What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?
Well, we have what cruelty-free actually means. And then, we have the claim most companies make about their products.
Sadly, there are no regulations or criteria for making this claim. A company can slap ‘Cruelty-Free’ on their products & add a cute bunny there irrespective of how many real bunnies their products have been tested on.
This is why we constantly find guides to cruelty-free skincare, haircare, and make-up online.
Here at Clime, we want to make you an easy guide as well - but from an Indian context.
But, What Does It REALLY Mean? What Is The Definition of Cruelty-Free?
- All the final products were not tested on animals by the company/brand/manufacturer. (Obviously)
- All the ingredients that went into making the product were not tested on animals. (YES, the ingredients too.)
- The final products & their ingredients were not tested by a 3rd party organization hired by the company or anyone in the supply chain. (You’re not cruelty-free if you get someone else to do your dirty work - Hitler didn’t personally kill the Jews, Churchill didn’t personally kill Indians, Columbus didn’t personally kill… you get my drift).
The brand or manufacturer does not rely on animal testing results from an outside organization. (“We have not asked them to test, but, we will use these ingredients because of/despite the animal testing” simply won’t cut it.)
The testing should not be being conducted in other countries either. (Puppies know no nationalities)
“The brand only uses animal testing when it is required by law”. Expanding into the market of a country that requires animal testing does not make you cruelty-free. It is mandatory to test on animals in China (there have been some changes this year, more on that below). If a company imports into and sells in China, you can be sure they are not cruelty-free. (5 companies that refuse to sell in China because of their animal-testing laws)
Why We Need To Choose Cruelty-Free Brands
We don’t want to get too graphic, but - isolation, immobilization, chemical burns on their eyes and skin, physical trauma, extreme emotional & mental torture, disease, pain, death.. we could go on and on.
None of this would we wish on my worst of worst enemies. So why do we accept it being done to innocent living beings? Especially for our personal hygiene, body care and beauty products?
Let’s collectively stop now. We promise you, it isn’t as difficult as one would imagine - or difficult at all really!
Are Cruelty-Free and Vegan The Same? What Is The Difference?
No. And yes.
While many of us would consider harming animals in any way for our skin/hair care needs cruel, the label definitions of ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ differ.
Vegan products are those which don’t CONTAIN animal products.
Cruelty-free products are those that haven’t been TESTED on animals at any point in their supply chain.
There are vegan brands that test on animals, and cruelty-free brands that aren’t vegan.
A combination of the two is ideal.
But, for all intents and purposes, they are labeled separately to avoid confusion.
What Is The Deal With China and Animal Testing? Is China Going Cruelty-Free?
Until very recently, it was mandatory for every product sold in China to be tested on animals.
Granted, there have been some improvements and reductions in testing requirements - but is it really enough?
Here is a flowchart from the wonderful Vy over at Ethical Elephant explaining the new laws (May 2021).
There are many, many legal and administrative hoops that a company has to go through to not test in China - which they have not done. And even if they get around to navigating through them, there are whole sections of products that cannot be sold in China without animal testing (irrespective of permits).
We am glad there have been improvements, but they are evidently not enough - especially from the consumers’ point of view.
Company Z has now gotten permits not to test its nail polish, but still tests its hair dyes on innocent bunnies and puppies to keep selling them in China? No, that's not cruelty-free at all.
Is India Cruelty-Free? Does India Have Laws On Animal Testing?
India has banned animal testing for cosmetics, including the import of animal-tested cosmetics! This technically makes it the first cruelty-free cosmetics country in South Asia. It also means foreign companies that were animal-testing in India because their own countries banned it couldn’t do so anymore.
This was an excellent step in the right direction.
“Cruelty-free imports’ and ‘cosmetics’ are still not defined well enough to be entirely trusted. We still can’t simply grab anything off of a shelf and assume it is cruelty-free.
International shipping of these products is also not regulated.
Take into account the improper implementation, the loopholes in the laws, and the illegal animal testing that still goes on, we still DO need to take a second more to ensure what we’re buying is actually cruelty-free!