PETA’s famous bunny logo, which can be found on their approved products. Photo: PETA

In the past few years, and especially as the internet makeup scene has flourished, attention has been brought to whether or not beauty products and brands are “cruelty free.” 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is an organization that pledges to establish and protect animal rights, marking brands that they deem “cruelty free” with their signature bunny logo. Looking for this bunny on a product may seem like a quick and accurate way to assess a company’s morals and commitment to sustainability, but in reality, it’s much more complicated. In order to receive one of their bunnies on a product, PETA requires that “companies and brands must commit never to conduct, commission, pay for, or allow tests on animals at any phase of development, for both ingredients and final products.” This may seem all-encompassing, but in reality, it leaves space for a lot of interpretations and gray areas that allow companies to mislead consumers. PETA’s pledge does not directly prohibit large corporations from hiring third parties with questionable methods, and does not look into the practices of these third parties before marking a company “cruelty free.” This means that companies can get away with making general statements about their individual commitment to clean beauty that are technically true, but don’t factor in the work of foreign third parties, deceiving consumers. 

For example, L’Oréal, the parent company of Maybelline, CeraVe, NYX and Garnier, claims not to test any products or ingredients on animals, and used to be featured on PETA’s “Do Not Test” list. However, since their products are sold in China, where animal testing is required by law, L’Oréal is not truly a “clean” brand, and was taken off of PETA’s “Do Not Test” list. 

While it may not be as easy as checking for a bunny cartoon, websites like Cruelty Free Kitty and Ethical Elephant, who do extensive research and present their results in a quick article, make the switch to cruelty free beauty products as easy as a quick google. 

If you discover that a product you’ve been using or a company you’ve been buying from isn’t cruelty free and you’ve been trying to switch to clean beauty, it is important to remember that you should not immediately discard said product. That would be incredibly wasteful, which is the opposite of what the “clean beauty” movement advocates for. A more sustainable option would be to use that product until it’s empty, and then, when you’re going to buy refills, try a clean or “cruelty free” alternative. 

Get the discussion going! Leave a comment or reply below.