For nearly my entire life, I never put much thought into what beauty products I bought (cosmetics, facial & body products, perfumes, etc). That is, until I learned that reading the ingredients label isn’t just for food. Furthermore, I’d always known in the back of my head that many companies tested their products on lab animals, but I didn’t really know what that meant or what was actually going on. I’m sure some people feel relief when they know that a product is tested on animals first. But studies show that testing on animals is pretty much useless and most large companies today only test on animals because it saves their butt if they ever get sued. It may make their product seem safer, but there’s a much better way to tell if a beauty product is safe or not – look at what’s in it. If there’s a bunch of ingredients that you can barely pronounce, that means it ain’t natural and if it ain’t natural, it shouldn’t be slathered, dabbed, or rubbed into the largest organ on your body. Your skin absorbs everything you put on it. Putting chemical, unnatural, and man-made ingredients onto your skin is almost the same as eating them. The best rule of thumb is this: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, why should you pick humanely made products and how do you know if a product is humane?
When animals are used in laboratory testing they live in small, confined cages for their entire lives and are subjected to painful, debilitating tests. These poor animals are scared to death and have extremely high stress levels. They aren’t able to do anything that comes naturally to them like socialize, run, play, climb trees, scavenger, and form friendships. Can you imagine living in these kinds of conditions? Sitting in a cold, claustrophobic cage 24/7, only coming out to be strapped down so you can have burning chemicals poured into your eyes day after day? It brings me to tears just thinking about the millions of animals that have been forced to live this way over the years, having nightmarish things done to them. Studies have proven that animals feel pain the same way humans do. Laboratory testing on animals is just another form of slavery. It is some of the worst abuse a creature can be subjected to and people shouldn’t stand for that. I sure don’t want to give my money to a company that promotes and sustains these kinds of practices. Every time I spend money on a product that uses animal testing, I’m telling that company “yes, keep doing what you’re doing.”
If you want to learn more, there are many resources online that go in depth about animal testing and the truth behind it. Here’s a short article from the lovely ladies at Our Hen House about animal testing, with a bunch of great links for further reading.
For me personally, I relate the way that we treats animals to our character as a species. If we treat animals this way, it really doesn’t speak well of us at all. There are so many alternatives to animal testing.
Be aware that just because a product has all natural ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean they are utilizing humane practices. The only way to know for sure is to look on the label for confirmation. Products that do not animal test will either say so directly on the label, (“Not tested on animals” or “Cruelty free” are the most common), or have a symbol like the Leaping Bunny. The Leaping Bunny is the most trusted, respectable symbol of cruelty free. I try to use products that explicitly have that cute little bunny on it.
I love the Alaffia brand when it comes to beauty products. Not only are they cruelty free, they are also certified fair trade. They employ women in Africa to handcraft their ingredients, and Alaffia is all about promoting social and economic sustainability to the women there, as well as gender equality. They also care about environmental sustainability and moral responsibility, and have several causes they back such as reforestation, maternal health, and bee preservation to name a few. The great thing about Alaffia is you can buy their products at several nationwide chains like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers. You can view and buy their products on their website as well. (I noticed a couple of their products on the website are not vegan, they contain goats’ milk and beeswax. At the bottom of each product description it states whether it’s vegan friendly or not, as well as if it’s gluten free)
Another favorite is Soapwalla, completely vegan and made in Brooklyn by Rachel Winard. All of her products are “created solely from natural oils, clays, powders, botanicals, and essential oils. Every product is made by hand in small batches to ensure quality, freshness and the utmost attention to detail.” Yay! That’s what I like to hear when I’m buying a product! It’s great to support the smaller, higher quality companies that really care about their consumers, the ingredients they use, and where those ingredients come from.
I’ve found that a great place to find handmade, all natural vegan products is Etsy. Just search vegan ______ (vegan concealer, vegan facial cleanser, etc) and there’s usually dozens if not hundreds of results. You can view the ingredients in the product description, and you can even contact the buyer directly to ask any questions you may have, plus it’s usually cheaper than buying organic, vegan products from the store.
Lastly, it’s easy to make your own beauty products. I make my own toner with equal parts water and organic apple cider vinegar. Not only does it get all my make-up off at the end of the day, but it soothes irritated skin and helps fight acne. Just don’t get it in your eye! There are many oils you can buy and use as moisturizers: coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, oil of oregano, neem oil. Just be sure you are buying a high quality product that is organic and non-GMO.
Once you find the products that you love and trust, it’s so easy to live a humane lifestyle. Like the slogan of Edgar’s Mission says, “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”
*Check these links out. They are awesome!