3 Tips for Beauty Product Shopping with a Conscience

Consumers Can Reinforce Good Ethics in the Cosmetics Industry, Says CEO of Cruelty-Free 

“Natural” and “organic” do not necessarily mean a product is cruelty-free.

“Natural” and “organic” do not necessarily mean a product is cruelty-free.

Irony is nothing new in the beauty products industry, says animal rights advocate Santosh Krinsky.

“Most women are aware that animals have been used to test products, but many may not realize that their current favorite makeup played a role in the torture of rabbits or mice, or that their favorite conditioner is not as ‘organic’ as packaging would have consumers believe,” says Krinsky, head of the international personal-care brand Beauty Without Cruelty (www.beautywithoutcruelty.com) — the first to ban animal-testing for its products in 1963.

BWC’s products are produced with zero animal testing and contain no animal ingredients.

While vegetarianism, veganism and an overall concern for the ethical treatment of animals have experienced a welcome boom in recent years, animal rights advocacy has a long history, Krinsky says. Among the pioneering entrepreneurs were Lady Muriel Dowding and Kathleen Long, who recognized the plight of conscious creatures and led the animal rights charge in England, eventually launching BWC.

“They helped change the course of how we see other living things and ourselves, pointing out the cruel irony of animal torture as a means to feel beautiful,” he says.

Krinsky outlines three tips for consumers who want to support cosmetics manufacturers with shared values.

•  Labels can be misleading, such as “not tested on animals.” While there are multiple organizations dedicated to animal well-being, there is no strict set of rules governing product labels that read, “not tested on animals” or “we are against animal testing.” The claims may simply mean that a third party does the testing, or they acquire raw materials that are being actively tested on animals by the raw material vendor to supply to the manufacturer. Or, companies may have a loose interpretation of “cruelty-free.”

Most chemicals in most products were, at some point, tested on animals.  The certifying agencies, recognizing this fact, have set a “fixed cut-off date” (such as 1996), which acknowledges that no one can undo what was done in the past.   “It deepens my joy that BWC, since its inception in 1963, has never commissioned nor accepted animal testing either on its own or by its suppliers for the ingredients used in its products,” Krinsky says.

Look for the endorsement of groups with high certification standards, such as the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, whose “leaping bunny” logo is an internationally recognized and trusted symbol.  The Vegan Society of England is the stringent clearing house for vegan trademark registrations – look for the word “Vegan” with a flower forming the V.

•  “Natural” and “organic” do not necessarily mean a product is cruelty-free. These buzzwords may fall short of certification from a reputable organization. “Natural” and “organic” doesn’t necessarily equate to cruelty-free and “not tested on animals.” Suppliers are required to assess safety for natural and organic ingredients just as for synthetic materials, and evidence may be gathered using animal tests, so those products are as likely as any others to have relied upon animal testing.

“Of course, most of these companies probably are doing their ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product ethically,” he says. “I encourage conscientious consumers to dig deeper if it’s not clear.”

Also, it’s sometimes the case that ingredients not being tested by a company or its suppliers may still be actively tested for other purposes, or by other companies or in other parts of the world. That is outside the control of the company using the ingredient in a conscientious way.

•  Look for the country where the product was manufactured. The EU agreed on a European ban on animal testing, but animal testing is still common practice in the United States, Asia and other parts of the world. American companies no longer test on dogs and cats, however, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and other creatures are subject to various tests that constitute torture.

About Santosh Krinsky

Santosh Krinsky has been in the natural products industry since 1974. He has founded and built a number of companies that offer positive alternatives to the toxins and environmentally unfriendly ingredients found in many products, while focusing his attention on developing awareness about the issue of animal testing of cosmetics, which he opposes. Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) products brand www.beautywithoutcruelty.com was founded in England in 1963 by BWC Charitable Trust, an animal welfare organization. Lotus Brands obtained the American rights to the BWC brand in 2010. BWC Features a complete line of hair, skin and facial/body care products and an extensive range of color cosmetics.

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