If talking about animal cruelty isn’t something you’re too keen on, I’d advise you to stop reading. I’m a little bit nervous about this post, but I think it’s an important one because as a most-of-the-time vegetarian (I’ll explain this soon) and a believer in organic, cruelty-free, sustainably-produced fare, buying cosmetics can sometimes be a bit of a moral battleground for me.
For the most part, I try to purchase products that are cruelty-free (vegan Bdellium brushes, Sukin and Dr Bronner’s skincare), but there is a definite grey area in the cosmetics world when it comes to parent companies and animal testing. I’m going to punctuate this post with pictures of the cruelty-free brands I know and love.
To start with, I’ll explain what I mean by “most-of-the-time vegetarian.” (Deep breath): I am against eating meat, especially factory-farmed meat, and believe that it is much better for everyone to avoid animal products altogether.
I think the planet would be much better off if we didn’t farm and kill animals for their flesh – at the animal welfare level, at the human health level, at the environmental level, and on all other levels (this article is getting next level Serious already).
I’m not here to debate this and I’m not going to lecture anyone about it (you guys are grown ups and can make your own decisions, I’m sure!) but this is what I believe. For more information, Forks Over Knives and Eating Animals are pretty good pedestrian introductions to these ideas.
Because I believe these things, I avoid buying meat, eat less dairy/eggs, and try to buy cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare. Nearly everyone I know eats meat like cavemen, so this can make it difficult at mealtimes but I’ve converted my boyfriend’s family (who I live with) to free-range chicken and eggs. We’re still working on the pork. If someone cooks a beautiful meal and I’m a guest in their home I will eat meat. 6 days out of 7, however, I’m a vego.
Now let’s get to the crux of this debate: buying cruelty-free is hard because most of the cosmetics I know and love are made by brands owned by parent companies that have questionable animal cruelty policies. Let’s take a look:
- Bobbi Brown, Clinique, MAC, Smashbox, Tom Ford (owned by Estee Lauder)
- Bare Escentuals, NARS (owned by Shiseido)
- L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Maybelline, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, YSL (owned by L’Oreal)
- Etude Hosue, Innisfree, Sulwhasoo, Laneige (owned by Amorepacific)
If it’s a brand you love and you can get it in a department store, in Farmers or Kmart, chances are it’s owned by one of these companies. For a list of companies that don’t test, see here. While most of these companies do not directly test their products on animals, some of the ingredients used in their products are, or have been tested on animals.
This is where the moral grey area comes in for me. I love MAC (who was cruelty-free until recently). I love my Maybelline mascara. I love my Estee Lauder Doublewear. Unfortunately, all of these brands are owned by a parent company that does not guarantee that the ingredients used in their brands’ products are cruelty-free.
Part of the reason that these companies aren’t cruelty free is probably because most of these brands are for sale in China, and in order to be sold in China, it is mandatory for cosmetics to be tested on animals. The plot thickens. The grey area becomes greyer.
I think you are beginning to see my issue: I don’t support animal cruelty. Most of the cosmetic products I use on a daily basis aren’t tested on animals directly. Nonetheless, an animal had to suffer so that some of the ingredients could be used in the products I buy. As a beauty blogger and makeup artist in training, I find myself left heartbroken and confused.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this one – I know it’s a very difficult topic and I hope I haven’t offended anyone in writing it. I’m sorry to anyone I have offended in writing this.
Do you have any cruelty-free dupes or favourites? Any indie cosmetic brands that you really like? Let me know in the comments!