Cruelty free cosmetics rise in popularity

EDEN PARKES

People use makeup to feel good, but the rising issue of cruelty in animal testing is threatening that feeling for many. 

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Cruelty Free and non Cruelty Free products. Photo: Eden Parkes

Animal testing submits mice, rabbits, dogs, monkeys, birds and other species to a scientific process that may involve pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm.

Experiments include injecting or force feeding with potentially harmful substances, exposure to radiation, surgically removing organs, forcing animals to inhale toxic gases and subjecting them to frightening situations to create anxiety.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Representative Bryn Smernoff said the harsh realities of animal testing are more graphic than most people are aware.

“Some corporations still force substances into animals’ stomachs and drip chemicals into rabbits’ eyes. These tests are not required by law, and they often produce inaccurate or misleading results, even if a product has blinded an animal, it can still be marketed to you,” Mr Smernoff said.

Alternatives are capitalising on the growing demand for cruelty-free products as more consumers take a stand against brands that choose to test on animals.

Co-Founder of Yuva Skin Care Vicky Schulz said the brand was passionate about being cruelty-free from the moment they started the company 12 years ago.

“We do not test on animals and we do not use any ingredients in our products that have been tested on animals. We are all natural and therefore completely cruelty free,” Mrs Schulz said.

Mrs Schulz says that the quality of the product isn’t impacted based on that choice.

“I don’t believe there has to be a trade off. We work closely with our chemist to make formulations that achieve great results on the skin,” she said.

“The difference is, sometimes natural products don’t create the same feel on the skin that products containing chemicals do. But naturally derived products are having a better performance now for what the consumer wants.

“Particularly now with vegetarianism and veganism growing in popularity and it being cast over social media, people are more aware of animal cruelty and the products that they are buying, it’s great.”

Blogger Nicole Whittle of @veganbeautygirl started her blog in 2015 after struggling with cruelty-free/vegan beauty.

“I kept buying the same few products I knew I could use even if I wasn’t all that impressed by them. It’s frustrating when people want to be ethical consumers but find it too difficult and confusing,” Miss Whittle said.

In the midst of a social media evolution, cosmetic companies face more competition than ever.

“The beauty industry is more diverse than ever with emerging brands knowing that a CF (cruelty free) certification gives them a competitive edge. With so many good brands, CF is no longer something only hippies buy into but the everyday enlightened consumer. With so many good alternative options available, why would anyone choose to support animal testing?” Miss Whittle said.

“One of my most popular posts was a call to action against L’Oréal after they released a ‘vegan product’. So many people were angered and confused by this and loved that I made a post to clarify information about the product. When big companies claim something, it’s great that we live in an age where you can publicly challenge their statements and clear up misconceptions.”

Choose Cruelty Free representative Wendy Herbert said there are plenty of other ways to test products that don’t involve harming innocent creatures.

Scientists have developed sophisticated product tests that are faster, cheaper, and more accurate than blinding and poisoning tests, which were developed in the 1920s. Human cell cultures and tissue studies (in vitro tests) and artificial human “skin” and “eyes” tests mimic the body’s natural properties, and a number of virtual organs serve as accurate models of human body parts.

“Animals are physiologically different to humans and test results do not necessarily apply across different species. It’s fundamentally wrong to inflict pain and suffering on animals in the name of human safety,” Mrs Herbert said.

In China, animal testing is mandatory for all imported cosmetic products. Popular brands including Mac and Nars reneged on their cruelty-free stance in order to sell their products in China’s large market, outraging their consumers.

Mr Smernoff said PETA hopes to combat this problem by attempting to hold companies accountable for their actions.

“We are currently very concerned about the disturbing trend in which drug companies are exporting their animal testing to other countries—such as China—where animal welfare oversight is poor and public awareness is low.”

Internet searches for cruelty-free beauty products have reportedly increased by 40 percent in 2017. Additional research collated from Choose Cruelty Free shows that in 2015, approximately 10.27 million animals in Australia were used for testing.

Mrs Herbert says many companies get away with alluding to the fact that they are cruelty free when in fact they aren’t.

“We encourage consumers to always look for independent, third-party verification of cruelty free claims. There is very little in Australian consumer law to protect us from misleading statements,” she said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) Beauty Without Bunnies program is a resource for conscientious shoppers. With the online database shoppers can search by company name/product type to learn which products are cruelty-free. And when you’re out shopping, PETA’s bunny logo is displayed on products verified as cruelty-free.

Bryn Smernoff said that when people choose these products, they are voting with their dollar.

“This will hopefully encourage companies to move toward more ethical testing practices,” Mr Smernoff said.

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