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Cruelty-free Cosmetics: Together We Can

I am sure you are aware of cruelty-free cosmetics and what that means. But do you know why it is so important to stop animal testing? Do you know which type of experiments scientists carry out to test cosmetics? Can you imagine the number of animals involved? Continue reading this post to know all these details.

Nowadays it is very important for some of us about avoiding animal testing and many people don’t buy products if they are not cruelty-free cosmetics. I started to use cruelty-free cosmetics more than 20 years back when most of the brands were testing on animals. At that moment, at least in Spain, very few brands were cruelty-free. One of these brands was Yves-Rocher. I was buying only Yves-Rocher products for more than 15 years because they didn’t test on animals.


After this time, lots of brands became concerned about animal testing and started to make cruelty free products. That increased the variety and price of products you could buy and nowadays most of the brands are cruelty-free.

I recently watched the mini-documentary “Save Ralph“. Though I was already concerned about buying only cruelty-free cosmetics, the video made me think. I am a scientist and I know the type of tests carried out on animal testing. However, I am sure most people can’t even imagine as the companies try to keep it hidden from the public. Hence, I decided to write this post to make people aware of how cruel research can be and enhance my contribution to the cruelty-free movement.

What does cruelty-free cosmetics mean?

A cruelty-free cosmetic is a cosmetic that has not been tested on animals AND which does not contain any ingredient tested on animals. Though the term cruelty-free doesn’t apply only to cosmetics,  for the scope of this post I will focus only on cruelty-free cosmetic products.

The cruelty-free concept comes from the idea that no animal should suffer in the process of manufacturing a product, including cosmetics. Cruelty-free cosmetics do not need to be necessarily vegan, they can contain animal-derived ingredients but there is no animal test related to the product manufacture. Check this post to read more about vegan cosmetics.

What does the law say about cruelty-free cosmetics?

Animal tests started at the beginning of the 20th century, after an accident where a lady became blind after using mascara. Since then, there are millions of animals suffering tortures and killed every day. Fortunately, people and governments are aware of this and things started to change.

In 2003, the EU brought a law regulating animal testing. However, the law became effective in two stages. Initially, in 2009 it banned the ingredients’ experiments on animals. Finally, from 2013, it became illegal to sell or import products tested on animals (or which contain ingredients tested on animals).


The problem is that all the laws have an exception, and this one is no different. If the companies manufacture a product for China or other countries which require animal testing, the brand can test on animals in the EU. On the other hand, some brands, as WetnWild, manufacture their cosmetics in China but they don’t sell them there. Therefore, those products are really cruelty-free cosmetics.

After the Brexit, the situation in the UK didn’t change in that sense and the 2013/15/CE law still applies.

Type of animal experiments in animal testing

The type of experiments carried out in animal testing is extremely cruel. In my opinion, death is better for those animals compared with the torture they suffer during the days, weeks, or months of testing.

Some of the experiments are the following:

Draize Test

In this test, the scientists apply the compound to test on the animals’ eyes for at least 7 consecutive days. That causes irritation and in a lot of cases, the animals become blind.

Median Lethal Dose

This test involves force-feeding animals or force inhalation of the ingredient to test. The test finishes when 50% of the animals involved in the study die.

There are around 200 animals tortured in the test for a single compound’s toxicity.

Toxicity of repeated-dose

This test uses again on force-feeding or inhalation of animals, but also involves smear of compounds on the shaved skin for a period between 28 to 90 days.

An article published on the Animal Ethics website describes really well the torture methods used on animals testing.


Other ways of testing products not involving animals

At that point, you can think that if are doing these tests for years it is because they are necessary in order to get a cosmetic that is safe to use.

Well, that may be true one century back, but nowadays technology is really advanced and there are alternative methods to test the safety of a cosmetic. I can mention some of them, but not limited to

  • Cell culture
  • In vitro tests
  • Tests in bacteria and fungi
  • Image Techniques
  • Organs and tissues simulators
  • Information collection

There is information about more than 15000 ingredients already proved to be safe to use in cosmetics.

Some numbers related to animal testing

  • The most used animals are guinea pigs, rats, mice, and rabbits.
  • In a year, the number of animals used for testing only in the EU is higher than 12 million. That means 137 animals suffer cruel experiments every 10 minutes.
  • In 2008 in the EU the number of animals used were: more than 24000 dogs, more than 310000 rabbits, around  650000 birds, and more than 10000 monkeys.
  • More than 115 million vertebrate animals suffer torture in the world every year

How can I know if a brand produces cruelty-free cosmetics?

There are different websites having lists of brands that are cruelty-free. Some of them are Cruelty-free Kitty, Ethical Elephant, Cruelty-free International, Leaping Bunny, or PETA. However, if a brand is not on the list of cruelty-free brands, that doesn’t mean that the brand test on animals. If the brand doesn’t appear on the list of safe brands, you should do research about the brand.

Normally most cruelty-free products display a logo indicating that. If a product has an official logo means that it has been audited and that it has not been tested on animals nor contain ingredients tested on animals. Keep in mind that the logo belongs to the product, not to the brand.

However, you should be very careful as some products display a non-official logo which means literally nothing.

The official logo are the following:


The non-official logos look like the ones displayed below but keep in mind that they can be slightly different.


Some cruelty-free cosmetics brands

The good news is that every year the number of cruelty-free brands are increasing and it is becoming easier to get this type of product.

Some cruelty-free brands are The Body Shop, KVD, Essence, NYX, Urban Decay, WetnWild, W7 Cosmetics, Real Techniques, Zoeva, Hourglass, Catrice, Huda Beauty, and others. You can find many other brands in the PETA list.

What can you do?

You, alone, cannot do anything, but if you add your efforts and actions to the actions which I and other people are doing we can change the situation.

Every time you use a non-cruelty free product think of the suffering of all the animals involved to make you enjoy that product.

You can stop that if you don’t buy animal-tested products. Obviously, if a brand doesn’t sell a product they will think about and move to cruelty-free products.

And what about the brands that sell in China? I personally avoid these brands. Of course, people in China have all the rights to enjoy these brands’ products, but they should fight to make their government change the legislation.

If the brand wants to sell in China and countries which force animal testing, let’s do it, they have the right to choose where they sell. But I have my right to boycott the brand and do not buy anything they sell, even if the particular product is cruelty-free.

Some brands already chose and join the cruelty-free movement avoiding the Asian market. Other brands should choose between the Asiatic or western market until the law in those countries changes.

And only you can force the change.

If you want to contribute to stopping animal suffering, please share this video, so we can reach more people.


Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

I love beauty and skincare, try new products, and share my opinion with you. All my knowledge comes from years of experience and reading articles. I have dry skin, Fitzpatrick type IV, warm undertone, and my main concern is hyperpigmentation. Keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you. We are all different and products can have different results on your skin. Want to talk? Email me at contact@irenebeautyandmore.com


  • Lisa Harvey

    11 October, 2021 at 20:22

    This is a very eye opening post. I don’t wear makeup so I wasn’t really aware of what went on during the process of testing. It is very cruel and it makes me happy that it is becoming less and less. Cruelty-free is the way to go.
    Have a great week.

    • Irene Beauty And More

      11 October, 2021 at 20:46

      Thank you. That is only the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t want to explain more experiments as they are really cruel.
      Lisa, these tests are not only for makeup, they are doing similar tests for shower gel, shampoo, soap, laundry soap, and basically anything. We should be very careful with what we buy.


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