Understanding Cruelty Free Cosmetics


One of my biggest passions is animals and my love for them has completely changed every aspect of my life. Although It has been a long journey getting to where I am today personally and professionally, the fact that I am able to incorporate my passion and help influence positively through my job makes me very fortunate and is simply a dream come true. I am a cruelty free makeup artist and vegan friendly too, but that hasn’t always been the case. Up until April 2018 when I left working at Bobbi Brown most of my kit wasn’t. Before this, I didn’t know enough about what made a product not cruelty free and I had not long changed my career and just wanted well recognised brands in my kit that appealed to everyone. Something just didn’t sit right, and I didn’t feel comfortable about the products I was using so I knew it had to change. For the people who know me, know that I am an all or nothing kind of person and where a 6 months transition was more realistic, I gave myself two weeks. I spent days researching, hours of scouring the internet and testing products, reading reviews looking at ingredients, asking opinions, reading forums and blogs, visiting counters and in two weeks after pretty much using most of my savings I changed my entire kit. Finally, my business felt right. Because of this change the questions I get asked frequently via email, Instagram, past and present clients, friends and people I have never met before has given me the idea and foundations for writing this blog.

There appears to be a lack of understanding around the subject of animal testing, many don’t know what makes a brand not cruelty free (aside from the obvious) as most will claim they don’t test on animals allowing us to assume that they are safe to buy. There is a lot I found out working in this industry that I didn’t know before, so I figured if I didn’t then others won’t too. Hopefully this will help shed some light to the many people who get in touch and ask me for my advice and potentially encourage people to think about switching to brands in the future which don’t support any kind of testing on animals either directly or indirectly. 

What makes a brand not cruelty free?

When the EU banned cosmetics that had been tested on animals in 2013 animal lovers everywhere were overjoyed with the huge breakthrough. But has it put an end to the practice of mice and rabbits being used for tests to ensure make-up is safe for humans? Not entirely.

Some of the big Makeup companies claimed that they were “cruelty free” in effect of this ban and people felt confident that when they go and buy products from counters or off the shelves, they weren’t contributing profits to a company which harms animals. Unfortunately, though, with a lot of laws, there was a loophole.

 “Animal testing  for cosmetics include skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits; repeated oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards, such as cancer or birth defects; and even widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death. These tests can cause considerable pain and distress including blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding and organ damage, birth defects, convulsions and death. Pain relief is not provided and at the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation”

Humane Society International

So, what makes a brand not cruelty free if it’s illegal to test on animal in the EU?

Although they may not be physically be doing the testing themselves, they are paying for a third party to do so in countries where by law it is imperative. For instance, any cosmetics companies that sells their goods in China must submit them to be tested in Chinese laboratories, where more than 300,000 animals are used each year and welfare laws are notoriously slack. China’s beauty industry alone brings in figures around 25 Billion pounds a year so by pulling out of their market it would be incredibly detrimental to their profits. Most use the excuse that they feel that being in China they can help influence them to find alternative methods – not exactly inspiring.

L’Oréal has a notoriously misleading animal testing statement. They claim “L’Oréal no longer tests any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others.” However, as they sell their products in China where animal testing is still mandatory funds are being put towards the testing process "as required by law"

M.A.C also claims to not test on animals or ask others to test on animals for them. This is followed by “While some governments conduct animal testing to prove safety before they will allow us to sell our products, M·A·C has never tested on animals and we continue to be a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally”.  There has been no evidence of this to this day.

How are we to avoid accidentally buying into a brand which allows its products to be tested on animals?

Sadly, although it’s not that straight forward but I have done the leg work for you so you can see which brands are not cruelty free and which are so you can switch to if you wish to in the future or when your products run out. For the purpose of this blog I have listed as many brands which will be well recognised however this is by no means an extensive list.  All haircare and makeup products which haven’t been tested on animals can be found on sites such as the PETA and crueltyfreekitty.com

As a Bridal Makeup Artist, I have researched the best products for your big day. I don’t spare on quality or luxury and I pride myself on ensuring that everything I have in my kit is cruelty free and mainly vegan friendly too.

To help make it easier which brands are comparable and easy to switch to, I have made some suggestions however please get in touch for more info! All these brands have Vegan friendly options too so it’s worth asking a representative if it’s something that is important to you

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For futher questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch!