When I first decided to go cruelty free I thought it would be easy-peasy. If you have seriously tried to go cruelty free you know this is a resounding "Not so!" My google search produced multiple websites which listed cruelty free and non-cruelty free companies. I was so happy there was such a wealth of information. However, as I started looking through these multiple lists I realized how inconsistent they were.
Insert annoyed and frazzled face here.
So instead I went to see what beauty gurus and assorted bloggers/opinion givers said. I was unsure about just reading company statements since I had heard complaints about all of the misleading phrases. Every person seemed to have their own good and bad list so that was just as inconsistent as the lists I had found.
I ended up just picking PETA's list, which i do not recommend, since they seemed pretty extreme to me and, in my mind, therefore would have the most stringent requirements to be listed. Not so! (FYI: I currently use Leaping Bunny's list its not the most accessible, but they list stores owned by testing brands and add an annotation to tell you so.)
Image credit: tohappyvegans.com
These are the top reasons that I believe are making it so hard for people to get consistent answers in regards to animal testing. Hopefully, if we understand why there is so much confusion we can communicate with companies and other shoppers in a meaningful way.
Misleading Company Statements
I think this is the main/biggest reason for all the confusion. Companies purposefully mislead their consumers in this way and if they were upfront we wouldn't have to speculate amongst ourselves about what is true.
If a company simply says we do not test on animals, that doesn't actually mean that they don't (They hire third party testers). If a company says we do not testfinished products on animals, they probably tested the ingredients on animals. Ridiculous I know. There are still other statements that essentially say "We don't want to but..." and bring up legal reasons which are not 100% true.
I think the confusion is great for companies. If someone is saying they aren't cruelty free it doesn't matter if another person is saying they are. All the confusion causes some people to give up on going completely cruelty free and still buy the product. Also a consumer can hold onto the hope that maybe the product is cruelty free and continue repurchasing. At the moment, if there is serious confusion over a product I just don't buy it.
Personal Comfort Level
As I said in my first post, many consumers buy cruelty free products even if they are distributed by a parent company who is not cruelty free. Other cruelty free consumers buy products from companies who have the "unless required by law" stipulation in their animal testing statements. Many people are comfortable with this and many others are not.
This is where some problems arise.
Image credit: beliefnet.com
Many people assess a company's statements, filter it through their perceptions, information and comfort level, and end up with a simple yes or no for whether they animal test. This works great on an individual basis. When other people who want to go cruelty free, like me, don't read the company statements for fear of confusion we usually look to what other cruelty free people are using. This person's comfort level and our comfort level may not match.
In addition, if someone is just starting a cruelty free lifestyle change they may not even realize that this is an issue. When I started I also thought it was a simple yes/no, testing/non testing problem.
Is there even a completely cruelty free product?
All ingredients in cosmetics have been tested on animals at some point. No, I don't have the stats, but it has to be close to all if not all. The link below goes to a video gossmakeupartist on youtube has created where he goes in depth about this. Eventually this again becomes an issue regarding personal comfort level.
I personally will not buy a product if my money will be spent on more new animal tests. I can't go back in time to stop something, and if I can't accept that then I won't be wearing any makeup. To quote Goss "Its bothersome that that's the case, but that is the case."
This being said there are many, many companies that are smaller which sell cruelty free as well as organic and vegan products and I'm not sure whether this applies to them or not. However, they obviously are putting in effort and will be explored later here.