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What Does it Mean if A Product is Cruelty Free?

What Does it Mean if A Product is Cruelty Free?

There鈥檚 lots of talk around from consumers, retailers and manufacturers about products being 鈥渃ruelty free鈥. Quite simply, 鈥渃ruelty free鈥 refers to cosmetics or other products that are developed and produced using methods that do not involve testing on animals.

Cruelty free is not a new, trendy concept either. In fact, it鈥檚 been around for around 75 years since the introduction of the three R鈥檚 in the book  Principles of Humane Experimental Technique written by Charles Hume, Rex L Burch and William Russell. The 鈥渢hree R鈥檚 they presented in their book were technique to reduce the use of animals in testing and the related suffering by

  1. Replacement (eliminate animal testing altogether)
  2. Reduction (use fewer animals in testing using statistical analysis)
  3. Refinement (make whatever tests are needed less painful)

Product testing with guinea pigs, mice, rats and rabbits are often painful and cause the suffering and death of millions of these animals every year. Depending on the type of testing, the animals may be forced to eat or inhale the product or have an ingredient rubbed onto their skin, eyes or ears every day for an extended period of time to see if they have an allergic reaction. After the testing is completed, the animals may then be killed and examined to observe the effects the ingredient has had on its internal organs. Pregnant animals are also used for these tests, and after much suffering, are killed along with their fetuses. When testing products for potential carcinogens, the animal is force-fed an ingredient over two years, monitored for cancer, and then killed.

In the animal rights movement, cruelty-free is a label of distinction for products or activities that do not harm or kill animals. Today, there鈥檚 most certainly a bigger shift overall where many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are promoting their products as cruelty-free, but there are still a plethora that are lagging behind on this trend and continue the practice of ingredient and/or product testing on animals.

Where the products are being sold can also be a factor鈥攎any companies are now looking to sell their cosmetic products in China, and they still require animal testing on these products so companies wishing to expand their reach into China will continue to face a challenge in reaching 鈥渃ruelty free鈥 benchmark.

In the U.S., animal testing isn鈥檛 mandatory, but it鈥檚 also not yet been banned. Cosmetics don鈥檛 need approvals from the Food and Drug Administration nor does federal law require cosmetic products to be tested on animals to determine their safety. The  FDA advises instead that cosmetics manufacturers 鈥渆mploy whatever testing is appropriate and effective for substantiating the safety of their products.鈥

There seems to be an ever-increasing demand for products that are not tested on animals and you can now find a wide range of cruelty-free items in the marketplace such as candles, clothing, cosmetics, household cleaners, personal-care products and shoes.  Some products are now labeled with phrasing such as 鈥渘ot tested on animals鈥, 鈥渨e do not conduct  animal testing鈥, 鈥渘ever tested on animals鈥, 鈥渁gainst animal testing鈥 or 鈥渃ruelty-free鈥. Since there is no clear legal definition as to what these terms actually mean the phrases are often confusing and could be misleading to the consumer.

When a product is labeled as 鈥淐ruelty-Free鈥 or has a bunny on it, that means it has not been tested on animals. However, an important distinction to be aware of is that designation as 鈥渃ruelty-free鈥, 鈥渘ot tested on animals,鈥 or even the image of a bunny on a label may only refer to the finished product, when in fact, most animal testing occurs at the ingredient level.

If you want to check out whether your favorite products make the cut as cruelty free, many of their websites have an FAQ section where you can search whether they promote their products as such. There are also a handful of organizations such as  PETA and Leaping Bunny that are trying to make it easier to identify and shop for animal-friendly products by offering downloadable shopping guides, online lists and links to recommended companies and their specific products.

Our  Hustle Butter products are all certified vegan and cruelty free.

About the author: Yaffa Baslaw (@yadeinu) is a Freelance Writer with over a decade of experience copywriting and blogging compelling content. She has written for more than 20 companies in the fields of healthcare, skincare, and retail.