Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leaping Bunny and CCIC

I've brought up the Leaping Bunny Program in multiple posts, so I decided to dedicate this post to the program to help you better understand this group and what their logo really stands for. Also, I thought this would be a nice way to break up the depressing string of products that animal test since I am willing to purchase almost every product listed in the Leaping Bunny Shopping Guide. A majority of the information I will be discussing in this post is from the Leaping Bunny's FAQ page which can be found here.

To begin with, the Leaping Bunny Program was created by and still run by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, commonly referred to the CCIC. The CCIC is comprised of a handful of animal welfare groups mainly located in the United States and Canada. The entire list of involved groups can be found here. The main goal of the group was to create a cruelty free standard for cosmetics as well as personal care and household products. Like this blog, they wanted to make shopping easy for consumers so they could avoid to frustration and confusion associated with cruelty free shopping.

So, what are their standards? In short, their guidelines assure that no new animal tests will be performed. This includes testing of ingredients and finished products as well as any third party testing. In my eyes the most important aspect of being a registered with Leaping Bunny is that these company's are open to independent audits. Consumers do not have to simply trust what the company says or fall prey to intentionally misleading animal testing statements! Leaping Bunny has an un-associated, third party review these matters for us.

I wanted some clarification so I emailed the Leaping Bunny on August 12 and received this response August 16:
Thank you for your email. Companies who adhere to the Leaping Bunny Standard have agreed in writing to ban all animal testing throughout the manufacturing process (including ingredients and using third party testers!). Leaping Bunny requires verifiable assurances from ingredient suppliers, in addition to an unchangeable date after which these ingredients may not be tested on animals. Signatories
must recommit every year, and also be open to independent audits.

The audits are done by a third party
who visits the company personally to go through their paperwork and manufacturing processes. The few times we have had to remove companies from the list were because a) they refused to do the audit or b) there were issues with some of their ingredient suppliers that would make them ineligible for certification and which they did not wish to modify to be in compliance. The companies chosen for audits are done so at random.

Overall I am very happy with the information I have been able to find regarding the Leaping Bunny program. For me personally, I dislike that they list such companies such as Tom of Maine's and Burt's Bees. These companies do not animal test but they are subsidiaries of parent companies who do test. However, they are marked with a small purple square on their online shopping guide to let consumers know that this is the case.
  • The Leaping Bunny Online Shopping Guide can be found here. They will also mail free pocket shopping guides as well if you send them an email requesting one. You can also download their shopping app for free!

  • You can also sign their Cruelty-Free Pledge here. I signed up for the hell of it but later received a discount code for which I believe sells mostly to only Leaping Bunny certified products.
           They also list some additional ways you can help animals here. I hope everyone at least takes a moment to review their website since I believe this shopping guide is far superior to PETA's horrible one that everyone seems to know about. And also sorry for the weird font changes this editor is just weird and refuses to listen to what I tell it to do!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Does Chanel Animal Test?

Chanel is one of the most well known fashion companies in the world hands down. Chanel is a privately held brand under Chanel S.A. (I believe Chanel S.A. emerged when Chanel began acquiring subsidiaries). This website lists some of Chanel S.A.'s subsidiaries as Eres swimsuit company and Holland and Holland Guns.

Obviously Chanel is not historically a cruelty free company in regards to its fashion lines. The company's Autumn 2010 line did get publicity for featuring faux fur creations (I do not know about their particular line, but a lot of "faux fur" is not regulated and contains dog and cat hair), but I don't think much has changed besides this one incident.

This post will just be focusing on Chanel's perfume and makeup animal testing policies. Chanel's posted animal testing statement can be found on their official website here under the Fragrance and Beauty tab. For me, it leaves much to be desired because it does not bring up the possibility of commissioning third party testers nor does it specify whether animal tests are done or not done on both finished products and ingredients. I forgot to save a copy of the email I sent to them on July 19, 2011 but I inquired about all the above issues I had.

July 21, 2011
Thank you for taking the time to contact Chanel. Chanel does not use
animals for product testing.

Product testing on animals may be carried out by ingredient suppliers in
the case of some raw materials (that are used in other industries as
well as the cosmetics industry), but only when there are no other,
so-called alternative , substitute methods available that could
guarantee consumer safety.

This is why the prohibitions listed in the European Cosmetics
Directive are planned to come into force in 2013 at the very latest, the
date on which suppliers will have to stop such tests.

This prohibition will therefore become effective gradually as ECVAM, the
European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, validates
alternative methods to replace testing on animals.

We are, of course, in favour of these measures, and are, moreover, very
involved within the perfume and cosmetics industry in financing major
research projects that examine alternative testing methods to replace
testing on animals.

Thank you for your interest in CHANEL.

I am personally unhappy with this response. While I did receive an answer about ingredient testing, there was no information about third party testing. I had already suspected this since many companies simply say "Chanel does not test on animals." instead of saying "Chanel does not test on animals, we pay X Laboratories to do so for us." I think they threw a lot of information into the email that I didn't ask for in an attempt to move my attention from Chanel to ingredient testers.

Chanel is obviously not an animal friendly company, but some people seem to think they do not participate in animal testing. The money you give them will be used to obtain fur for their fashion items (remember even faux fur isn't a safe option) or to buy ingredients that are tested on animals. I will not be buying anything from Chanel.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Does Estée Lauder Animal Test?

Estée Lauder, of course, owns the cosmetic brand Estée Lauder but also owns many other well known brands including, but not limited to, MAC cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Coach. I will be adding other posts regarding some of these individual companies for shoppers interested only in the individual brand's animal testing policies. A full list of Estée Lauder's companies can be found here.

Before emailing customer service I reviewed the animal testing policies on the parent website. These policies can be found here under "Animal Testing" and "Respect for Animal Welfare." A section of their animal testing policy reads:

"We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. We evaluate our finished products in clinical tests on volunteer panels."

For me personally, I take issue with the "except when required by law" they tactfully added. I know there are companies who are 100% cruelty free so I am confused as to how they get around these required animal tests so I emailed Estée Lauder's customer service. Below I have listed the emails that I sent and received.

July 19, 2011
I have been using many of the products provided by your company from MAC, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Michael Kors, and Origins to name a few, but recently I have had some questions with your animal testing policy. I have read the information regarding this on your web pages, but I have one question. Your statement says that "We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law." However, the FDA does not require that this testing be done on animals.

Your company talks about using and researching many alternatives to animal testing so I am curious when you will exclusively use alternative testing of both the finished products and ingredients? I will sadly not be able to repurchase any of the products I currently own from your company, but look forward to possibly being able to do so in the future.

July 19, 2011
Thank you for your interest in Estée Lauder.
We have always been against animal testing. Recently, the global regulatory climate has become more stringent and cosmetic companies are being asked to further validate the human and environmental safety of their ingredients and products. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety. Given these increased requirements for ensuring the safety of cosmetic ingredients, animal testing may be legally necessary under certain circumstances when no non-animal test alternative is available or acceptable to governmental/health authorities. Be assured that we will make every effort to avoid having ingredients tested on animals, taking all practical and available steps to see that existing or non-animal test data is used instead. However, if ultimately this is required in order for the Company to sell its products, we will, of course, comply with the law.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your question, and sincerely hope I was able to be of assistance. You are valued as our consumer and I hope you will continue to use and enjoy our products with confidence and satisfaction.
I personally will no longer be purchasing the products from Estée Lauder or any of its subsidiaries. These companies are often considered cruelty free by a majority of people, so I had been repurchasing some products over the past few months which I am very upset about.

I am unsure if there is any way for me to know whether these companies truly only animal test due to legal reasons and only in these cases or not, but any animal testing is too much for me. However, I will be looking into more information regarding when the government will not accept alternatives to animal testing. I suppose the government also has a way of wording statements so as to appear as not encouraging of animal testing (shocking I know!).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why is it so confusing?

When I first decided to go cruelty free I thought it would be easy-peasy. If you have seriously tried to go cruelty free you know this is a resounding "Not so!" My google search produced multiple websites which listed cruelty free and non-cruelty free companies. I was so happy there was such a wealth of information. However, as I started looking through these multiple lists I realized how inconsistent they were.

Insert annoyed and frazzled face here.

So instead I went to see what beauty gurus and assorted bloggers/opinion givers said. I was unsure about just reading company statements since I had heard complaints about all of the misleading phrases. Every person seemed to have their own good and bad list so that was just as inconsistent as the lists I had found.

I ended up just picking PETA's list, which i do not recommend, since they seemed pretty extreme to me and, in my mind, therefore would have the most stringent requirements to be listed. Not so! (FYI: I currently use Leaping Bunny's list its not the most accessible, but they list stores owned by testing brands and add an annotation to tell you so.)

Image credit:

These are the top reasons that I believe are making it so hard for people to get consistent answers in regards to animal testing. Hopefully, if we understand why there is so much confusion we can communicate with companies and other shoppers in a meaningful way.

Misleading Company Statements
I think this is the main/biggest reason for all the confusion. Companies purposefully mislead their consumers in this way and if they were upfront we wouldn't have to speculate amongst ourselves about what is true.

If a company simply says we do not test on animals, that doesn't actually mean that they don't (They hire third party testers). If a company says we do not testfinished products on animals, they probably tested the ingredients on animals. Ridiculous I know. There are still other statements that essentially say "We don't want to but..." and bring up legal reasons which are not 100% true.

I think the confusion is great for companies. If someone is saying they aren't cruelty free it doesn't matter if another person is saying they are. All the confusion causes some people to give up on going completely cruelty free and still buy the product. Also a consumer can hold onto the hope that maybe the product is cruelty free and continue repurchasing. At the moment, if there is serious confusion over a product I just don't buy it.

Personal Comfort Level
As I said in my first post, many consumers buy cruelty free products even if they are distributed by a parent company who is not cruelty free. Other cruelty free consumers buy products from companies who have the "unless required by law" stipulation in their animal testing statements. Many people are comfortable with this and many others are not.

This is where some problems arise.
Image credit:

Many people assess a company's statements, filter it through their perceptions, information and comfort level, and end up with a simple yes or no for whether they animal test. This works great on an individual basis. When other people who want to go cruelty free, like me, don't read the company statements for fear of confusion we usually look to what other cruelty free people are using. This person's comfort level and our comfort level may not match.

In addition, if someone is just starting a cruelty free lifestyle change they may not even realize that this is an issue. When I started I also thought it was a simple yes/no, testing/non testing problem.

Is there even a completely cruelty free product?
All ingredients in cosmetics have been tested on animals at some point. No, I don't have the stats, but it has to be close to all if not all. The link below goes to a video gossmakeupartist on youtube has created where he goes in depth about this. Eventually this again becomes an issue regarding personal comfort level.

I personally will not buy a product if my money will be spent on more new animal tests. I can't go back in time to stop something, and if I can't accept that then I won't be wearing any makeup. To quote Goss "Its bothersome that that's the case, but that is the case."

This being said there are many, many companies that are smaller which sell cruelty free as well as organic and vegan products and I'm not sure whether this applies to them or not. However, they obviously are putting in effort and will be explored later here.

About Me

I want my first post to reflect my reasons for creating this blog and to share a little about myself with you.
I have always been an animal lover (I own 5 cats & 2 rats), and very cognizant of the fact that some ways I lived my life were harming animals such as eating meat, wearing leather and makeup. Pretty much everyone around me did not give these issues any special attention beyond the occasional "oh well, thats too bad/sad." A few people, who I now know don't understand a lot of hidden things going on in these industries, told me that steaks and leather shoes were a part of life, "people eat cows, why waste the leather?"

However, 4-5 months ago after some serious realizations I began putting more effort into eating a significantly reduced amount of meat (still considering going vegan though) and completely cutting out cosmetic brands that are in the obvious no-go lists for anyone buying cruelty free products. I was really happy with my changes, and I was actually surprised at how easy it was because I didn't have to give up my favorite cosmetic items.

Whats the problem?
There are many brands that are on almost every cruelty free list (including PETA's which I was using as a guide before) that are owned by companies who do participate in animal testing. I personally do not feel comfortable buying these products, as the animal testing parent company will be receiving my money. I know there are many cruelty free shoppers who feel fine buying these brands because they believe this sends a signal to the parent company that they want cruelty free products. Honestly I really believe that these companies do not care one bit; owning one cruelty free product is a way for them to get your money instead of a small, lesser known 100% cruelty free company (I don't meant to offend anyone I am just explaining my position).

Two days ago I discovered that even more brands listed as cruelty free are not 100% cruelty free. Many widely accepted cruelty free brands have policies resembling this:

"We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law."

Then I found out that in the EU animal testing is banned and that the FDA does not require that safety tests be performed on animals. I have already gotten one response from a parent company, that is touted as the cruelty free model for other companies, that essentially says sometimes its the only way so that's what it does to sell its products.


So now what?
All of this has led me here. There is so much confusion, purposefully misleading statements and beating around the bush with this subject that if any of my posts help even one person, who wants to shop this way, buy a truly cruelty free product I will be happy.

Now my small disclaimer:
I am new to this! As I have said this is a confusing topic, but I will do the best I can providing information for companies. I will make sure to always show exactly what has been shown to me so you can draw your own opinions, but I will also express my own.

If I make any mistakes please, please, please correct me! I want to know the facts, and not spread the wrong information even if it is unintentional.