Believe it or not, cruelty-free beauty branding goes back all the way to the 1950s, when English aristocrat Lady Dowding suggested makers of fake fur use the slogan ‘Beauty without Cruelty’. Later, this would become a charity that’s still running to this day (while in America, a similar sentiment was summed up as ‘Fashion with Compassion’). But it’s fair to say they remained niche interests at the time, with few consumers considering the issue.
Thankfully, today’s market looks very different, and the range of cruelty-free cosmetics, in particular, has never been wider (or deeper). Here we look at animal testing’s dark history, the rise of alternatives, and what might come next.
Where did animal testing come from?
Sadly, there is a long history of products sold to consumers which were extremely harmful to their health – even when they were claiming to improve it. Perhaps the most shocking example was radium cream, a literally radioactive product which likely caused countless cancers in its users.
The original logic behind animal-testing then, made a certain sense. Lab animals would be exposed to huge doses of new compounds, and any which caused damage consistently would not be approved for human use.
But tere were always problems with this methodology – animals obviously have different physiologies to humans, and many argue the testing thus has limited use. And, while some feel the use of animals in medical testing is justified, applying the same for strictly cosmetic applications has found fewer supporters.
Indeed, it’s currently banned in the European Union, India and Israel (though not the US), and the leaping bunny logo (which denotes a cruelty-free product) has become a common sight on our shelves.
The rise of cruelty-free
For starters, the one positive legacy left by early animal-testing is that 20,000 cosmetic ingredients are known to be safe for human consumption (in the EU database). There are also more than 50 forms of non-animal related tests which have already been approved. This gives manufacturers a huge choice.
And, more than this, improvements in technology mean there are testing alternatives which are not only less damaging to innocent animals, but actually more accurate in their predictions. Better methods include testing in vitro (cultured human cells), in silico (using sophisticated computer models), and even employing recycled skin from plastic surgery.
Critics will say that alternative methods often take longer, and cost more money. But it’s worth noting we’re not talking about curing a disease here, but whether a lipstick will give people a rash. They can afford to wait.
As for shoppers, there are now retailers whose entire range is guaranteed cruelty-free. It’s never been easier to support the movement – even on a budget.
Technology will continue to improve, with computer-processing advances, in particular, likely to offer more and more reliable data. But cruelty-free labels are already looking to better themselves.
As such, you may have seen a new generation of products which go beyond testing to proclaim themselves entirely vegan – meaning no animal by-products at all are included.
Meanwhile, labels specialising in organic materials are continuing to minimise their impact on the environment – which, after all, very much includes the healthy habitats of wild animals.
The future looks good. Here at Amalie Beauty, all our items are cruelty-free! So not only will you look good, but you’ll feel good too!
Guest Post written by: Tamara Olsen