Published on September 21st, 2015 | by Becky Striepe
How to be Vegan: Choosing Cruelty Free Cosmetics
Going vegan is about more than food. Here’s how (and why!) to find cruelty-free cosmetics.
This is the second installment in our How to be Vegan series here at Green Living Ideas. We are going through some common areas of your life and showing you how to identify and ditch animal products.
Veganism is not a crash diet or cleanse. It’s a lifestyle choice that’s all about protecting animals by avoiding animal products. Eating vegan food is definitely a great first step toward better animal welfare, but vegans also avoid cosmetics, clothing, and household products that contain animal parts. In the coming weeks, I have more installations planned about kicking animal products to the curb, so stay tuned!
Why shop for cruelty free cosmetics?
Before we get to the how, I think it’s important to look at why cruelty free cosmetics are important and what that even means. There are two factors that make a product cruelty-free:
1. It can’t be tested on animals. Animal testing is an incredibly cruel practice. The animals normally are not sedated at all, and they’re subjected to invasive, painful procedures. The worst part? Animal testing doesn’t really tell us a lot about how safe a product is for humans. In fact, it’s so cruel and inaccurate that more and more places are banning the practice.
2. It can’t contain animal ingredients. Some animal ingredients are easy to spot on a cosmetics label: beeswax, goat’s milk, and lanolin, for example. But in the world of cosmetics, things get a bit trickier. PeTA has a very comprehensive list of animal ingredients that you can look at, to get an idea of how extensively we use animals in our cosmetics. Your best bet is to look for products labeled cruelty free or contact your favorite companies and ask them whether they use animal ingredients.
Auditing Your Medicine Cabinet
Now that you know what you’re trying to avoid, it’s time to look at what’s in your medicine cabinet. There are really two schools of thought about this step. Some folks prefer to use up what they have, and buy curelty free cosmetics as they run out of things. If you want to go this route, I totally get it. It’s less wasteful, and the damage is done.
If learning about animal cruelty and cosmetics has put you off using what’s in your cabinet, though, I get that, too. Instead of trashing everything, you can find a place to donate your gently used cosmetics.
Just like when you’re shopping for new cruelty free cosmetics, you want to check each product to see whether it was tested on animals and check the label for animal ingredients. I won’t lie: this is going to take some time. You might need to hit up company websites and google ingredients and company practices to find out what’s going on in that bottle.
Shopping for Cruelty Free Cosmetics
When you need to buy new cosmetics, you’ve got a few options. Whether you’re shopping for soap and shampoo or lipstick and nail polish, there are some good tools available to help you find cruelty free versions of your favorite cosmetics.
One of the easiest ways to shop for cruelty free cosmetics is to look for the Leaping Bunny on labels. Many vegan cosmetics brands have ponied up for this third-party certification. If you see that bunny, you are good. Easy peasy!
While all Leaping Bunny-certified products are cruelty free, not all cruelty free products have this certification. Third-party certifications like this cost money, and not every company can afford to pay. No Leaping Bunny just means that you need to dig a little bit deeper to find out what’s in that bottle and whether the product was animal tested.
You can google the company and see what turns up or reach out directly. Most brands have a contact page, where you can ask questions. The upshot to asking the company directly is that you’re letting them know that cruelty free is important to their customers.
Another easy option is to use your smartphone. Apps like Cruelty-Cutter and Ethical Barcode can tell you quickly whether a product is cruelty free. The apps allow you to use your phone as a barcode scanner, and it tells you on the spot whether you’re holding something that’s animal-friendly. Boom.
Cruelty Free Cosmetics Reviews
If you love keeping up with the latest products, you can still do that through a cruelty free lens. There are lots of good sites that review exclusively cruelty free cosmetics. Vegan Beauty Review is one of my favorites. Chic Vegan is another good place to find cruelty free cosmetics reviews. They’re a more general vegan site, and they do a lot of beauty reviews.
DIY Vegan Cosmetics
You don’t have to be a crafter to make some of your own cosmetics. While some cruelty free cosmetics recipes can be time-consuming, there are lots of simple ones! I have a toddler at home, which means basically zero time to make my own cosmetics. These are the ones that I do make:
+ 2-ingredient homemade deodorant
+ 2-ingredient DIY eye cream – This also works well as a moisturizer for hands and feet.
If you have favorite cruelty free cosmetics recipes that you like to make, please share them in the comments!
Image Credit: bunny image via Shutterstock