Happy Friday, today I want to create a definitive outline of my approach to my cruelty-free philosophy. I’ve mentioned it numerous times since going actively cruelty-free back around October 2018, but I decided it would be a good idea to lay it all out in one post, which I’m going to refer to in the future, so I don’t need to re-explain the same things in so much detail each time the very important topic comes up. Hopefully you understand where I’m coming from with this, since I want to give this the topic the dedication it deserves.
So why go cruelty-free at all?
It’s a bit of an odd question because to me the answer is fairly obvious: testing on animals is a morally bad thing. Animals can’t consent to being tested on, so why is it okay to test ingredients, cosmetic products, etc on them? In my mind, for something mostly superficial as makeup and to an extent skincare, how can I justify putting animals in a situation that highly likely hurts them and they can’t consent to it.
And it’s the consent part that matters a lot to me. If people volunteered to be involved in testing procedures, I respect their decision because you can verify that they consented to it. Be it verbally, written consent, etc. Their involvement may lead to unfortunate physical harm, but that’s something I’d expect participants to be warned of beforehand, and something they consented to knowing the risks. It’s still very unfortunate and I wouldn’t wish that harm on them, but I respect their free will and ability to consent (so minors would not be eligible in my mind) to make that informed decision. Animals however, we can’t confidently confirm consent from.
Does this mean you’re vegan?
The short answer is: no. From a dietary standpoint, I’m not in a position to commit to be fully vegan if I wanted to, but I also don’t really want to. I don’t feel comfortable discussing all of the details about my physical health, but to keep it brief: I don’t want to compromise my health by making dramatic changes to my diet when my constitution and diet – which includes eating meats and animal by-products – is something I’m already working on as it is. I aim to eat more red meats as it is to help combat my chronic anemia, as well as other dietary changes, so for me, veganism, as much I respect others who do embrace it, isn’t the right lifestyle choice for me.
As far as cosmetics go, many cruelty-free brands also take a vegan-friendly approach, so in many ways, my transition to be actively cruelty-free does make more of my cosmetic experience lean closer towards a vegan-approach. The reason I don’t go fully vegan with my cosmetics is because of my conflicted and uninformed opinions on the merits of both vegan and non-vegan practices. Or rather, do all aspects of veganism actually help or harm animals, when there’s a lot of discussion that says both are true. There are suggested to be examples of ethical ways to harvest animal by-products like honey which don’t harm bees as well as suggesting to help encourage their colonies health because the bees are handled safely and respectfully. However my conflict comes from not knowing with complete certainty which companies are practicing either ethical or unethical practices when harvesting these ingredients. So the sum it up: I don’t think that veganism guarantees a cruelty-free lifestyle, or that it’s the only option to do so. It’s something I plan to learn more about, but for now, my stance is to only support cruelty-free brands, and until I become more informed, I won’t rule out animal by-products either.
If this is a decision that doesn’t work for you, that’s absolutely fine, but please respect my decision to do things in the way that feels best for me. I completely respect all decisions, so if you decide that going cruelty-free isn’t right for you, I’m not going to attack you or think less of you for it. We all have our reasons for how we conduct ourselves, and I’d rather have a respectful discussion about it. The same goes for anyone who commits to veganism – it may not be the right choice for me, but I will not think less of you for doing what’s right for you.
What about cosmetics you already have from brands that aren’t cruelty-free?
One of the things I thought about for some time before I first talked about my decision to go cruelty-free, was what I would do with the stash of cosmetics I own. It’s made up of some cruelty-free brands but a lot of brands I realised are not. As a member of the EU (for now) my understanding was that all cosmetic brands were not allowed to test on animals, so all cosmetics I bought were cruelty-free because of EU law. If you want to read that in detail, here’s the link for it. So my understanding for a long time was that it wasn’t something I needed to think about, but brands we know to currently test on animals to sell in China, submit to animal testing in some form even if it’s not done inside of the EU. Is this legal? From the way it’s worded it doesn’t sound legal to me that these brands can sell their products at all in the EU, which includes the UK right now where I live. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a loophole, which left me very confused when I made the decision to confront this topic back in October.
So upon realising that my preconception that all cosmetics available to me being cruelty-free wasn’t true, I took to researching the various brands I know of, including ones I own products from, or ones I wanted to buy from. It shocked me how many products I currently have stashed away aren’t cruelty-free, but I wasn’t in a situation to just get my money back.
So I was left with a choice: do I throw it all out, or do I keep it?
And I made the decision to keep it. While I don’t like that I’ve supported brands that test on animals, I thought about the waste involved to throw it out. The money I spent itself isn’t the issue for me, as it’s already spent and there’s nothing I can do about it. But I hate waste, so I’d rather commit to trying these products, use them up if I like them, or pass them on if I don’t. I’ve seen a lot of people who go cruelty-free throw out their old makeup that don’t comply, but I don’t think this is the right decision for me. Again, I respect their decision entirely, it’s just not right for me.
However, I will disclose every product that isn’t cruelty-free when I review them, and will also clarify that they were a purchase I made before I started going actively cruelty-free. In situations where a brand goes cruelty-free after my purchase, I will disclose this too. Communication is important to me, and if I do neglect to disclose this, I encourage you to inquire with a comment so I see it. I like to think I’m quite diligent with this stuff, but I am human and I do have moments of forgetfulness or error, and I’m more than happy to edit my post to fix it and be up front that I made the mistake at all.
Hollypop, you mentioned superficiality, what did you mean by that?
The term superficial tends to be interpreted with a negative implication often implying being fake or insincere, but when I use the term, I intend it with a neutral tone. Cosmetics in my interpretation, sits on a spectrum of superficial on one end, and… ‘insightful’ or ‘deep’ on the other, by which I mean to be more than just the physical or the outward appearance. I view cosmetics to sit more towards the superficial end, but not to great extremes. Cosmetics, and I think skincare really stands out as a great example, can have medicinal or health inspired intentions, so more than just our outward appearance, while still being relatively superficial (many of us aim for clear skin not just for our overall health, but to feel or look good), and it’s this spectrum that I picture in my head when I think about the ethics of animal testing as well. The aspect of consent will always be an important factor, which is why I take a hard “no animal testing” policy with cosmetics, but what about medicine?
Medicine takes this issue to a level that leaves me conflicted. In my deepest heart, I’d say “no, animal testing is wrong in all situations” but when you think about situations like cancer research to save lives, finding cures for currently incurable diseases, it becomes more complicated. Medicine to me, is not superficial, or it shouldn’t be. Cosmetics like skincare that aim to treat skin conditions blur this line, but ultimately I think that animal testing is wrong. So when I think about how cures for diseases or our over-the-counter medicine are tested on animals, the concept of ‘cruelty-free’ becomes so much more complicated than just “I won’t buy makeup tested on animals or consume animal products anymore”, the medicine that saves our lives or helps us recover from sickness are the results of animal testing too. What do you think about it?
Why am I bringing up the topic of medicine? Because while isolated the issue of animal testing in cosmetics is easy to make a definitive decision on, it’s important to see how this issue becomes difficult for others. We all buy and use cosmetics in our own ways, for our own reasons. For example, one person might buy makeup to cover up the aspects of their face they’re not comfortable showing bare in a public sphere, while someone else might do it because makeup is an artistic experience for them. One person might use skincare because they’re deeply insecure about skin issues they have or perceive of themselves, while another person uses skincare as a form of self-love as one of their methods for handling their mental health symptoms. Obviously there are many more examples of situations that are also true, but you see my point I hope? It’s because of examples like these and many others you probably pictured in your head that mean I won’t judge anyone for not making the same decision as me, because we’re all motivated in our own ways. What I encourage is discussion and creating a community that engages in discussion, so as a global society we become more informed. It’s easy for us to cling to cliques or categories of thinking when we feel challenged, but it’s challenging our ideas that makes us either change/develop them, or become more affirmed.
And these are my thoughts on the issue so far. If I find at a later date I forgot to mention something, I will edit them in and make it clear they’re edited in. But this is my mindset right now. If you want to share your opinions, I’d love to hear about your perspective (please be respectful, I won’t approve comments with hateful messages in them) on this very important and controversial topic.