Saturday, April 6, 2013

Know Your Bunny

Lush Handmade Cosmetics posts a lot of videos for their customers on YouTube, most of which walk the line between dopey and creepy (a line I'm quite fond of, really).  And this video from the campaign to stop animal testing in the cosmetics industry (in the U.S., it's already been done in the U.K.) is no exception:

Of course, anyone walking into a Lush store will find out very quickly that they do not test their products on animals, at any stage.  But the other day I had a discussion with someone and realized that I may be using brands that do test on animals and am just not aware of it.  My own special combination of ignorance and laziness revealed, I decided to get a little more proactive and go to the source of the leaping bunny, PETA.  Their site has some easy search functions for finding out who is testing, not testing, or transitioning to end testing within their company.  There are also PDFs of the lists for easy sharing and printing, as well as explanations as to how they compile the lists.  While not every brand I looked up was on one of the PETA lists, I did manage to find information on most of their sites to confirm that they do not test on animals.

Urban Decay impressed me the most, being not only listed on the PETA site as cruelty-free, but having a page on their own site dedicated to  their animal testing policy:

Urban Decay is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to ending animal testing. We do not test our finished products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf. Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals. Our practices are certified by both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program (CCIC) as cruelty-free.
NARS is not listed on the PETA site, but their animal testing policy is available on the Customer Care section of their site:

NARS does not test on animals, nor do we have any other parties, such as suppliers, conduct any animal testing on our behalf. NARS uses only the highest quality ingredients which have a proven safety record and are widely used in the cosmetics industry.

Benefit wasn't listed on the PETA site, but their own FAQ answered my question.  However, stating that it is "nearly impossible for any cosmetic company" to guarantee they don't test on animals seems a bit off to me.  I can only assume that the lawyers at their parent company, LVMH, require them to be a bit squirrely about making such big claims.  It makes me respect companies like NARS, Urban Decay and Lush that much more.

Benefit does not test our cosmetic products on animals and we require our raw material suppliers to provide safety information based on scientifically accepted alternative testing methods. It is nearly impossible for any cosmetic company to certify that all new and existing ingredients incorporated into products have never been tested on animals as part of the safety research and certification process. Benefit selects high quality raw materials with well-established safety records and uses an extensive ingredient database. Benefit is committed to maintaining the highest standards of human safety while eliminating the need for testing on animals.

Fresh wasn't listed on the PETA site, and they make no comment about testing on their own site (at least none that I could find), but I did find a blog in which a rep from Fresh responded that they do not test on animals.  Hopefully that's true, but it begs further research.

Dear Kim,
Thank you for your email. You will be happy to know that Fresh uses only natural ingredients and we do not test any of our products on animals, nor do we use animal-tested ingredients.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best Regards,

Melissa Drouin
Web Sales Coordinator
f r e s h Inc.

I was also under the impression that companies like The Body Shop (which is owned by L'Oreal) would not be able to claim they are cruelty-free, as their parent company is not.  The PETA site mentions that turning on those smaller "compassionate" companies is a mistake.  Having rejected animal testing from the beginning is a good thing and will hopefully inspire the larger companies to do the same.

One thing that complicates this argument is that companies that large often do a lot of business with China, a country that requires cosmetics to be tested on animals.  So how do we help those conglomerates choose "principles over profits?"   A simple start is to buy from companies who are not engaging in what is truly an unnecessary process.  And there are plenty of companies who do not test on animals to choose from.

One last note - Years ago I stopped using Gillette products because I knew they tested on animals.  What I failed to do was research other brands thoroughly.  I ended up using Schick, not realizing that Pfizer also tests on animals.  So does Bic.  It's rather frustrating to see that the list of cruelty-free razors is so small, but it does exist.  Another option, which I'm going to be pursuing, is running to your local Whole Foods for a Preserve razor (they also sell toothbrushes, for those of you on the hunt for a cruelty-free option).  Preserve sells a variety of items, all made with plastic from recycled yogurt cups.  Now you can reduce, reuse, recycle and know that no bunnies were harmed in the making of your beauty routine.

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