What Does “Cruelty-Free” Mean When Talking About Makeup?

Jan 7, 2020 | Skincare

Cruelty-free cosmetics are seeing substantial growth as of late, with predictions of more expansion in the future. Included in this industry are makeup products, perfumes and fragrances, skincare, and more.

Due to increased animal awareness, a lean towards eco-friendliness, and effective promotions, more people are finding themselves erring on the side of caution when they visit their drug stores or shop online. They’re finding themselves looking specifically for makeup that does not test on animals.

But what does cruelty-free mean, exactly? If those words appear on a label, does that mean the product has never been tested on animals?

Unfortunately, not always. There is some confusion surrounding this term, and one shouldn’t always take the label at face value.

Here, we highlight what cruelty-free means so you can shop soundly.

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?

Cruelty-free means that a product was never tested on animals—right?

Actually, no. This is not always the case. For a product to use the label “cruelty-free,” it has to fall under the following terms and conditions:

  • The product and its ingredients were never tested on animals at any stage in the development (this is the best-case scenario, but also the least likely)
  • The ingredients in the product may have been tested on animals, but the final product was not
  • The manufacturer of the product may not have tested on animals themselves, but a third-party supplier may have done the animal testing. Or, the manufacturer relied on previous animal-test results
  • Animal testing was done in a different country with looser laws concerning animal testing
  • The ingredients and final product were not tested on animals in the last five-twenty years (however, this doesn’t mean they weren’t tested in the past or won’t be tested in the future)
  • The ingredients and final product weren’t tested on animals past a specific date and will not be tested on animals in the future

As you can see, the term cruelty-free isn’t as cut-and-dry as we’d like it to be.

You may buy a product that claims it’s cruelty-free right there on the label, but somewhere down the line, it or its ingredients may have been tested on innocent animals. This is obviously where the confusion comes in.

Contrary to popular belief, cosmetic products don’t have to be tested on animals to determine their safety and liability. They’re not even included in the list of regulated substances that do, at this point, require animal testing.

Are There Alternatives to Animal Testing?

So, without the expensive, cruel, and generally inapplicable tests on animals, what can we do?

Well, forward-thinking scientists are beginning to develop tests that apply to humans without involving animals at any stage. These tests are more accurate when it comes to human health, too, as animal testing doesn’t always translate to humans anyway.

First, there are a series of sophisticated tests called in vitro tests. These methods use human cells and tissues to test a product. There are also computer-modelling techniques that test products, called in silico trials.

And of course, there can always be tests done on humans themselves who volunteer in clinical studies. This takes away the issues of species differences, too.

Most cosmetic products are tested on animals for liability reasons—understandably, the companies that make these products don’t want to make something that results in a legal claim. But, if a company used safe, natural ingredients to begin with, that threat would be nonexistent. This means that humans can offer to get tested on.

Additionally, this often costs less money and time.

How to Find Cruelty-Free Products

Companies can quickly slap “cruelty-free” and “animal-friendly” on their product labels and convince the consumer they’ve done their part to stay conscious and species-inclusive. But as we know by now, that’s not always the truth.

So, with that being said, how is one supposed to differentiate between an honest company and a dishonest one?

One way is to check a product’s or brand’s standing with the Leaping Bunny Program. They aim to take the confusion out of shopping and promote transparency.

When the Leaping Bunny became a thing in the 90s, many companies made their own bunny logos and placed them on labels to confuse shoppers. But, the Leaping Bunny logo is now an internationally-recognized symbol that makes eco-friendly shopping more accessible and more trustworthy.

If a company isn’t on the Leaping Bunny list, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not compliant with the Leaping Bunny’s standards. As a consumer, you have the right to contact a company at any time and ask them if they test on animals at any stage in product development.

You can also download certain apps that allow you to scan a product and find out if it’s genuinely cruelty-free. Leaping Bunny has its own Cruelty-Free app, available for iOS and Android, or you can consider another source, such as the Cruelty-Cutter. Better yet, you can use two apps and cross-compare them.

Live a Cruelty-Free Life

Unfortunately, some companies use the term cruelty-free to sell their products without being fully transparent about what that means. Perhaps those companies should be asking themselves, “What does cruelty-free mean?”

We at Arish know the answer to that question, and we pride ourselves on natural, harm-free products. When we say cruelty-free, we mean it. Our products do not contain any animal testing at any stage of product development.

When you shop with Arish, you can rest easy knowing you’re supporting a cruelty-free world.

Click here to see how we can help elevate your makeup bag. Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter, where we send out special offers and sometimes even free giveaways!

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