"Cruelty-free" means that a product is not tested on animals during the development or manufacturing process. Cruelty-free products do not contain animal-derived ingredients and are not associated with animal welfare violations or practices.
However, it is important to note that there is currently no global standardized legal definition of "cruelty-free," which means that there is no guarantee that a product is free from animal testing or animal suffering.
How Skincare Brands Loophole “Cruelty-Free” Claims
While many skincare brands claim to be "cruelty-free," there are unfortunately some loopholes that companies may exploit to make this claim without truly adhering to ethical practices. Here are a few ways that brands may use loopholes to say they are cruelty-free:
- Third-party testing - Some brands claim to be cruelty-free because they do not test their products on animals, but they may still rely on third-party laboratories or suppliers that do conduct animal testing. By outsourcing this testing, they can technically claim not to test on animals internally.
- Selling in markets that require animal testing - In certain countries, animal testing may be a legal requirement for certain products. Some brands sell their products in these markets while still claiming to be cruelty-free. They promote that they themselves do not conduct the testing, but they still benefit from it indirectly by selling in those regions.
- Parent company testing - A brand might state that their own products are not tested on animals, but if they are owned by a parent company that conducts animal testing, the profits from the cruelty-free brand can still support and enable animal testing in other subsidiaries or divisions.
- The finished product may not have been tested on animals, but the ingredients were - Skincare companies may claim their final product was not tested on animals, but often, safety and product testing are done at the ingredient level.
- Vague terminology - There is no standardised definition of "cruelty-free," which allows brands to use this term without meeting the strict criteria. They might employ ambiguous language or greenwashing techniques to create the illusion of being cruelty-free without any clear guarantees.
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing refers to the act or practice of making a product or company appear more environmentally friendly than it really is. It is a deceptive and persuasive marketing tactic to capitalise on the increasing demand for environmentally sound products. Greenwashing involves making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of using a company’s product.
Companies engaged in greenwashing may use nature-inspired imagery, bold claims, or buzzwords without substantiating their environmental claims. They create an illusion of environmental responsibility while failing to effectively reduce their environmental impact.
How are Animals Used in Testing Skincare Products?
Animal testing is cruel and very painful for the animals involved. It can cause significant discomfort, pointless pain, and even death. Animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats are used for various tests. Examples of tests conducted include skin and eye irritation tests, where chemicals or products are applied to shaved skin or into the eyes of the animals. Another test is the lethal dose test, where a substance is force-fed to animals to determine the amount needed to cause death.
You can read more about animal testing here - Cruelty-Free 101: A Beginner's Guide to Cruelty-Free Beauty | Cruelty-Free Kitty (crueltyfreekitty.com)
Where Is Animal Testing Banned?
The use of animals to test cosmetic products has been banned in approximately 44 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, countries in the European Union, India and Brazil. However, some countries like China still mandate animal testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require animal testing for cosmetic products or ingredients, but it also does not prohibit the use of animal testing.
Cosmetic testing on animals is banned in Australia, including the manufacturing of skincare products. This ban went into effect on July 1, 2020, and it prohibits the use of animal testing data to prove the safety of new ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics that are manufactured in or imported into Australia. Therefore, skincare products manufactured in Australia cannot rely on animal testing to demonstrate their safety.
It is important to note that while the ban on animal testing for cosmetics is in place, some exceptions may exist. For example, chemicals intended for use in cosmetics may still undergo animal testing if the purpose of the testing is justified by a non-cosmetic objective. However, testing finished cosmetic products on animals is not permitted in Australia. The ban is enforced by the Australian Government Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Alternative methods to animal testing such as computer modelling, the use of human skin samples, and in vitro testing are all acceptable in Australia. These methods are more accurate, cost-effective, and can produce results more quickly than animal testing.
You can read more information about the ban in Australia here - Department of Health and Aged Care | Ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics
You can find more information on Animal Testing bans here - 50 Brands That Test on Animals: Avoid These Products and Companies (thedermreview.com)
Is Vegan Skincare Cruelty Free?
Vegan skincare products do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, and carmine. However, it is possible that vegan skincare products may have undergone animal testing, unless they are certified as both vegan and cruelty-free.
How to Determine if a Skincare Brand is Genuinely ‘Cruelty Free’?
Unfortunately this is not a simple black and white answer. It is important to research individual brands to determine their specific animal testing policies and certifications. Conducting thorough research and referring to reputable cruelty-free sources can provide guidance in making an informed decision. It is recommended to check the brands' website, product packaging, or contact the brand directly to ask the following questions:
- Does your brand test on animals, for either finished products or ingredients?
- Do your suppliers test on animals? How do you ensure this?
- Do any third-parties test on animals on your behalf?
- In which countries are your products sold?
However, it is important to read between the lines with how a company responds. If they do not answer your queries in thorough detail and instead respond with a seemingly generic statement, then proceed with caution and keep researching.
Here are some other factors to consider:
- Third-party testing - A genuine cruelty-free brand should confirm that their suppliers do not engage in animal testing. They should not rely on third-party testing on their finished products or ingredients.
- Cruelty-free logos - Check for the certified cruelty-free bunny logo on product packaging. This logo indicates that the brand has met the requirements of that cruelty-free organization. However don't discount products that don't include these logos, that have their cruelty-free statement written on packaging instead. In order to display logos from cruelty-free organisations, businesses need to pay joining fees, registration fees and ongoing fees in order to use these logos. Some businesses prefer to put that money into other facets of their business because, after all, there is no standard definition of cruelty-free and and no set laws that govern all these cruelty-free organizations.
- Ingredients sourcing - A truly cruelty-free brand ensures that none of its ingredient suppliers or manufacturers test on animals. They may provide documents or certifications to support this claim.
- Transparency - Look for brands that openly communicate their stance on animal testing and cruelty-free practices. They should have clear and easily accessible information on their website or packaging.
- Social media and online forums - Explore social media platforms and online forums where consumers discuss cruelty-free skincare products. Other individuals passionate about cruelty-free living may have information or personal experiences with the brand you are interested in.
The AMPERNA® Story
AMPERNA® is an Australian owned and made skincare brand committed to creating active products specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
All AMPERNA® formulations are manufactured in Australia and are free from nasties including sulphates, parabens, aluminium, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colours, or bleaches.
AMPERNA® products are only tested on human beings. Never on animals.
You can ask us questions any time at firstname.lastname@example.org