Saturday, November 3, 2012

Is Acure Organics Cruelty Free?

So my hair has been going through a dry spell lately and I decided it is time to finally try out Moroccan Argan Oil.  After browsing through Vitacost’s options, I decided to purchase Acure Organics 100% USDA Organic Moroccan Argan Oil.  I sent the following email to confirm their animal testing policies.

October 27, 2012:
“I see your website says that all Acure Organics products are "free from animal testing," but since the definition of animal testing seems to vary, I have some additional questions. 
Are the ingredients and/or finished products tested on animals either by your company or a third party contracted to animal test on your behalf?  Does your company direct sell to China or any other country which enforces an animal testing policy?  Is Acure Organics a subsidiary, and if so, does the parent company have the same animal testing policy?”

October 28, 2012:
“We are completely cruelty free and currently undergoing certification as such. All ingredients and finished products are cruelty free and manufactured in our facility in upstate New York. We do not sell direct to China or any other country. Acure is a brand under Better Planet Brands, 100% cruelty free.”

I was happy to receive an email that actually answered each of my questions since many responses I receive gloss over certain questions or assume that by answering one question they are truly answering them all.  I wish the email had specified who Acure Organics is receiving cruelty free certification from since, as I have previously discussed, not all lists are created equally.  Hopefully we will see them on Leaping Bunny’s List soon!

I did go ahead and purchase from this brand, but its parent company Better Planet Brands has given me some pause.  While I have found them listed as fair trade company through this website, the fact that there is no website for their company is odd to me.  The footer of states,
“Acure Organics is a family owned and operated company founded on sustainable principles to provide the highest quality natural, fair trade, and certified organic skin care and personal care products that are paraben free, cruelty free, sulfate free, USDA organic and effective.”
This seems to align with other information I have gathered since I’ve discovered Kristy Guerra, who is listed as the creator of the Acure Organics line, and Jon Guerra, who is listed as manager of Better Planet Brands.

Overall I feel comfortable buying from this brand and believe they are truly a cruelty free, ethically conscious brand in many ways.  Depending on how I like my Argan Oil I will seriously considering purchasing more products from Acure Organics.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Dermalogica Cruelty Free? Not if China is Involved!

Dermalogica is the latest in a string of companies to fumble with its animal testing claims due to relations with China.  Leaping Bunny recently removed the company from its cruelty free list strictly due to their ties to the Chinese market.  Having used their products before, I was disappointed to hear about this.  I sent Dermalogica an email to get a response about selling in China and to confirm that this was the only change to their animal testing policy.

September 25, 2012
“To whom it may concern:
I have been a happy consumer of Dermalogica products for some time but I wanted to better understand the company's animal testing policies due to some recent news. Does Dermalogica test ingredients or finished products on animals? If Dermalogica is a subsidiary, does the parent company test ingredients or finished products? Does Dermalogica hire a third party to animal test finished products or ingredients on animals? Also, does Dermalogica direct sell to China or any other country which requires or reserves the right animal test products sold in the country?”

September 26, 2012
“Thank you for your interest in Dermalogica.
Dermalogica does not, and has never, engaged in animal testing. We go to great efforts to ensure that our supply chain and ingredient suppliers uphold our values. We have recently become aware that the Chinese government now requires animal testing of cosmetic products as part of their product import registration process. Dermalogica does not condone animal testing, and is in the process of actively withdrawing our product registrations and undertaking the necessary actions to suspend our distribution to the Chinese market. We urge the Chinese government to consider non- animal, humane forms of safety testing.”

I find it odd that Dermalogica is claiming they were not aware of China’s animal testing policies.  Firstly, because they are a large company that surely has the capacity to hire lawyers and whoever else to check up on this for them, and secondly because so many other companies have been very publicly experiencing the exact same issue recently.  However, I have to agree with the prominent opinion that Dermalogica was so focused on their suppliers not testing that they lost sight of all other aspects of the cruelty free equation. 
I will be emailing Dermalogica again in the next few months to see what changes have been made since they wrote that they are actively working to remedy this problem by “withdrawing our product registrations and undertaking the necessary actions to suspend our distribution to the Chinese market.”

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Urban Decay in China: Marley Does NOT Approve

        **EDIT:  After the debacle in China ans subsequent retraction, Urban Decay is being sold to L'oreal, a brand that no one believes is cruelty free.  As of November 2012, Urban Decay will be a subsidiary of L'oreal.  Officially and forever black listed.**

        Another one bites the dust!  One of the last largest, mainstream cruelty free companies, Urban Decay, has decided to direct sell to China.  This means their products do not meet my standards as cruelty free nor Leaping Bunny’s standards.  Urban Decay obviously expected a harsh and massive response to this move and has posted their response here.  I have edited down the response below to highlight what I see as important.

“Urban Decay is going to sell our products in China. Because of China’s policies on animal testing, we know that this will not be a popular decision with some of our loyal customers. But the decision is a thoughtful one.
For those of you unfamiliar with China’s policies, the sticking point is this: the Chinese government reserves the right to conduct animal testing with cosmetic products before the products are approved for use by Chinese citizens. The government has not told us if they have exercised this right with our products. So, our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products. Do we like China’s policies? No…
 we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.
When we were considering expanding into China, a group of marketing consultants told us to remove the section of our company history that describes our crusade against animal testing. “It doesn’t mean anything to the Chinese beauty customer,” they said. Of course, …The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.
Based on this, our belief is that both an outside force and inside pressure for change can result in helping transform both the importance of women and animal testing policies in China. And more importantly, we hope to influence the perspective of the citizens on both of these issues.
Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China. We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world… even if it is one eye shadow at a time! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t our style. We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.”

Urban Decay is loosing their Leaping Bunny and Peta symbols.  They created the vegan symbol.

            First let me critique Urban Decay’s reasoning that because they are not commissioning the animal testing, they are blameless.  This is completely faulty logic.  If Urban Decay is so committed to animal welfare (they have built a whole brand around the phrase “we don’t animal test, how could anyone?) why are they even opening themselves up to the possibility of animal testing of their products?  Because they chose to direct sell to China, I see this as choosing to animal test because they know this is a likely outcome of their business relationship with China. 

They could easily choose to sell only in countries that do not reserve the right to animal test.  Then they could sleep comfortably at night knowing that they did not facilitate a relationship that will facilitate animal testing, but rather that they have chosen to work with people/countries that do not require them to dismantle their ethics and make them party to animal testing.

Finally, the fact that UD states this is the only way to start a cruelty free movement in China and that they will not be making any money makes me physically ill.  It is (pardon me) the biggest load of shit someone has ever tried to force down my throat.  UD, obviously you will be making money and don’t try to state otherwise because no one believes that at all.  Also once again your logic is flawed in thinking that abandoning your animal rights stance will somehow convince others to join this cause.  This baffles me completely. 

If you can not tell, UD’s decision to direct sell to China has elicited an emotional response from many cruelty free and vegan shoppers.  I never purchased from Mary Kay and Avon, who also decided to direct sell to China, because they stipulated “unless required by law” in their animal testing policy.  I never trusted these companies from the start. 

But Urban Decay?  I trusted them truly.  They had built up an identity that rejected animal testing and even clearly addressed the needs of their vegan shoppers with their vegan “Marley Approved” paw print to clearly identify all vegan products.  Yes, they did have issues labeling vegan products correctly at times, but I supposed this was due to bureaucratic company issues.  I’m sad for the animals, I’m sad that I bought into UD’s branding which I mistook for authentic belief, and I’m sad for the whole cruelty free movement to lose the last large cruelty company.  From now on, I think I will mainly be sticking to independent companies like Pumpkin and Poppy and other vegan makeup lines available on etsy.

Kristy from veggiebeauty posted a great video on this whole situation and the state of animal testing and cosmetics at the moment.  She discusses some alternative brands and what we should be looking for.  Hopefully this can provide some extra guidance.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cruelty Free and Vegan Favorites #2

This Alabama resident was reunited with his dog Coco after recent tornadoes devastated multiple areas in the United States. Read about Greg and Coco here.
Sorry for the overdue post! I’m in my final year of university and franticly racing towards the finish line. I’m attempting to keep up with my self imposed blogging schedule, but it may not run like clock work. Here are some of my recent favorite vegan and cruelty free favorites. Enjoy!
***Edit:  As of November 2012, Urban Decay has been purchased by L'oreal and will no longer meet my cruelty free standards.***
Darkhorse is on of my favorite colors in the Naked Palette hands down. I’ve replaced my eyeliner with this dark brown, glittery pigment. I am not a huge fan of glitter, but it isn’t very noticeable on. I love eye shadow as a liner (and Darkhorse especially) because it is a much more natural way to make my lashes appear thicker and define my eyes. This color is not sold individually.

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
This cake is one of the best cakes I’ve had, vegan or non. I handed some slices out on Valentines Day, birthdays, parties and had everyone asking for more. This recipe tastes almost exactly the same as the recipe my grandmother uses to make birthday cakes so I’m glad I can still have a similar cake.
Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a great Vegan, organic chain restaurant near the animal shelter I volunteer at. I stopped by one day with my omni friend and we both fell in love with their food. The menu varies by location, but at my location the food is Asian inspired with some classics like (vegan) hot dogs, hamburgers, and spaghetti. The USA website is here but search for your country’s website as Loving Hut is an international chain.

Abandoned Farm Hens Update
Recently a factory farm was abandoned leaving hundreds of egg laying hens to die. Many volunteer rescuers saved as many hens as they could and this great video gives an update on their new life at Farm Sanctuary. Its great to see a story with a happy ending.

The Ethical Girl’s Guide to Being Vegan and Fabulous
I recently found this great little ebook by Mandi Hoffman of This is a great resource for everyone interested in vegan and/or cruelty free products and lifestyle. It is a great base for anyone new to animal friendly life changes but also has great lists of vegan, cruelty free, toxin free, ethical shops and brands. She gives you a lot to think about in a very concise book without being overwhelming. I recommend this free ebook to everyone!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Avon, Mary Kay, Estee Lauder, and China

Avon, Mary Kay, and Estée Lauder have recently had a bit of bad PR when Peta removed these companies from their cruelty free shopping list. I personally do not use PETA’s list because the requirements to be on their list are much too lax for me. However, I have gotten multiple emails recently regarding these changes so I felt the need to address this particular issue and the overarching issue with these companies, in particular Estée Lauder and companies like them.

From reading over PETA’s website, it appears the problem for/with these companies is their business with China. China requires all cosmetic products to be animal tested before they are marketed in the country. I have been unable to locate any websites with official statements from the Chinese equivalent of the FDA and can not confirm or deny that all products must be tested in China. Instead of standing up for animal rights, which they claim to care so much about, by not selling in China Avon, Mary Kay, and Estée Lauder have attempted to shift blame onto a third party and act like the situation is out of their hands.

I have never purchased any products from Avon or Mary Kay so I do not have any information on their previous animal testing statements, but I recently received a response from Avon regarding these new developments in China.

Avon states:
“Avon does not conduct animal testing to substantiate the safety of any of its products. In fact, Avon was the first major cosmetics company to end animal testing more than 20 years ago.

Although Avon does not conduct animal testing to substantiate the safety of any of its products, some products may be required by law to undergo additional safety assessment in a few countries at the direction of a government or health agency and this may include animal testing. In these instances Avon always attempts to persuade the requesting authority to accept non-animal test data. If no compromise can be reached, we must comply with the requirement for additional testing. This is an issue facing all global beauty companies. We are not alone in this dilemma, and we continue to push for regulations that do not necessitate the use of animals.

Avon has worked to advance alternatives to animal testing for decades. Avon continues to support research into alternatives conducted by the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) in the United Kingdom, the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins University in the US and the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing. Most recently Avon joined the Scientific Advisory Panel of The Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a non-profit research and testing organization dedicated to the advancement of in vitro (non-animal) methods worldwide and Avon became a Founding Sponsor of the American Society for Cellular Computational Toxicology. Finally, Avon works closely on this issue with other companies in the Beauty industry as a member of the US Personal Care Products Council.

Respect for animal welfare is a cornerstone of our product safety philosophy. We will continue to work actively to advance the use of alternatives to animal testing worldwide. We encourage you to call for the global acceptance of non-animal test data.”

I understand that China must be a large section of Avon’s business especially with this recession cutting profits in a majority of countries. However, Avon only “must comply” if they want to make money in China. Like Avon I work to end animal testing and I can honestly say I would never consider turning a blind eye to animal abuse simply to make money. Maybe animals are important to them but obviously not as important as larger profits.

Also, some research have revealed that Avon was the first company to start selling direct to China once the Chinese government reinstated this practice. The article found here implicates both Mary Kay and Avon in selling to China since 2005 with “new regulations on the direct selling.” I do not know whether these new regulations included mandatory animal testing or whether these practices were already in place, but Mary Kay and Avon obviously knew what they were getting into.

I try not to bash any companies on this blog, but Estée Lauder has really gotten to me this time. I already completed a post on Estée Lauder and its subsidiaries (which include MAC and Clinique) posted under July 2011 if you want to review it. To sum up Estée Lauder (and all their subsidiaries when I last checked) have animal testing statements that stipulate “unless required by law.”

Below is part of a response I received from Estée Lauder in July 2011:
“We have always been against animal testing. Recently, the global regulatory climate has become more stringent and cosmetic companies are being asked to further validate the human and environmental safety of their ingredients and products. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety. Given these increased requirements for ensuring the safety of cosmetic ingredients, animal testing may be legally necessary under certain circumstances when no non-animal test alternative is available or acceptable to governmental/health authorities. Be assured that we will make every effort to avoid having ingredients tested on animals, taking all practical and available steps to see that existing or non-animal test data is used instead. However, if ultimately this is required in order for the Company to sell its products, we will, of course, comply with the law.

Estée Lauder explicitly states that they will test on animals to make money even if they word it differently. An article found here states that Estée Lauder has been direct selling to China since 2006 making it appear that they have been animal testing at least since then. This reaffirms my earlier fears which caused me to stop purchasing from Estée Lauder and its subsidiaries in the first place.

To top it all off I found this article in the New York Times from 2006, the same time period as the above articles, discussing the outsourcing of animal testing to China. I have been unable to find any explicit statements of animal testing on the official Chinese website, so this is the closest I’ve gotten to understanding China’s policies. In fact in the New York Times article, the author states that there is limited information on Chinese vivisection because there is very little regulation and neither the government nor individual companies exert much effort to get any information on what actually occurs.

So lets have a frank discussion. I know many compassionate, caring people have avoided these companies for this exact reason, but there are also many compassionate, caring people who have recently purchased from these companies. Hopefully, this “scandal” will be a wake up call not only in regards to Estée Lauder, Mary Kay, and Avon but to all companies who stipulate “unless when required by law,” do not have a trustworthy organization, such as Leaping Bunny, verifying their claims, and act as a call to consumers across the spectrum buying any product to be aware that companies think they can yank their consumers around with no consequences.

I will seriously be considering whether I should only buy products which are Leaping Bunny certified in the future.

***** I have read that MAC recently changed their animal testing policy, but this is NOT true. As of March 22, 2012 MAC still stipulates "unless required by law." My correspondence with them has been added to my original post on MAC under August 2011 to the right.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vegan and Cruelty Free Resources

Perhaps it is because I’ve spent the last three years researching and writing about everything under the sun for university, but I enjoy doing research and the rewarding feeling of empowerment and preparedness it brings. When I changed my lifestyle by purchasing only cruelty free products and then again by become vegan, I wanted to learn a lot of information quickly. It’s been five months since I’ve become vegan and I believe I’ve done a great job of finding a lot of information and have picked up a lot of skills that will serve me for the rest of my life.

Finding this helpful information was a lot harder than I anticipated. I still believe obtaining information about cruelty-free products is harder than finding vegan information simply because companies have an interest in keeping that information harder to find. Established vegans usually guide new vegans into a helpful, tip filled world making the change much easier and pleasant. However, it is harder to find a lot of vegan information with a quick Google search.

Therefore, I've created a guide below with some great resources I’ve discovered in the past five months. The more people you find, the more people they discuss, and the easier it is to find more vegan and cruelty free information/gurus/blogs. This online community is extremely important because for some people these may be the only other vegans/animals rights/cruelty free people they can converse with. I live in a large, thriving city, but I’ve only met two ex-vegans and no one who wants to actively work against animal testing.

I’ve organized the links into obvious categories and will break them up into multiple posts due to the volume. This first post will be about vegan and cruelty free products. I hope that these help you get the information you desire and allow you to make the changes you aim for.

Products & Misc. Lifestyle

Veggie Beauty

If you only look up one resource from this entire list make sure its Kristy’s youtube (veggiebeauty), website, and facebook page! When I discovered her youtube channel, I was ecstatic because it was exactly what I had been hoping to find! She is both vegan and cruelty free and keeps up a standard for the products she manufactures (Pumpkin and Poppy Cosmetics) and buys that I completely agree with.

She has numerous videos about what she buys at the grocery store, what products she uses, and, as she’s on a budget like the rest of us, she talks about a lot of affordable products. Her facebook page is very interactive, and she has replied to every question and comment I’ve made there so far. Seriously, check her out!

Vegan Break

Michelle is vegan and has a great youtube channel (veganbreak) and website. She has a range of videos that include restaurant reviews, grocery hauls, and animal rights information.

Vegan Beauty Review

This one is pretty self explanatory! I prefer her website to her youtube channel (sunbundelicious) since it has a lot more information, but she has such a great personality I enjoy watching her videos. She is vegan, cruelty-free, and prefers products with natural ingredients.

Veg News

Veg News’ youtube channel (VegNewsTV) and website have been the closest thin I’ve found to a (free) vegetarian/vegan/cruelty free news channel or magazine. Their articles and videos cover news in the community, recipes, and green/vegan travel. They also have a print magazine.

Temptalia Dupe List

Temptalia is a regular blog that does not cater to cruelty free or vegan products. However, they have an amazing dupe list that can be helpful when searching for a cruelty free or vegan alternative. If there is some product you are fond of hopefully you will be able to find a dupe that you can feel good about using.

The Discerning Brute

This great blog is for all you men out there. A majority of the information that I’ve found about veganism and cruelty free products often seems produced by and for a female audience regarding products that women would be more interested in. This blog discusses animal rights and veganism but focuses on ethical and green male fashion.

Leaping Bunny

I’ll say it again and again, use the Leaping Bunny List as your guide to cruelty free shopping if you don’t want to make your own list. Every company listed does not have any animal testing of its ingredients or during any stage of production. The brand also can not hire another company to test their products at any stage of production. The CCIC also ensures that an independent, third party audits these companies to confirm their claims.

These products are all cruelty free, but you must personally review each product and company to determine if they are vegan. For more information, I have an entire post dedicated to this topic to the right under July 2011.

The Vegan Society

I’ve just started researching The Vegan Society (website), but so far I like what I see. Similar to The Leaping Bunny Program above, the Vegan Society has the vegan sunflower trademark in which products must meet standards similar to leaping bunny’s but in addition must be vegan. They have a great tool to find companies registered with them here and a more detailed description of their standards can be found here. I plan on writing a more in depth post about The Vegan Society soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guide for Sending and Interpreting Animal Testing Emails

If you have some time and the desire to do so, you can easily do your own cruelty-free research. I strongly recommend doing your own research, even if only to confirm that a list you are using is cruelty free. When I email a company, I try to include the correspondence in my posts both to let you draw your own conclusions and to show how I word my emails and what to expect in return. Before I started emailing companies regarding their animal testing policies, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. So I have some tips and information to help you send your own emails, what to expect, and tips for analyzing a response.
If you would rather look over a list than do your own research, please use the Leaping Bunny guide here and review my post on Leaping Bunny under July 2011. I personally recommend the Leaping Bunny List over PETA’s cruelty free shopping list. Even with this list it is good to check up on a company if you suspect that they may not be cruelty free.
Before sending an email, check the company’s website for an FAQ section where they would usually post information about their animal testing policies. This may or may not help you out. Some companies do not include this information while others only include partial information. If the FAQ section only lists partial information or is unclear and confusing to you, still feel confident about sending an email.
Writing the Email
The most important part of sending an email, is to make sure you include all the question you want a response to. If you simply shoot off an email asking, “Does your company animal test?” you may not receive the same answer I would.
The four imperative questions to ask are:
  • Are your company’s finished products tested on animals?
  • Are your products’ ingredients tested on animals?
  • Does your company hire a third party to perform these tests on your behalf?
  • Does X have a parent company? If so, what is the parent;s company's animal testing policy? (This can be omitted depending on your feeling toward animal testing parent companies.)
  • Does your company sell products in China or any other country which requires or reserves the right to animal test products sold there?
Here is an example of an email I have sent recently:
“I was unable to find any information regarding your company's animal testing policies on your website. Could you please send me some information regarding the testing of finished products and ingredients on animals as well as any third party animal testing commissioned by your company? Please also let me know whether your company is a subsidiary and if so the name of its parent company.
If your company does meet these standards, I would urge you to consider registering for free with the CCIC’s Leaping Bunny Program.
Thank you in advance for your time and help.”
Another Example:
“I was reviewing Burt's Bees animal testing policy on your website. I read "Burt's Bees does NOT conduct product or ingredient tests of any kind on animals." but I am curious if there are also no animal tests conducted by a third party on your company's behalf.
Any information you could provide will be helpful.
Thank you in advance for your time and help.”
I personally add information about the Leaping Bunny Program and thank the recipient of the email who is usually a Customer Service representative. Once you send your email, you will often see a message thanking you and letting you know how long it will take to receive a response. This time usually varies between two to five business days.

The real work begins once you receive your response. The responses that make me the angriest go:
“We do not conduct or ask third-parties to conduct any animal testing on products, raw materials or components of finished products unless required by federal or local regulators.” (taken from Clorox’s website)
1) Always look out for the words except and unless!
The above sentence looks pretty good until the last clause. Off the top of my head, I know that Clinique and MAC do this. It makes me so angry, and I wonder why so many people consider these brands cruelty free. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not legally require animal testing!
Tangent: While it is true that in some cases the only credible tests for certain ingredients/products do require animal testing by the FDA, all these companies talk about how long and how much money they have put towards finding alternative tests. So why is there no credible alternative test?
2) Did they actually answer my questions?
First off did they answer every question you asked from the bulleted list above? Secondly, did they answer your question or simply say they follow certain guidelines or believe certain things? If so, make sure to research these guidelines thoroughly no matter how legitimate it sounds and beliefs are not legally binding.
In my Revlon post (to the right under October 2011), the company responded by saying not that they don’t test but that they “were in compliance with all European-wide bans on testing of cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients using animals, which are part of the European Cosmetics Directive.” I didn’t have to spend much time doing research before I realized that they could be compliance with these rules and still be animal testing.
3) Too many adjectives?
When I get an email back that contains too many adjectives in general or odd ones with words which usually don’t use adjectives I get suspicious. In some cases, I don’t think I’ll ever know whether some phrases are legally concealing horrible things or if they just had an awkward writer. Whatever the case, if I feel uneasy about something I usually avoid those products.
4) Its alright to cheat!
If you’ve been looking over the email and still aren’t sure, its ok to see what other people think! I often see what some knowledgeable youtubers and bloggers have concluded if I’m having some problems. My sole stipulation is to only take into consideration people who have some reasoning. Make sure the author provides correspondence, links to credible articles, etc. to back up their case. I trust and recommend Kristy (veggiebeauty) who has a great list. Although she doesn't discuss each brand, she lists the requirements to be on her list.
Remember: It’s not tedious, it just requires some thought and foresight!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are Samantha Chapman's Real Techniques Brushes Cruelty Free?

One of the most popular youtube beauty items of 2011 was undoubtedly the Real Techniques brushes released by Samantha Chapman of pixiwoo. I have been watching Sam and Nic’s channel for a while, and they claim to be cruelty free. To make a long story short: They aren’t cruelty free.

When I first tried to be cruelty free, I only used products Nic and Sam applied since they claimed to be cruelty free. With a little research, I quickly realized almost every single brand they used in their videos was not cruelty free. Obviously they have no malicious intent, but it called into question their research and their dedication to being cruelty free.

So when Sam announced she was creating a cruelty free brush line I had reservations about the product. As I will discuss later, her brushes are undeniably cruelty free, but I was worried about the parent company Paris Presents Incorporated. Their most popular subsidiary is ecotools. A full list of Paris Presents Incorporated’s additional subsidiaries can be found here.

While it appears that Paris Presents sells mostly synthetic brushes (EDIT: some of their subsidiaries do sell animal hair brushes), I didn’t understand exactly what some of their subsidiaries sold so I wanted to make sure they are cruelty free. I sent off my usual email and received this response:

Paris Presents, Inc. does not subscribe to any animal testing on our finished products or individual ingredients. With today’s huge bank of safety tested ingredients and several alternative methods to animal testing available, we find it unnecessary to conduct animal safety studies on our products or ingredients.

In those cases where chemicals may have never undergone safety screening, and we believe there is a reasonable basis to question the safety of such an ingredient, we take two paths. First and foremost, we try to avoid the use of such ingredient. Secondly, in some instances where the ingredient is vital to the performance of the product, we conduct other (they put this in bold) types of laboratory testing, but do not conduct testing on animals.

Customer service satisfactorily answered whether their finished products and ingredients were animal tested but did not overtly address the possibility of third party testing. I believe the second paragraph was meant to address this and to reinforce the statement in the first paragraph that their products are not animal tested. I am always overly paranoid about these things so I took a look around their websites. Ecotools has a line with Alicia Silverstone, the ultimate ethical vegan celebrity, and this made me feel a lot better about the company.

I will continue to purchase from Paris Presents/Real Techniques.

The Real Techniques line of brushes are, as stated previously, definitely cruelty free. These brushes have Taklon bristles; Taklon is a synthetic material and therefore cruelty free, but it also has many other benefits.

Taklon is:

· Cruelty free

· More Sanitary

· Provides better application

An article on Taklon makeup brushes is available here to provide more in depth information. With all the information just in this article I’m surprised that any company would still make brushes with animal hair.

I own a few of the Real Techniques brushes for face and eyes, and I thoroughly enjoy them. In the US, they are very affordable and available at Ulta. They are great quality, amazingly soft, and provide great makeup application. I recommend them to anyone who needs a great, affordable, and cruelty free brush!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is Burt's Bees and Clorox Cruelty Free?

This is going to be a complicated post regarding Burt’s Bees and Clorox. Burt’s Bees is a company approved by Leaping Bunny. However, Leaping Bunny lists Burt’s Bees with a little purple square signaling that they are owned by a parent company that does animal test. Clorox is Burt’s Bees animal testing parent company.

For a full list of The Clorox Company’s other subsidiaries, click here.

Burt’s Bees is readily available across the US in places ranging from cosmetic shops to grocery stores and my own university’s book store. It is clearly labeled as cruelty free with both the Leaping Bunny image and an additional “We do not test on animals.”

In the FAQ section of their website they state:

“Burt’s Bees does NOT conduct product or ingredient tests of any kind on animals. A few of our products contain ingredients derived from animals such as beeswax, royal jelly, milk and carmine.”

I like how quickly they communicate their policies and let consumers know that they carry vegan products. I emailed their customer service to see what additional information they could provide me and received a lengthy reply:

“Thank you for contacting us with your inquiry. Burt's Bees has never and will never test on animals. We respect animals and don't believe they should be used in this way. It isn't necessary for the development of our products, and it isn't in harmony with our commitment to The Greater Good. We also ask all of our suppliers to uphold our core beliefs, which include no animal cruelty and no animal testing. Additionally, we are certified under the Consumer Information on Cosmetics' (CCIC) Leaping Bunny program. One of the core requirements of the Leaping Bunny program is that the company and vendors are both investigated to achieve certification.

Please note that Burt's Bees operates as a semi-autonomous business unit of the Clorox Company and they are aware of, and fully support, our position on animal testing, as they are also committed to the welfare of animals. For Clorox, animal testing is a rare exception, used only when required by law or when all other efforts have been exhausted to establish a product's safety profile. If you would like to read Clorox's full policy on animal testing, please use the following url:

Let me first say, I like that they were upfront about being a subsidiary of a company that animal tests. As you will see later in this post, the second paragraph essentially summarizes the animal testing statement on Clorox’s website. The information provided in the link basically says that they do test but apparently not finished products.

I emailed Clorox’s Customer Service because I was unable to find any information regarding their animal testing policy (I emailed Burt’s Bees and Clorox at the same time so I had not yet been sent the link with this information).

“At Clorox, we are committed to providing consumers with products they can trust when used as directed. Before reaching market, our products undergo rigorous safety testing and careful evaluations by highly qualified, skilled scientists. Except where mandated by law, using non-animal product safety evaluations is the norm at Clorox and animal testing is the exception. The vast majority of our products reach the market without testing on animals.

To further demonstrate our commitment not to use live animals, we recently updated our product safety testing policy to require senior management approval of any discretionary animal testing. Rare exceptions to the no animal testing policy, if any, will only be considered when all other efforts have been exhausted to establish a product's safety profile. The updated policy may be found on our Web site at in the Corporate Social Responsibility section.

For more than 20 years, Clorox has been assessing alternatives to animal testing and working with industry groups and regulators on the issue. We believe that the science today firmly supports the efficacy of alternatives, and are committed to working toward a future where animal testing has no role in product development.

I do like that Clorox is upfront about the fact that they do animal test (even if it is “the exception”) because so many companies try to hide this information under paragraphs of misinformation. On the other hand there are two major issues for me. Why does this email specify that Clorox does “not want to use live animals?” I’m not any more alright with Clorox if they kill animals and then test on them. Secondly if they believe in “the efficacy of alternatives” why do they still animal test even when it is not “mandated by law?” (Simply because it is not “the norm” doesn’t mean that Clorox only tests for legal reasons.)

I no longer purchase Burt’s Bees products and will now stop purchasing from all of Clorox’s subsidiaries. Although Burt’s Bees is cruelty free, the money I give them goes to Clorox. I would rather spend my money supporting companies and brands that are 100% cruelty free on every level.

This is clearly a case of how comfortable you feel when buying cruelty free products, and I suggest that everyone seriously consider whether or not they believe giving money to Burt’s Bees funds Clorox’s animal testing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Some Cruelty Free and Vegan Favorites

I wanted to share some of my favorite cruelty free and vegan things I’ve been enjoying recently! I don’t buy a lot of things on a regular basis, so this will be a mash up of some products, entertainment, bloggers, etc.
The Naked Palette
***Edit:  As of November 2012, Urban Decay will become a subsidiary of L'oreal and will no longer meet my cruelty free standards.***

I got this palette from Urban Decay a while ago but never really used all the colors. However, with the recent holidays this was great! I like how I can keep wearing neutrals with this palette but branch out a little with their shimmer and glitter shades. If I was running late to a party, I didn’t have to think too much about what colors I was using because they all look great with one another as well.

Derma e Vitamin A Retinyl Palmitate Wrinkle Treatment Crème

I’ve been using this product for a while, and I love it! As a very pale lady, I use this to get rid of dark spots caused by acne scars and other discoloration. It also helps to control acne. This works better than the retinol creams I used before going cruelty free and is very gentle for my sensitive skin. 
*I will giving a more in depth overview in an upcoming post.
Individual Smoothie Maker
I’ve really been enjoying this tiny blender I got for Chanukah. It is tiny enough for a hefty but individual sized smoothie. When the cup is unscrewed from the base, it becomes a travel mug. A top is included but does not lock onto the mug which makes me slightly nervous. However, this works so much better than a large blender and is much more convenient and well priced!
Nature’s Baby Organics Face and Body Moisturizer

I recently switched over to this moisturizer for the colder winter months. This vegan product has great ingredients and makes my skin feel amazing. While it is very moisturizing, this lotion is very light and absorbs into my skin quickly.
*Disclaimer: I live in the South East USA so it doesn’t get incredibly dry and/or cold. I will also give a more in depth overview in an upcoming post.
Shit Vegans Say I am loving this video by arionthedaily! If you are vegan, you will laugh your butt off! He also has a sequel on his youtube channel.