Cruelty free generally means that something is not tested on animals and can sometimes mean (in the case of faux furs and leathers) that an animal wasn’t harmed in the manufacture of the product. It doesn’t always mean vegetarian or vegan, and it certainly doesn’t always mean the company pledging cruelty free hasn’t obtained ingredients for their products from people that do or that their parent company abides a cruelty free status. Just not testing on animals is a great thing, but since digging deeper is kind of my thing, let’s DO IT.
Testing on animals is borne of the idea that if our little fur buddy, let’s call him Alan, the VBB Anecdotal Guinea Pig of Life, Death, and Intermittent Experimentation, undergoes testing and nothing really terrible happens, then you and me will be fine with normal application.
But here’s the thing: it’s not that simple and the testing is often horrific. Even the arguably least worst test, which is shaving the hair off on Alan’s body, applying the cosmetic, then covering the location so Alan can’t lick it off, sadly results the same in every single scenario: Alan must ultimately be euthanized.
There’s no Animal Testing Retirement Home where they live out their weird little lab lives in peace or are set free out the back door after they fill their ten test punch card.
Some might say, “Better Alan than me. I want to know something’s safe before I put it on my body.” Regular, dickish me wants to tell you that you probs continually see the effects of drugs, alcohol, and terrible life choices on you or the people around you, BUT YA STILL DO THEM, DON’T YA. But, blog me must calmly and politely inform or remind you: the bulk of these ingredients have already been tested (likely on animals of decades past), mice/guinea pigs/rats/Alan are NOT humans and don’t necessarily respond in the same ways, and, the most OMFG thing about testing: we know what happens when you poke your mascara wand directly on your eyeball! It kinda fucking hurts.
There’s no need for continued testing on animals, though people way smarter than me claim the necessities of monitoring carcinogens and that animals are crucial to inhalation tests, experiments that haven’t had successful replication in lab tests without animals. Europe’s cosmetics manufacturers still choose a cruelty free future, however, and they do it by innovating beauty and cosmetics with chemicals that have already performed their cruel duty.
But there are more reasons it continues, and it’s a simple yet dirty one. Cosmetic testing is a necessary evil for any company that wishes to sell their product in China (and most do: the cosmetic economy is recession proof) and a profitable one for labs that conduct it. The underfunded FDA is a big roadblock here: they determine what alternative methods are acceptable.
Think about now, January of 2017. You may have noticed a big change in short time that directly affects government agencies, and you can bet your bottom bunny that the progress the FDA has made over recent years is subject to rollback in a Trump administration.
Here’s a link from the Humane Society about the kinds of animals used and exactly what tests are administered. It’s enormously sad.
This kind of testing would be fine if Alan had a choice in the matter, or if he weren’t able to feel pain or if maybe they gave him an excellent pension plan, cashed out vacation days, and sent him packing with an umbrella drink, but since all of these things are categorically unrealistic, we must be aware of what burdens we place on the living world around us.