When I made the decision to stop eating animals, I had an unhappy revelation upon scrutinising my bathroom shelves and makeup bag. I found that the beauty products I was using still affected animals – from cosmetic testing to being used for the very ingredients in those pretty bottles and tubes. Since then, I’ve actively sought out cruelty-free and natural skincare and have come to find there are quick ways to select the best items for both yourself and our fellow creatures.
HOW TO BE SURE IT’S CRUELTY-FREE
First off, it’s crucial to find out whether your favourite brands are cruelty-free. If you’re new to cruelty-free beauty, this guide on how to make your makeup bag more ethical is a brilliant place to start. Otherwise, you can follow my simple checklist:
Look for certification. Just saying “we don’t test on animals” isn’t enough – brands that want to be reliable and win over customers need to display that they are actively choosing to be cruelty-free – and that they understand what cruelty-free actually means. A great way to me sure that your favourite brand is committed to being cruelty-free is to look out for Cruelty-Free International’s Leaping Bunny logo or PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies logo, both of which ask brands to go through rigorous certification processes to ensure that they are truly free from animal testing. Caveat: there are brands who are vegan and cruelty-free, yet not certified by any cruelty-free programme. As the process to join these programmes can be laborious and expensive, especially smaller brands can shy away from embarking on the process. This is also sometimes the case of bigger brands like LUSH, who offer a mostly vegan and completely cruelty-free product range – but are only certified by the Vegan Society. In these cases, contacting the brands and asking about their policies is advisable, as it also signals to them that the consumers are concerned about animal welfare.
Check for parent companies. There was a lot of talk last year when The Body Shop was bought up by Natura – customers who loved their cruelty-free stance and product range, but were reluctant to support their parent company, L’Oréal, rejoiced. Some cruelty-free brands have parent companies that do test on animals – but it can be argued that supporting these brands sends a powerful message to the parent company: cruelty-free sells.
Check for on-the-ground sales in China. Every beauty brand that enters the brick-and-mortar retail market in mainland China is required to have their products tested on animals. It’s quite hard to check as a lot of brands still sell online to China, and forego the testing stage. I’ve personally contacted brands to double-check, but if you’re still not sure, it’s best to avoid.
Check the ingredients. Even with certification, no animal-testing parent companies, and no sales to China, brands can still include ingredients from animal origin in their skincare. I personally avoid these 25 harmful beauty ingredients and can quickly scan a label to know they’re not in there.
THE MIRACLE WORKERS
A few years on from my first revelation, and a peek in my beauty cabinet reveals a whole new cruelty-free skincare regime. Shopping for beauty products is still exciting, even if I choose carefully where I buy from – here are a few favourites.
The best way to start each morning is with a shower and facial cleanse. The Ethique Beauty Bliss Bar does both, coming as a solid cleansing bar with a light, floral scent and 100% recyclable packaging. For some thorough facial cleansing, look no further than Green People Gentle Cleanse & Make Up Remover.
Take your cue from a pro – Green People’s founder Charlotte Vøhtz has given Vilda an exclusive quote on her best skincare secrets:
“My top tip is to let your moisturiser or serum in! Exfoliating regularly helps to increase cellular regeneration and removes dead skin cells that can hinder the absorption of any moisturisers or serums.”When selecting a scrub, I recommend choosing one with natural, biodegradable exfoliants that don’t harm the planet – my favourites are apricot kernels, bentonite clay, cranberry powder and bamboo extract.”
Secondly, it’s onto toner: REN Skincare’s AHA Tonic is great, with a tightening, acidic twist that makes skin feel fresh. Couple that with a small blob of Tropic Skincare Nourishing Cream and your cleanse-tone-moisturise routine is complete.
On groggier days, there’s nothing better than an eye roller – Tropic Skincare’s Eye Refresh Roll-on contains aloe vera and cucumber extracts to make you feel like you’re hitting a quick and cool reset button that lasts through the day.
If you’re applying make up, I would recommend adding in a face oil such as boutique brand Amaveda’s Buriti Oil, and follow with REN Skincare’s Perfect Canvas Primer. Full disclosure: REN Skincare was recently bought out by Unilever, so if you’re avoiding parent brands that still do cosmetic testing try Inika’s Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid.
To keep skin polished, try doing a scrub or mask once or twice a week. To buff away dry skin, use Laidbare’s Scrub A Dub Dub Exfoliator. For more hydration, a leave-on mask is like Balance Me’s Restore & Replenish Overnight Mask will have you waking up to plump, soft skin.
It’s important to use natural products on your body – the skin is the body’s largest organ after all, and it absorbs products applied to it.
For deodorant, Green People’s Natural Aloe Vera & Prebiotics Deodorants are hard-working and aluminium-free. In the bath, Herbivore Botanicals CALM Soaking Salts are calming and detoxifying, and after a good leg shave, try Laidbare Hair Today Gone Tomorrow Hair Minimising Moisturiser, which is more like a gel that quick dries and cools the skin. Finally for any sore bits, the Bybi Beauty Babe Balm is perfect – the small tube makes it purse-friendly and perfect for doubling up as a hand cream.
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Header photo by Lauren Roberts via Unsplash. Second photo by author.