A Guide to Vegan & Cruelty Free Beauty Products

Cruelty free and vegan cosmetics are a difficult issue; take a peek in the average Australian bathrooms and what do you find? Colgate toothpaste, Gillette razors, Garnier shampoo, Dove showergel, and little awareness from the consumers buying them that they’re supporting the horrors of animal testing. While Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Colgate/Palmolive continue to test on animals, it’s not hard to see why our supermarket shelves, and homes, are teeming with unethical products.

The most difficult part about trying to fully adopt a vegan lifestyle and buying ethical cosmetics, is that there are so many loopholes in companies being able to call their products ‘cruelty-free’. Some examples include:

1. Cruelty free ‘products’ vs ‘ingredients’

While companies can state that their product is not tested on animals, the ingredients of the product still may be. In addition to this, while saying that they don’t test, in reality they’re often hiring a third parties to do the deed for them. Read those company statements carefully – they’re often carefully worded and misleading for a reason.

2. Parent companies

It’s often the case that the profit from a ‘cruelty free’ product is going to a larger parent organisation that does test on animals. A prime example of this is The Body Shop. While their products are still technically cruelty free, by buying them you’re supporting one of the worst offenders in testing- L’Oréal.

3. Selling to countries that mandate testing

The Chinese government demand that any cosmetics sold there must have the ingredients tested on animals. So while a company in Australia will tell you the products they’re selling you over the Myer counter are cruelty free, they could be testing elsewhere. Sadly products such as MAC and Dermalogica are now entering the Chinese market, scratching them off the list of ethical companies. There have been some changes to their laws recently, but the changes still don’t make these products cruelty-free.

Is animal testing necessary?

The obvious answer is no; many countries have banned animal testing, most recently the EU and New Zealand and according to Choose Cruelty Free, animal testing is not designed to protect consumers, but to protect companies against being sued by them.

How to find vegan beauty products

While there is no one, quick way to discover if a product is cruelty-free and vegan, we recommend the Choose Cruelty Free website and the Shop Ethical! phone app, (although please note, the app highlights animal testing but not animal derived products, so please check labels). There’s also a few Facebook groups for questions about beauty products that are vegan, such as Vegan Beauty Australia and New Zealand.

For more information on animal testing, see the Animals Australia website and sign the petition to ban the sale of animal-tested products in Australia.

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