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!


  1. Hi Rebecca,
    I just wanted to say thanks for this post - I used it to help me write an e-mail to Viktor & Rolf whose perfume I want to buy. I will let you know the response if I get one!

    1. Hi Sarah! I'm so glad you found this post helpful. Yours is the first comment on it, and I personally think it is one of the most important posts I've written so far. Its so easy to write your own emails and there is no need to wait around for me to email a company, get a response, and write a post, so Brava!

      Please let us know the response you get!

  2. Thank you for this article. I have many make up products from the brands that I can't find information about, so I've been e-mailing those brands a lot lately. But my e-mails are worded a bit awkwardly and sometimes I don't receive a very clear response. Thank you for the tips on how to ANALYZE the e-mails. That's very helpful.

    1. I'm glad you found this helpful, Cathy! I think it is important that people are involved in working things out and understanding how the "test" and "don't test" lists are created.