You may have heard the word cruelty free in the beauty industry thrown around especially surrounding skincare and cosmetic products. This buzzword has been a major point of discussion in the beauty industry as of late as consumers research more into brands and the skincare products they are buying. While it may fall into the same conversation as vegan skincare, organic or paraben free skincare, what does cruelty free really mean and is it necessary to test on animals to have safe skin care? At Fether Beauty we are proud and open about using cruelty free skincare development practices and can guide you in the right direction to understanding what this all means.
Cruelty free skin care means that animal testing has not been conducted during any part of the formulating, manufacturing, distribution or sale of a product. This is the most generalised definition of the term, however, there are different variations of cruelty free skin care that may be unacceptable for some consumers that place strong emphasis on the ethics behind skin care companies; a growing trend in the beauty industry. For example, skin care products that are not tested on animals may still include animal bi-products or have had association with animal testing or products further up the supply chain to source ingredients, whereas, vegan skin care will not include any animal products in their supply chain, however you will still need to look out for claims of no animal testing. In addition, organic or all-natural is not necessarily cruelty free skin care, it just indicates that the product is developed with naturally sourced ingredients free from synthetic additives, and to be an informed and ethically-conscious consumer in the beauty world you will need to dig a little deeper to ensure a brand’s processes are in line with your values.
You might be wondering, why does animal testing even exist? Well, during the origins of the beauty industry, the science behind formulations was not particularly developed and products were tested on animals to establish the safety of them before human use. The concept of ‘cruelty free’ was first introduced into the beauty market in 1959 to advertise fake furs, establishing a new wave of social consciousness that advocates for animal welfare. Cruelty free persisted since then, however only held great weight for consumers in recent decades where major technological developments have allowed alternative forms of testing, making it unjustifiable to test on animals for skin care products. Growing consumer knowledge and social consciousness has forced skin care companies to be transparent and accountable for not only the efficacy of their formulas but also the methods used to source their ingredients, the sustainability of their supply chain, their production processes and their general social standing as a brand. It is not enough anymore to just make a good product; people want companies to make the extra effort.
Despite this change in views on animal suffering in the development of skin care products it is still classed as legal in some areas of the world, even requiring it to develop and sell beauty products to the market. However many countries are instigating legal reform to support the production of cruelty free skin care products with nearly 40 countries banning cosmetics that have undergone animal testing in their development. For example the EU has banned the sale of animal-tested cosmetic products. These countries have developed new leading-edge alternatives to animal testing that effectively allow skin care ingredients effects to be examined. These methods include testing on in-vitro samples which are donated human tissue or cell cultures that can mimic the effects of application onto human skin; synthetics of reconstructed human skin, human volunteers; or computer modelling and simulation programs that are skilled in predicting the toxicity of ingredients and their interaction with other chemical compounds. Through using an array of alternatives that directly emulate the effect of ingredients on human, cruelty free skin care is at the frontier of creating highly effective and science-backed formulations that produce real results for consumers.
With more and more companies choosing to take the cruelty free skin care path, we hope that eventually the old myths surrounding animal testing for safety can be destroyed and that all skin care companies can move towards more responsible and sustainable practices.