Cruelty-free cosmetics grow in popularity

Cruelty-free cosmetics – those produced without harming or killing animals – are on their way to being “the new normal” for all retailers, Calgary freelance makeup artist Shannon Hiebert believes.

“Cruelty-free is a fairly general phrase though,” Hiebert said.

“Just because something says it’s cruelty-free, doesn’t mean that somewhere down the line an animal wasn’t used for testing and that’s why it’s not as difficult to be cruelty-free anymore.”

Many cosmetic brands such as Tarte, Kat Von D and Hourglass associate themselves with the umbrella term, but their parent companies don’t necessarily do the same, she said.

“When a smaller company is bought out by a larger company, the smaller company usually has to conform to the larger company’s standards,” Hiebert said.

“It’s important to remember that when buying.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says that rabbits, mice, primates, cats and dogs are all used in cosmetic and medical testing. Tests include using eyedroppers to analyze chemical responses in the animals’ eyes and to shave their fur off to examine products’ reactions on their skin.

Lindsay Harper, a professionally trained aesthetician who is also vegan, said she has recently found it difficult to stay true to her beliefs.

She only purchases and promotes products that are guaranteed to be cruelty-free and vegan, she said.

“Sephora, a company in a hierarchy of many other companies, has started to buy out the rights to all sorts of PETA approved cruelty-free brands that I use on a regular basis,” Harper said.

“One by one these brands are coming off of the PETA list and it’s really disheartening.”

There’s a big difference between what it means to be against animal testing and what it means to be cruelty-free, she said.

“A company can claim they’re against animal testing but not be cruelty-free at the same time,” Harper said.

“You can only really trust companies that don’t produce their products in big warehouses where the chain of communication is 40 people long.”

Chinese law states that all cosmetic products sold in their market are required to be tested on animals, while all products sold in the European Union cannot be tested on animals before being sold in their market, PETA says.

“I don’t buy products from companies that sell in China because they definitely test on animals whether they admit to it or not,” Harper said.

Cruelty-Free Kitty, a website dedicated to informing readers about cruelty-free and vegan cosmetic brands, says that Makeup Geek, an online cosmetic brand started by a beauty blogger on YouTube, is 100 per cent against animal testing and cruelty-free.

“I read Cruelty-Free Kitty religiously because their information is so well researched and accurate,” Harper said.

“Makeup Geek is great because they’ve been totally transparent with the articles written about them.”

Makeup Geek has made it very clear that they are a tight-knit company that deals with their own manufacturing directly, and not through a third-party company, she said.

“I’ve never had a problem personally asking questions to Makeup Geek themselves because they are so customer-focused,” Harper said.

One-by-one these brands are coming off of the PETA list and it’s really disheartening. – Lindsay Harper

Hiebert said that she is more inclined to buy from brands that are upfront about their ethics and practices.

“I will still use products that have been tested on animals because I want something that works,” said Hiebert.

“But I will not buy from a brand that is deceitful to the customers that keep their company running.”

About Elizabeth Harvie 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Elizabeth Harvie worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2015-16 academic year.