A Guide To Choosing Cruelty-free Skin Care How To Create A More Humane World



14 May 2017

I have a cat and a rescued dog, and sometimes I think life revolves around the two of them. They welcome me home with love and enthusiasm, enjoy the simplest things, and my life is better because they are in it. 

This is our cat Noodle – named by our son for the thin white line running down his back.

Our dog Boomer –  a mug only a mother could love!

And our 2 sleeping beauties!

They are masters at snuggling (especially our cat), love to play (especially our dog) – and sometimes play and snuggle with each another.  There are maddening moments too, but they are family and that means taking the good with the bad. (And of course, the good completely outweighs the bad!)

In my lifetime, I have come to believe that animals have richer, more complex emotional lives then we realize.  This opinion doesn’t just come from the pets I’ve had, but also from watching the wildlife out my back door, having almost always lived in the country. I’m not alone in that opinion either. There has been much scientific study done along these lines.

Competition for most magnificent display!

Which leads me to the big question:

How in the world can we feel ok about letting animals die so that we can look pretty!?  I’m talking about the animal testing of cosmetics here.

Really, animal testing of any sort, for any reason, needs to go.

Rabbits are often used for testing because of their gentle nature. According to PETA, laboratories use over 170,000 rabbits every year.

How  Cosmetics Testing Has Always Been Done

Cosmetics testing is most concerned with eye and skin irritation. For 70 years the Draize test has been used on rabbits and other animals as a way to test for these things. To test for eye irritation, scientists drip, rub, or spray substances into the eyes of rabbits, and for skin irritation they rub substances into shaved patches on their backs.  The animals are then observed and results are measured. Often, they suffer horribly: they can have responses that range from mild irritation to ulcers, bleeding or blindness. Afterward, they are either used again or killed. Besides the obvious animal cruelty involved, the results of this kind of testing are less accurate than you would expect considering it has been used for so long.

The simple reason for this is that animals are not people. Seems almost embarrassingly obvious to say, but it’s a fact that has been ignored for a long time. Our skin and eyes are just not built the same way as a rabbits.


 Testing Alternatives We Have Today


There are some good alternatives to the Draize test, and as time goes by, they are gaining more acceptance from regulatory agencies.

  • One example is the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Test or BCOP. This uses the cornea of a cow’s eye, taken after the cow has been slaughtered for meat. For testing, scientists transmit light through the treated cornea. An undamaged cornea will appear clear, while a damaged one will be cloudy.
  • Another is EpiOcular. It uses human-derived cells to grow a model that closely mimics a human cornea. Both these tests give information on eye irritation without using live animals.

For skin irritation tests there are products like Episkin (which is owned by L’Oreal). This product works as an alternative to human skin. Scientist use donated human skin cells to grow patches of artificial skin in a laboratory. This artificial skin can mimic different types of human skin, such as older or tanned skin. There are several companies making a similar product but at this stage, its use isn’t widespread because of the challenges and cost of mass production.

As alternatives become available, we are moving towards more cruelty-free methods. The most important thing we can do is to support the companies that are using these alternatives.

You need to be careful though. Since there is no legal definition for the term “cruelty-free” in America, there will always be companies that try to deceive and take advantage. For instance, a company may not do animals testing themselves but may rely on safety data collected from places that have done testing, like from a parent company or outside organization. Or, a company may say they don’t do animal testing but buy from suppliers who do.

 The best solution?

Look for a cruelty-free seal on the products you buy.

 PETA’s cruelty-free logo is well known and has been around since 1987. A company can receive certification as cruelty-free by signing a legally binding pledge that gives assurance that neither they nor their suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for animal testing on their ingredients, formulations, or products anywhere in the world, and that they will not do so in the future. They also have a seal for products with no animal ingredients which says “cruelty-free and vegan”.  Leaping Bunny is a newer seal. They began their certification program in 1996 from a coalition of eight animal protection groups and  are international as well. In order to use their logo, a company must show that there is no animal testing in any stage of product development and that their ingredient suppliers do no animal testing. A company must be willing to be audited and to renew their commitment each year.  Keep an eye out for both of these logos!

 Do your homework!

Something else to keep in mind, not all ethical companies use a cruelty-free seal. It costs extra money that not all small businesses want to spend to use one of these seals on their label.  Research the companies you like. Visit their websites, call and ask what their policy is on animal testing.  Make sure not only to ask whether they test on animals but whether their parent company does, or whether they hire an outside company to do this for them. You can also find information online that will help you learn about making cruelty-free choices. One website in particular that I like is Cruelty Free Kitty.

 Make A Stand!

In America there are no laws that require animal testing on cosmetics, so let your voice be heard by supporting cruelty-free brands and boycotting brands that still test on animals. China, in particular, requires animal testing of cosmetics. Tell your family and friends about animal testing, and the choices they have. This is how we can turn it into a thing of the past. Our ultimate power as consumers lies in which products we buy. It can be a challenge deciding which ones support the values we care about, but if you do your research, you’ll be on the right track. Another alternative is making your own products. There is no simpler way of knowing how something was made than by taking advantage of the many great DIY skin care recipes you can find online.

Looking for great skin care?

If you would rather not go to the trouble of making your own skin care, I have a wonderful collection of handcrafted organic products made from pure, plant-based ingredients. Unrefined and minimally processed, the ingredients are all fair trade, cruelty free, and non-GMO.  It is a small collection but covers essential things your skin needs. Go here to take a look at the Pure Homespun Shop.


Love to hear what you think!

If you are interested in natural skin care using organic ingredients, visit the Pure Homespun Shop.

You will find items made from the highest quality and simplest ingredients, as close as possible to their raw and unfiltered state. All ingredients are non-GMO, free trade, and cruelty-free.

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