You don't have to be perfect to be cruelty free.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A selection of cruelty free beauty products
It’s funny sometimes being part of little pockets of the blogging ‘community’ – it’s easy to forget that not everyone is as into (so called) ethical living as it might seem in our little echo chamber. Every now and again, something squeezes its way into the bubble and shatters the illusion that… well, that people actually give a shit.

Despite it being 2017, if you tell other folks that you don’t buy cosmetics tested on animals, they’ll likely still look at you as if you’re some kind of hippy weirdo. When your average Joe reacts to this apparently shocking news, the tone of their voice and the look on their face often says it all and they may as well just tell you straight: “What? You don’t buy from brands that fund unnecessary, cruel animal experiments?! That’s pretty extreme.” It’s not surprising, therefore, that there are still scores of people who, while they might not admit it, quite simply can’t be bothered to go cruelty free and more still who feel they shouldn’t bother because it will never be ‘enough’.

There are a number of valid reasons why someone may not be able to buy exclusively cruelty free cosmetics, such as their income being dependent on it (i.e. small MUA businesses), skin conditions that mean they can only use certain brands, living in areas where few, if any, cruelty free brands are affordable or accessible, and so on. Can you guess how many people who aren’t cruelty free cite any of these reasons as why that’s the case? Hint: it’s a very, very small number. In fact, the majority of people who aren’t cruelty free who ever openly talk about why they’re not cruelty free often simply say that either a.) they feel like there’s no point, because they can’t go vegan or vegetarian or be fully ethical or go zero waste or blah blah etc. or b.) they like their favourite, animal-tested products too much to give them up.

Now, let me cover point b. in one quick swing: that’s some selfish bullshit. Yes, you read me right! I’m sure that might ruffle some feathers but, at the end of the day, if the only reason why you won’t even consider cutting animal-tested cosmetics – which aren’t even a necessity – out of your beauty routine is because you like the products too much or boo you won’t be able to wear your favourite lipstick anymore then yeah, that’s a load of shit. To prioritise lipstick and blush and nail polish over reducing the suffering of animals in laboratories who are tortured and killed in order to produce them makes you, quite frankly, lazy and extremely selfish. If there are no other circumstances like those I mentioned above that might make it more difficult for you to buy cruelty free, but you still choose not to in spite of the wealth of excellent quality alternatives at your fingertips, then I say it again: you are selfish. If that stings to read or bothers you in some way, then consider why. Take a seat, take a long hard look at yourself, do some research and try fucking harder.

With that out of the way, back to point a: “I can’t be a perfect cruelty free, ethical consumer so why even bother?” I get it. I really do – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the different ways to be ‘ethical’ and the different and increasingly demanding expectations that ethical lifestyle gurus seem to have of everyone. We don’t just have buying cruelty free cosmetics after all, we have being vegetarian or vegan, we have being minimalist and zero waste, we have buying organic and non-GMO and local, we have supporting independent brands, we have giving up fast fashion and much, much more. These requirements for being an ethical consumer just stack up and up and up to the point where it starts to seem completely impossible to actually be a good person, and makes you doubt the impact of even trying. Further still, it makes you doubt how well you’ll be received by the rest of that community – if I’m not seen as doing ‘enough’, there’s going to be people who don’t like that and will criticise me for it. If I don’t try at all, at least I won’t be seen as a hypocrite for claiming to be cruelty free but not being cruelty free ‘enough’, right?

Almost everything we buy presents a choice and an opportunity to pick the ‘more ethical’ one, but that simply isn’t possible for everyone. I’m vegan and cruelty free, and I’m trying to make an effort to reduce my waste and to stop buying from fast fashion retailers, but I also still use a lot of plastic and packaging. I still drive and use petrol. I still have to buy some things from fast fashion shops, because I need certain professional, office-appropriate clothes for work. Sometimes I still buy non-vegan clothing or animal tested brands for relatives who asked for them for gifts and wouldn’t take kindly to being presented with anything other than exactly what they wanted. I sometimes slip up and accidentally eat non-vegan things, or forget that some home accessories contain wool and buy them without realising. I will never be zero waste, and I will never be able to live off the land and be carbon neutral or anything like that.

And that’s okay!

There seems to be this common misconception among non-veggies and non-cruelty free folks that if you can’t go the whole hog, you’re not wanted and you may as well not bother. Honestly, I’m kind of tired of hearing that as an excuse. If you weren’t guaranteed that your hard work would get you a good grade or perfect score at school, did you just not bother? “Well, I know I’ll never be perfect so I’m not even going to try!” You can’t avoid accidentally stepping on a snail at some point in your life, so do you just make a point of stomping on all the snails that end up in your path because there’s ‘no point in trying when you can’t be perfect’?

This ‘all or nothing’ approach seems totally ridiculous when you put it into any other scenario, and whether you realise it or not, at the core of it you’re essentially saying: ‘I can’t completely wipe out all pain and suffering and bad things in the world, so I’m just going to carry on inflicting as much suffering as everybody else rather than make some small changes that might have a positive impact.’

The problem is, being cruelty free or vegan or vegetarian or trying to simply be a more ethical consumer has never been about being perfect. We know that we make mistakes, or that small animals might die when the vegetables we eat are harvested or that yes, the chemicals in our beauty products may have historically been tested on animals even if they aren’t anymore. We weren’t disputing that. No one is perfect, and if any other cruelty free people try to tell you that they are, I promise you that they’re full of shit and need to get in the sea. The point isn’t and has never been perfection; it’s reduction. Either we can be causing as much devastation as absolutely everybody else, or we can try to drop it down a few pegs and do what we can to make a difference. If we can all take small steps, within our means, to reduce animal suffering and the demand for animal testing in cosmetics, then we can begin to send a message to big businesses that they need to change.

That change is already happening. The Body Shop’s ethical principles had been heavily criticised since they were bought by L’Oreal (a brand notorious for its animal testing) a few years ago, and recently they were purchased by a new cruelty free parent company. This is at least in part down to the impact of cruelty free consumers challenging their supposed anti-animal testing views while simultaneously contributing money towards animal testing at their parent company.  In spite of their attempts to show that they were still an ethical brand, they simply couldn’t shake the backlash of being owned by L’Oreal.  Years ago Urban Decay had planned to start selling in China, where animal testing is required by law, but pulled out after heavy criticism and boycott threats from buyers who called them out for abandoning their cruelty free morals for the sake of extra cash.

Each time you go makeup shopping, you have a choice. Cruelty free products are not difficult to find, and they’re no more expensive than their animal tested counterparts. You cannot, in good conscience, claim to be against animal testing while still willingly purchasing from brands that test on animals. When you are informed and empowered and financially or geographically able to choose cruelty free products over animal tested ones but still chose not to, your decision is directly funding the torture, suffering and death of lab animals. It isn’t a complex ethical dilemma or a personal opinion – it’s a simple, empirical fact that your money is going towards animal testing, and that your continued custom will reassure businesses that they can carry on animal testing with no consequences to their profits.

Is your favourite lipstick worth the life of the innumerable number of rabbits or mice or dogs (yes, dogs) that suffered in order to produce it or to legally sell it in China? Is your favourite mascara worth the life of the animal who was repeatedly poked, prodded, burned, injected, had scalding chemicals dropped into its eyes and was finally ‘humanely’ euthanised once it looked to be in ‘too much’ pain? Sounds pretty extreme and very grim, right? Well, that’s the reality of beauty brands that aren’t cruelty free.  And all for what, right?  Makeup?  Really?

Next time you go shopping for your usual beauty products, consider trying out a new cruelty free brand instead of the animal tested giants like Rimmel, Revlon, L’Oreal, MAC and so on. If the thought of animals in pain when they don’t need to be strikes a chord with you, consider spending your money elsewhere instead of on NARS, who have now committed to selling in China and will begin testing on animals in order to do so. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s tons of online resources out there that can offer up a wealth of exciting, wonderful brands with ethics as lovely as their products – give them a try! Ask cruelty free beauty bloggers for their tips or suggestions, check out cruelty free reviews on YouTube.

No, we’re not perfect – none of us ever, ever will be – but you have so much more power than you realise, and the choices you make can help to change the world.

If you’re interested in going cruelty free, check out some of the cruelty free directories/blogs below and, as always, feel free to get in touch with me!

15 comments

  1. Fuck. Yes. This post articulated my thoughts on the recent CF discussions perfectly. I love your snail analogy, because it does sound ridiculous, and that's because it IS ridiculous. I do understand that it's easy to encounter the 'ethical' world and be confused, even deterred. But if the changes I have made in my life have helped prevent the suffering of one animal, then it's been 100% worth it. Here's to doing the best we can!

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    1. I've never understood that mentality tbh, naturally I get people making the same argument about veganism and it's like... so because you can't stop ALL suffering worldwide you're not going to try to stop what you actually have control over? Mmmmmmm...

      Here's to that though!

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  2. Honestly couldn't have put this better myself. It's true that it's not about being perfect, and it's a shame that a lot of people don't get that. We need to preach this 'doing the best you can' idea more :) On the more positive side, I do think people are eveeer so gradually becoming more repelled by the idea of makeup tested on animals.
    -
    jennyrosee.com x

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    1. Thank you! I think for most people, it's just ignorance tbh - a lot of people genuinely probably have no idea about animal testing, or believe it doesn't apply to us because of the EU law banning it (even though it doesn't properly ban it). I get the ignorance, I just don't get choosing to carry on supporting it!

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  3. Great post Steph. People need to understand that it's not about being perfect - it's doing the best we can. Not everyone is perfect but small changes can really help.

    Kayleigh x
    http://hazelnutmusings.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks Kayleigh! As Tesco says, every little helps. 😂

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  5. Sharing the shit out out of this!! Excellent post xxxx

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  6. Before I went vegan, I went cruelty free. It's the easiest thing to do! Sticking with make up didn't make me feel the pressure of being entirely ethical with my whole lifestyle (like veganism does), but helped me to feel like I was making a differnece and spurred me on to continue it throughout other strands of my life. Every little helps, people need to remember that and stop coming up with excuses! And others need to stop bashing those who are doing their best!

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    1. Me too! Going cruelty free was like a gateway into other ethical changes - it was the easiest and most accessible thing to do at the time, and opened up a whole world of other ways I could try to make ethical changes in my life. Def agree about not bashing folks who're doing their best, too! That kind of attitude is part of what creates this off-putting, perfectionist environment in the first place.

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  7. You've summed everything up brilliantly, Steph! Yes, going cruelty-free can be overwhelming at first, and no, you won't do things perfectly, but that's because no one can. Something is better than nothing but I think it's important to make the effort xx

    Toasty

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  8. This is a great post! I am trying to go cruelty free and this is exactly what I needed to hear!

    Emily xo
    www.emilynewstead.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Emily, I'm so glad it helps!

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