Consumers with Conscience

Posted on September 27, 2012

Did you know the household, personal care and cosmetic products you’re using may have been tested on animals?  In fact, some companies kill millions of rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats every year while testing products and their ingredients.  This despite the fact that an independent survey commissioned by PCRM found that 61% of Americans believe companies should not be allowed to test on animals and 72% said testing cosmetics on animals is unethical.  There is no law stating these types of products must be tested on animals.  Luckily there are simple resources that make it easy to find great cruelty-free products, and there are multiple benefits to supporting these companies.

cosmetics2_1_150x123Organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,) PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) and Leaping Bunny (the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics or CCIC) scrutinize hundreds of companies around the world to credit those who are not implementing cruel, outdated animal tests throughout any phase of product development, including testing ingredients.  On the bottle or packaging of your product, in addition to looking for the “RECYCLE” symbol, also look for either a “leaping bunny” or a heart above a bunny face. peta_bunny

Some companies say they’re cruelty free, but are actually owned by a parent corporation who does their manufacturing in places like China where animal testing can be mandatory.  These companies might even draw their own little heart to confuse you.  PETA and Leaping Bunny work with honest companies to help make shopping for animal-friendly products easier and more trustworthy.  Their symbols have become internationally recognized and respected.  You can check for regular updates on both the PETA and Leaping Bunny websites, or download their apps for your mobile device.  There’s even a handy little pocket guide you can send away for with a donation to the American Anti-Vivisection Society or download a free PDF on  You’ll find as new companies get added to the list, sadly other companies come off (ie; Urban Decay has recently moved their manufacturing to China.)


How can your health and wellness benefit by eliminating products tested on animals from your life?  For starters, using cruelty-free products makes my heart feel good—and that is good for my health.  When a product claims to be cruelty-free and isn’t, that’s false advertising.  That makes me feel bad and taken advantaged of—that is NOT good for my health.  As well, I can pronounce and identify most of the plants and herbs from which these ingredients are derived.  I’m less likely to wonder if there are downsides to breathing in, touching or wearing these products.  But that’s why they’re tested on animals, right, to ensure their safety?  Well, these experiments—developed in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s—usually involve applying chemicals or products to animals’ shaved skin or eyes.   Fact is, the body chemistry of humans is different.  Animals don’t wear make-up, body lotion, perfume or launder clothing (just to name a few,) so torturing them doesn’t make products more or less safe for human use. Each species reacts differently to substances, so animal tests cannot accurately predict how a chemical will affect a human body.  Furthermore, as someone with sensitive skin, I’m happy to go the extra mile and explore friendlier options to look and smell good. 

This year, PCRM began a survey of US companies that manufacture cosmetic and personal care products, as part of their “Come Clean” campaign.  If a company does use animal tests, PCRM will work with them on how to integrate non-animal methods into their program in order to provide safer products for humans and to spare animals from suffering.  Non-animal test methods are often cheaper, faster, and more effective than animal tests. In addition, these methods save the lives of tens of thousands of animals.

Leaping Bunny uses symbols to decipher which companies are animal friendly and safe to patronize.  Some companies that claim to be cruelty-free may not really be.  If you see a pink square next to the bunny, it means the brand is cruelty-free, but owned by a parent company or use suppliers that aren’t.  As of this writing, popular pro-environment , anti-chemical, anti-cruelty brands like “Tom’s of Maine,” “Burt’s Bees” and “Aveda” have been bought by enormous corporations that do test on animals.  It’s a conundrum because in and of themselves, the individual brands make stellar products with values I can get behind. 

sad_bunnyUnfortunately, every time I purchase these brands, my money helps line the pockets of Colgate-Palmolive, Clorox and Estee Lauder, all of whom put profits above animal welfare.  In fact, the conglomerates: Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and most high-end department store brands as well as leading cosmetic brands found in drugstores all experiment on animals—or are at least un-willing to sign an anti-cruelty pledge.  Companies like DOVE do wonderful things to support and empower women but still tests on animals (it will, however, ethically source tea worldwide!). 

But I’m happy to report; the list of animal friendly, cruelty-free companies is a mile long.  Many of the brands that are cruelty-free are legitimate small companies based here in the U.S., unlike multi-national giants that have antiquated ideas about how to generate profits and even concede moral ground to the Chinese government. You may not have heard of these smaller companies yet, but patronizing them means supporting small businesses that use sustainable ingredients that do not harm animals or the environment.  I like trying new things and I will find new favorites.  I’ve seen that many of these companies are now even sold at my Supermarket or online—so you don’t have to go that far out of your way for a little psychological wellness.  Convenience is certainly an important factor, but it isn’t everything.  It stinks that some brands still test on animals, but there’s an easy way to avoid them, and it’s good for your health and small businesses!  You really can impact the world with how you spend your money, and to quote the Dalai Lama, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”