Why Go Cruelty Free?

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Why go Cruelty Free?

Many of my readers will already know that I’m a user and an advocate of cruelty free beauty; for those who aren’t familiar with the term, all it means is that I only use cosmetics and beauty products that I’m confident haven’t been tested on animals.

I first decided to go cruelty free probably about three years ago now, following discussions with my best friend, Kate, and some of my own research. I’d never really thought about the idea that my cosmetics might have been tested on animals before, and even when I did, the European Union ban on animal testing on cosmetics lulled me into a false sense of security that, living in the UK, anything I purchased must be cruelty free by default just because of where I purchased it. The reality, of course, isn’t quite so clear cut, and in spite of this ban many high street brands still test their products on animals… just not in the EU.

It was a daunting prospect at first, and it seemed as though I’d suddenly become very limited. I was only just starting to get really into makeup, and suddenly I felt as though this whole new world of products and brands to try and experiment with got really, really small really, really quickly. Those were only my first impressions though, and after a time, I learned to realise that cruelty free cosmetics aren’t rarer, (generally) aren’t more expensive and are just as high quality (sometimes more) than their animal tested counterparts.

So, in the spirit of my blog being a largely cruelty free beauty and lifestyle one, I thought I’d share some of the most compelling reasons to try going cruelty free.
Although it’s true that there are lots of great cruelty free small businesses and indie brands that are available online only, there are also great cruelty free options to be found in places like Boots and Superdrug. Barry M, GOSH, Sleek MakeUp, B. Beauty and Makeup Revolution are a few of the worthy mentions, along with theBalm which is now available in many Superdrug stores. You don’t need to go trawling through page after page of cruelty free brand lists to find something you can actually buy in your area – they’re already there, and have been there for a while!

LUSH is another hugely popular and well known cruelty free brand that is loud and proud about its stance against animal testing, and most large towns and cities boast one of their stores. Depending on your view on parent companies (that is, whether you choose to keep buying from a certified cruelty free brand when they’re bought out or otherwise owned by a ‘parent’ company that is known to test on animals) The Body Shop, owned by L’Oreal, is also an affordable, widely available and really popular option.

Marks & Spencer’s own cosmetics brand, Autograph, is also within an affordable price range and can be found in any local M&S store, and all of Superdrug’s own brand products are cruelty free too!
Notice that I mentioned ‘affordable’ quite a few times in my last point? Well, cruelty free beauty isn’t as expensive as people can make it out to be. Although there are certain brands that are more expensive than average, and it can sometimes cost more if you choose to only shop brands that are exclusively available online, there are plenty of cheap options available to you, too. Superdrug’s own brand cosmetics and skincare are incredibly cheap, and brands like Makeup Revolution, and SleekMakeup and GOSH are no differently priced to high street animal tested favourites like Rimmel, Revlon or Bourjois.
There are a number of different testing procedures used to test cosmetics on animals, and almost all of them are awful, painful and ultimately result in either the death or euthanisation of the animal. L’Oreal, Maybelline, MAC, Rimmel, Revlon and all the other beauty blogger favourites all put animals through what is essentially torture for the sake of cosmetics; skin irritation tests are carried out by rubbing a product or ingredient onto shaved skin with no pain relief, eye irritation tests carried out by dropping chemicals into eyes only to be washed out to test again later, lethal doses are force-fed or injected into animals to confirm whether or not that particular amount of chemical is toxic and/or results in death. Depending on the country in which the testing is carried out and what the type of test is, those animals that don’t die during these experiments will either continue to have tests carried out on them until they do, or will be simply be killed when they’re shown to be in pain. Other than death, the experiments can result in rashes, burns, seizures, haemorrhages, any number of other side effects and all of this is administered without anaesthetic or pain relief, all so MAC can continue to produce the lipsticks you love or Revlon can release a new long-wear foundation.

It’s also important to note that these tests are not just carried out on lab bred mice or rats (which are largely sadly still considered insignificant and expendable), but on rabbits and even sometimes dogs, and all of these are animals that are widely considered lovely, family pets. If this knowledge and what the animals have to go through hurts to know, it might be time to consider re-evaluating your buying habits.
You may think that companies choose to do these types of tests for the sake of humans – why test chemicals or ingredients on a human being, when you could safely test them on a rabbit before risking a person’s health in human trials? Well, animal testing actually has a whole lot of scientific limitations, because at the end of the day, we’re not lab animals. Just because a product reacts a certain way on a rabbit or a rat, doesn’t mean that it will be the same for us, because different species and different physiologies can react just as differently to the same chemicals.

There are many much more cost effective and more humane ways to test products that don’t involve animals and can provide safer, more human-relevant results in much less time than it takes to test and observe animals’ reactions.
Most of the popular brands that people know and love are considered great quality and are staples in so many peoples’ makeup bags, so surely giving those up would mean having to settle of stuff that’s not as good? Wrong! Since going cruelty free, I’ve discovered so many brands and products that I may never have thought to use before but absolutely swear by now, but on top of that, there are many already loved brands who are cruelty free too. Everyone raves about theBalm’s Marylou Manizer, and as I mentioned earlier, theBalm are cruelty free! Sleek MakeUp’s eyeshadow palettes and blushes are some of the best quality and most highly pigmented on the high street market for the price, and they’re cruelty free! Barry M’s nail polishes are used by anyone and everyone and offer some of the best colours and formulas around, and they’re cruelty free!

As well as high street products, there are a wealth of high end brands that are cruelty free, too. Too Faced, BECCA, Anastasia Beverley Hills and Hourglass are just a handful of those that are cruelty free, and that list gets even bigger if you’re someone who chooses to purchase from brands owned by parent companies that test. You can have one hell of a face of gorgeous, high end makeup without buying a single product tested on animals!
Going cruelty free is as much of a lifestyle change as altering your diet or trying to form new, more positive habits – it doesn’t need to happen in the blink of an eye. You don’t need to flick a switch and just bin all of your all products; you can go at your own pace, replace products as you discover new cruelty free alternatives, and learn at whatever speed is most comfortable for you. It can seem a bit intimidating deciding to go cruelty free when there are already so many ethical buffs and gurus out there spouting off tested and non-tested brands as though they know them like the back of their hands, but we all started somewhere.

You aren’t obligated to give everything up at once or to wake up one day and to magically know everything about being cruelty free and never make a mistake. You also aren’t expected to know all of the ins and outs of animal testing laws, procedures and complications like parent companies or China sales as soon as you get started. It takes time not just to build up a new collection of products, but to wrap your head around all of the complexities of animal testing and to learn your own boundaries and comfort zones on the topics, too.

Choosing to give up cosmetics tested on animals was one of the best lifestyle decisions I ever made; I’ve found so many new brands and favourite items, my interest in makeup has flourished and I’ve met so many welcoming and insightful people in the cruelty free community.

I know people don’t like it when folks who’re into ethical living get up on a soap box about what they believe in, but one of the few goals I actually have with my blog is to gently encourage people to think about the realities of the products they buy and the affordable, worthwhile cruelty free options that are available to them instead. Ultimately, I don’t believe that animals need to suffer or die just so I can wear makeup or use a nice lotion, and I’d like to think that most other people would feel the same way. I urge you to educate yourself about animal testing procedures and cruelty free alternatives and, if it’s within your means to do so (because it may not be within everyone’s), to think a little bit more critically about what you choose to purchase, but do also remember that just doing your best to lead a more ethical life is great too and you don’t always have to meet the exact same, high standards set by others.

If you ever have any questions or want any advice or recommendations on cruelty free products and how to go cruelty free, I’m always happy to help! I learned mostly independently and through my own research, but in the past few years so many more people have gone cruelty free and non-animal tested products are becoming much more mainstream and widely available, so there’s no need to go it alone. Hit me up on Twitter or send me an email, I’d love to help you out!

Stay beautiful,


  1. Really well done post Steph! Being cruelty free as well, I wish there were more readily available cruelty free brands in the US. There are plenty, but many are online only or difficult to find. In a way that makes the hunt more exciting though! :) I think this is probably one of the most well written posts about cruelty free beauty I've seen! :) Brilliant work! :)


    1. Thanks so much, Christine! Funny, I often find myself wishing affordable cruelty free stuff was as available here as it seems to be in the US, but I guess the grass is always greener on the other side! :P

  2. This is so well written, Steph - I wish I'd had something so in-depth to read when I first went cruelty-free! xx


  3. Just like you I thought anything I was buying was okay as I'm in the uk! I recently found that not to be true. I'm slowly trying to work through my make up stash to rid myself of the brands that test. Very helpful post :)

    Sam xo | Messy Buns & Make Up

  4. This is such a great post Steph - there's so much information here. (I know I'm behind in reading this but my bloglovin feed is huuuuuuge at the moment and I'm trying to catch up :)!)
    It's definitely given me something to think about!


  5. Great post! I especially agree with you last point. Honestly, any small step in supporting cruelty-free brands is good as far as I'm concerned.

  6. Ah this is like breath of fresh air! I went cruelty free last summer and had the same initial panic you had, but then after a bit of research I found out, that the world of cruelty free beauty is massive!

    I've managed to inspire few of my friends to make the change as well.


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  8. This is an amazing post! Its crazy how even after we test on animals, there tends to be human trials too.

    laurmatthews.blogspot.com xx

  9. Such a nice post! Its actually really opened my eyes and I might have to have a clear out and only buy creulty free makeup from now on! Thank you for the post, really needed to read this!

    Rebecca x


  10. Such a nice post! Its actually really opened my eyes and I might have to have a clear out and only buy creulty free makeup from now on! Thank you for the post, really needed to read this!

    Rebecca x


  11. This is a really interesting post for someone like me, who is none-other than lazy when it comes to searching for cruelty free prodcuts. There are NO excuses though, as your post as proven. Thank you for this. I'm going to make a real effort to change.



  12. Despite my love of mac lipsticks I really need to make a change and start to think about whether the makeup I buy is tested on animals. Its just so hard to know which brands do it? I just wish it was made illegal to test cosmetics on animals - surely there are other ways!? Great post, it really made me think xx


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