If going cruelty free or eco friendly is intimidating to you, I fully understand! It’s really daunting to start because the information out there on what companies are cruelty free is confusing and often conflicting. I’m not an expert on the topic. I’m just a person who is interested in making more socially responsible purchases. I wanted to share how I approach going cruelty free in case there is someone else out there who is thinking about it but is feeling really intimidated.
Decide for yourself what cruelty free means.
Some people’s definitions of cruelty free are different from others. When I realized that cruelty free wasn’t as simple as getting a stamp from PETA I had to learn the variations and decide for myself what was acceptable for me. Here is what I look for when I buy cruelty free.
- The Company itself does not actually test on animals.
- The Company and it’s suppliers/ingredients do not test on animals.
- It does not sell in countries that legally require animal testing such as China.
Many other people take it a step further and label companies that are owned by larger companies that test on animals as being not cruelty free. I’m unsure of how I feel about this. On one hand, if you support the non-animal testing subsidiary you help prove the business model of not testing on animals, on the other hand… I have a hard time believing that knowledge from animal testing through the family of companies that is owned doesn’t make its way to the subsidiary that “doesn’t test on animals.” Even PETA acknowledges this as a shade of grey so they (and many other sources) will disclose if a company is cruelty free but a subsidiary of a non cruelty free company.
Ultimately the choice is yours. You might feel that it’s enough that the company its self doesn’t test on animals and stop there! Here is some great information on the definition of cruelty free: http://www.leapingbunny.org/about/the-standard
Find a source of information that aligns with your values.
After I made the decision regarding what I consider to be cruelty free I found a few sources that list cruelty free companies that either are in line with my values or list out the variations. For example, to be certified by PETA a company can’t be owned by a company that isn’t cruelty free even if that company itself does not test on animals. PETA will note the difference and so I still refer to PETAs master list, even though it’s a little more rigid than I’d normally go. I have a few places that I go to look up if a company is considered cruelty free or not. If I can’t find them on my trusted sources I tend to take their claims at face value.
Here is one of the lists that I use: http://www.paulaschoice.com/beautypedia-product-reviews/animal-testing/
Give yourself permission to only do what you are capable of doing.
This last point was a biggie for me. After I went cruelty free for a little while I started to feel very frustrated. It was tough to find the right information, be up to date on the who’s cruelty free and who isn’t because it changes as companies grow and purchased by others. It’s ok if you make a mistake and accidentally buy something that isn’t cruelty free. You can return it or just call it a lesson learned and do better next time.
Don’t ditch everything that you own, phase out your non-cruelty free products.
Just because you decided to go cruelty free doesn’t mean you need to go through your entire home and purge all things not cruelty free to then re-buy them all. Personally, I could never afford to do that. It would be hundreds of dollars to replace all my soaps, shampoo, hair products, makeup, skincare etc all at once! That’s a lot for most people. Instead, as you use products up replace them with cruelty free products. This will also give you time to experiment with suitable replacements and do some research on what companies are cruelty free.
If you can’t commit to keeping everything cruelty free then pick a few things that you can commit to always buying cruelty free.
This will be unpopular but I think it’s practical. I have a hard time finding cruelty free mascara so I still buy maybelline mascara (which I find to be reliable) until I can find a good quality and affordable mascara that is also cruelty free. However I know that I can easily find excellent quality and not tested on animals; eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, lipstick, nail polish, skincare so I always buy cruelty free when I look for those items. I also can find nice shampoo and conditioner but for the life of me I can’t find cruelty free hair styling products. I buy what I have access to while I continue to try to transition more and more of beauty products to cruelty free beauty and I don’t beat myself up for it.
I like to approach things from a practical, personally sustainable point of view. I realize that some people might look at my suggestions and say that I’m not really cruelty free. That’s ok. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. My point is that I do my best to make socially responsible purchases in a way that I can maintain. Every little bit helps. In my experience, making socially responsible purchases builds off of itself. I started out wanting to buy biodegradable cleaning products for my house. Then it went to biodegradable hygiene products. Over time it’s now evolved to cruelty free cosmetics/products, natural baby products, cloth diapering, and I got my husband on board with it all too!
That being said, I would never judge others for their choices. It’s entirely up to YOU! But I do hope that I’ve shown that making these choices doesn’t have to be as daunting as they first appear.