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A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty Products

A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty Products

Educating yourself to fully understand vegan and cruelty-free is imperative when choosing what products you want to spend your hard earned money on. Whilst most of us don’t like to see animals have pain inflicted on them, many of us don’t actually know the truth and the facts behind brand’s logos and labels. Today I will walk you through all you need to know in regards to choosing more kinder and ethical  products.

So, what does “Cruelty-Free” actually mean?

The definition of cruelty-free is no testing on animals, however what it means to you and what it means to a company can unfortunately be two very different things. Surprisingly, there is no legal definition to cruelty-free which means it is left up to the company to make a decision on the meaning. It’s not enough to trust that the brand is 100% cruelty-free even if they’ve stated it on their label. In todays modern consumer world where companies choose profits over ethical choices, many of them will gloss over the truth in hope that the consumer will choose to not dig deeper into the companies claims.

The main issues with companies stating they don’t use animal testing on their product is

  1. They often buy raw ingredients that have been previously tested on animals
  2. They sell their products to companies and countries that will do independent testing on their products
  3. They pay 3rd party companies to do animal tests on their products – therefore because the company itself isn’t doing the animal testing they get clever with wordplay saying “they don’t test on animals”

To ensure you are supporting 100% cruelty free it is crucial to look for certified logos. It is not enough for a company to claim that they are cruelty free, instead they must be held accountable for their claims and that is where the certified labels come into play.

So what does “Vegan” mean?

For a product to be vegan it must not contain any animal product or by-product in any of the processing of the final product. Many consumers assume that just because a product states that it is vegan that it will also be cruelty free. This is not always the case. The word “vegan” is a hot marketing tool today, so many companies will slap it on their products if they don’t contain any animal products in the final product. However, what they fail to mention is that they may have used animal-derived substances in processing the product (even if they don’t appear in the final product). To ensure you are supporting vegan alway opt for the certified vegan logos as shown below. If your favourite brand or product does not contain the logo then do a little detective work as unfortunately by reading the label only, you can’t guarantee the cruelty-free and history of the brand. As a conscious consumer you will have to look a little deeper into the product, jump online and understand what their meaning of vegan is or alternatively if you’re really keen to know more, email the organisation.

What does “No Animal Ingredients” mean?

For a product to be truly animal ingredient free it must not contain any animal ingredients or derivatives in any of the processing of the final product. Essentially it is a vegan product. So why is it not labelled vegan? The reason for this is that it is up to companies what they consider “animal ingredients”, ingredients that do not involve the actual slaughter of animals like honey, beeswax, lanolin, milk, yoghurt and whey are sometimes not considered to be animal ingredients. To ensure your products are animal free look for  the certified vegan logo on your products.

What about “100% Vegetarian”?

A vegetarian product does not contain animal ingredients or other ingredients resulting from animal slaughter however will often contain animal by-products (milk, honey, beeswax, whey, shellac). However, often companies get away with using non-vegetarian animal ingredients in the manufacturing process (even if they don’t appear in the final product). Personally I would avoid all vegetarian products and stick with certified vegan and cruelty free. However, if you want to still purchase cruelty free vegetarian products then ensure you look for Choose Cruelty Free Bunny Logo as they are certified true vegetarian.

 

Below are the certified logos that appear on labels and packaging that have been investigated and proven cruelty-free.

A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty Products

ACCREDITATION WITH CHOOSE CRUELTY FREE [CCF]

***Here at Botanical Trader we are accredited with CCF

 

MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

  • None of the companies products or raw ingredients used to make the product have ever been tested on animals.
  • Verified by CHOOSE CRUELTY FREE [CCF]
  • Must not contain any ingredients derived specifically from killing an animal or provided as a by-product from killed animals. CCF will not accredit a manufacturer if any of its products contain any ingredients:
  • Derived from an animal killed specifically for the extraction of that ingredient;
  • Forcibly extracted from a live animal in a manner that occasioned pain or discomfort;
  • Derived from any wildlife;
  • That are by-products of the fur industry; or
  • That are slaughterhouse by-products
  • CCF will not accredit companies unless all parent and subsidiaries companies are also accredited
  • Requires companies to sign a legally binding contract stating that no animal testing is conducted during any stage of production
  • The manufacturer of products and all related corporations (if any) must satisfy one of the following criteria:
  • The never tested rule
    None of its products and none of its product ingredients have ever been tested on animals by it, by anyone on its behalf, by its suppliers or anyone on their behalf.
  • The five year (or +) rolling rule
    None of its products and none of its product ingredients have been tested on animals by it, by anyone on its behalf, by its suppliers or anyone on their behalf at any time within a period of five years immediately preceding the date of application for accreditation.
  • Does not accredit companies that sell their products to countries that will test their product on animals – for example China

THE CONCERNS

Limitations to types of animal ingredients used but some vegetarian products can still be certified – therefore not necessarily vegan.

No physical audit of company by CCF, however company must sign a legally-binding contract to the effect that what they have said in their application is the truth about their practices.

No regular audit system is in place, however verified companies with CCF are required to undergo regular re-accreditation to ensure that they continue to meet the CCF Accreditation Criteria.

A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty ProductsACCREDITATION WITH THE LEAPING BUNNY

MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

  • The company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct or commission animal testing of their products
  • requires companies and their ingredient suppliers to legally sign and commit to the Leaping Bunny standards
  • Verified by THE LEAPING BUNNY
  • companies agree to be audited once every three years by an independent assessor, or, in the case of smaller companies, a “spot-check,” commissioned by the CCIC and performed by an accredited auditor
  • Does not accredit companies that sell their products to countries that will test their product on animals – for example China

THE CONCERNS

Leaping Bunny does certify brands that are owned by a parent company that tests on animals however they ensure that these brands “must promise to operate as stand-alone subsidiaries with their own supply chains and must continue to meet the requirements of the Leaping Bunny Standard in order to remain accredited.

Not always a vegan product


A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty ProductsACCREDITATION WITH PETA CRUELTY-FREE

MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

  • Companies and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and do not contain any animal ingredients. However, compared to the other two cruelty free brands PETA is a little more relaxed on the application process. At the end of the day we have to trust the companies word – and at times this may be misused by companies
  • Verified by PETA CRUELTY-FREE
  • Requires companies to complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance
  • Companies pay to use and license the cruelty-free and vegan bunny logo

THE CONCERNS

No testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements

Brands that are certified cruelty-free by PETA are allowed to state in their animal testing policy that they do not test on animals, except when required by law. Therefore PETA does not ban these companies from selling to countries that still test products on animals e.g China

Does not have to be a vegan product [however PETA do have a cruelty free + vegan symbol they put on products that have been assessed as vegan – so to be 100% certain of vegan look for the vegan wording on the symbol]

PETA claims their cruelty-free standards ensure suppliers of certified companies do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finish products. However on their application applicants only have to state an agreement exist with their suppliers that no animal testing is performed. However PETA does not require any proof of written statements, agreement, contract, or signed documents with their suppliers in order to be certified cruelty-free.

Suzi from Cruelty Free Kitty actually caught this discrepancy where a PETA certified brand blatantly told her that they cannot confirm that none of their suppliers test on animals.

A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty ProductsACCREDITATION WITH VEGAN SOCIETY

 MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

  • The product is vegan, defined as containing no animal ingredients or by-products.
  • Products must not have involved animal testing of ingredients or finished products by the supplier, producer, manufacturer, or independent party and may not be tested in the future.
  • Verified by THE VEGAN SOCIETY
  • Products may not contain any animal-derived GMO’s or animal-derived genes used to manufacture ingredients or finished product.
  • companies provide signed written statements by the manufacturer with documents proving they meet the criteria
  • companies pay to use and license the certified vegan logo on a given product

MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

No testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements

A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty ProductsACCREDITATION WITH VEGAN AWARENESS FOUNDATION

MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

  • The product is vegan, defined as containing no animal ingredients or by-products.
  • Products must not have involved animal testing of ingredients or finished products by the supplier, producer, manufacturer, or independent party and may not be tested in the future.
  • Verified by VEGAN AWARENESS FOUNDATION
  • Products may not contain any animal-derived GMO’s or animal-derived genes used to manufacture ingredients or finished product.
  • companies provide signed written statements by the manufacturer with documents proving they meet the criteria
  • companies pay to use and license the certified vegan logo on a given product

MEANING BEHIND THE CERTIFICATION

No testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements

Certify companies owned by parent companies and multinational corporations that are not vegan or cruelty -free

 

A Complete Guide To Choosing Vegan + Cruelty-Free Beauty ProductsNON-ACCREDITATIONS

Keep your eyes peeled for labels that claim cruelty-free and vegan however are not actually certified. They may have their own logo which doesn’t represent anything and has zero meaning. Reasons why to avoid non-accredited labels:

  • Virtually anyone can legally label their products “vegan” or “cruelty free”
  • May or may not use animal-derived substances in processing the product (even if they don’t appear in the final product)
  • May use suppliers that conduct animal testing on raw ingredient
  • Companies may commission animal testing of their products to a third party
  • No label standards and no organization verifies the use of this claim

 

What’s the deal with China?

In case you don’t already know, China requires mandatory animal testing on all their products. Why? Well, China has had a pretty rotten reputation over the years for selling poor quality products and their solution? Testing on animals! Their logic was and still is, to avoid backlash over products that claim to do things that they don’t or in some instances cause unaware side effects. Imagine being the animal? What if the product burns or has some pretty horrendous side effects? Nope, that’s no good for a human face … thanks to the pain of an animal.

Due to China’s strict guidelines, companies have found a loophole where they pay other companies to perform the animal testing on their behalf. That way, they can claim and remain to be seen as a cruelty-free business.

The rule applies to all imported cosmetics and beauty products. However with a shimmer of light, China have now waived animal testing on domestically produced non-special-use cosmetics, like nail care and perfume. Whilst they still have a long way to go, fortunately the demand for cruelty-free products is increasing and China is feeling the pressure.

With some more good news, China is moving towards alternatives to animal testing. Not-for-profit organisations and cosmetics companies are training Chinese scientists to substitute current methods of animal testing. New technologies may also accelerate a cruelty-free methodology. {source}

 

Does cruelty-free apply to cosmetics and beauty products only?

Absolutely not and I’m glad you asked!

Cruelty-free doesn’t just stop at cosmetics and beauty products. Clothing, household items and of course, food, (amazing food!) can all be ethically shopped and cruelty-free.

The Cruelty Free Shop is a fantastic choice when completing your shopping list; if you live in a capital city you can order online or visit locally.

If you don’t have access to a shop that enables you to shop vegan and 100% cruelty-free, there are other options to shop.  Mainstream supermarkets, such as Coles and Woolworths are now stocking a healthy vegan selection. Amongst the range are trusted vegan brands that can be used as an alternative to meat products. Dairy; including cheese, yoghurt, butter and milk are also being substituted for dairy-free options. It’s an amazing time to become vegan!

Remember to always read your labels carefully for its ingredients. Products may claim to be vegan, however may still have traces of milk, for example. Another thing to watch out for is added Palm Oil, whilst it’s not an animal product, it harms the natural habitat of orangutans.

When it comes to clothing and footwear and your goal is cruelty-free, research you brand’s range. The most obvious offender is leather. Whilst some companies claim that they only use the waste derived from an animal for their leather products, it’s still not ok (to me, anyway). By purchasing a leather product you’re benefiting from a deceased animal and supporting the trade.

Brands also claim that they produce ethical wool. I’m also sorry to say, for the winter months ahead, you’ll need to find an alternative. Sheep are often stressed, cut and hurt whilst their coats are being shorn. It’s never ethical and it’s not ok. The only exception in my opinion is there are a few sheep rescue farms that sell small-batch hand woven wool.

Get to know your brands and become familiar with them. You may be seeing brands such as Doc Martins and Birkenstock creating vegan footwear. These companies are identifying the need in the market and making positive changes to the industry. Buying vegan increases the demand and eventually starts eliminating the harm we cause to animals in the process. It’s a win for veganism!

Why do we need to stand up for cruelty-free and vegan?

By putting pressure on the big companies to commit to accredited and certified cruelty-free we’re standing up for the rights of millions of animals. Each year more than 100 million animals are tested on in the US alone. Yep, not a typo, 100 million little lives are taken for granted and put through a living hell. Testing on animals is a barbaric, out-dated practice that causes torture, continuous suffering and pain for laboratory animals. Why shouldn’t we speak up and make people accountable?

We recently did an experiment. We had noticed that a brand claimed ‘100% cruelty-free’ on their packaging label, so we decided to ask them (over Instagram), if they’re in fact certified cruelty-free. They did indeed confirm they were 100% cruelty-free, however after pushing a little deeper they’re not actually certified. Their labelling is purely based on their word alone.

By taking accountability and ownership of what we buy when it comes to our own personal cosmetics, beauty products, clothing, household items to food we are contributing to real change for a positive future for millions of innocent animals. If we’re unsure about a label and what it says, speak up and email the company directly.

Never make an excuse for a company when they tell you they only test on animals when it is required by law. What this really means, is they care far too much about making money than the welfare of animals. Look for more ethical and transparent companies, there are new ones popping up everyday.

To make shopping a little less overwhelming?

I know it can be hard to take in all this information and quite overwhelming to know where to start. I suggest by keeping yourself organised and up-to-date will support your journey in a cruelty-free and/or vegan lifestyle. Get involved in vegan and cruelty free online groups. Dedicate a few hours each week to read up and stay informed on the current issues. And to make decisions easy for you download yourself an app for your phone, so that you have the information readily available at your fingertips.

3 popular choices:

  1. Cruelty Free by Leaping Bunny
    It’s free and allows you to instantly scan the product’s barcode which recognises if the brand is certified. However, it doesn’t allow you to filter brands that offer vegan.The Cruelty-Free app is very straight-forward to use and it’s available for FREE on both Androids and iPhones.
  2. Bunny Free by PETA
    This app has three searchable, handy, features, 1) type the company’s name into the search box, 2) scan the product, 3) browse their a-z list. It supplies you with the contact details of the companies – which is an added bonus. Unlike Cruelty Free by Leaping Bunny, it tells you which organisations are not cruelty-free, so that you can avoid them easily. You are also able to filter in a vegan option. The app is FREE and is available for both Androids and iPhones. Bunny Free uses data from PETA’s cruelty-free shopping guide.
  3. Cruelty – Cutter by the Beagle Freedom Project
    This app combines all of the features of the previous apps and a few more; it will produce a cruelty-free directory list by category like nail care, dish detergent, self-tanners, and more. IT provides company information like direct link to their website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts and keeps a log of your ‘History’ of all the products you’ve scanned. You can then add that product to your list of ‘Favourites’. Once you’ve done that, you have the ability to share your results with friends on social media! Get people talking. Cruelty-Cutter is available to download for a donation of $2.99 to the Beagle Freedom Project and available for iPhone and Android users.

 

Last, but not least …

Support local. If you buy a product that is local and certified cruelty-free, you’re supporting the people that really care about keeping animals safe without harm.  Don’t bury your head in the sand with the attitude ‘if I don’t truly know what is happening, it doesn’t count’. Don’t ever underestimate the part you play in protecting the lives of animals. If we were to all make the necessary ethical choices in what we buy, we would eradicate animal testing and cruelty for good.

With the use of technology, including social media, we’re able to stay up with up-to-date with valuable information that gives us the power for a positive change for the future. We have to be the voice for tortured animals, their livelihood depends on us.

Animal testing is a matter that is, in essence, beyond our control unless we are actively involved in the field of research. However, there are a few things we can do to raise the awareness and gain more and more public support. The more support we get behind ‘banning animal testing’ the greater the chance it will be banned forever:

Knowledge is power: Learn about the ins and outs of animal testing and how majority of the big brands still use animal testing today. Click here

Use your voice to speak up about the issues: At an individual level, it’s important that you advocate animal rights and educate those around you. We all have a circle of influence, use yours to help raise awareness for this barbaric practice. It truly is a privilege to have freedom of speech, rise strong, and use your voice to speak up for those that can’t.

Vote with your dollars: It’s equally important to consume consciously and make sure you do not use any commercial products that are a result of animal testing. You can find out which of your favourite products are cruelty-free by searching PETA US’ online database of companies that do and that don’t test on animals. You can see which charities conduct humane research at HumaneSeal.org

Raise your opinion, suggestions and concerns with decision-makers: Educate yourself about the ethical and scientific aspects of animal use in research and teaching, and then ensure you let our elected leaders and decision makers know of your views. For further information on these issues visit Humane Research Australia.  Talk to them about enhancing protection laws for animals involved in research.

Make a stand at school and university: If you study at a university you should contact the administrative council and suggest less primitive and more productive teaching methods than experimenting on animals. Visit Interniche — a great organisation dedicated to the adoption of humane education techniques, and including some great resources.

Donate kindly: When donating to a charity, ensure it is not one that supports the use of animals in research. See the list of charities which have adopted a ‘no animal testing’ policy.

Donate your body to science: A lesser-known way to support the replacement of animals in experimentation is through posthumous body donation. Here are two charities dedicated to providing valuable human bodies, organs, and tissues to medical researchers and students.

Choose to live a more compassionate life: Everyday you have the opportunity to change the world by what you buy and what you choose to talk about with family and friends. The animals need our voice and action more than ever, read our complete guide on how to make more compassionate choices for our animal friends

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