Wednesday, 16 April 2014

How Cruelty Free is Your Makeup Bag?

Its obvious to anyone that knows me, that I am totally and utterly addicted to all things makeup. What is often not as obvious is that there are some issues I feel strongly about when it comes to makeup products I will use. Over the years, in the process of brands testing their products before placing them on the market, many animals have been subject to what can only be described as torture.

Living in Ireland, a member of the European union, bound by EU law, there is zero tolerance for animal testing. An EU directive provides the framework for the phasing out of animal testing for cosmetic purposes. It is prohibited to test finished products on animals, and prohibited to market in the EU, finished cosmetic products and their ingredients which were tested on animals. The testing ban has been in place since 2004 and the marketing ban since 2009. 

I am no political activist but it seems ridiculous to me that in 2014, when Europe can find alternative methods of testing cosmetics that larger, more powerful countries such as the US cannot make more of an effort to put an end to animal testing. The US are by no means the biggest culprit when it comes to this issue, having outlawed the testing of cosmetics on mammals. In China, local laws require animal testing on cosmetic products to demonstrate consumer safety as part of the product registration process. This is a mandatory legal requirement applicable to all cosmetic products sold in china. This has caused many large cosmetic companies such as Urban Decay not to enter the Chinese market despite it being potentially highly lucrative.

Urban Decay is just one company out of many to be awarded the ‘leaping bunny’ logo.

If you see the ‘leaping bunny’ on a cosmetic or website, you can be confident in the fact that the company has committed to the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, a voluntary pledge that companies make not to test on animals during any stage of product development. The ingredient suppliers make the same pledge and the result is a product which is 100% free from animal testing.

Urban Decay, which has recently been bought out by L’Oreal, made the following statement via email:

"We are under new ownership but they basically only own us. We still use the same animal and cruelty free companies we use to make our products. We hope to lead the way for L’Oreal and show them they do not need to test on any animals."

L’Oreal claim to no longer test any of its products or ingredients on animals, but as is the case with so many companies I emailed, they do make the exception if regulatory authorities demand they do so. This basically means that when they sell in places like China, they do allow the testing of their products on animals. Many companies sent me full details of their animal testing policy and the mention of this exception was always buried somewhere mid-paragraph. It seemed to me that most companies were aware that what they were doing would make people unhappy and they were doing their best to hide it.
When I sent emails to companies I always asked specifically if they sold in Countries such as China, where animal testing is mandatory, and though I found that many companies were attempting to hide their involvement in the Chinese market, most were willing to disclose it.

Real Techniques emailed me to say that their brushes are 100% synthetic, so they are all cruelty free. They did however choose not to comment on whether they sell in markets where animal testing is mandatory. Benefit told me that they have not been carrying out animal testing since long before the ban came into effect in 2004. They also did not comment on whether they sell their products in the Chinese market.

Boots provided the following statement:

“Boots and its subsidiary businesses do not test any products or ingredients on animals, and do not commission others to do so on our behalf. In fact in March 2013 it became illegal for any company to test cosmetic products or ingredients on animals in Europe.  We realise that until satisfactory replacements are available, other businesses around the world will carry out some tests for their own particular products and ingredients to meet regulatory requirements.  These safety tests may sometimes involve ingredients of the type used in products which we manufacture and sell.”

I started off by going through my makeup and emailed all of the companies. From the statements they sent me I made this little table. When I started the research for this post I thought it would be really easy to find products that are ethical. It's actually a lot harder. A lot of brands will put the profits they can gain ahead of the welfare of the animals they are testing their products on. From now on I will be trying my very best not to buy products which have possibly been animal tested. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or if there are any brands you would like checked out.

Brands 100% free from animal testing
Brands not free from animal testing
Urban Decay
Real Techniques
Body Shop


Bobbi Brown



I was unclear when it came to certain companies such as Benefit and Bourjois, so I felt it best to leave them out of the running altogether, rather than give false/misleading information. All of these companies would be required not to perform animal testing within the EU but if they sell their products in the Chinese market I included them in the Not Cruelty Free bracket. 

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