Option 1) Shaving
If you prefer to shave, these are the best options for cruelty-free razors and shaving creams.
Which razors to avoid?
Even though razors themselves aren't tested on animals, a huge percentage of brands that sell razors are notorious for animal testing. Your best bet is therefore buying a razor from a company that only makes and sells razors and other related goods, and not cosmetics.
Most big brands of razors found in drugstore do test on animals. Shick, Gilette, Venus, and others should be avoided.
Personna (listed on PETA as "American Safety Razor") is a brand of razors which belongs to Energizer Holdings. They only make razors and they're cruelty-free, but Energizer also owns brands such as Schick, which aren't cruelty-free.
The most animal-friendly razor I've found is by Preserve. Not only does this company exclusively make goods as opposed to cosmetics products, but they also work with recycled materials.
Since using disposable razors can be wasteful, using a safety razor in order to cut down this waste is a good option, especially for men. Unfortunately when it comes to shaving delicate areas such as armpits, I believe disposable razors and blades work best.
Cruelty-free shaving cream.
Leaping Bunny-certified companies Kiss My Face, Alba Botanica, and Avalon Organics each make their version of a shave cream that comes in a tube. For ladies with sensitive skin, Kiss My Face and Avalon make unscented versions here and here.
A final tip when choosing a shaving cream: don't feel like you're limited to products labeled as "shaving creams". Their purpose is to be highly moisturizing and provide a surface on which the razor can glide easily. While this doesn't mean that you should use soap alone, something like hair conditioner can do the job, and it can be easier to find than a cruelty-free shaving cream.
Personally, when I'm feeling indulgent, I use Lush's Turkish Delight shower smoothie for shaving. It's a super rich and moisturizing body wash, which is why it doubles so well as a shaving cream. Not the cheapest alternative, but highly recommended for smooth, smooth, smooth skin.
Option 2) Hair Removal Creams
I avoid popular brands like Nair and Veet like the plague, as they are severe animal-rights offenders. There is however a 100% cruelty-free company called Nad's that I found. They have a wide array of hair-removal products, including their Sensitive Hair Removal Cream for legs. What's neat is that it comes with an exfoliating sponge that you can velcro to the bottle. For facial hair, they also have a Facial Hair Removal Cream.
Option 3) Waxing and Sugaring
Waxing is a painful process that most of the time involves harsh chemicals and animal ingredients (beeswax). Frankly, waxing sucks. Luckily there's a cruelty-free alternative, and it's better than waxing for several reasons: sugaring. Sugaring involves making a paste from heated sugar, lemon, and water that is then applied to the skin at room temperature. Because this paste sticks only to the hair follicles and not to the skin, this process is much less painful than waxing. It also doesn't burn the skin like waxing does. Here's a quick 3-minute video that teaches how to make and use sugaring paste:
Option 4) Epilating
Epilating is my preferred method of removing hair when it comes to legs; everything else I shave, but I epilate my legs once or twice a week.
Epilating has its advantages: it doesn't require any cosmetics and is therefore cruelty-free (take this with a grain of salt, I'll talk more about it in a bit), it pulls the hairs from the root and you can therefore remain hairless longer, and it doesn't require as much time and effort as shaving or other methods. Also, the more you epilate, the less your hair will grow back.
An epilator is essentially 50-ish powered tweezers, all into one tool. The little tweezers open and close at a high-speed, plucking your hairs out as you glide the tool down your leg. I'm not going to lie: it hurts like a mofo the first couple of times, but it gets better fast and it's well worth it!
Here's the tricky cruelty-free twist: Braun, the most popular brand of epilators, is owned by no other than Procter & Gamble, a corporation that tests on animals. They own brands like Gillette, Venus, and CoverGirl, only to name a few. For this reason, picking an electronics brand like Panasonic or Philips is, in my opinion, ideal. I've never had a problem with my Panasonic one and I highly recommend it.
Option 5) Laser Hair Removal
I'll be brief about this one: it's a big investment and the results will only be visible after several sessions and weeks, but I believe it's well worth it in the end. There's also the option of doing this at home using a technology called IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). IPL devices such as the Tria are increasingly common, and effective.
Option 6) Tweezing and Threading
Maybe model Staz Lindes can rock the bushy brow trend, but most of us need a tiny bit of tweezing. While tweezerman does sell in China, the only products it manufactures are beauty tools such as tweezers, scissors, and mirrors, and not cosmetics. Those tools aren't tested on animals.
If you're picky about your tweezers, I highly recommend this brand, especially their pointed tweezers for maximum precision. If you're not into tweezers, there's always threading: threading is the removal of facial hair by pulling and twisting a thread in magical and confusing ways. Not really, but it does take a lot of practice.
Razors and shaving creams for men!
If you're a guy, you've probably made the switch to a safety razor by now. Or not. If not, let me tell you why it's worth it. For one, it would probably mean giving up on throwing money away on Gillette razors or cartridges every month in favor of cruelty-free, less wasteful, more environmentally-friendly options.
Secondly, safety razors provide a closer shave with less irritation -- my boyfriend confirms this. Thirdly, they just look and feel really, really cool (and don't pretend like this doesn't matter): a sturdy piece of stainless steel just feels so much nicer than a flimsy plastic throw-away Gillette piece of crap. This is the razor I got my boyfriend for Christmas, and he loves it.
On the cheaper side, The Body Shop make a Maca Root Shave Cream (they often have 50% off sales) that smells amazing. Also certified by the Leaping Bunny is the Badger company; they make a Shave Soap, but you absolutely have to use it with a brush if you want a good lather. Most shaving brushes are made from badger hair, but there are synthetic vegan alternatives out there.
If you're looking for a more luxurious shaving cream, Caswell-Massey make a few shave creams, including Almond and Eucalyptus, and they're Leaping Bunny-certified. Available at Sephora, Jack Black is on PETA's list and makes a pretty sweet one they call the Supreme Cream Triple Cushion Shave Lather.
I hope this cruelty-free guide was helpful! If you have any more suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. I want to make this guide as accurate and informative as possible.
(Photo credit: Ricard Aparicio)