Animal Testing – cosmetics and household products
Being vegan not only means cutting out animal products and derivatives from what we eat, but it also affects the choices we make when buying make-up, bodycare and household products.
In a massively significant move, it has been illegal to test cosmetics (and their ingredients) in the EU since the 11th of March 2009. The legislative act also establishes a prohibition on the sale of products tested on animals elsewhere in the world in the European Community by 2013 (to ensure testing is not relocated to third countries). However, there will remain on the market products that have been previously tested on animals before the EU ban and sadly animal testing for household products is allowed to continue.
Just because a product is vegan does not guarantee that it has never been tested on animals. In addition to this there are various animal testing policies that a company may adopt. We prefer to support only companies with a fixed cut-off date (FCOD). If a product has ‘not tested on animals’ on the label be aware that this may refer to the final product and not necessarily the ingredients.
Fixed Cut-Off Date
Companies adopting this policy will not use ingredients, or procure from suppliers ingredients that have been tested on animals since a specific date. They also do not test their finished products on animals.
Humane Cosmetics/Household Products Standard
Launched by a coalition of animal protection groups including the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, this standard is the world’s only internationally recognised scheme which uses a leaping bunny logo to allow consumers to easily identify products that have been made cruelty free.
To receive approval to use the logo, not only must the company no longer conduct or commission animal testing, they must also adopt a fixed cut-off date (which must never be moved) for ingredients and products. In addition to this they must also agree to an independent audit of its supply chain to ensure compliance with all of the above.
The BUAV endorses a fixed cut-off date policy because they believe it will eventually reduce the need for animal testing and eliminate it from household products industries.
Five Year Rolling Rule
Companies using this policy will not use ingredients that have been tested with a five year period. However as this is a ‘rolling’ rule something which was tested say in 2003 will not be permitted for use during the five year period to 2008, but may then be introduced in 2009. This policy does nothing to discourage animal testing and may also deter the development of alternative research methods.
Another issue to be aware of is who actually owns the brand you are buying. The Body Shop, a company which made its name through opposing animal testing was taken over by L’Oreal in 2006. L’Oreal was still continuing to test new ingredients on animals prior to the March EU deadline (although the testing of new ingredients was in fact equired by law , there were already thousands of ingredients proven to be safe for use. The result undoubtedly being more unnecessary suffering just to produce the latest ‘must have’ beauty product). Whilst we can appreciate that The Body Shop maintain they will sustain the values and beliefs at the core of their business and perhaps may even be able to influence their parent company, the money spent there will ultimately line the pockets of L’Oreal.
Many of the large companies dominating the cosmetics market have picked up on the growing ethical and environmental concerns of today’s consumers and have either acquired or created brands which are associated with nature, or have a no animal testing policy. One such example is Estee Lauder who own Origins and Aveda both companies who pride themselves on working in harmony with nature, while Estee Lauder was also another company still testing on animals prior to March 2009 (lists of brands that Estee Lauder and L’Oreal own can be found on their respective websites).
Whilst it is now illegal for these companies to continue such practises, products that had been created in this way will still remain on the shelves so whilst the change in law is the best thing that could have happened, in reality we do not have as much freedom with shopping and choices as someone for whom these issues are not a factor. So again, some investigation is required either contact brands yourself or use one of the many lists that are available citing cruelty free companies.
List of cruelty free companies that we like are under the relevant Beauty and Household Products (coming soon) sections, more comprehensive lists can be obtained from the following sources:
The BUAV (Leaping Bunny) list all its approved companies at their website Go Cruelty Free, their US website Leaping Bunny handily identifies those brands with a parent company which do not comply with their standard. You can also read more about the BUAV and what they do.
Nature Watch sells a Compassionate Shopping Guide.
The Vegan Society publishes an Animal Free Shopper (find it here under [intlink id="3" type="category"]Life Style[/intlink]).
- PeTA provide a list on their animal testing website Caring Consumer.