Despite available alternatives, millions of animals are subjected to cruel and unnecessary experiments for cosmetics. In Canada, although the law requires that animals be used for medical testing, animals are not required for cosmetics testing. The Food and Drugs Act, the Cosmetic Regulations Act, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations are all federal laws that relate to cosmetics testing. However, none of the Acts stipulate that animal testing is a requirement.
The information that has historically been gained from animal tests is increasingly being replaced with quicker, cheaper and more reliable non-animal methods. Many of the animal tests used to test cosmetics ingredients have now been replaced or are in development. The TTC approach (Threshold of Toxicological Concern) can be safely used to show that testing is not necessary for many ingredients, due to the low exposure of consumers to individual cosmetic ingredients.
Even though animal testing is not required, and despite the fact that alternatives to testing exist, many companies continue with the practice, usually for product liability reasons. Even products that are simply labeled as “not tested on animals” or “cruelty-free” may have been tested by other companies, at the ingredient level or at certain stages of development making it confusing and frustrating for individuals who are trying to make compassionate choices.
The Leaping Bunny logo is synonymous with truly cruelty-free products. 15 years after this certification process began, there are additional tools to help consumers locate cruelty-free products – supporting companies who have pledged not to test on animals and penalizing companies that still do. There are two primary apps available for smartphones, on both GooglePlay and iTunes. PeTA also has an app that’s only offered for iPhones.
If you’re looking for a free app, you can try the Cruelty-Free app from Symbiotic Software LLC. This app is published by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program, and the shopping guide lists over 200 U.S. and Canadian companies that do not test ingredients, formulations, or finished products on animals. The Leaping Bunny Program certifies that no new animal testing is used, so you can be confident about your cruelty-free choices.
Cruelty-Free App – Pros
- Simple to use
- Regularly updated
- Large database of products
- US and Canadian based
- Doesn’t require access to other programs or settings on phone
- Established reputation – published by Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics
Cruelty-Free App – Cons
- Requires lots of scrolling through a lengthy list
- No way to interact with companies that are not cruelty-free
- May be confusing to locate parent companies
- I found an established vegetarian, cruelty-free company (Lush Cosmetics) that was not in the database
- Activists cannot play a direct role in updating the product database
- If you declined to purchase a product because it wasn’t cruelty-free, the company would never know why
Cruelty-Cutter is also available from the Beagle Freedom Project. This app offers a feature that other apps don’t – the ability to scan a product’s bar code and receive a near-immediate confirmation on the cruelty-free status of the items. Cruelty-Cutter advertises that they have every company in the “Leaping Bunny” and PeTA lists and thousands more. This is really an activist’s app. You have the option of tweeting the results of your scan with a positive endorsement of the (cruelty-free) product or “biting-back” at the company whose product does not meet the requirements, with a direct message to their Twitter account. This is a way to show companies that people are not interested in supporting those that continue to test on animals when it is not needed.
Cruelty-Cutter App – Pros
- Allows you to interact with companies via Twitter
- Easy to use – scan bar codes instead of scrolling through alphabetical lists
- Vigilant consumers make the product better
- Instant gratification – when you tweet the results of your scan, you feel like you have made an impact
Cruelty-Cutter App – Cons
- Not free – nominal purchase fee
- Requires a Twitter account to use the full features of the app
- Although the developer touts it at the most up-to-date cruelty-free app on the market, it still didn’t have quite a few products I scanned in its database. Strangely, Lush cosmetics, known to be vegetarian and cruelty-free, was missing.
- Sending emails to the Beagle Freedom Project to investigate the status of products not in their database requires a few extra seconds to fill in the name of the product. If you’re impatient, you might not be willing to take this extra step.
- Excessive scanning of products may mean that you are mistaken for an inventory control clerk!
Here’s three of several items I scanned at home, along with the corresponding Tweets generated by the Cruelty-Cutter app: