By: Amelia Smith
Photos by: Natalia Wolny
When you wake up in the morning, the first things are your mind are probably coffee, shower, beauty routine, and school (in that order, of course). Although this prioritization makes sense, maybe the first thing on all of our minds when we stand in front of the mirror should be who our beauty products may have affected before they reached our shelves. It’s super important to be informed as to how our beauty products are tested and sourced, and it is our responsibility to make sure innocent animals are not being severely harmed in the process of providing us with beauty products. Beauty is fun and is a major part of our everyday lives, but it isn’t so necessary that it condones using excruciatingly painful and inhumane tests on animals from guinea pigs, to rats, to monkeys, to rabbits. Animal testing is both traumatic and painful for animals involved and veterinary care is often not properly provided; animals can have harsh chemicals dripped intentionally dripped into their eyes or injected into their stomachs in order for chemists to determine adverse effects before putting them into human skincare products. Considering that there are many effective tests available that do not require animal testing, there is really no excuse for continuing this inhumane practice. Before you take your next trip to Sephora or CVS for your beauty needs, consider visiting either PETA’s website for an exhaustive list of all cruelty-free products or Tashina Comb’s site entitled “Logical Harmony” for a list of vegan beauty products, a list of cruelty-free products at Sephora, a list of cruelty-free drugstore products, and more.
You may be asking that if products are labeled as being “cruelty-free” then why must we refer to lists when choosing products? The problem with labeling is that there are no laws or regulations preventing companies from advertising a cruelty-free approach to testing and production despite not being cruelty-free. In order for a product to be included in PETA’s cruelty-free product listing, the company must complete a questionnaire provided by PETA and, as PETA states, “sign a statement of assurance verifying that they do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future.” Some of the more committed brands will pay a one-time licensing fee that allows them to use PETA’s cruelty-free bunny logo on all of their products and literature that they provide for customers. PETA has also made a “Cruelty-Free and Vegan” logo available for purchase by listed companies. If you are looking to be a star of conscientious shopping, look specifically for labels advertising the “Beauty Without Bunnies” campaign. Also be aware of products which say that they are cruelty-free but purchase ingredients from parent companies that are not. Unfortunately, many skincare companies still outsource to China for their animal testing because animal rights are minimal in China and canine and primate labs are both cheap and plentiful.
Whether you like to purchase your beauty products at a drugstore or from high-end beauty shops, you can support the cruelty-free initiative. Keep reading for two brands that are cruelty-free, fun to use, and effective.
Founded in 1995, LUSH has been providing customers with handmade, fresh, 100% vegetarian, natural, cruelty-free skincare for quite some time and we know they’re good at it! What’s great about LUSH is that the brand makes it absolutely apparent that you don’t have to compromise quality, fragrance, fun, and aesthetic in an effort to be environmentally conscious. LUSH has been my favorite brand to shop from for many years now and I’ve been astounded by how well their products work. The products in and of themselves are kind of a mood booster, and who doesn’t want that? LUSH happens to have a storefront on M Street, so you can take a short walk down and work with one of the brand’s fabulous skincare representative to find the perfect products for you, from cleansers, to toners, to moisturizers, to body washes, to masks.
Here are some of my faves…
- If you’re feeling stressed, sore, or just tired and you want to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep, a good soak with a bath bomb is always in order. Bath bombs being LUSH’s specialty, you really can’t go wrong, but I personally love the Big Blue Bomb. Especially for those of us who don’t have the luxury of an oceanside lifestyle, Big Blue is a pretty great substitute.
- As teens and young adults, many of us struggle with acne and inflamed skin. I started using Herbalism a few years ago as my cleanser and it has been one of my consistent go-to’s in skincare ever since. It’s gentle, oil-reducing, and yet mildly exfoliating with its rice bran, kaolin clay, chamomile, and nettle. Just add some water, scrub, and head off on your day!
- In terms of face masks, LUSH is also a master. I personally love the refrigerated masks because they just have that little bit of added freshness and, being refrigerated, their coolness is revitalizing and refreshing. My all-time favorite for a cooling, calming, redness-reducing effect is Rosy Cheeks. Its fragrance of rose oil is soothing and comforting, and it honestly just makes you feel beautiful.
If you prefer the walk down to CVS on Wisconsin for your skincare needs and you’re looking to make cruelty-free products a priority, then YES TO is the perfect brand for you. YES TO, like LUSH, is natural and completely fruit and vegetable-based. YES TO has ten tailored collections to suit every skin type’s needs. They also feature products for hair care, lip care, and body care, in addition to their extensive skincare line. YES TO is also a bit more affordable than LUSH.
On Yes To’s FAQ, the company makes sure to address customers concerned about animal testing.
“Our products are tested on YES TO employees, friends and family, but never (ever) on animals. We are against animal testing and ensure our manufacturers adhere to this same principle. YES TO believes in safe and effective testing alternatives, while ensuring product and consumer safety. Reinforcing our commitment, we are Cruelty-Free and a certified member of the Leaping Bunny Program [also a PETA initiative], the highest standard for companies committed to no animal testing.”
YES TO Tomatoes is currently one of the brand’s hottest collections with a new Charcoal Scrub and Cleanser Stick, Detoxifying Charcoal Zit Zapping Dots, and Bubbling Paper Mask.
Although I’ve never tried products from their other collections, I’ve heard rave reviews of the products’ effectiveness and usability. Even if you are not looking for products tailored to troubled skin like YES TO Tomatoes, you can look here at all of the other collections the brand has to offer for dull skin, to dry skin, to stressed skin, to sensitive skin. There is even a collection for people who struggle with allergy-prone skin. Try it out! Your skin (and the animals) will thank you.