On The Beauty Beat: Cosmetics With A Conscience

Some of my favorite beauty products that are not tested on animals. Details at une femme d'un certain age.Not Tested On Animals

Several of you have requested recommendations for “cruelty free” cosmetic and skincare products. I agree that this is something we should be encouraging and supporting, and have begun to make this a top priority in my own purchases.

The term “cruelty free” can have different meanings, depending on who is rating the product. It can mean anything from no animal testing to 100% vegan ingredients. For the sake of clarity here, I’m going with “not tested on animals” as the criteria. China is one of the countries that still requires animal testing, so any beauty products sold there won’t meet this standard.

Here are a few products I’ve tried and can recommend on their quality and effectiveness that are also not tested on animals.

Skincare

Ahava Extreme Night Treatment Firming serum. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Ahava. On the recommendation of one of the sales associates at CityPharma in Paris, I purchased this firming serum and eye cream. I like both, and will probably purchase again. I’ve also purchased the hand cream with SPF and like it so far.

Chantecaille. I’ve been a fan of their lipsticks for a while, but recently received a generous sample of this Rose de Mai face oil, and like it a lot. I use it at night as a moisturizer on top of the Ahava serum.

Makeover Workshop. None of the MW products are tested on animals. My favorite skincare products from this line are the Re-Creation Lip Treatment, and the Firming Neck and Throat Creme.

Drunk Elephant. They have some really good mineral SPF products. I’ve used this SPF 30 on my neck and arms and it lasts for hours.

Maquillage

light foundation from CharlotteTilbury. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Charlotte Tilbury. I have to admit, I’ve become quite infatuated with this makeup line. The “Light Wonder” foundation is exquisite. I also really like the Air Brush Flawless Finish Powder. She also does quite a nice mascara. And this Beach Stick blush is lovely and great for travel. (I use Moon Beach.)

Chantecaille. It’s mostly the lipsticks I go for. Lip Chic is the formula I like best, which is great for sheer coverage that’s moisturizing but stays on for hours.

Face Stockholm. Ok, so I haven’t tried this myself (yet) but Karen was wearing their Veil Lipstick in Raspberry Veil when we met up, and it’s a gorgeous color. She says it’s very emollient and has good staying power. I’ve ordered one to try.

RMS Beauty. I first learned about and tried this brand at Violet Grey. I came home with the Living Luminizer, which is a lovely, subtle highlighter. Use on the browbone, inner corners of the eyes, top of cheekbones.

Bare Minerals. For a quick hit of sheer color with decent SPF, I really like the Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Creme.

Makeover Workshop. The Tinted Primer, Brow Pencil , lipstick (rue Rivoli and Bolden) and the Neapolitan lip liner are some of my faves.

Nails. Both Butter London and Deborah Lippman offer nail polishes and products that are not tested on animals.

Burt's Bees is one of the budget-friendly beauty brands that's not tested on animals. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Budget-Friendly Brands. I really like these Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes. I use to remove makeup before cleansing at night. Several women I know love their various lip products too.  I haven’t tried all of these but Sonia Kashuk, Weleda, e.l.f., and Physician’s Formula do not test on animals.

Do you have any favorite “compassionate” beauty products?

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33 Comments

  1. sequinist
    January 16, 2018 / 4:10 am

    I love that you’re covering cruelty free makeup and skincare lines! Like you, I ONLY support lines that do not test on animals. I’m really sad about NARS and Nivea deciding to sell in China, because of the mandatory animal testing there. I loved a lot of NARS colour products, but I won’t use them anymore.

    I’ve never been disappointed with a single product by Weleda or Dr Hauschka, and neither of them test on animals. For skincare, those are my two go-two brands, especially in cold weather. The Iris Hydrating Night Cream that Weleda makes is one of my favourite products.

    I want to try the AHAVA products you recommend now! xx

  2. Susan
    January 16, 2018 / 4:51 am

    I applaud your decision to purchase cruelty free! It’s a way to vote with our dollars. My favorite compassionate products include Mineral Fusion. I haven’t tried a product I didn’t love, esprcially their gel cleanser, eye pencil, and powder.

  3. January 16, 2018 / 4:59 am

    I appreciate this post — thanks for this information. I’ve been using the AHAVA Extreme Night Treatment and really noticed a difference in my skin early on. I haven’t tried the eye cream, but will do so on your recommendation. As for Burt’s Bees — they’ve upped their game recently, and the lipsticks are quite nice. There’s a shade called “Sienna Suede” that is a wonderful neutral/natural lip color shade (bit a bit more color) and I wear it daily. Thanks for the suggestions of other good products with a conscience.

  4. Darling Lily
    January 16, 2018 / 6:01 am

    Companies with the Leaping Bunny logo are about the only ones I trust as far as being relatively cruelty-free; otherwise, I assume the ingredients were tested somewhere along the supply-chain.

  5. MR
    January 16, 2018 / 6:30 am

    Let’s not forget that humans are (technically) animals. Products not previously tested on non-human animals are indeed being tested — in this case, on us humans. Using such products means that you’ve chosen to be part of an experiment in which YOU are the test animal, and that experiment isn’t being monitored for harmful side effects. “Animal” testing certainly needs to be redesigned to be less cruel, but abandoning it has its downsides. Such tests were invented for our safety, and the cosmetics industry needs to be improved to preserve that aspect while eliminating the cruelty. Food for thought…..

    • Susan B
      Author
      January 16, 2018 / 6:39 am

      Perhaps, however what I ultimately go back to is that we have the choice to use cosmetics or not. The animals don’t have a choice. It’s my understanding that much of the animal testing with regard to cosmetics was repetitive and redundant. Most of the ingredients currently used have been around for years if not decades.

  6. Candy
    January 16, 2018 / 7:16 am

    I really like the cruelty-free Glo cosmetics line at gloskinbeauty.com for cruelty-free makeup. A friend got me to try it and I’m really happy with the results. I have mild rosacea and their products don’t irritate my skin, just make it look really great. They have a great little foundation kit to try out their products that includes a primer, two shades of pressed base and finishing powder with a little brush for $58 that I’ve been using. I also like their lip gloss.

  7. Patrish
    January 16, 2018 / 7:27 am

    From the FDA Website:

    ***************************

    Consumers sometimes ask about use of claims such as “Cruelty-Free” or “Not Tested on Animals” on cosmetic labeling.

    Some cosmetic companies promote their products with claims of this kind in their labeling or advertising. The unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetic companies is possible because there are no legal definitions for these terms.

    Some companies may apply such claims solely to their finished cosmetic products. However, these companies may rely on raw material suppliers or contract laboratories to perform any animal testing necessary to substantiate product or ingredient safety. Other cosmetic companies may rely on combinations of scientific literature, non-animal testing, raw material safety testing, or controlled human-use testing to substantiate their product safety.

    Many raw materials, used in cosmetics, were tested on animals years ago when they were first introduced. A cosmetic manufacturer might only use those raw materials and base their “cruelty-free” claims on the fact that the materials or products are not “currently” tested on animals.

    ***************************

    You have to know everything about the company who makes a ‘cruelty free’ claim. Are they making the claim on the finished product or are their suppliers making the claim?

    Just another marketing tool. Remember ‘acid balanced’ ?

    • Susan B
      Author
      January 16, 2018 / 8:01 am

      I’m satisfied with “not currently tested on animals.” (Ingredients or finished products.) The idea is to encourage companies to reduce/eliminate the practice going forward.

      • Patrish
        January 16, 2018 / 9:08 am

        ‘The unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetic companies is possible because there are no legal definitions for these terms.’

        The above is the important take away line from the FDA. There is really no way for a consumer to know the truth regarding testing or not.

        • Susan B
          Author
          January 16, 2018 / 9:17 am

          Possibly, yes. But raising awareness and encouraging companies to avoid animal testing may help move the industry in that direction. And perhaps we can also work toward enforceable laws that ban animal testing on cosmetics and better regulate these claims. I’m a believer in doing whatever we can to move the needle in the right direction, even if our efforts aren’t perfect.

    • Andrea
      January 16, 2018 / 10:57 am

      It’s not “just” a marketing tool. It’s a legitimate criteria for selecting (or not selecting) a product. However, if your point was to note that companies can exploit people’s concern by making misleading claims about their product, you’re absolutely right. And it’s correct that the FDA can’t do anything about it.

      That’s why the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics — a.k.a. the Leaping Bunny — was formed in 1996. It’s now an international consortium of animal protection groups that works directly with health & beauty companies to establish clear standards (no animal testing at any step of manufacturing) and to conduct independent audits to ensure ongoing compliance. Any product with their logo (a sketch of a bunny enclosed by two shooting stars) is going to meet those criteria, so it’s a safe purchase for anyone with concerns about animal testing. You can find a list of all certified brands on their website.

      People who want only totally vegan products (no animal testing or animal products used at any stage of production) can look for the certified vegan logo (a V inside a heart), which is licensed by the non-profit Vegan Action for use on products that have been similarly vetted.

      PETA also certifies products with its “Cruelty Free” or “Cruelty Free & Vegan” logos, which is another thing to look for. However they do this based on a questionnaire that companies fill out rather than using independent verification, which is why Leaping Bunny is usually considered the most reliable guide.

      Thank you, Susan, for highlighting this topic. As you said in another comment: we choose to wear cosmetics, the animals don’t. (They also don’t choose to live in laboratory conditions — and I bet we wouldn’t either…)

  8. January 16, 2018 / 7:43 am

    For face care, try the BOOM line by Cindy Joseph. My esthetician has noticed a positive change in my very normal over 60 skin. I use Glo cleanser and love it.

  9. Linda
    January 16, 2018 / 8:23 am

    Thank you Susan for your article on “cruelty free” cosmetic and skin care, more education needs to be brought to the consumers attention. I only purchase items that are NOT made in China and are not tested on animals, it’s too bad more major cosmetic lines do not support this. I love Burt’s Bees expanding their lip product line, some of the best at any price point!

  10. Darling Lily
    January 16, 2018 / 10:14 am

    I think the key is finding ones own personal tipping point.

    I’ve all but given up makeup, since I don’t believe that any makeup product is completely cruelty-free, and yet I do understand the need for some kind of testing. I doubt many companies are willing to risk the inevitable lawsuits they’d incur testing on humans, regardless of how many waivers the participants signed.

    I absolutely won’t ever buy any eye makeup again, since I am personally most horrified by what is done for testing on those particular products. God knows I have enough liners and shadows to last me the rest of my life since I don’t wear makeup very often anyway and perhaps I’ll revert back to my high-school days and darken my lashes with a Sharpie! Or go waaaayy Old School and use a burnt match! 🙂

    If I have a bad reaction, at least I’ll be the only creature who suffers for my vanity.

  11. Patrish
    January 16, 2018 / 11:05 am

    I would guess that most of the folks concerned about cruelty-free cosmetics and about the bunnies being shaved to test the products are all eating meat and walking around in leather shoes and carrying leather handbags.
    At least if you give up meat and leather you know you are in charge in making such a decision.
    One does not have that control of ‘truth in advertising’ when one buys products labeled ‘cruelty-free’.

    • Susan B
      Author
      January 16, 2018 / 11:27 am

      Patrish, I think each of us needs to make these decisions based upon our best judgement and priorities. And I try not to presume about others’ choices.

    • Darling Lily
      January 16, 2018 / 2:07 pm

      Shaving a bunny is not what most of us object to. Animals being burned, blistered and/or blinded so that I can have the appearance of a minutely longer eyelash is where I personally draw the line. Other people have different opinions and priorities and none of us is so perfect that we can hold anyone else in judgement over what they choose to do.

      I share your skepticism for things labeled cruelty-free, as you can see from both my comments.

      And yes, I was vegan for many years, but I don’t have any qualms about eating meat; we have incisors, after all, and many mammals eat other animals. I am fortunate enough to live in the country, and a family member raises and butchers the animals we eat, so I know they are well taken care of in their lifetimes, and killed as humanely as possible. Most of my shoes and handbags are not leather, but that’s a financial issue more than an ethical one.

      One has to eat and clothe oneself; makeup is hardly a necessity and it’s not something that is important to me anyway, so it’s an area I choose to make a conscious effort around. But I am certainly not going to look down on people who don’t share my beliefs.

  12. Alexandra
    January 16, 2018 / 12:15 pm

    I have started using Beauty Counter ~ love the products

  13. January 16, 2018 / 12:47 pm

    If you love Charlotte Tilbury, do try her lipsticks.
    The Matte Revolution line is my fav:

  14. Ramona Black
    January 16, 2018 / 3:55 pm

    I decided to go cruelty free two years ago simultaneously with shopping budget friendly products. Let me tell you, it was a challenge and I still use a few pricy products because there is nothing cheaper that compares. Aveda Blue Malva shampoo for silver hair is one. For my tea tree shampoo and my volumizing conditioner Beauty Without Cruelty products have been great. I also love their eye gel. Mineral Fusion makes really nice moisturizers at a good price. Day moisturizer with SPF I use Cetaphil and it’s fine. Physicians Formula mascara is my regular one now, after I used to pay for Dior, crazy because you have to replace them so often. Still use higher end lipstick, foundation and eye shadow because I can tell the difference, but choose cruelty free brands. EO Everyone makes really nice body products i.e. lavender body lotion, body wash, hand soap and moisturizers. It takes some time to find what’s right for you but once you do it actually make sure life easier. I’m not tempted to buy a lot of beauty stuff just for fun without doing the research so I usually stick to my faves and all is well!

  15. Jan
    January 16, 2018 / 4:58 pm

    Hi Susan, I am a long time reader and admirer of your blog from New Zealand. I love this blog post! Thank you for talking about cruelty free skincare products. I felt compelled to live a vegan lifestyle when 2 years ago I watched Cowspiracy and Earthlings on Netflix. It really is impossible to defend what we as humans do to defenseless animals when there is no need whatsoever to eat them to be healthy, and in fact we are healthier without animal products in our diet. I would love you to do a post about leather free footwear that is stylish and fashionable. That for me has been the hardest part of being vegan :). Thank you again for your blog.

  16. Kristine
    January 16, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    I really appreciate the thoughtful & diverse viewpoints here. I too believe that not being able to do everything at once or do so perfectly, does not mean do nothing… I was impressed with the documentary “vegucated” that they suggested if vegan is too hard to go straight to… just start eating less meat and animal products.

    If you can’t afford an electric car, you would still compost and recycle, and bring reusable shopping bags to the store right?

    In addition to cruelty free, I find the Environmental Working Group free app helpful for avoiding ingredients or considering makeup, shampoo etc.

  17. Elisabeth
    January 16, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    I can recommend Weleda’s sensitive skin cleanser, which doesn’t trigger rosacea outbreaks for my cranky skin, and the rich and rather fragrant hand cream called Skin Food, and also the Citrus deoderant. I keep an atomizer of it at work as I do like to reapply it in the afternoon in hot summer weather; it kills any odor completely and the pleasant product fragrance dissipates pretty quicky. I have a friend at work who had breast cancer a few years ago and I turned her onto this when she was doing chemo and suddenly found all the chemicals in her usual products were intensely unpleasant. She was thrilled to find something she could use and enjoy and I was pleased to actually be able to help! We always ask what we can do in that situation but so rarely are we able to make any difference in the day to day misery of treatment. A small thing but those little victories count!

  18. Wendy in York
    January 16, 2018 / 11:57 pm

    I’m very pleased to see you tackling this serious subject & of course we can’t make the world perfect overnight . But we can give thought to what is happening to these poor creatures & take our own small steps to improve matters . Thankyou for all these suggestions everyone .

  19. January 17, 2018 / 6:40 am

    My approach has been to have the best possible skin built from the inside out, through good eatings and lots of exercise, and then use sunscreen and little else. Living in a big city where garbage and recycling are always questionable, I try to avoid anything like towelettes that are “one and done” and have to be disposed somewhere and somehow.

    Always intelligent and thought-provoking, and your commenters just add to the tenor of the conversation. Thanks!

    hugs,
    Janice

  20. January 17, 2018 / 7:52 am

    I’m delighted that you’re covering this important topic!
    I use the site Logical Harmony to find out if a brand is cruelty-free. Some of my favourite brands are Liz Earle, Paula’s Choice, Odylique, Lush, Two Faced, Korres. Some of their products are also vegan. I’m transitioning to a vegan lifestyle as I can’t justify to myself causing harm to sentient beings. So I would love you to feature nonleather handbags and footwear!

  21. Cathy D
    January 17, 2018 / 12:56 pm

    I’ve been using cruelty-free cosmetics for years and feel good about it. However, one of the best ways I’ve found to improve the appearance of my skin is to use far fewer cosmetics. I’ve given up all kinds of lotions, creams, serums, etc., as none of them made a permanent difference. Perhaps I should mention that I’m allergic to sunscreen, and even products for sensitive skin don’t improve anything. I use a touch of concealer, mascara and lipstick. For special occasions I add eye shadow and blusher.

    That said, the things that really make a difference, and a big one, are a diet low in sugar, fat and carbohydrates and very high in fruits and vegetables. Also, I don’t smoke, drink moderately, don’t do drugs and get 8 hours of sleep every night. This not only improves my appearance but makes me feel great. Others routinely tell me I look about 20 years younger than I am.

    Need I mention this approach saves tons of money.

  22. Nanette Reid
    January 17, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    Do the Ahava cosmetics have a strong scent. Due to asthma, I have to watch fragrances .

    • Susan B
      Author
      January 17, 2018 / 3:28 pm

      I don’t believe there are fragrances added other than what are naturally occurring in the ingredients. I don’t notice any fragrance with the eye product. The serum has a slightly oily scent. It doesn’t bother me but some reviewers don’t like it. It seems to vanish/evaporate as soon as I apply the product.

    • January 17, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      I have only used Ahava hand and foot creams, purchased at the Dead Sea on a tour of Israel. I haven’t any of the foot cream left, but the hand cream does contain fragrance. The tube says “Allergy tested” but it also says “Approved for sensitive skin” so I suspect that it was tested for skin reactions, not asthmatic ones.

      Elaine @ Following Augustine

  23. Peggy
    January 18, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    I love Mychelle products for my super sensitive, rosacea-prone, dry, aging skin. Every now and then I’ll stray just to try other cruelty-free brands, but always come back to Mychelle. And bonus, they are having a 30% off site wide sale right now at mychelle.com. I also like BOOM Silk for nighttime over pure argan oil. A good source for healthy products for home and self is the Environmental Working Group, or ewg.org.

  24. VeganJo
    January 19, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    Whole foods plant-based vegan here. I do still use the leather products (shoes/bags) I own from before I went vegan, and while I do buy and wear second-hand wool and silk, I have not bought any animal-based clothing new from a retailer since becoming vegan.

    My skincare and makeup routine:
    I use body lotions from Ahava, soap from Dr. Bronner’s, and shampoo and conditioner from Shea Moisture. I am a huge fan of Paula’s Choice for skincare (cleanser, exfoliator, toner, serums, day and night moisturizers) as well as Tatcha for a skincare splurge. I use Commodity perfumes. My daily makeup face is made up of Pur primer, Pacifica mascara, Tarte shape tape concealer and cheek tint blush, Anastasia Beverly Hills brow powder and gel, and Kat Von D tattoo eyeliner and finishing spray,

    I love and highly recommend crueltyfreekitty.com – a blog updated regularly with brands, their parent brands, whether they sell in mainland China, etc.

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