I got a comment on my last post from Ashley who asked, "how do you know if products are tested on animals?" and I thought, I should do a post on that! I think a lot of people are confused about cruelty-free shopping and I'm just learning myself as well, so if there are any cruelty-free experts among my readers who catch any errors in this post, feel free to tell me!
Basically, to find out if a beauty or household product is cruelty-free, the first thing you can do is read the label. If it doesn't mention animal testing anywhere, then I'm sorry - it's not cruelty-free. No brand screams, WE TEST ON ANIMALS! Omitting the question entirely is their way of subtly telling us that yes, they do test, they just don't want to say it.
If the packaging says "against animal testing", "we do not support animal testing" or "not tested on animals", I usually buy it. But to be completely safe, it's better to check if the company is on PETA or the BUAV's cruelty-free list of brands that do not test on animals (PETA also has a great list of brands that DO - avoid those!). I ordered a little Book of Cruelty-Free for free from Cruelty-Free International (order yours here if you live in the UK), so now I just carry it around in my wallet and take a look at it when I'm confused at the beauty counter.
One thing to watch out for: brands with words like "organic" and "natural" in the name. This is NOT a guarantee that they don't test on animals. Often (in many cases!) they do.
It's also important to stay updated on changes to the cruelty-free lists. I have bought products that I've found there, only to be told that the brand was no longer cruelty-free. How does a brand become "no longer cruelty-free"? Here's how: they start selling their products in China, where animal testing is required by law. So what do we do? We simply avoid the brands that sell in China. Easy as that. And it really makes an impact: recently, Urban Decay was about to start selling to China, but decided not to due to pressure from cruelty-free shoppers!
If you check a brand's website for their stance on animal testing, look out for the words "we do not test on animals except when required by law." There is a very high chance that this means, "we sell in China and therefore test on animals." An example of this is Italian brand Kiko, where I happily continued to shop for a long time, in the belief that they were cruelty-free. If you're unsure, send an email to the brand asking if their products are tested on animals. My email to the nail polish company Barry M, found on an eco-beauty website, went unanswered, as did my tweets, which leads me to believe that this brand is not cruelty-free.
I usually look for the BUAV's bunny mark on products, along with the words "BUAV approved". But some brands that I know well, like The Body Shop or Lush (many of Lush's products have the Vegan Society mark) don't have it and I still know they're cruelty-free. It's about getting to know a brand and its values, finding out what they stand for and if they have a strong compassionate policy.
Pictures from Pinterest