Cruelty-free has been seen as a trend for years but what are the ethics of it? Many of the beloved brands of Britain have been using animal testing for decades on their product and while many have are changing their policies for advertising strategies there are companies who are devoted to the true meaning of cruelty-free.
My own journey has been ongoing since I turned fourteen years old and understood the effects the makeup I was consuming was having on animals across the world. No person is perfect no matter how much they may claim to research every product but more than ever we have the guidance and availability of products for a cruelty-free world.
But what does cruelty-free mean? The term can be over-used and de-sensitised by the public but the definition stands as: “(of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods which do not involve cruelty to animals.” Cruelty can be seen as testing products on animals or any kind of maltreatment through the manufacturing of the product. In a technologically advanced age, we no longer need the methods that were used in the last century and have proven to test by cruelty-free brands which are just as safe as those that test on animals.
One of the main issues of the selection of cruelty-free products is that many take for granted that some products are not tested on animals. For example, dishwasher tablets must have a label on them to certify that they are cruelty-free and the same goes for washing up liquid. Awareness is key. Below I will explain some of the brands and methods I have used in my cruelty-free journey.
My awareness of cruelty-free came through my use of makeup and it is one of the most talked about areas when it comes to the subject. Many brands are making the effort to change their production methods to become cruelty-free and vegan. One of the issues I came across was that brands must comply with Chinese law regarding animal tests if they wish to sell their products in China. Given the profits that China has to offer many brands have bent happily to this law and vaguely give suggestions of cruelty-free on their websites without fully committing.
Some brands that I have stuck to on my journey have been Nyx, Elf, and Fenty Beauty. Body Shop is fantastic for knowing all their products are cruelty-free and knowing that they started out as an independent seller intent on having their products of such quality. They sell makeup, skincare, fragrance, and hair care so it always stands as a well-rounded option if I am ever in doubt. Both Superdrug and Boots have stated that their own brand products are cruelty-free and provide a lower price point for products if others run high in your research. I have tried many of their products before and they have always met my needs when I wasn’t sure if another brand had the cruelty-free standard.
For hair care, a brand I have been using for the past couple of years and absolutely adore is Faith In Nature. They are fully certified cruelty-free and vegan as well as being produced in England by a British company. They even have used water from the Lake District which is a nice touch to accompany their wide variety of scents such as shampoo and conditioner. I originally chose this brand because of a local re-filling shop that offered an abundance of environmentally friendly products and re-filled Faith In Nature in my favourite scent grapefruit and orange. They are now one of the brands to be sold in most re-filling stations!
Although cruelty-free is seen as the method directly impacting the animals through testing, for the most part, the effect on the environment from clothing production has had and continues to bring catastrophic damage. It comes from man-made materials that pollute water supplies and animal environments leading to a lack of biodiversity which in a domino- effect harms us in the process. Items made from animal products require a question of ethics on the creatures we are using to make them. Even the dyes and inks that are used on the majority of clothing have toxins that seep into the environment and even our own skin!
Thankfully many brands are rising to the challenge to produce sustainably sourced clothing that feels good, looks brilliant, and doesn't harm our planet.
A brand I have recently come across has been Indi which established its business in 2014 and is committed to providing sustainably sourced material, non-toxic inks unlike many in the industry, and certified vegan, cruelty-free and plastic bead-free. They also plant a tree for every item purchased. As they are a small business in Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast they have the ability to hone their ethics as they build to compete with high street brands.
It is the smaller companies in my experience that are creating new ideals for the clothing industry and we must support them wherever we can so they become the standard and not the novel exception they are sometimes treated as by bigger corporations.
Can our world ever be truly cruelty-free?
The future I hope that is coming into fruition in smaller businesses now will force the larger corporations to commit to the standard of cruelty-free. The change must come from each of us to shift the interest and expect cruelty-free as a need not a trend. Companies need to be transparent on how they are producing their items and when they are vague we must demand answers or be forced to never fully commit to a world that could be cruelty-free but falls short because of apathy.
Becoming cruelty-free is a journey and one that should never have shame in it. Affordability is an issue with more sustainable and cruelty-free brands in some sectors. We must put pressure on businesses large and small to combat this so each of us has the ability to buy products that do not destroy our planet or harm an animal no matter what the price tag is.