A few years ago, I was guilty in not thinking about what happens to bunnies and guinea pigs in animal testing laboratories, as I stood in line to re-purchase my favourite foundation from MAC. I wasn’t unaware, but I was ignorant – I had the toxic mindset that goes something like ‘well I’m just one person, what would my actions alone change?’

Illustration of girl using non cruelty-free cosmetics – Illustration by Holly Heath

Every person is a part of this world who can contribute to change. Not putting any money or support towards brands that still unnecessarily test on animals and supporting the brands that are cruelty-free is a way of showing that you’re protesting against the cruel circumstances animal are put through for the sake of cosmetics.

The reality is this – animal testing is not only completely unethical and inhumane, but also unnecessary. The proof is in the industry where all of the amazing cruelty-free brands continue to produce and bring out phenomenal makeup products that often outshine the products brought out by companies that still continue animal testing. Those brands always have the option of not testing on animals, as there are many ingredients that are safe to use and do not require animal testing. Continuing to use unsafe ingredients that they deem are necessary to test on living things shows a lack of compassion not only for the animals but also for their customers. If a brand is willing to use ingredients that can be unsafe for human use, and those ingredients also go on to torture, blind or even kill animals, what does that say about what is important to the brand? Over 100 million animals suffer and die per year in labs in the United States alone. Although animal testing as a requirement has been banned by the EU, the UK is still one of the top countries that tests on animals.

Every choice made to buy only from cruelty-free brands means one more win for cruelty free and ethics, and one more loss for animal testing. The thing about the industry, especially the beauty industry is this – it’s all just a popularity contest. Each company pays attention to their sales and what sells is what matters, and what doesn’t sell is what goes. If all cruelty-free brands do better than brands that test, that will be very valuable proof for these brands that there is a huge market for cruelty-free makeup.

Illustration of bunnies being tested on in labs – illustration by Holly Heath

Many places in the world have started banning animal testing, rightfully so, and the amazing list of places includes the European Union, Norway, Israel and India. Although that is not nearly enough, and hopefully the list will expand and include the whole World, there are more countries who are considering bans.

Lush, a massive cosmetics company that sells body and skin care alongside makeup, is one of the biggest advocates for cruelty-free beauty. Not only do they not test on animals, but they also refuses to buy any materials from any companies that test on animals in any way for whatever reason.

Christopher Harrison Reid, the training manager at Lush in Truro, openly talks about about what cruelty-free means to Lush and to himself.

“Cruelty-free is the whole point of Lush. It’s a big thing for most of the people that work there,” Christopher explains, “before I started working at Lush, I didn’t know much about cruelty-free, I didn’t pay much attention to that stuff, but working at Lush has really opened my eyes. It’s such a cool value of Lush.”

Christopher went on to tell me stories about how every ingredient has a story behind it and all the information is on the website if anyone wants to read about it and where it was sourced from. Lush is very striking in how it approaches its customers and the compassion they show towards not only animals but also people. I had not known much about how far this brand goes to be fair but it’s wonderful to see that there are brands that care more about what’s important.

“Lush go above and beyond to be as ethical as they can be,” Christopher says, “they are so against animal testing that some of the vegetarian and vegan policies are not animal-friendly enough, so their policies are even above legal standards for some things.”

When I asked him whether he thought animal testing was at all necessary, his immediate response was ‘no’.

Christopher was not the only person I spoke to that was completely against the idea of animal testing. I wanted to talk to people who were committed to cruelty-free products, who did not believe in animal testing and getting their opinion. Makeup brands keep evolving and taking the steps to become cruelty-free, and in an ideal World, every brand would soon follow and do the same. Fiona Stiles, Herbivore Botanicals, Jouer, Kiko, Phlur, RCMA, Stila and Suva Beauty are some of the more recent brands that have joined the cruelty-free list. Other brands like Kat Von D, Cover XF, Tarte, Hourglass, Illamasqua and other brands have been cruelty free for a good amount of time. Most of these brands either have a UK website, offer UK shipping or are available at UK retailers like BeautyBay, Cultbeauty, SpaceNK and more.

Illustration of bunnies enjoying freedom thanks to brands that do not test on animals – Illustration by Holly Health

Alba Girón, a student from Spain, refuses to buy from any brand that is not cruelty-free and is also a vegan herself.

“I would rather not use makeup ever again rather than make an animal suffer to make myself feel prettier,” she replied when I asked her what inspires her to use only cruelty-free makeup, “What brands were cruelty-free, I started using them. What brands tested on animals, I stopped using them. If other brands can be cruelty-free, why can’t they all be?”

Kayleigh Goulding, a makeup enthusiast who only uses cruelty-free makeup has expressed her passion for animal-friendly brands her distaste towards animal testing.

“People like Jessica Haze and Kat Von D really opened my eyes to the cruelty in the makeup industry. I wasn’t going to contribute to that,” Kayleigh told me, “why hurt animals for our own vanity?”

That is a very striking question that should make everyone think. How can anyone see it necessary to put any animal through suffering for a mascara? How can so many brands take all the steps necessary to make sure no animals are harmed in the production of their products, yet other brands still insist on testing?

The answer is simple. Buying from these brands endorses what they do. The only way to stop that is to make the decision to change where you put your money when you’re purchasing cosmetics. Look through your makeup and everything you use on your face and body. How many of those items are not cruelty-free? Whichever ones aren’t, make a conscious decision. Is it worth putting money towards a brand that makes money from products they test on helpless animals?

There are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives out there. Every big change starts with a little one.

Check out this list of cruelty-free brands here at http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/list-of-cruelty-free-brands/.