The ultimate guide to cruelty free cosmetics

20 December 2018

Cruelty free cosmetics are currently very much in the public consciousness, with more people choosing to spend their money on products that haven’t been tested on animals.

Research suggests that at least 115 million animals may be used in experiments every year, so it’s no surprise that consumers are leaning towards cruelty free cosmetics. Making the change can be daunting, so we’ve put together a handy guide telling you everything you need to know.

What does ‘cruelty free’ mean?

It’s pretty much what it says on the tin – a product that has been developed by methods which don’t involve cruelty to animals.

Animal testing has been banned in the EU since 2013, so any beauty product bought in Britain is, by definition, cruelty free.

Unfortunately though, it’s not as simple as saying that all products sold in Britain are totally cruelty free. Many major brands are sold worldwide, and different countries have different laws about animal testing. For example, animal testing remains legal in America and Australia. So if you buy a brand that don’t test on animals under EU regulation, the chances are that they still might test on animals to sell their products in another part of the world.

A big hurdle for beauty brands is selling their products in China, where animal testing is required by law. Many brands are cruelty free, but if they sell to China, they’re required by law to test on animals.

Are cruelty free and vegan the same thing?

No, ‘cruelty free’ applies to products that aren’t tested on animals. A ‘vegan’ product doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients. So a product can be cruelty free but not vegan, and visa-versa.

How to check if a product is cruelty free

There’s a lot more to being cruelty free than a line on a bottle saying ‘this product has not been tested on animals.’ Even if there’s a picture of a rabbit on the product, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product hasn’t been tested on animals somewhere in the world.

But there’s one symbol that is internationally recognised for cruelty free products – the Leaping Bunny. Companies that display this symbol on their products guarantee that no animal testing was used in the development of the product.

The Leaping Bunny have a database of all the products which display their symbol, so it’s a good place to check if a product has been tested on animals.

Are cruelty free products more expensive?

It’s just like any beauty product – if you go for a higher end brand, they’ll be pricey. But there are also plenty of great quality budget options out there – you just have to know where to look.

Here’s a list of our favourite places to shop cruelty free on a budget:

Superdrug

Imagine shopping somewhere and not even having to check the label to know that it’s cruelty free. That’s what it’s like to shop at Superdrug. All of their own brand products are completely cruelty free – from make up to shampoo, skin care to body wash.

Lush

Lush have been fighting against animal testing for a long time – and have launched several striking campaigns to raise awareness of animal testing, and raise money for animal charities. They sell a huge range of cosmetics and packaging free toiletries, so it’s a good place to stock up.

Barry M

They’re well known for their amazing nail varnishes that come in every colour of the rainbow – but did you know that Barry M make up is also cruelty free? They’ve pledged to not sell their products in China, where they would have to be tested on animals by law. Plus, lots of their products are also vegan.

Soap & Glory

Soap & Glory have a huge range of products, from skincare to make up, bath and shower products and moisturisers. You can get hold of most of their products on the high street.

The Body Shop

Another brand that are passionate about fighting animal testing are The Body Shop. They sell all sorts of cosmetics as well, so are a great place to pick up supplies on the high street.  

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer are another high street store with a great range of cruelty free products. They do stock some other brands that aren’t cruelty free, so be sure to double check the label on anything you choose.

Waitrose

Waitrose is a good place to stock up on cruelty free products while you’re doing your supermarket shopping – as a supermarket they do stock products that have been tested on animals, so again, keep an eye on the labels, but you’ll find the Leaping Bunny symbol on their own brand products.

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