THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ANIMAL TESTING FOR COSMETICS
The US Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act does not require personal care products to be tested on animals. Companies can decide how and on whom they test their products as long as they meet certain, minimum standards.
However, China requires animal testing for all foreign companies that want to sell personal care items in China. Some companies claim to have circumvented the policy which requires products to be tested on animals before they enter the Chinese market. Therefore, they claim to be cruelty-free. However, China animal testing regulations extend to products already in the market. This means products already on the shelves can and do get tested on periodically.
Basically, if a foreign brand has products in China, they are NOT cruelty-free. Note that Chinese brands are not required to submit to the animal testing policy. Keep in mind this does not mean they are automatically cruelty-free. Finally, the China testing policy only applies to companies that want a physical presence in China, meaning they sell their products in stores.If a brand ships products to individual consumers in China via online order only, the brand can still qualify as cruelty-free.
For more information, here is a good fact sheet about animal testing from The Humane Society.
Ultimately, animals suffer and die for these tests. There are so many brands that do not test on animals and prove to us every day that animal testing isn’t necessary!
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT WOOL, FEATHERS, AND DOWN
While we are all aware that animals die for leather products (including suede) and many are mistreated in the process, keep in mind that wool, feathers, and down are also animal products to avoid if possible.
For the most part, these animals aren’t killed for their wool or feathers but they live painful, fearful lives, and are ultimately disposed of once. It is considered more ethical to kill a goose or duck for its feathers/down then to pluck them off the live animal over and over again throughout its life. When you see a label stating, “ethically sourced” or “certified down,” it means the animal was killed first and then plucked. Keep in mind, there are no true regulations around labeling. Just like in the cosmetic world, this is voluntary and is certified by the third party non-profit, RDS.
Here is more information about the ethical down standard also called the “responsible down” standard.
HOW TO TELL IF A PRODUCT IS CRUELTY-FREE
First, look for either the Leaping Bunny (“LB”) or PETA symbol on the packaging. These symbols will appear on both personal care items, like face lotion and toothpaste, and household items, like bathroom cleaner and dish soap. However, they do not appear on clothing and related items. If you see one of the two symbols, you are good to go!
Second, if you don’t see one of these symbols, you can check whether the brand is still listed on either PETA’s, Leaping Bunny’s, or NAVS website. They each have an extensive list of brands that are verified cruelty-free. You can search for a specific brand on their sites or view the lists in their entirety. PETA and LB actually certify companies as cruelty-free while NAVS is an organization that provides information on animal welfare – from the cruelty-free brand list to tracking laws and legislation.
PLEASE NOTE: Companies can be cruelty-free and not certify, as certification is voluntary. New and smaller companies fall into this category frequently. Companies can also certify and choose not to carry the PETA or LB symbol.
You may also see something like this from PETA designating cruelty-free and vegan status:
Third, because a brand could state it is cruelty-free and not appear on one of the above-mentioned lists, a good check is to google whether the brand is sold in China. While most brands, in my experience, do not blatantly lie about their animal testing policies, I have run across a brand or two that actually stated (on its packaging) that it did not test on animals but a quick google search pulled up a press release containing the brand’s expansion to China. ***insert dumb a$$ emoji here***
I also keep a list of brands under the Brands to Love Tab you can reference at any time. However, I will not be re-creating the wheel. PETA and LB have two of the most trusted lists out there and they are extensive. I check their lists all the time and will not be attempting to mimic their inclusivity. My list is limited to the brands I’ve actually discussed on the blog or those I am planning on discussing. However, my list does contain brands not found on PETA’s or LB’s site as not all cruelty-free bands certify.
To see how what steps I take to determine cruelty-free status when a brand cannot be found on a trusted list but claims to be, head over to the Brands to Love tab.
DIFFERENCE IN CERTIFICATION STANDARDS
Leaping Bunny has stricter standards requiring the brand to allow for an independent audit to confirm cruelty-free status. If a brand is considered cruelty-free via Leaping Bunny, it means that their products are not tested on animals at ANY stage of production, including the final product, none of their ingredients are tested on animals, and none of their suppliers conduct animal testing. Here is the full standard. LP also includes Canadian cruelty-free brands!
In PETA’s case, companies sign and submit a statement of assurance that they are cruelty-free or provide their own statement along the same lines. For more on how they do things go here.