A newbies guide to cruelty free beauty

Bath Pug and Tattoos

I love animals. All creatures great and small. Even little Barry the Bath Pug here, who keeps me company every time I take a dip. After working at Lush over the Christmas period, and learning so much about their strong stance and pro-activity when it comes to things like ethical buying, environmental policies, and fighting against animal testing, a little light bulb in my head switched on. Why should any of the products I use on a daily basis be tested on animals?

Ragdoll Cat

Bear with me here, this post is called a newbies guide for a reason so although I am by no means an expert in this subject, I thought I would touch on my experiences so far in case cruelty free beauty is something that you've been thinking about recently. Or maybe you've not thought about it at all? I was the same, despite being an animal lover I never quite opened my mind to the thought of animals suffering for the sake of cosmetics. A part of me feels like a hypocrite for even writing this post, as I am not a veggie or vegan, so I guess you could argue do you actually even care for animals if you eat their meat?

This is something I have been thinking long and hard about as well, and I think I will make this transition sooner rather than later. But I'm taking it one step at a time and trying to educate myself as much as possible in the process. We rarely buy meat in our house, but when we do there is always a mega conscious effort to make sure it has been sustainably raised. Meat which has produced without destroying the environment or threatening public health, and its sale supports responsible farmers who choose to use sound agricultural practices. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive to raise animals sustainably than to mass-produce them on a factory farm (these industrial operations benefit from hefty government subsidies, and don’t have to pay for the damage they cause!) As a result, sustainably raised meat usually costs more than the cheap meat churned out by factory farms. Which leads me to another point, of how companies and their labelling can be SO misleading.

Lush Bath Bombs

Some brands claim that they don't test on animals, but some of these claims are a blatant lie. There are a lot of loopholes when it comes to the statements companies make. There is no regulation over the general phrase 'Cruelty Free' - so a product can be described as just that without having to show any proof. 'WE do not test on animals' might mean that the company don't, but that doesn't mean that they don't pay a third party to do it for them. 'THIS PRODUCT was not tested on animals' is another misleading one - just because the final product wasn't tested on animals doesn't mean that the raw ingredients used to make it weren't. And finally 'We do not test on animals, EXCEPT WHERE REQUIRED BY LAW' which essentially means that as soon as a company sets up shop in a country where it's a legal requirement (such as China) then those products need to be tested on animals.

The biggest learning curve for me has been reading up on companies and trying to cut through these statements and find out the truth about which ones I should and shouldn't be using in my transition to going completely cruelty free. Even some of my favourite brands such as Urban Decay and The Body Shop don't test on animals (directly) - but their parent company who owns them does. So by buying these brands are we essentially still funding the testing at a higher level? With the money all going into the one pot, I guess so. Right now I still feel okay using the likes of Urban Decay, but I think with time my stance on that, and the companies which they are affiliated with, will change. The Body Shop (who made their name by opposing animal testing) maintain they will sustain the values and beliefs at the core of their business and perhaps may even be able to influence their parent company, however the money spent there will ultimately line the pockets of L’Oreal. Would you support a brand which doesn't test on animals, but is under the same umbrella and owned by a bigger company who does? L'oreal own Urban Decay, The Body Shop, Kiehls, Maybelline, Lancome and Garnier (to name a few) and Estee Lauder own Bobbi Brown, Mac, Clinique, Origins, Smashbox and Aveda.

Lush Bath Bombs

The learning process of this has really been a minefield so far, but not an impossible one! There are so many fantastic brands who are completely cruelty free. Amanda writes regularly on her blog about cruelty free beauty, so I know if I'm looking for anything in particular then she will be my go-to gal for information. There are also tonnes of other bloggers who dedicate a lot of time to emailing companies and updating their sites with information on every brand you can think of. Elephant Room has been a fantastic resource for me in helping to understand the in's and out's of everything, and is a great starting place if you're looking to learn about it all.

A few examples of staples which I use every other day and have been looking to replace quite quickly (I'm not gonna throw out every animal tested product I own, I just won't repurchase once I have used them up!) are face masks, cleanser, exfoliator and an all purpose soap. Lush is an obvious staple, as absolutely none of their products or the ingredients are tested on animals! I use Cup O Coffee as a body mask/scrub when I'm having a soak to really refresh my skin, and the Glow Mud Mask from Pixi is fantastic too. When it comes to face masks I love a thick, clay like texture (which is extremely satisfying to apply, cause I'm a weirdo like that) and it feels like I've given myself a mini facial when I team it up with the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant and the Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser. Give my skin anything with glycolic acid, salicylic acid or aloe vera, and it thanks me big time. I also couldn't not mention Forever Living, as all of their products are cruelty free too. I use the hand and face soap for a few extra bubbles in the bath (as my skin has been quite dry lately) and by the bathroom sink for general hand washing. These are the items I found I used most often and needed to replace first. I'm starting to run out of everything else slowly but surely, starting with foundation a couple of weeks ago so treated myself to Illamasqua Skin Base, and I love it!

Cruelty Free Beauty
Mud Face Mask

I'm still a total newbie at this, so would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so far if you've been in the same boat as me. I'll leave you with this lovely picture of my face, enjoying the Glow Mud Mask, along with a really helpful infographic from Elephant Room about the different cruelty free certificates and what they actually mean. I keep this handy guide saved on my phone, along with The Little Book Of Cruelty Free, which is great to keep on hand especially when I'm out shopping and want to check a brand quickly.


  1. Such a helpful post! All of my shower products say they are cruelty free but now i'm wondering if they 100% are. I'll have to look into that!

    Renee | Lose The Road

  2. Yay! So happy for you! I went cruelty free about a year and a half ago, and haven't looked back since! It really does make you feel better when purchasing makeup, and it keeps my spending down too! AKA no Sephora binges because I have to get my phone out and google every brand before I purchase. It makes me shop so much more consciously on every level! I've also been trying to consume more vegan options when it comes to food as well. Every little step helps! Can't wait to read about all your favorite CF products <3

    Much love
    Jess || writinginredlipstick.com

  3. Such an informative post, thank you! I already ordered the Little Book of Cruelty Free the other day and am trying to remember to always check from there before buying anything. I'm still struggling a bit though, like you said, it's such a minefield! I wish I could just have everything from Lush and then I would be sorted :D

  4. Elf cosmetics have become a bit of a staple for my makeup since going vegan/cruelty free. Their lipsticks in particular! Would be interesting to see what you think is good to try!

  5. Such an interesting read. I am gradually making the switch to cruelty free products as I now follow a mostly vegan diet and it makes sense to apply that approach across everything I use and spend my hard-earned cash on. Wholefoods and Planet Organic have a great selection of cruelty free beauty products and natural brands - definitely worth a browse. x

  6. This is such a helpful post for anyone looking to introduce more of a cruelty-free stance into their beauty routine. I find it a bit of a minefield too, but that infographic makes it easier to break down I think. I've heard that a lot of Superdrug's own brand products are vegan-friendly - might be worth a look? Big love lady xx

  7. So happy to see another blogger going cruelty-free! Lush is still one of my favourite brands all these years on. :)

    Morag x www.moadore.co.uk

  8. This post is soo helpful and interesting!It's so hard to really know these things it really is like a minefield!