My Cruelty-Free Journey | The Start

At the beginning of this year, I shared my goals and intentions for this year, and one of them was that I wanted to make more mindful purchases. I've been doing pretty well, staying away from fast fashion stores and definitely putting more thought into where I'm spending my money, and a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time to go cruelty-free.


I've done research on cruelty-free brands and products here and there over the last couple of years, but this decision was actually a pretty abrupt one, and now I don't even remember what brought me to make this choice. I'm glad I did though because I really don't want to be supporting brands that test on animals. As transitioning to be completely cruelty-free is definitely a journey and not something that can happen within just a few days, I thought I could start a series here on my blog to document my progress. If you're looking to make the same transition, hopefully, this series will be helpful to you as well!

Cruelty-Free 101

For those of you who aren't familiar with the cruelty-free world, it's really complex, as I have learned as I've done my research. If a company says it's cruelty-free, there are a few possibilities for what that really means, which I'll list and describe below:

  1. Certified by Leaping Bunny and/or signed the PETA pledge: If a company has either of these, it means it has an official guarantee that it does not conduct any animal testing.

    • Examples: Bite Beauty, Colourpop, e.l.f., Marc Jacobs Beauty

  2. Cruelty-free but no affiliation with PETA/Leaping Bunny: A lot of companies seem to fall into this category.

    • Examples: Drunk Elephant, Glossier, Sunday Riley, Youth to the People

  3. Cruelty-free but owned by a parent company that tests on animals: L’Oreal, Unilever, and Estee Lauder are just a few examples of parent companies that conduct animal testing. However, companies in this category are able to maintain their cruelty-free status even while being owned by one of these parent companies. Some of these companies even have the Leaping Bunny certification.

    • Examples: BECCA, Tarte (Leaping Bunny), Urban Decay (Leaping Bunny)

  4. Cruelty-free but sells in China: Selling in China is a big deal because China requires any foreign beauty products to go through animal testing if they are to be sold in physical stores in mainland China (Hong Kong is okay). Cruelty-free and selling in China were first brought to my attention when NARS, which is otherwise cruelty-free, decided to start selling its products in China. If a company says that it does not conduct animal testing "except where required by law", it is likely that they are selling in China. I find this to be so shady, and any company claiming to be cruelty-free yet sells in China is betraying its own morals to make more money.

    • Examples: Caudalie, Kiehl's, NARS, Origins

  5. Gray-area cruelty-free: This would be companies that say they do not conduct animal testing but don't say anything or are vague about whether their suppliers do. Basically, read the company's statement carefully and pay attention to the wording.


If you're interested in finding out more, Cruelty-Free Kitty, Logical Harmony, and Ethical Elephant are all great resources. These sites all have lists of cruelty-free brands and brands that you should avoid, as well as a bunch of other helpful information. (If you're already cruelty-free, please share any other resources you have in the comments below! :) )

My Cruelty-Free Philosophy

As I've learned from doing my research, everyone has a different idea of what being cruelty-free is. For some people, if the brand is cruelty-free but its parent company isn't, then they will not use products from that brand. For me, I will use a product as long as the brand itself does not conduct animal testing. However, I will not use any products that are sold in China. I've found some articles stating that it's actually possible to sell products in China as long as the product's in are white-listed, but I think that's a black hole of research I'd rather not fall into.

Although it's natural for a lot of cruelty-free people to use only vegan products, I'm not going to. I'm okay with and will continue to use products that have animal ingredients in them (mainly but not limited to bee byproducts like beeswax and honey) but will try to buy vegan products as much as I can.

IN SUMMARY: when I talk about cruelty-free brands from this post forward, I mean cruelty-free brands that: (1) do not sell in China, but (2) may be owned by a parent company that does test on animals, and (3) may or may not be vegan.


Current Progress

After I decided to become cruelty-free, I inventoried my skincare and makeup collection. To my horror, a good two-thirds of what I own is not from a cruelty-free brand, so it's definitely going to be a while before I can call myself completely cruelty-free. The products I have photographed in the picture are all of the smaller sized items that I have that are not cruelty-free. I was getting a little overwhelmed gathering all of my non-cruelty-free products together for this little shoot, but, thankfully, this is the bulk of my items - I still have a few full-sized items not pictured here.

I'll be using up any products that I already have that aren't cruelty-free because I think it's so wasteful not to use up products I already own, but I also plan on passing some items on to my family and friends and donating a lot of it to either local shelters or Project Beauty Share, an amazing organization that also takes gently used makeup products. However, from now on, I will only be purchasing from cruelty-free brands and will no longer be reviewing any non-cruelty-free products unless it's part of a larger post (i.e. empties, cruelty-free journey update, etc.).

Sadly, Kiehl's and Origins, which were two of my favorite brands, both have the "except when required by law" phrase that means they do still conduct animal testing, likely since they sell their products in China. Hopefully, they change their policies one day so I can go back to using their products again.

Going cruelty-free isn't going to be limited to beauty products, either. I'm also going to do this for all of my household products, including cleaners, soaps, and more.

Look out for an update on my progress in a couple of months!