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The Effortless Beginner’s Guide To Going Cruelty-Free Forever

by Suzana Rose

Jan 14, 2021

If you're going cruelty-free, you might feel like you're drowning in information. I put together this quick guide in an effort to make going cruelty-free easy.

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Here's everything you need to know about animal testing, condensed. Let's dive in.

How Many Brands Test On Animals In 2020?

Animal testing or cosmetics does exists in 2020, and it's more prevalent than you think. My list of companies that tests on animals lists over 200 brands, including NARS, Benefit, L'Oreal, and many more known brands.

Some of these companies test on animals themselves or down their supply chain, while some allow animal testing to be performed on their products in China (more on this later).

Why Go Cruelty-Free?

Worldwide, 100,000 to 200,000 animals suffer and die in animal experiments every year. Most commonly, the animals used are bunnies, mice, rats, and guinea pigs.

These animals are nothing more than tools for experimentation, and they suffer in painful tests. At the end of a test, the animal is killed, typically by asphyxiation, neck-breaking, or decapitation.

The only reason why animal testing exists is because animal tests are cheaper than non-animal alternatives, even though they're actually less accurate. There's simply no need for animal testing in 2020.

Cruelty-Free Kitty

Will Going Cruelty-Free Make A Difference?

At the end of the day, companies care about one thing: Money. By going cruelty-free and boycotting brands that test on animals, you're speaking their language and letting them know that their unethical practices are unacceptable.

If enough people boycott them, it will have an impact on their profits, and only then will they consider going cruelty-free. We can truly make an impact together. Covergirl recently went cruelty-free, and the number of cruelty-free brands is growing every year.

What's the Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

A "cruelty-free" brand is a brand that doesn't test on animals. A "vegan" brand is a brand that doesn't use animal-derived ingredients.

Cruelty-free brands can have vegan and non-vegan products. Vegan brands are not necessarily cruelty-free. Sally Hansen, for example, markets their nail polish as being vegan since it contains no animal-derived ingredients, however the brand is not cruelty-free.

How Do We Know Which Companies Are Truly Cruelty-Free?

It can be tricky. The term "cruelty-free" is not regulated. This means that any company can claim to be cruelty-free without getting in legal trouble if they're not. Since every brand wants to portray the image of being kind to animals and to the planet, it's crucial to verify their claims.

A brand who's guilty of this is Almay. Their makeup displays proudly claim "cruelty-free", however they do test on animals where required by law and sell in China. It's extremely misleading, although sadly legal.

In short, just because you see a "cruelty-free" claim or a bunny on the packaging, does not mean that the company is confirmed to be cruelty-free. This is why I recommend using my list of officially cruelty-free brands. These are brands who either confirmed with us in writing that they don't test on animals at any point during the production of their products, and neither do their suppliers or any third parties.

What Does It Mean For a Company To Be Truly Cruelty-Free?

It's not enough for a company to confirm that they themselves don't test on animals, since companies work with suppliers, and use ingredients sourced from other companies. They also work with third parties who could test their products on their behalf (i.e. in China).

Brands that are truly cruelty-free must confirm that no animal testing is involved at any point, from the ingredients to the finished product, and that no third parties test on animals on their behalf.

What Symbols And Certifications Should We Look For?

Look for Leaping Bunny or Choose Cruelty Free certification. PETA is unfortunately not a trustworthy cruelty-free resource.

There are other bunny symbols but please note that none of them are official symbols. These "fake" bunny symbols are meaningless, so buyer beware!

Is Animal Testing Still Required in China?

As of 2020, no company can sell cosmetics in stores in mainland China while being cruelty-free. Although it's possible for brands to bypass pre-market animal testing laws in China, there's still a risk of post-market animal testing. This is why companies like Nudestix, Dove, Wet n Wild, or Physicians Formula are not considered cruelty-free.

Important aspects to note:

  • Selling products online only (not in stores) is not affected by animal testing laws. A company can sell to China via e-commerce and be cruelty-free.
  • Hong Kong is not part of mainland China. Therefore, brands can sell in stores in Hong Kong and be cruelty-free.
  • Products "made in China" can be cruelty-free. The animal testing laws apply to products sold in China, not made in China.

You can read more about animal testing in China here.

How Do I Start The Process Of Going Cruelty-Free?

First, figure out which of your products are tested on animals. Search for your favorite brands on Cruely-Free Kitty to see what their status is.

Click the image to go to the front page

If any products you own are tested on animals, don't throw them out! That would be wasteful. Use them up until you can find a cruelty-free replacement.

Alternatively, if you own a lot of makeup, you might consider doing a cruelty-free declutter and donating any items you no longer want to a friend.

Next, you need to find a cruelty-free alternative for any products you're no longer repurchasing. A simple google search should do the trick, or you can look at my product guides in the menu.

Every time you want to buy a new product, do a quick check and search for the brand. You can also look at my list of officially cruelty-free brands and the list of companies that test on animals. You'll learn which brands to buy and which to avoid in no time.

How Can I Make a Bigger Impact?

Going cruelty-free is the biggest step you can take when it comes to helping put an end to animal testing. But if you want to take it to the next level, here's what you can do.

Email companies that test on animals and let them know why you're boycotting them. Urge them to go cruelty-free. The more complaints, the more likely we are to see change. I created a template you can use as-is or rephrase in your own words.

Share this post, as well as any cruelty-free content. Let your friends know, and spread the word on social media! Here are some suggestions for posts to share:

I hope this quick guide was helpful to you! Thank you for reading and for being a compassionate shopper.

Which Brands Are Cruelty-Free?

Download our list of 600+ verified cruelty-free brands straight to your device. Bring it with you everywhere you go, and never worry about supporting animal testing again. Click here to download

+ Show Comments (5) - Hide Comments (5)
  • Geraldine Smith says:

    Hi can you tell tell me if Lee Stafford is cruelty free as I feel I’ve seen an email re their products & selling in China

  • Ashlee Hicks says:

    Hi so I’ve recently been interested in becoming cruelty-free and having such a life style. This website/ article has helped me so much because there is indeed a lot of information based on cruelty-free and it can be too much to take in. This article was so helpful and easy to comprehend (thank you for not using really big words lol). This article is my helping hand in my first milestone towards a cruelty-free lifestyle! Thank you!!

  • Connie Sysak says:

    So glad to see this as I am committed to help save animals from suffering

  • Great post! Thanks for sharing this info!

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