Would you poke a cute little baby bunny in the eye? Probably not–you seem like a nice, reasonable person. But if you don’t pay attention to your beauty purchases, you could inadvertently support brands that cause living, breathing, thinking creatures to suffer.
Click here for more info on how it’s done. Warning – it’s not fun to read about.
Welcome back. Here at VBB, one of our guiding values is introducing you to amazing, affordable, and/or accessible cruelty free makeup and beauty products. Kat Von D, Elf, Hourglass, Sugarpill, and NYX are just a few 100% cruelty free brands that are available online or in the drugstore and I can’t live without them.
I was in the dark about the horrors of animal testing for the better part of my cosmetic using life, and want to share my journey so that you can also make the switch to making more compassionate choices, too.
I’m vain. My love of beautifying products runs DEEP. From compulsively checking the mail for my latest order to total transformations, I’m enthralled with the artistry of makeup, cosmetics, and beauty products.
It’s my art, an outlet of self-expression, and a great joy.
(Link here to this AMAZING tutorial to sexy Immortan Joe from Mad Max by incredibly talented MUA Made Yew Look.)
However, to reiterate, the beauty industry possesses a dark side—tons of companies still test their products on animals: bunnies, rats, or other cute little rodents are subjected to painful experiments testing new products or ingredients.
Typically they receive no pain relief.
They are always killed afterwards.
Becoming cruelty free is not an easy or convenient choice, and for me, it wasn’t automatic. But I’m sharing with you my ongoing journey to becoming a cruelty free buyer, and describe it as having three stages: infancy, adolescence and adulthood.
JOURNEY PERIOD: Infancy
DESCRIPTION: cute and innocent.
AGE: 6-24 (AKA TOO F*CKING LONG)
Like many of you beauty-obsessed, I started playing with my mom’s makeup at an early age. I was interested in her prettifying rituals, and the colorful eye shadows, lovely lipsticks, and everything in between were like an extension of her (can you tell I was, and still am– no shame– a mama’s girl?). And, at age 12, when I began wearing makeup out of the house, I had no idea that it was ever, let alone still, tested on animals. I was like a babe in the woods, ignorant of the brutality that I was perpetuating by supporting these brands with my money. Before the Internet (hi, fellow peeps in their mid-thirties and up!), it was harder to be an informed citizen and I had no clue that animals were being abused in this way.
JOURNEY PERIOD: Adolescence
DESCRIPTION: part naïve, part asshole.
AGE: 25-30?? (WTF??)
This stage lasted longer than it should have, especially as a self-proclaimed animal lover. I don’t think I even considered what cruelty-free meant until my mid-late 20s. Products that are not cruelty-free do not advertise themselves as such—you’ll never see a “cruel” label—so it was easy to rebel against the idea that the pretty things I loved to buy and play with could be evil. YouTube beauty videos also captured my attention, and few of the vloggers I followed ever mentioned the words “cruelty free,” so I didn’t really understand the concept, let alone the availability, of cruelty free products. By the time I had an inkling that I should be paying attention, I had also found some holy grail products, and I think I was reluctant to find out that I shouldn’t be using them anymore—so, like an asshole teenager, I blocked out differing opinions and information that meant I had to change. I also had underlying feelings of guilt and shame for not educating myself or trying harder to find cruelty free options as, by this time, the resources were widely available.
JOURNEY PERIOD: Adulthood
DESCRIPTION: still learning but dedicated to positive change.
AGE: 31-present (EFFING FINALLY)
You know when shit gets real and it sucks but at least your eyes are open? Yeah, that took me awhile. Like other changes I’ve made (limiting environment-killing meat consumption and caring more about local politics, for instance), this one was slow to come about, and occurred because I have cool friends who care about shit that matters. In fact, the babe who started this website instigated the final leg of my journey. And she wasn’t even a dick about it: she casually mentioned while we were shopping that she wasn’t going to buy a particular thing because it was not cruelty free. [Note from NRR: this is a huge deal that I wasn’t a dick about it] That’s when it finally hit me: this was a serious issue that affected tiny, defenseless living things, could not be ignored, AND I had a voice—namely, cash—to speak out against it.
To begin, I started researching my favorite brands, and what I already owned, to learn what my cruelty free options were. True, I had to give up some favorite products, and there was a bit of “makeup mourning” whenever I found out that a beloved brand was not CF. I should also note that I did not throw out any non CF products I already owned (WASTE NOT and all), but moving forward, the aim was to convert entirely to CF. I delighted in discovering the many great options for CF stuff, and that a ton of previous favorites also fit this category!
That said, navigating the loopholes and legalese that some companies use to appear CF is exhausting and time-consuming. There is constant change in the industry: non-CF companies purchase CF brands (Estee Lauder buying Too Faced, for instance), formerly CF brands change their stance, or decide to sell in China where cosmetic producers are required by law to test on animals (looking at you, MAC), and new makeup brands pop up like crazy. With so much haziness around this topic, you have to decide where you draw your moral line and what you will support with your cash. Personally, I would rather spend my “voice dollars” on companies that do not test on animals, even if their parent company does, because they track where the money is spent and will ideally convert more and more brands to cruelty free status.
What else can we do?
Part of being an educated adult is understanding that any company, despite their image or PR messaging, may choose the bottom line over ethics. But the onus is on the consumer, us, to make humane choices with our purchases, at least for the time being. For instance, until I can find solid evidence regarding a company’s CF status, I won’t buy from them. This also has the unintended benefit of cutting down on impulse buys, which my partner thinks is super neato.
Thankfully, there are numerous reliable resources online like Logical Harmony (my favorite), Cruelty Free Kitty, Phyrra, subreddits (for example, CrueltyFreeMUA), and YouTubers (like Tashina Combs, creator of Logical Harmony). You have to research like mad, and then go with the sources you trust and the content you enjoy. My friends and family know that I love to talk beauty, and often ask my opinion on products, so I recommend cruelty free products and brands, and also try to insert them in everyday conversation. Because, if you’re anything like me (and if you’re here, I think you are), makeup is definitely part of everyday conversation.
Most importantly, we can advocate for animal welfare by reaching out to our elected officials and beauty companies and demand that testing be banned, and call it what it is: cruelty to animals.
Finally, let’s continue the difficult conversation about this barbaric and unnecessary practice. Most don’t realize that these pretty products come from such an ugly place, and I believe they would at least consider changing their ways if educated about what really happens behind the scenes. My journey continues, but I now have a clearer conscience, spend less money, and know that my hard-earned cash is supporting companies that I believe in.
Next up: making the switch over to CF skincare and household products. If you have any recommendations for awesome, preferably affordable, cruelty free skincare, and household items, please share below! What actions do you take to support cruelty free companies?