“Not tested on animals.”

You might have read it on the backside of a label or product. You might have been even heard a company say that they never and will not test on animals. You might even have purchased a product from those companies and find out that it was never genuinely cruelty-free.

We might have been aware of the fact that the beauty industry has used animal testing for years. Even though many brands have decided to support and follow cruelty-free testing methods, this practice still occurs.

So, what is the reason? Why are there still so many brands and industries that practice this way? Those brands need to consider the regulations in China to enter their products into the Chinese market. 

Many big beauty brands claim that they never test on animals, but their products might be subject to animal testing requirements in other countries, especially in China. China requires animal testing methods on all imported beauty products, no matter what their product is. To expand its business into China, a company must comply with the animal testing rule. For example, NARS was a cruelty-free brand before the company said it would make its product available in China. 

In the United States, animal testing is not mandatory but not banned either. Beauty products do not need premarket approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and federal law does not require those products to be tested on animals to test their safety. 

The FDA website states that they advise cosmetics manufacturers to use whatever testing is suitable and adequate for proving the safety of their products. 

Also, just because something is labeled cruelty-free, it does not mean that it is entirely cruelty-free. The FDA declares that the use of terms such as ‘not tested on animals’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are not regulated; therefore, it may not be correct. 

In other words, not all the ingredients used to manufacture such a product may be cruelty-free. Also, there are some loopholes that companies can take. Some companies that label their products as cruelty-free may even rely on their suppliers to perform animal testing instead of them (as in the company) to ensure an ingredient is safe. Brands can seemingly interpret those terms in their own way, as there are no legal definitions for them.

Perry Romanowski, the author of Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry, said “There are no cruelty-free companies because they use ingredients derived from farming, whose practices kill rats, mice, and insects during the planting and harvesting processes.”

The pharmaceutical industry provides ingredients as well, which might be used by some brands. Therefore, it is hard to track them down since they do not have the same rules against animal testing.  

Even though it is true that some of the biggest international beauty brands still comply with China’s animal testing rules, some also say that they fund initiatives that support ethical alternatives to such testing. Additionally, some are trying to work with the Chinese government to change the requirements needed regarding animal testing.

According to the website, LÓréal, which owns Kiehl’s and IT Cosmetics, has invested over $1 billion in the past 25 years to help develop cruelty-free testing methods. Meanwhile, Estée Lauder, which owns MAC, Bobbi Brown, and Clinique, works with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, a non-profit research lab in the United States, to improve non-animal testing methods. 

So, how do you make sure that your favorite beauty brands are genuinely cruelty-free?

One way to find out if you have the products right in front of you is by searching for a certified cruelty-free bunny logo on the back of the product packaging. You need to make sure there is one of the three official cruelty-free bunny logos (Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty-Free, and PETA). It is essential to know that not all bunny logos are created equal. 




However, companies must pay to use and license a certified bunny logo, meaning that a company can meet all the criteria to be certified as cruelty-free, but does not have the money to afford the licensing fee. Also, due to limited space on the packaging, some companies may decide not to advertise and use the certified bunny logo. 

Thus, another way to find out is by looking it up at an online cruelty-free database. Unlike the bunny logo, a company does not have to pay a fee to be listed. Still, cruelty-free certifications have different standards. So finding an organization that you are suitable for is essential. It is entirely normal to see that each cruelty-free list has different beauty brands from one another. 

There are lots of resources and ways to know if a beauty brand is truly cruelty-free. With so many choices, it makes being cruelty-free easier as long as you have the determination. So the next time you tried to use a new beauty product, try to use the methods explained in this article to make better choices every day.

Words by: Victoria Liv
Picture credits: Global Cosmetics News, Cruelty-Free Soul
Sources: HuffPost, Ethical Elephant