmental abnormalities.” 3
Popular experimental animals include wild animals such as chimpanzees, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, baboons, vervet monkeys, night monkeys; domestic animals like dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice; farm animals like pigs, cows, sheep and goats; and birds and fish.4
Certain facilities breed genetically modified animals specifically for testing, experiments and vivisection. Beagles are favoured because of their docile nature and small size, similar reasons for cats being favoured test subjects. 3 and 5
I started with Google and I read. And read, and read and read and compared opinions. I tried to figure out which brands were honest and which weren’t. I spoke to friends, makeup artists, other bloggers and just anyone who would interact on the topic. I thought the best way to start was with replacing products as they got used up, for financial reasons, and because of waste. If I threw out half used bottles, I’d be adding more wasteful junk to the overwhelming environmental problems already at hand.
I still stick by that, when I find the perfect dupe for a cult lip colour or any other product I replace it- to be honest my colour rotation has become quite limited while I search for those dupes.
Doing it this way has taken a long time but I’ve experimented with brands and know which I prefer and why.
People have asked if it was expensive, well, not really. It is possible to go Cruelty-Free on a small budget because of reasonably priced Cruelty-Free brands in skincare, haircare and colour cosmetics. The amount of Cruelty-Free brands available in South Africa is quite limited, but it grows each year. To be honest there are very few high end or luxury colour cosmetics brands here at the moment. What I’ve enjoyed most is discovering local brands who do not test animals and are highly responsive when you enquire- I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality in our local beauty industry too. And hey if you can support a local business, why wouldn’t you?
Now for the tricky parts. There are grey areas that I feel need their own posts from me and research on a personal level for every individual. Things like retail laws in China and how those laws affect products developed, made or sold there. Like, alleged loopholes in PETA’s certification and whether a brand that is Cruelty-Free but owned by a non-Cruelty Free organisation is worth buying from. Then there’s the question of can we trust a company that says it’s Cruelty-Free if no organisations who check up on brands give them endorsement? And what about other toiletries, household products and cleaning items?
These are all topics I want to tackle in separately, because once you start looking, the issue is immense. I really enjoy listening to different opinions and new stats or facts on this topic- it’s really the only way to find out more and stay up to date.
I’ve had many people say ‘But what’s the point if you wear leather and eat meat?’ Firstly, this change has lead me to cut down heavily on meat and animal based products in my daily diet. It’s becoming a snowball effect that’s gone from my make-up bag into the rest of my life.
Secondly in my very humble opinion is that little bits do make a difference. I applaud people who are vegan and live a fully conscious, cruelty-free life with no dependency on the animal industry. But I don’t think we can use their good work alone to change.
Making small but consistent changes amounts to a lot of good and if you can do it all, great! If you can’t, try one thing. Recycling or taking part in Meat Free Monday, cycling to work or deciding to purchase organic food as much as possible- these choices make a difference. It may seem contradictory or hypocritical to some people who do go the whole way or to people who don’t see how it’ll change anything. As one friend said, I may as well move to a farm and weave my own fabric- but I don’t agree with that line of thought. Another three friends (and hopefully counting) have started checking purchases for animal testing. I’m going to quote Susie Bubble’s brilliant article about buying more eco clothing and sustainable fashion here, [we] are revelling in an age where we can all make choices – bad or good. Being “half-arsed” as it were isn’t a crime but being ignorant is.”