There is much more to being a green goddess than choosing earth-friendly products, green beauty is beauty with a heart. It wouldn’t make sense to be beautiful at the expense of other sentient creatures would it? We use cosmetics and skin products every day, perhaps without thinking much further than what colour, fragrance or luxurious texture we love, but there are good reasons to look a little deeper at our product choices and why choosing cruelty-free cosmetics is an integral part of going green.
1. You don’t have to compromise who you are and what you believe in
Many cosmetics go through rigorous testing to test if products are safe for humans to use and because it wouldn’t be acceptable to do experiments on humans, animals are used as test subjects, having chemical lotions and potions dropped in their eyes and rubbed on shaved skin, being made to breathe in poisonous gases, trapped in cages most of their lives, experiencing unbearable suffering and often dying from the results of these tests. Worse still, in order for the test results to be “accurate” they are given no form of pain relief or anaesthesia. Can you imagine that happening to your pet? Or someone you loved? It would be unacceptable for them to suffer that way.
For instance, the LD50 test (lethal dose 50 percent) force-feeds animals chemicals by inserting a tube down their throat to see at what dosage 50% of them die. Another test is called the Draize test, which is used to see how much a chemical irritates the eye by dropping concentrated amounts of a test substance into their eyes and assessing the damage caused. This may be shocking for you to realise, but this is what happens and if you believe in a compassionate, humane world, being aware what it means to use products that have been tested on animals is important. How we treat our fellow earth dwellers who are at our mercy says everything about the kind of society we are. Remember that lab animals are nearly always kept in cages their whole lives, it’s not like they get to retire to a green pasture after a brief moment of suffering.
The heart of cruelty-free is compassion and love for all beings. Many of us instinctively know this already, but even science is increasingly finding that animals are very sensitive beings who experience suffering and pain like we do and many countries are extending more rights to animals as sentient beings. A sentient being has the ability to “feel” physically and emotionally. Unfortunately in South Africa we are behind the times, with animals being classified as “things” or movable property (bwcsa) and no clear laws about protecting animals used for research. Another good reason to take the responsibility to support cruelty-free brands into our own hands.
2. It’s always quality over quantity
Because cruelty-free products have been formulated using ingredients that haven’t been tested on animals they tend to be more simple, holistic and natural as well as more ethically and consciously developed. Becoming aware of ‘what is in what you put on’ will also start educating you about toxic ingredients and what to avoid.
Cruelty-free products are growing increasingly sophisticated so whether you like a minimalist, pure beauty routine or are one for high-end, cutting edge natural beauty science, making discerning beauty choices based on ethics and quality means you may just land up with a few amazing products you adore using all the time instead of a cabinet full of half-used old cosmetics.
3. Buying cruelty-free is much more satisfying
The products you buy are also about the values you hold. If you care for our feathered and furry friends, living a life that truly reflects these values extends all the way to your beauty routine – beauty from within and without. Consciously choosing your products based on uplifting values that matter to you brings another layer of depth and meaning to your everyday life in a way that can have a positive ripple effect in the world. Even the way you feel when you use these products is a part of it, knowing you have made a choice for the better is empowering and really feel-good.
4. You don’t just buy products – you invest in values
One of the reasons many usually kind and compassionate people have turned a blind eye to animal testing is that there have been some myths created by the shiny bastion of science to justify animal testing, saying that it is absolutely necessary for our own safety.
For a start there is no guarantee that an ingredient tested on animals is necessarily safe for a human, look at xylitol which humans can eat with no problem but can kill dogs. These tests do not necessarily translate accurately between the species. And even if they did – would you experiment on another human that way?
It is also becoming increasingly inexcusable as there are new tests that have been developed by scientists that are much more fast and accurate using human cell cultures and tissue studies (in vitro tests) and artificial human “skin” and “eyes” that mimic the body’s natural properties, as well as virtual organs that are used as accurate models of human body parts.
There has been a ban in the EU against animal testing of cosmetic including the sale of any cosmetic ingredient or product subject to any new animal testing, but sadly South Africa still lags behind, apparently requiring that any pharmaceutical ingredient in cosmetics must be tested on animals as part of the approval process and having a largely unregulated animal testing industry that is still legal. Another very good reason to vote with your money and choices.
5. You give back to the cause with every purchase you make
Every day we go through a routine that gets us ready to face the world feeling beautiful – moisturisers, makeup, beauty products, hair products; many with ingredients lists that read like chemical enclypopadieas. It’s estimated that the average woman puts about 500 chemicals on her body every day and considering the fact that we can use nicotine patches and transdermal multivitamins that absorb into our bloodstream, that should cause you some concern – do you really want a cocktail of chemicals absorbing into your body and coursing through your bloodstream and into your organs? The cumulative effect can impact your health by disrupting hormones and possibly triggering serious illnesses like cancer.
That’s not to say that there are never any chemicals in cruelty -free products though; because so many cosmetic ingredients have been tested at some stage or another Beauty Without Cruelty allows companies to have a cut-off date of five years previous for any of the animal tested ingredients they use.
Products formulated with a more ethical approach tend to go hand in hand with more natural ingredients, and Mother Nature has a pretty fabulous array of ingredients to explore and choose from, many of which have been used for so long by humans that we know they are safe. Even products that have been tested on animals can often cause allergic reactions anyway, and the more natural and gentle a product, the more hypoallergenic it’s likely to be (unless you are have specific allergies like a nut allergy). The nutritional value and beautifying properties of many natural ingredients are well known and can be studied and developed without the need for animal testing. Many people find that using these kinds of products help their skin clear up and take on a new radiance and beauty and problems like eczema and acne can miraculously clear up.
Cruelty-free cosmetics are such an important part of living in harmony with the earth and showing respect for all the incredible creatures you share this green gem with. You can make the choice by looking out for the Leaping Bunny or Beauty without Cruelty logos on cosmetics you buy. They have guides of cruelty-free products and also name which companies are still testing so you can make humane and informed choices. There really are some fantastic options out there that will leave you feeling beautiful both inside and out.