As a concerned consumer it’s necessary to study the product labels and confirm that nothing was made in China. China law requires that all products sold in China have to be tested on animals. “In the U.S., tests on animals are permitted, but not required, for cosmetics,” says Nordstrom.To further complicate an already tricky labeling debate, if a product is selling in China like many of the larger cosmetic brands, you will know that your product has been tested on animals. People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA),The Humane Society of the United States ,(HSUS) and the National Anti-Vivisection Society, (NAVS) all have an updated list of cruelty-free products. An easy way to spot these products is to look for the Leaping Bunny logo. For more information please visit: navs.org/cruelty-free
Over the years consumers have gradually migrated towards cruelty-free cosmetics. We’re starting to see a more humane approach to buying cosmetics. Peggy Cunniff, Executive Director of the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) explains that “at first glance, it seems like an easy choice: buy only cruelty-free cosmetics. But this issue is complex and nuanced. Does it automatically make the companies who continue to rely on toxicity testing using animals the “bad guys”? It’s complicated, and your readers deserve the whole story. Some of these companies are responsible for investing millions of dollars in in the development of sophisticated alternative methods that are replacing the use of animals in cosmetics testing and are now being used in other industries.
At the same time, however, they may be developing new products with new or reformulated ingredients or have expansive product lines that include more than cosmetics. These non-cosmetic products may be required to produce safety assurances from traditional animal testing by regulatory agencies. And companies that manufacture or market their products overseas may be required to submit them to animal testing. But smart corporations recognize that people prefer cruelty-free products and have responded to consumer pressure with a significant effort in the development, validation and implementation of innovative alternative methods that are replacing animal testing. These companies recognize that animal tests are costly, time-consuming and at risk of producing misleading results due to important differences between the animal test subjects and humans.”
“The Leaping Bunny is a certification program for personal care and household product companies. It is supported by a coalition of animal advocacy organizations, including NAVS, to provide consumers with information that confirms whether a company is cruelty-free,” explains Peggy Cunniff, Executive Director of the National Anti-Vivisection Society.(NAVS) For more information visit : navs.org/cruelty-free or leapingbunny.org/about.php. You can also contact the company and ask them a few questions such as if they are owned by a parent brand.
All consumers need to become more aware of which products they use on themselves. “Look at your products and see if the brands are listed on the Leaping Bunny. We need to pay attention to the label. For example if you see “not tested on animals” it doesn’t mean that it’s cruelty-free. It might just mean that the company didn’t test the finished product but they might have tested the ingredients. Not all companies licensed the Leaping Bunny logo, so really the best way to know if your products are cruelty-free is to look at the Leaping Bunny list,” explains Pascaline Clerc, PhD, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Animal Research Issues.
We should also turn our attention to what happens to animals that are victims of cosmetic testing. Clerc explains the testing process which was instituted in the 1940s in response to serious injuries suffered by people who were exposed to unsafe beauty products. “ In the Draize eye and skin irritancy tests, chemicals are dropped into the eyes or rubbed into the abraded skin of animals, usually immobilized rabbits. The level of toxicity is determined by how serious the eye or skin have been damaged. In the LD50 tests, animals are forced to eat or inhale various concentrations of a substance to determine how much it takes to kill half of the animals.( hence the name LD50, which stands for lethal dose in 50% of the animals.) While refinements and efforts to reduce the number of animals used in these experiments have been instituted over the years, the suffering of animals and inadequacies of these test methods remain.” Cunniff also adds that today there are many innovative in vitro tests (tests that are conducted without the need for a living organism) for eye irritation, skin irritation, skin sensitization, genetic toxicity, and photo toxicity that have replaced the primitive Draize and LD50 tests and are not only more humane, but are better methods for determining product safety.
To most people, the term “cruelty-free” refers to cosmetics and products that have not been tested on animals. “The European Union, India, Israel and Norway have passed laws banning the testing of cosmetics on all animals. Sao Paolo, Brazil also passed a ban and South Korea has announced that they will be phasing out animal testing of all cosmetics over the next few years. Australia, New Zealand and Brazil also considered the passage of animal testing bans for cosmetics, but the measures did not pass. In the United States, California and New Jersey have bans in place for testing cosmetics on animals, but that does not affect the sale of cosmetics from other states. The U.S. Congress also considered, but did not pass, the Humane Cosmetics Act last year.The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) is supporting its reintroduction in 2015,” adds Cunniff.
“Though we’ve made huge progress on ending cosmetic tests on animals, hundreds of thousands of animals every year around the world are still being poisoned and killed in outdated tests on everything from deodorant to window cleaner. These animals spent their lives in small cages, live in constant fear and suffer through painful experiments without anesthesia. Rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits are forced to swallow or inhale massive quantities of test substances or endure the pain of having chemicals applied to their sensitive eyes and skin-even though the results of animal tests are often unreliable or not applicable to humans, and there are more modern non-animal safety testing methods, such as computer models and cell and tissue cultures,” explains Nordstrom. “Dogs are no longer used in product testing for cosmetics and personal care products,” adds Nordstrom who is a fan of all cruelty-free brands, personally enjoys Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics lotions because their products are 100% cruelty-free and vegan. She also enjoys LUSH and The Body Shop for body lotions and gels. Nordstrom suggests looking out for PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies that makes shopping for cruelty-free products easy.” For more information visit: peta.org/living/beauty/beauty-without-bunnies/
“Through our Beauty Without Bunnies program, PETA certifies companies that manufacture and /or distribute cruelty-free cosmetics, personal- care, and household products. Companies may be certified under two separate designations: The “cruelty-free” certification is for companies that have signed our statement of assurance verifying that their ingredients, formulations, and finished products are never, and will never be, tested on animals by anyone anywhere in the world. The other certification, “ cruelty-free and vegan,” is for cruelty-free companies whose product lines are also completely free of animal-derived ingredients,” says Nordstrom.
If you’re considering shopping for cruelty-free brands like LUSH, The Body Shop, EcoLips, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic lotions and Blisomma Cosmetics which are the perfect examples of a cruelty-free line, be sure you thoroughly educate yourself on what makes a product cruelty-free. “There is a lot of confusion over terms like “cruelty-free,” “ not tested on animals,” “earth-friendly,” “all natural ” and others because there is no legally recognized definition for these terms.Your best confirmation is to go to the NAVS cruelty-free product guide,” explains Cunniff. For more information, visit navs.org/cruelty-free
At this point you may be asking yourself- given the fact that many cosmetic products do need to be tested without the use of animals- how do cosmetic companies test a product?
Nordstrom explains that “the best way to determine the safety of a cosmetic product or ingredient is through sophisticated non-animal test methods, not through outdated, unreliable, and cruel tests on animals. Non-animal methods usually take less time to complete than the crude, archaic animal tests that they replace. In addition, they usually cost only a fraction of what animal tests cost and are not affected by species differences that make applying test results to humans difficult or impossible. Effective, affordable, and humane non-animal test methods include in vitro-test tube and computer modeling techniques as well as studies with human volunteers.”
Cruelty-free products like Blissoma and Lush are committed to making sure that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.
“All Blissoma products are 100% natural and vegetarian, with most products certified vegan. Blissoma controls all aspects of their products’ production. These products are certified cruelty free by the Coalition for Consumer Information on cosmetics and the Blissoma’s ‘Solutions” skincare line earned the “Leaping-Bunny” Logo,” says Julie Longyear, herbal chemist and Founder.
“Consumers have an abundance of products from which to choose from that do not test their products or ingredients on animals and that have assurances from their suppliers that their ingredients have not been tested on animals,” adds Cunniff. She adds that many of the companies that NAVS have identified as cruelty-free already have an inventory of chemicals that are already recognized as safe and don’t need to do any further safety testing. These companies have made it a priority to refrain from animal testing and, in some cases, animal-derived ingredients, in the development, manufacturing and distribution of their products as a core policy.
What’s important is that we all understand the importance of supporting only cruelty-free products. In 2014, thanks to the hard work done by the Humane Society International, India has now implemented a testing and import ban. Today there are more than 1.7 billion people who can buy cruelty-free products from any stores. “The NAVS has invested in the development and implementation of alternative methods that replace the use of animals while working to advance greater respect, compassion and justice for animals. In the United States, some products are actually required by law to be tested on animals. Many of these fall under the purview of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), for example, and are required to undergo animal testing before being made available. Included in this category would be cleaning products or products that are intended to kill something-such as an anti-fungal, a pesticide, or even flea and tick medicine,” explains Cunniff.
The reality is that when most people become aware of what cruelty-free really means, they’ll be motivated to encourage everyone else to follow suit. Taking a fresh look at where our cosmetics come from, and how they are made, could mean the difference between saving a furry friend, and keeping all our animals free of pain and suffering.
As Clerc says “ I think that we need to teach our kids about treating animals with kindness and respect. The HSUS has a special magazine “Kind News” dedicated to children which tells them stories about animals and the issues that they face and are subject to in our society.” For more information visit: humanesociety.org/news/magazines/kind_news/
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