Tips for going cruelty-free: Everyday Ethical [ep. 17]

Jun 13, 2019

In this epsiode, I share my tips for going cruelty-free and discuss everything you need to know before making the transition! From sneaky companies, to fake certification, I’ve made the mistakes so that you don’t have to.

Find this Everyday Ethical episode on iTunes, Spotify or stream above!

Podcast graphic, with a picture of makeup and a description of tips for going cruelty-free

Tips for going cruelty-free: Key links:

My Instagram

Cruelty-free internation certification (leaping bunny logo) 

My post on China’s laws on animal testing 

Cruelty-free cleaning on a budget 

Tips for going cruelty-free: Episode transcript:


Hello and welcome to everyday ethical: A podcast about all the small ways that we can be sustainable, without the pressure to be perfect.

I’m your host Bethany Austin, an ethical lifestyle blogger who chats about everything from slow styling to cruelty-free cleaning.

In my episode about all about eco-friendly makeup, I touched upon cruelty-free cosmetics and started to get into some of the things you need to remember whilst shopping for them. Today though, I want to go into much more detail and teach you all of my tips for going cruelty-free, coming from someone who has made the mistakes for you. Trust me, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt.  

Let’s dive in.

Obviously, I haven’t always been cruelty-free. In fact, whether my products were tested on animals just wasn’t my radar until relatively recently. Back in the day, I used to base what I bought in terms of makeup up and beauty products around, just what everyone else was buying, to be honest. I’m talking Rimmel Stay Matte Powder, Barry M Crackle Effect Top Coat and, as soon as I my first weekend job, the Ruby Woo Mac Lipstick. I felt like such a freaking beauty guru with that in my bag.

Money was also a massive thing that affected what I bought. I would either really save up for things like Mac once I did have a job, or I would just buy the cheapest of the cheap. And, to be honest, it didn’t really matter because my makeup skills were so poor that you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

However, in 2017 (yes I did have to search my blog to find that date) my new years resolution was to start supporting companies that actually deserve my support. I think that was kind of the start of my whole journey to being more ethical and eco-friendly. I just didn’t want to give cash to companies that weren’t doing good in our world. Of course, that evolved into a whole load of things over the years from avoiding fast fashion to being veggie, but first on my list was going cruelty-free.

I went through my makeup bag and my bathroom cupboards and I put a little bit of tape on everything that was tested on animals, so that I knew not to buy it again. If you are going cruelty-free, I would hugely recommend doing the same. Not only will it just make you more aware of where you’re buying from, but it’s super wasteful to throw things away and start from scratch. So, use what you’ve got first! Please.

Since those days, I have made my fair few mistakes buying products and I have learnt a hell of a lot. I thought it would be a super simple transition to make, which is why I started with it. And it kind of is on the surface, I guess, but it’s also easy to fall into some common traps.

Of course though, I am here to hold your hand through it and help you to learn from my mistake, with these 7 things that I things that I think you need to know.

Tip 1 for going cruelty-free: China tests on animals!

The first thing that I think you need to know before going cruelty-free is that China tests on animals.

I feel I’ve banged on A LOT about this recently on my podcast, so soz if you’ve heard this info before, but it really is one of the most important things to know when you are going cruelty-free. And it’s worth a recap, even if you do know this already.

So, within the whole of the EU, animal testing for cosmetics has been actually been illegal since 2013 under EU Regulation 1223/2009.  However, the UK have had laws against it since 1998. It’s one of those few ethical areas that we are ahead of the game one!

Since we were so ahead of the game, it’s kind of difficult to understand why products in the UK still could possibly be considered “not cruelty-free”. And the reason is China.

The reason that the “China Issue” is so crucial within cruelty-free living is that, over there, it is not illegal to conduct animal testing. Their laws have recently change, though. It used to be the case that testing was required by law on any cosmetics manufactured outside of China. Now though, post-market testing isn’t required by law.

“Post-market testing means exactly what you would expect: It is the routine testing of products after they have hit the market. So, this change in law, therefore mean that such routine testing will no longer be required to include animals.

However, as Humane Society helpfully points out, “in the case of non-routine tests, eg: a consumer complaint about a product…animal testing could still be the default.”.

By the looks of it, post-market animal testing has not been banned altogether, but is now simply not a requirement. It is no longer “normal practice”. On top of that, these changes in regulations don’t even touch pre-market testing laws.

I know that’s quite complicated because it’s all recently changes but I have got a whole blog post about it which I will link in the show notes. Basically, though, all you need to know is this: If a product is sold in China, it may have been tested on animals. There’s no way to guarantee it hasn’t.

That means that brands like MAC, L’Oreal and unfortunately now NARS, could have had their products tested on animals, since they all made the choice to sell over there.

That’s why, it doesn’t matter if a product hasn’t been tested on animals here in the UK, because it could’ve been tested over in China instead, even if it’s on the shelves of your local Tesco.

So, always research whether a product or brand is sold in China before buying. And I will chat a bit in episode about how to do that research, don’t worry!

Tip 2 for going cruelty-free: Be aware of parent companies

The second thing that you need to know if you’re going cruelty-free is that parent companies are a pain in the arse. Watch out for them.

To put it simply, a parent company is the larger company that owns a large enough portion of another company that they have influence on how it runs. For example, members of the L’Oreéal group include Kheils, Urban Decay, It Cosmetics, Lancome, Giorgio Armani beauty  and a shit load more.

The reason that this is relevant is because a lot of people that are cruelty-free choose, as a matter of ethics, to ONLY support companies that don’t test on animals AND don’t have parent companies that test on animals. Urban Decay, for example, does not test, whilst Loreal do. A lot of people argue that by giving your money to urban decay, you are also giving your money to Loreal, since they own whatever proportion if it.

They don’t want to support companies that test in any capacity. So, to them, cruelty-free means cruelty-free from top to bottom and with all companies involved.

It is totally up to you whether you want to consider parent companies or not. For the most part, I try my best to but there are a few products that I use which have non cruelty-free parent companies, which I have yet to find decent replacements for. But I am trying and it really is a tiny percentage of what I own.

Tip 3 for going cruelty-free: Always look for certification

The third thing to know before going cruelty free is that brands can’t be trusted. NEVER trust the words “cruelty-free” without some kind of official certification. Don’t just trust a little bunny logo, without knowing that it is an official certifier of whether a company is cruelty-free.

With more and more consumers caring about the planet and animals, companies are aware that being cruelty-free sells. However, slapping the words on your product doesn’t mean that your morals match up. For example, a company could claim to be cruelty-free, whilst their ingredients are actually tested by a third party.

Brands can be super sneaky and you need to be almost constantly cynical!

Personally, I always look out for the leaping bunny certification from Cruelty Free International. If a company uses that logo, then I know that they align with my values and have been thoroughly tested. As they say themselves, “In order to become Leaping Bunny certified, brands are required to adopt a fixed cut-off date, open their entire supply chain to ongoing monitoring, and agree to regular independent audits to ensure compliance.” I’ll be sure to put a picture of that certification label in the show notes so that you can be aware of what to look for, though I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about.

Just looking out for that means that you don’t have to do as much back research yourself as Cruelty-Free International do it for you. What total babes.

Tip 4 for going cruelty-free: Do your research

The fourth thing you need to know – and this one is going to save you some serious time – is that Logical Harmony’s Cruelty-Free brand list is a total life saved. Seriously, get that ish bookmarked on your phone because it is your new holy text, my friend.

The list is created by the founder of the blog Logical Harmony, Tashima, and I think she has a team now too. They reach out directly to companies and get them to answer very specific questions related to their animal testing, supply chain, parent companies and whether they sell in China. They have a CF list, a non-CF list and a “pending brands” list for those that haven’t got back to them yet. They also explicitly note on the list if they company has a parent company that tests on animals.

Basically it has everything you need to know. If you’re considering whether to buy a product, it takes no more than 15 seconds to go on their and find out whether they are cruelty-free, allowing you to make a more educating and conscious choice.

What’s not to love, honestly?

Tip 5 for going cruelty-free: Vegan does not mean “cruelty-free”

Number 5 on my list of things that you need to know before going cruelty-free is that vegan and cruelty-free? Nope. Not the same thing.

At least, a lot of companies don’t seem to think so.

I think most vegans would argue that veganism, as opposed to being “plant based” is a lifestyle. It’s not just about animal products, it’s about reducing your harm to animals all together. So, I also think that most of them would argue it’s not possible for a company to claim to be “vegan” if they are not cruelty-free.

However, that doesn’t stop brands trying. Of course they want to jump on the growing demand for vegan products.

There have been a lot of cases recently of some pretty big names coming out with supposedly vegan products, hair care ranges for example, even though they are still test on animals. And it has made some people seriously angry.

As a consumer, you need to remember that “cruelty-free” and “vegan” don’t necessarily mean that same thing on labels, then. Cruelty-free related directly to animal testing and whether it was conducted, whereas “vegan” denotes whether there are any animal products in something. And there are way more animal products in cosmetics than you probably think. Some of the ones I can think of off the top of my head are lonolin, shellac, sometimes glycerin, carmine. Yeah, there’s loads.

Essentially I’m telling not you assume that something isn’t testing on animals just because it say it’s vegan. Always look out for official certification or check the Logical Harmony Cruelty Free Brand List

Tip 6 for going cruelty-free: It’s not all makeup!

Number 6 on the list is one that I learnt the hard way: Cruelty-free doesn’t just related to beauty products and makeup. Oh no, my friend, this goes way beyond lipsticks.

Things like candles, room sprays, deodorant and cleaning products all might be tested on animals. In fact, a lot of them are.

The main one that I think you need to be aware of is with cleaning products. A lot of them are, sadly, tested on animals to see whether they are safe for humans to ingest (not that you should ever do that, of course), to get on skin and to inhale the fumes of. It’s part of the testing for making sure that the products are safe for use  and it dictates what needs to be put on the label in some cases.

However, just like with cosmetics, the testing isn’t necessary. Why don’t we just stick to the ingredients that we know are safe, you know?

Unfortunately, unlike with cosmetics, there’s no ban on animal testing in the EU for cleaning products. Companies like Glade, Mr Muscle and Febreeze all test on animals.  And, if you are concerned about parent companies, Method and Ecover, who are Cruelty Free International Certified, are owned by S C Johnson who aren’t.

I know, it’s a minefield, isn’t it?

But it’s definitely crucial to remember that animal testing happens on more than just cosmetics. Keep it in mind whilst shopping.

Tip 7 for going cruelty-free: You will make mistakes

The final thing to know before making the transition to being cruelty free is that you will make mistakes.

I know I have! And that I probably will continue too.

Like I said, companies are sneaky and want to profit off your money. Brand will randomly start selling in china and keep it on the downlow. Packaging will trick you into thinking a company is nothing but kind when, in reality, they are nothing but crap to the planet and animals.

We should all do what we can to avoid slip ups but, do ya know what? They’re gonna bloody happen anyway!

When they do, take note of them mentally for the future, but don’t be hard on yourself. Then just use the product up, or if you feel uncomfortable doing that give it to yourself. When it comes to repurchasing, at least you know what to avoid!

It’s all a process. Don’t let it stress you out, just keep trundling on. That’s what I do.

Okay, so those are all of the things that I think you need to remember when it comes to making the transition to cruelty-free living.

The takeaways:

Before you go though, let me recap them one more time for you because I know that was a lot to take in:

  1. China tests on animals
  2. Parent companies are a pain in the arse. Watch out for them!
  3. Only trust official certification, preferably the leaping bunny logo
  4. That Logical Harmony’s cruelty-free brand list is a total life saver
  5. Vegan and cruelty free? Not the same thing!
  6. Being cruelty-free doesn’t just mean makeup and beauty products
  7. You will make mistakes and that is totally okay

Whether you are at the start of your cruelty-free journey, or are further along in, I hope that you enjoyed this episode. Shout out to you for being such a compassionate consumer, you’re doing amazing, sweetie.

If you did enjoy the episode and maybe learnt something new, please do make sure to give Everyday Ethical a review on iTunes. It is a brilliant way to show me some love and to make sure that as many people as possible join our little community.

And talking of community, I would bloody love to hear from you. Share a print screen of you listening to this podcast on your Insta stories with the hashtag #everydayethical so that everyone in our community can find you! Also tag me  – I’m @BethanyPaigeAustin which will also be linked in the show notes.

If you have any questions about ethical or eco living, you’re also more than welcome to slide into my DMs. Let’s chat.

Anyway, I’m off to have a Lush bath now, so I hope you guys have a fab rest of your day and I’ll speak to soon.


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