Cruelty-Free Beauty: What you need to know

In March 2013, the European Commission announced a new law had been passed that banned testing cosmetics on animals in any EU nation. Everyone assumed the war was over. Finally we wouldn’t be faced with the moral guilt of knowing our favourite lipsticks may have been experimented on innocent critters that were tortured with rashes, chemical burns and often died in the process.

However, over the past two years a number of loopholes have become apparent and it seems there is still a long way to go to ensure cosmetics are tested in a completely ethical manner.

In many ways, the EU ban was a blessing. Not only did it prohibit testing a finished cosmetic product on animals, but it also banned marketing of these products in the EU. This means: if the cosmetic testing was done outside of Europe companies would still not be able to sell in EU nations.

But organisations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have brought attention to areas that must be improved on both inside and outside of the EU, if we want to protect animals to the best of our ability.

Julia Baines, Science Policy Advisor at PETA UK, said: “Individual ingredients used in cosmetics may still be tested on animals in the EU under Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation, the world’s largest chemical testing programme.

“The European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the agency responsible for administering REACH, has stated that it will permit tests on animals for chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics where there is a possibility of workforce exposure during manufacturing processes.

“This means that experimenters may inject guinea pigs with lipstick ingredients to check for painful skin reactions; rats can be force-fed shampoo ingredients for weeks or months, causing sickness, convulsions, weight loss and death; and pregnant rabbits may be dosed with face cream ingredients to see whether their newborns will be deformed. We believe this violates the EU Cosmetics Regulation and we are challenging it.”

In addition to this, there seem to be a problem with companies who create their cosmetics outside of the EU. Some cosmetics companies are still choosing to test cosmetics on animals outside of the banned areas and then sell the cosmetics on to a different market, such as China.

Despite this, there are some beauty brands who pride themselves on being 100% cruelty free that are readily available in the EU. One of the most popular is LUSH Cosmetics – a brand that was set up in 1995 and now owns more than 800 stores in over 50 countries worldwide.

Those who lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle place great importance on ensuring their beauty products are totally cruelty free.

We asked Jo, store manager of the Sunderland branch (watch video above), to give us some more information about LUSH and their cruelty-free manifesto.

However, there is a wealth of “CF Bloggers” who have taken the internet by storm with their advice on how to stay healthy and lead a completely cruelty-free lifestyle.

Kelly Palmer, a cruelty-free blogger at The Vegan Taff, spends her leisure writing about all aspects of living a vegan and animal-friendly lifestyle.

“When I decided to start a blog, there was never a question of whether that would reflect my way of life or not. For it to be a true reflection of me, (which is what I think most blogs should be about) it had to be cruelty-free.

“I simply love finding 100% cruelty-free products and services and am always excited to share my opinions and research with my readers. I’m not a fan of putting labels on people, but the one that I’m always happy to wear is ‘vegan’. It is the most important part of who I am, and that will always shine through on my social media and blog.

“If I manage to help just one person think about switching to living a more ethical lifestyle all of the hard work will have been worth it. To be a part of saving any number of animals is great, that’s why cruelty-free bloggers do what we do.”

With the help of bloggers, charities and cruelty-free brands, one day we may live in a world where no animals will ever be harmed in the production of cosmetics.

If you are interested in finding out which brands do and don’t market 100% cruelty free products, check PETA US’ comprehensive list here.

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