What cruelty free beauty product labels really mean (across the globe)
While cruelty-free labeled beauty products abound in the cosmetic aisles, even a knowledgeable consumer might be surprised to hear there is no regulation or requirements in order to use that term. Cruelty-free was initially used as a term to indicate no animals were harmed in the creation of said product, whether its ingredients or the end product itself, but the term itself may be misleading.
Within the United States, cruelty-free may mean that none of the products or ingredients has been tested upon animals. It may also mean that the end product was not tested on animals or that the ingredients themselves have not been tested on animals in the last ten or twenty years. The term is vague and due to lack of a government-sanctioned label, consumers are left floundering. Perhaps the best accreditation consumers might look for is the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny. This symbol indicates that after a set date neither the end product nor the ingredients in that product have been tested upon animals. Cruelty free does NOT meant that a brand or product is vegan. If you are looking for products that do not contain animal ingredients, be sure to read the ingredient labels closely.
If you are shopping for new cosmetics and they lack the Leaping Bunny symbol, you may note small print stating, “This product was not tested on animals.” In this case—it is buyer beware. The United States Department of Agriculture as well as the government does not set any standards to which a company is held in order to list this on their product. When noting these products, however, it is necessary to realize that they may indeed subscribe to a cruelty-free method of developing and creating new cosmetics. It will simply require further sleuthing on your part to ensure the company lives up to its words.
In Europe, however, it will soon be easier to find true cruelty-free products as the European Union recently implemented a complete ban on animal tested products as of March 2013. While this does not guarantee a product has not been tested on animals in the past, it will guarantee new tests will not be run on animals in order to create beauty products in the future. Regardless of where the products are produced, if its ingredients or end product have been used on animals after the ban date, it may not be sold within the European nations. HOWEVER, the brands may still sell to countries that require animal testing (currently mainland China is the big one). So buying products that are produced in the EU does not guarantee a cruelty free status.
Many countries are working with animal rights groups to set laws banning animal testing. As the news comes up, I will be sure to share with you! Be sure to follow Humane Society International for the latest on animal testing laws across the globe. The National Anti-Vivisection Society is another good one to follow, as well as The Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine.
So how to find cruelty free products? When it comes to finding cruelty-free cosmetics, it’s not as easy as simply reading the label. Instead, you must understand the lack of significance behind the claim of cruelty-free and instead ensure you properly research the products and companies you wish to support with your purchases. Buying cruelty-free cosmetics is a wonderful way to support animal welfare throughout the world, but you need to be a keen consumer when it comes time to buy.
At My Beauty Bunny, we do our best to keep up with the ever changing laws throughout the world, and you can see our regularly updated list of cruelty free products here. If you ever notice a brand on our list that has changed its cruelty free status, please contact us so we can investigate.