Cruelty-Free 101

Learn the basics and start living a cruelty-free life.

If you’re already trying to live a more natural, eco-friendly, and mind-body-balanced life, you may have considered changing your beauty and house-cleaning products to ones that are cruelty-free. And if you haven’t made the switch yet, chances are, you’re feeling a little intimidated about how to get started.

My home has been 100 percent cruelty-free since 2012, and I’ve helped plenty of others start their cruelty-free journeys. In a regular feature, I’ll bring you the latest news, tips, and recommendations for living a cruelty-free life, but for now, let’s cover the basics.

What Makes Something Cruelty-Free?

To be cruelty-free, any cosmetic or household product must be entirely free of animal testing, meaning not only has the finished product not been tested by the company or commissioned by a third party to do so but that its ingredients are also free from animal testing. A cruelty-free product is not necessarily vegan; however, there are many vegan products in the market. It is also worth noting that although there is work to ban animal testing on all foreign cosmetic imports to mainland China, the country still requires testing by law. You will often see language in a company’s animal testing policy that says they don’t test “except where required by law.” No matter how they want to spin it, their products are not cruelty-free.

Got it? Good. Here are some tips to help kick off your cruelty-free journey:

Start Small
I remember the meltdown I had when I first looked around my house, in my purse, and in my cosmetics bag, and realized how many products I owned that were tested on animals. So, if that’s happening to you right now, take a deep breath. Big changes often start small.

Take an inventory of what’s about to run out. Low on dish soap? Is that tube of mascara practically dust? Find a few things that you’ll replace with cruelty-free options on your next shopping trip. But as you do your research know…

Not All Bunnies Are Created Equal
Unfortunately, companies can claim they are product free from animal testing even if it isn’t true. How do you know who’s telling the truth? By knowing your logos. The Leaping Bunny, a non-profit organization that independently certifies a company as cruelty-free, boasts nearly 900 companies as of 2017. Of course, not all certified brands license the logo, so download their free app so you can verify purchases on the go.

You may also choose to buy products certified by PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program. It differs in that companies sign a pledge that their goods and ingredients are cruelty-free; PETA does not independently verify the claim. To search for companies certified by the Beauty Without Bunnies program, click here. Ready to go shopping? Make sure you…

Have a Plan
Knowing where cruelty-free products are sold is half the battle. But, the demand for them is rising, and even big chains like Target, Walgreens, and Whole Foods boast a range of animal-friendly alternatives. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Search Amazon,, or a company’s website to find what you need.

As I’ve learned over the years, cruelty-free living gets easier every day. Before you know it, you’ve found compassionate replacements for all your old standbys that you thought you couldn’t live without. Soon, your friends and family will be asking for recommendations, and you’ll point them to their new favorite nail polish or cleaning product, knowing it won’t be harming any bunny.



Photo Credit: Petrenkod/iStockPhoto

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