Guide to ‘cruelty-free’ brands


Let’s face it, as much as most of us would love to use ‘cruelty-free’ products all the time, there are moments when amazing claims, convenience or branding trump such intentions. This is a short guide to brands that fit best with such ethical considerations.

Although European law states that products and ingredients cannot be tested on animals, there are loopholes under the ‘REACH’ regulation, which means such testing can still be used as ‘a last resort.’ It must be noted that some brands are required by law in certain countries, such as China, to perform animal testing on their products, Avon, Covergirl and Estée Lauder all do this. The ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo is undoubtedly the best way to locate products not endorsing or utilizing any kind of animal testing – beware of labels asserting ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘against animal testing,’ as these often do not reflect the true ethos of the brand.

Burt’s Bees, a magical source of lip and hand balms, Liz Earle, where one can find expensive but soothing skincare and the Hot Cloth Cleanser, a beauty guru staple, are all certified ‘cruelty-free’. Neal’s Yard Remedies and Pai Skincare also pride themselves on their completely natural and organic products, which can come at a cost, but are definitely worth it if you want to treat family or friends to a totally guilt-free pampering session.

Lush and The Body Shop are notable high-street brands that not only advertise being ‘cruelty-free’ but also have initiatives to combat the issue, such as the horrifying re-enactments of animal testing on humans in shop windows. There are also some surprising high-street brands on the list, with the inclusion of own brand products from Superdrug, Argos, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer. The Yes to…TM line of products in Boots offers excellent skincare value for money, without harming animals in the process.

Anti-age products are especially known for their ‘new and improved’ labels, which mention various and confusing (for the non-science student) chemicals and formulas, peptides and collagen. In my humble opinion, there really is no need to use such products. Age is just a number and a natural process, even if you are as old as twenty, or even twenty one. Yet, women are undoubtedly under great societal pressure and the media is always ready to target our insecurities. Mothers may also be requesting skincare items, which are notoriously expensive, as part their presents for Mothers’ Day. Unfortunately, the choice of cruelty-free anti-age skincare is slender among traditional brands, again The Body Shop is present but also Yves Rocher and Mary Kay, more niche brands such as Derma E are also well-rated.

Complete lists of brands that do not test on animals can be found on several websites, the ‘Go Cruelty Free’ offers the most user-friendly guide but those of PETA, ‘Uncaged’ and ‘The Vegetarian Site’ are also useful. Thankfully, particularly for cash-strapped students, ‘cruelty-free’ products can increasingly be found at all points on the price spectrum. Brands  are clearly realising that the modern consumer is choosing, when they can, a more ethical brand.