With so many new terms clouding up on social media, it is difficult to know and fully understand these terms generally quoted by brands. ‘Cruelty-free’ is one such term that may have been loosely used these days but never really understood. This is also a term that we stand by as a Clean Beauty platform. So to all the skincare and makeup hoarders, we’re breaking down this term to help you be a kinder and smarter shopper!
What is cruelty-free in the true sense?
Cruelty-free in a very plain way could be understood that the product did not harm animals. However, the term has a deeper meaning to it. There are many ways that a brand could fool you with this term. A cruelty-free product means-
1) The ingredients of the products aren’t individually tested by the brand itself, vendors, or a third party. Usually, this part is hidden by the brands at times. They may give a simple statement saying ‘the product wasn’t tested on animals’. However, if they have a certification to verify that they are truly cruelty-free then you can rely on it.
2) The final product isn’t tested by the brand, manufacturers, or a third party. We see a lot of brands that don’t test on animals but they do sell in mainland China. According to new animal testing laws in China, which apply to Mainland China, special products need to be tested on animals before being sold and marketed in a physical store. If the brand sells it online in China, then it can be exempted from this law. However, the product has to be directly shipped to the consumer.
If a brand ticks both these boxes, only then it can be deemed to be cruelty-free. Although there are still loopholes in the definition of cruelty-free. There are so many ingredients that do hurt animals since they are extracted from animals instead of using a plant-based source.
What are some common ingredients that could be derived from animals?
With the advancement in Science, we have found ways to hurt no animals like this and reach out to plants to derive these ingredients. However, some brands continue using the traditional way of extracting these ingredients. Let’s look at a few examples:
1. Squalene Oil
This is extracted from sharks from their shark liver oil. And yes, we are talking about all the extinct shark breeds too. Squalene Oil, however, can be easily derived from plants in the form of Rice Bran Oil or Olive Oil too, popularly known as Plant-based Squalene.
2. Stearic Acid
This is another commonly found ingredient in the list. But Stearic Acid is derived from the fats of cows, pigs, sheep, dogs in laboratory settings. The plant-derived alternatives are Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter.
We spot this commonly as well. Most of the time, you may spot it in lipsticks or lip balms. The real problem is that we’re destroying their houses that they build to protect and grow their babies. While destroying that hive for wax and honey sounds nothing but a normal thing to do for a human, it affects bees on a large scale. To be mindful of this, we must try to avoid beeswax.
Pigments are derived from fish scales and colorful insects. However, there are many alternatives these days that use plants to get these rich pigments.
5. Active ingredients
With the wide outreach of active ingredients like Collagen, Peptides, Ceramides, it is important to know if these are synthetic or plant-derived sources of proteins because these proteins are extracted from animals like goats, cows, silkworms.
After understanding this so far, you may question if an animal-derived ingredient is present in the product then does it mean that it is cruelty-free? Well, unfortunately, yes. When you talk about the source of the ingredient, if it is plant-derived then it is called a vegan product and not a cruelty-free product. Learn more about vegan products and ingredients here.
What does it mean when products are tested on animals?
Animal testing means the animals are either forced to inhale or swallow a particular ingredient, or they are injected with these abnormal dosages to test what and how much of it works best for humans. We’re gonna tell you later how inaccurate this testing method is but let’s first know what happens to the animals.
1. Draize eye test
To know if a substance is irritant to the eyes, it is placed on the eyes of the rabbit and observed for weeks to know the long-term effect of this substance. If it’s an irritant, then things don’t turn out to be great for the vision of the rabbit since it leads to bleeding, ulcers, or blindness.
2. Acute toxicity test
This test is to find out the effects of a product after several exposures and also to test the skin sensitivity. For this, animals are forced to inhale, ingest the substance, or injected and applied on their skin. If the product is carcinogenic then rats, rabbits, mice may develop tumors bigger than their size and die with seizures. If it is toxic for the skin and body, then they may develop some serious wounds which aren’t addressed since they’re test bunnies.
Is animal testing necessary for product safety?
The question staring right at our face is do we need to do this to the animals before using the products ourselves? Is this the only way to test for safety? Answer is no. In fact, animal testing does not give you accurate answers. There are better methods to do this.
1) In vitro human tissue tests
Human tissue cells are isolated and then grown in a lab to give us a platform where we could test substances without harming humans and animals. Pretty cool, huh?! We thought so too. This is a common way that cruelty-free brands use to test their products’ safety. Plus, since this is done on human cells, it gives us more accurate answers than live animals.
2) Computer predictions
We live in a very advanced age where computers can do so much more than sending emails. With the years of research on which ingredients are toxic and all the relevant details, these data together form a solid database for the computer to predict if the questioned product is safe or not. This test is still more accurate than animal testing!
These are just a couple of methods we are mentioning but there is more than Science offers these days to eradicate animal testing systems.
Why must you opt for cruelty-free products?
If you’ve understood this so far, then you must have realised that those tiny fur balls do live hell for you to safely put on that lipstick. Are those products really worth their screams and your money? We don’t think so. Logically, humanly, practically, and emotionally it makes sense that we be smart consumers and opt for cruelty-free products. It may hurt you for a while to cut off those brands that you swore by but whom are we kidding? This is a huge market and you will find better alternatives. Our platform swears by listing and promoting truly cruelty-free products. So we have your back when it comes to finding alternatives.
How to know if a product is cruelty-free?
When a brand puts up a general tagline saying ‘We don’t test on animals’ or ‘Cruelty-free’, do not believe them. Check for certifications that will be present on their website and product packaging as well. If the certification is from PETA, Leaping Bunny, or Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF) then the product is rightly cruelty-free. These three platforms are globally recognised for having a strict system in place to know if the products are truly cruelty-free and only then are they issued a license that can be used to certify the brand’s authenticity. With the increasing popularity of these licensing platforms, customers must know exactly what their logos look like to spot false logos.
If you’re ambiguous and want to further know if they are truly cruelty-free, then you can mail them with a list of questions or check their FAQs. We’d recommend that you dig up about a brand before choosing it.
The bottom line
Cruelty-free is not an easy word to use and understand but it is crucial for today’s consumers to take a step towards it, show humanity and save animals from screaming and dying horrible deaths in a laboratory. All the products listed on Sublime Life are cruelty-free to give you a great range of alternatives to shift towards cruelty-free consumerism. Happy shopping!
- Divya Salvi