Just recently leading international beauty companies Avon and Estee Lauder (who claim to be cruelty free) were outed as testing their products on animals. The two, who’d previously claimed to have a long-standing policy against animal testing, are now paying for it to be done in Chinese government labs.
It is unclear how long this has been going on, but what the story illustrates is that finding companies that have genuine non-animal testing policies can be frustrating as some make misleading claims – for example a company may say ‘Finished product not tested on animals’ or ‘not tested on animals’, which means the ingredients could well be! Avon had even claimed, ‘‘Avon does not test products or ingredients on animals, nor do we request others to do so on our behalf’ whilst admitting in correspondence and on their global website that they carry out toxicity testing on animals.
UK group Uncaged says that Avon’s refusal to stop animal testing is due to their desire to be able to incorporate new chemicals into their products, as they believe innovation will maximise their profits. This despite the fact that there are already 8000 ingredients in existence – more than enough!
Shopping you can trust
So this begs the question, how can you truly trust a statement that a company is not performing cruel and painful experiments on animals? Well, of course there’s SAFE Shopper, SAFE’s own guide to products available in New Zealand that are not tested on animals. There’s a huge range and products are available everywhere you’d usually shop, from the supermarket to online and pharmacies. Check out the list here and download your free wallet sized booklet. If any companies you know of are not listed on SAFE Shopper you can also send them SAFE’s handy letter and ask them to apply.
And it also pays to be a ‘cruelty free detective’ when you’re out shopping, so you can learn to see past wording that seeks to give the impression that a company is not hurting animals for the sake of a new lipstick or shampoo. Here’s SAFE’s handy guide to spotting companies that test on animals:
How to be a ‘Cruelty Free Detective’
Just because a company says ‘against testing on animals’ it doesn’t mean they really don’t do it. Confused? Wonder no longer! To see through those marketing ploys, first read the label carefully.
1. No mention
Of course, if you look at a product that makes no mention of animal testing – assume that means they do. Ethical shopping is big business and companies are keen to hook your business, so if they don’t test they’ll say so.
2. ‘No product testing’
However, we also need to be aware and on the lookout for suspiciously worded or ambiguous statements. For example, according to Uncaged, Clarins says:
Notice that they specifically mention ‘product’ testing and not ingredients?
3. ‘No ingredient testing’/’required by law’
Avon says: “Avon does not test products or ingredients on animals, nor do we request others to do so on our behalf. Avon will conduct animal testing only when required by law.”
This statement seems quite clear at first glance –they don’t test on animals. BUT they may still buy new ingredients that have been tested on animals, therefore benefiting from animal testing. AND, what about that “only when required by law” line? It means they DO test. Remember no company HAS to sell their products anywhere. Many, like Lush, are taking a stand by simply not selling their products in areas that require animal testing.
4. Random bunnies
Watch out for random bunny logos, too – as there are no laws surrounding animal testing statements in New Zealand many companies just place their own bunny logo on their products whilst not adhering to any kind of cruelty free scheme’s requirements!
So what companies should you take special care to avoid? According to PETA the big three to watch out for are Unilever, Johnson and Johnson and Proctor and Gamble. They make a huge number of everyday products you might not even know were manufactured by them.
In New Zealand Unilever sells (amongst others) Dove, Impulse, Lynx, Lux, Pears, Rexona, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Domestos, Surf, Persil and Jif.
Proctor and Gamble manufactures Gillette, Head and Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Nice ‘n Easy, Olay, Pantene, Max Factor and Wella.
Johnson and Johnson sells Aveeno, Listerine, Baby Lotion, Roc, Neutrogena and Piz Buin. This is just a selection of their products. For more information and a guide to other companies to boycott to help animals, please check out PETA’s list.
Vote with your wallet and say no to cruel animal testing!
Mandy Carter, SAFE Campaign manager