The path to becoming cruelty free

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Let me start off this post by saying that I am not 100% cruelty free but would love to get there one day. It's a process that, for me, has taken a couple of years of research and investment but it is a beautiful journey that I encourage everyone to at least look into.

I'll begin by defining the concept and clearing up a common misconception. Cruelty free is the practice of developing and manufacturing commercial and/or cosmetic products by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals. It is different from being labeled vegan. An item that is cruelty free does not always mean that it is vegan as it may contain animal byproducts even though it was not tested on animals. Likewise, an item that is vegan does not always mean that it is cruelty free as the item may not contain any animal products/byproducts but has been tested on animals (although, it's worth saying that, in many cases, if a company values veganism, they are more than likely cruelty free... but it's still worth doing the research as many great, animal-friendly cosmetic companies have been bought out and are owned by parent companies who do not share the same values. So, while the ingredients remain the same, the practices may not).

As I've covered in a previous post, I am a vegetarian (again, different from being vegan) and it is my personal belief and conviction that, as a Christian, I am called to love and care for all creation and be a mindful consumer. My goal is to live as gently as possible within my circumstances. For me, this means never eating meat, limiting my dairy and animal byproduct food intake (the struggle with cheese is so very, very real), and buying the most humane options as often as as they are available and financially possible (again, I covered all of this, at length, in the above mentioned blog post). But it also means that I feel it is my responsibility to purchase non-food items with this mindset, as well.

I consider it a great luxury that I am able to afford unnecessary things like makeup and hair & body products. And, since it is a luxury, I feel very convicted about how I spend my money in this area. Since I do not need any of it to survive on this planet, I should not use the opportunity I am afforded to feed into the unnecessary abuse of God's creation - especially when there are gentler options available.

I love the quote from Pam Ahern of Edgar's Mission that says, "If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn't we?" This has become somewhat of a mantra for me over the years. It's a simple statement that is loaded with so much opportunity for introspection. 

There are so many reasons to buy cruelty free, but I'm going to narrow my focus down to four. If you want more, visit one of my favorite sites, Cruelty Free Kitty, as she recently did a similar post on the subject or, you know, just Google some stuff because the information is out there.

FOUR REASONS TO BUY CRUELTY FREE:

1. Animal testing is completely unnecessary when it comes to cosmetics. There are over 7,000 ingredients that have already been proven to be safe for application. Why we are still testing new ones is beyond me when what we have is working just fine. I mean, goodness, it's just makeup! Additionally, there are so many new technologies that have made leaps and bounds in this area that are already replacing the need for animal testing altogether and are often much less expensive (for more on this subject, please feel free to google "alternatives to animal testing" or, for a brief summary, check out this article from Cruelty Free International).

2. Animal testing is way more cruel than you could imagine. It's not all lab rats and white rabbits (but, even if it were, I would still buy cruelty free). Companies are testing on monkeys, cats and dogs, too (yes, our friend the beloved dog) and 80% of them are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act (so, basically not even considered animals). These animals get chemicals dripped into their eyes, injected into their bodies, are infected with diseases, burned, blinded, taken from their mothers when they are too young, are addicted to drugs, and the list goes on and on and ON. It's not "animal testing"... it's animal torture. And all for what? So I can have red lips and a smokey eye? No thanks.

3. Buying cruelty free sends a message. Voting at the polls is great. Voting with our dollars is even better. When we stand up for our beliefs with how we choose to spend or not spend our money, that gets noticed. Companies pay people thousands of dollars to track the spending of consumers so they can find patterns that help them to better market themselves so they can, obviously, make more money. If we all stop buying brands that are implementing these heinous practices of animal abuse, it will get noticed and change will take place because, at the end of the day, it's all about the Benjamins, baby! It's basic supply and demand. If we demand they stop testing on animals, they will supply cruelty free products. We make that demand by not giving them our money.

4. There are thousands of cruelty free options available offered at a wide range of affordability. There are SO MANY cruelty free options in the world right now and the list just keeps on growing. I have been buying only cruelty free makeup for over a year and, most of the time, I can find a really amazing dupe for a non cruelty free product that I have grown to love almost immediately (though, my mascara journey took a bit longer) and, most of the time, there is virtually no large price difference. In fact, there are a TON of cruelty free drugstore products that I've been able to dupe for some of the more expensive items I was using and I have actually saved money. A bonus to buying cruelty free is that often these brands are also vegan and eco-friendly, as well. So, it can quickly become a double or triple-whammy in regards to doing good and feeling good! And you are going to buy the stuff anyway, so why not spend the little bit of extra time to do it right?

For a really great resource on cruelty free beauty products and brands, visit this post from Cruelty Free Kitty (and keep up with her on Facebook as she updates this list often and shares other awesome resources regularly. She's not my only resource for information on this topic, but she's been proven to be very reliable when it comes to the facts - plus, she was the first resource I found when I started this process so I feel a bit loyal (haha!). Other great resources are Logical Harmony and My Beauty Bunny).

Here are some of my current favorite cruelty free beauty / personal care products:
Native Deodorant (the coconut vanilla scent is my fave - finding a natural deodorant that smelled good and worked great took me almost two years)
Amika Perk-Up dry shampoo
Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir mascara
Becca Backlight Filter face primer
Tarte In Bloom eye palette (I use this as eyeliner, too)
Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipsticks
Nyx Slim Lip pencils and Soft Matte Lip Cremes
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil (dupe: Nyx Micro Brow pencil)
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour palette
Elf High Definition setting powder
Josie Maran Argan Oil and Illuminizer

Also, I've recently stumbled onto the 100% cruelty free brand, 100% Pure and The Detox Market where they sell only natural, cruelty free beauty products. I'll update as I try different things or, perhaps, write an entirely new blog post and link it.

Please understand, that this is a journey. There is so much information out there and it is always changing (for better and worse). It's not an overnight thing. But, if you aspire to be completely cruelty free one day, it has to start somewhere. So, start small! For me, it started with skincare - finding a cruelty free cleansing routine to replace the one I had. From there, I moved on to cosmetics (and I've been there awhile b/c I really like makeup). What do you use the most of? If it's mascara, find out if what you're using makes the cut. If it doesn't, begin your search. Once you get your makeup routine cruelty free, move on to the next step for you (maybe that's hair products or maybe it's oral hygiene products... you get the picture). But, the point is to start somewhere and do what you can today.

*NOTE 1: some of the above companies I've listed are 100% cruelty free. Some, however, have parent companies that are not. For example, the Becca brand is cruelty free. However, they have since become acquired by Estee Lauder, which is not. Some people choose not to buy any product that is owned by a non-cruelty-free parent company, which is obviously the much better option. However, when it comes to certain products for which I haven't been able to find quality dupes, a vote for the cruelty-free brand is still a "vote with my dollars statement" to its parent company. If they notice that most of their sales are coming from Becca, they are going to do the research to figure out why that is. When the trend is A) that a large percentage of people are not buying their brands at all because they aren't cruelty free or B) that people are only buying the brands within their company that are cruelty free, things will change because, in case you didn't know, money talks. I still am working to find 100% cruelty free dupes for all of these options, though.

*NOTE 2 (CHINA): Once you start looking into buying cruelty free, you will inevitably end up reading about companies who sell in China. So, what's the deal with China? Well, unfortunately, the deal is that Chinese law requires mandatory animal testing on all internationally manufactured cosmetic products. So, basically, any brand that sells their products in China is NOT cruelty free. Cruelty Free Kitty has another great post on this, as well.