Saturday, September 28, 2013

Going Cruelty-Free

I have struggled with whether or not to post about this for a long time. It's probably been over a year now. Mentioning that you are trying to go cruelty-free can create a lot of drama online, and I just didn't have the heart to deal with it. I'm still not sure if I have the heart to deal with it, but I'm going to take the leap and say it:
I'm trying to go cruelty-free.
If you aren't well informed on this issue, you may be wondering why this would cause drama. It sounds like a good thing, so what's the problem?
The first problem is the one that, in a sense, creates all of the other problems. Here in the U.S., there is no regulation regarding companies labeling themselves as cruelty-free. Anyone can create their own bunny logo and stick it on their products and claim that they don't test their products on animals. Quite a few brands claim to be cruelty-free because they themselves do not test their products on animals; however, their suppliers may test the ingredients on animals or they might have outside testing done on their products.
The next problem is that there are varying degrees and opinions on what makes a brand cruelty-free. Some people just use the PETA cruelty-free list to determine what is cruelty-free and what isn't. A lot of people though believe that list is really inaccurate and prefer to use other lists - none of which match each other exactly. Some people refuse to buy from brands that are cruelty-free but are owned by a parent company that is not, like Urban Decay or Burt's Bees.They believe that by buying from that brand, the profits indirectly support testing since they go back to the parent company. Other people believe that by supporting the brands that are cruelty-free, even if their parent company is not, shows support for those brands and sends a message to the parent company that cruelty-free brands are in-demand.
Then there's the issue of China. China REQUIRES testing on products imported into their country, essentially taking any brand that sells in China off of cruelty-free lists. Even in that instance there is some gray area. For example, Sephora's own brand has multiple lines. Some of those lines are sold in China and other's are not. Is it okay to buy from the lines that aren't sold in China or should the whole brand be off-limits?
Now you've tried to become a detective to figure out what standards a given brand is working with AND you've had to make some tough decisions about where you stand on those gray areas. Then you add the complication of the internet. I don't know how many times I've seen well-intentioned people get attacked through comments because they accidentally did a cruelty-free post or video about a brand that isn't actually cruelty-free (or at least isn't under the commenter's standards). Other people get defensive and start attacking you if you claim to be cruelty-free but you aren't vegan or you wear leather products. I've also been annoyed by people who get an attitude over those who try to go cruelty-free but slip-up and buy a non-cruelty free item because they didn't know the brand wasn't cruelty-free or because an item was just too tempting to pass up (I'll admit, I caved recently and picked up a couple of Chapstick balms because they were cupcake and red velvet cake flavored). I figure an imperfect attempt at doing something good is better than no attempt at all.
It's a lot to take in, digest, and decide whether you want to put that information on the table and open yourself up for attack. Now that I've let the barricades down, here's where I'm at in my journey and my current stance on trying to go cruelty-free:
I am still using products that were already in my stash that are not cruelty-free.
I am avoiding brands that by general consensus are not cruelty-free (L'Oreal, Cover Girl, etc...).
I am still buying from brands that are cruelty-free but are owned by parent companies that are not (Urban Decay, Burt's Bees).
I am not buying from brands that sell in China.
I will still buy value sets at places like Sephora that have products from a variety of brands as long as the majority of the brands are cruelty-free .
I am not vegan, so I don't plan on restricting myself to vegan products.

One issue that I'm currently struggling with is that I have a few brand new products (both full size and deluxe samples) made by companies that are not cruelty-free. I currently have them in my giveaway basket because they are not products I would use. Is it still okay for me to put them in a giveaway, or should I just add them to my blog sale? 
Are there any major points that I forgot to address?
What is your stance on the cruelty-free issue? I love reading and hearing about other's opinions on this issue as long as they are given respectfully. Any comments that are not respectful will be deleted. 


  1. It's such a complicated issue that I haven't even tried to restrict myself... yet. I support those who are CF and brands that are (my criteria being they don't sell in China and their suppliers are also CF), but I don't exclusively buy CF products. I do wish North America would ban animal testing for cosmetics.

    I don't think it's a big deal if you include non-CF products in a giveaway, I'd just mark them as not CF -- same for any future reviews.

    Good luck!

    1. The complications are part of what held me back too. I'm not dedicated enough to email every brand to clarify their cruelty-free status. It would be amazing if North America banned animal testing.

      Thanks for the opinion on giving away non-cruelty-free products. I appreciate it!

  2. Nice post. My cruelty-free efforts are pretty much half-hearted. For example, I'm not going to stop buying Avon (the first cosmetic company that stopped testing on animals in the US) even though they sell in China. I love the products and the philosophy behind the company so I'm sticking with them.
    I have been told this makes me a hypocrite, but my goal is never perfection, just to be better.
    Thanks for this post!

    1. It makes it really hard when there are other aspects of a company that you love.

      My efforts have not been all-out. I haven't attempted to find a cruelty-free hair dye yet. Some places list John Frieda as cruelty-free, but other's don't, so that's the one I use. I have a brand I want to try when I run out of back-up boxes though. I'm just terrified that the color will end up looking really crazy on me with a lot of the cruelty-free ones.

      I like the idea of being better and not perfection. I know I'll never be completely cruelty-free. It's really challenging with household items. I've made quite a few improvements there, but I know I still end up buying from brands like P&G and J&J. Baby steps, right?

  3. Hey R :)

    My humble opinion is that you should just do whatever makes you happy. I don't know where some people get the idea that they have a right to be nasty and spread unpleasantness and attack people via the internet. The fact that this is YOUR blog, and yet you had to hold back your views for a year, is ridiculous. I agree with KT on this - don't strive to be perfect, just strive to be better.

    As for your giveaways, again, my opinion is - this is your blog. Just do whatever makes you happy. I don't even think it's necessary to label them as CF or not, because people who use only CF products would have done their research and based on their own standards, would know what to avoid. People who don't really care if products are CF or not will continue to buy and use the products they like, regardless.

    Just my 2 cents. Hope you're doing alright! *hugs*

    <3 K

    1. Thanks for the support, K!

      I completely forgot to mention that part of my hesitation was that I might fall off the bandwagon. It bothered me a lot when Meg over at Meg's Makeup declared that she was going cruelty-free and over the next month had several Revlon giveaways. I didn't want to end up like that.

      You are right that people who are dedicated to being cruelty-free would know without me labeling that products that they aren't. I've got a Neutrogena lip balm and a mini Smashbox primer in my giveaway basket, and those brands are pretty obvious. I'll probably label them when I finally get around to it, just in case.

      I'm doing well. I hope you are too! Thanks for the hug. :-)