As the science of skincare continues to innovate, it has supported a move away from testing on animals, with new ways of analyzing ingredients being developed. There are people both inside and outside of the beauty industry interested in animal welfare who want to make sure cosmetic products can live up to high standards, but it can get complicated in business. As a consumer, you’re able to make decisions based on your understanding of what products work and what is best for your skin. When it comes to choosing cruelty-free products, knowing how to figure out if something really hasn’t been involved in testing on animals might take some independent research before the purchase.
Unfortunately, the term “cruelty-free” isn’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration or a required national standards organization. Manufacturers are able to use the term in marketing, so it may or may not be completely accurate. Sometimes, a product itself isn’t tested on an animal, but it may include one or more ingredients that, at another time, were indeed part of an animal-based trial. Many products use a vegan label, which, when granted by an organization that certifies cruelty-free standards, sends the message that no animals were engaged in part of the product development.
Admittedly, the standard can be hard to live up to, especially because many cosmetic products were developed several years ago, even if they contain no animal products themselves (like milk-based creams or animal fat-derived vitamins). When you’re looking for a new product or want to examine the products you currently use, do your own research on the company, its development process, and its sourcing practices for ingredients. Not all businesses will be so transparent as to provide every ingredient’s source information, but increasingly, small businesses and some larger manufacturers are practicing this kind of communication standard.
On their websites, certification organizations that ensure cruelty-free or vegan production usually provide a list of companies and products they certify, cutting out a lot of the legwork for individuals doing some comparison shopping.
When a product isn’t tested on animals, the manufacturers are likely going to be much more careful about how the initial product is made for use on human skin, which incidentally is totally different from animals’ skin types. Products that don’t test on animals are frequently going to have ingredients that you recognize rather than a long list of chemicals you’ve never heard of, since their safety for skin is well-established.
With innovation in biological science, biotechnology, and research on individual and public health, we’re learning more and more about how chemicals, both synthetic and natural, interact with our bodies, including the skin, to develop the healthiest and most effective cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Artificial intelligence, lab-grown cultures, and other controlled methods can be used to analyze the reaction of certain substances with human cells and tissue. When it comes to our bodies, there is still a lot we don’t know, but focusing on how products interact with ourselves, rather than animals, is best for everyone involved.
Set up an appointment to talk with one of our dermatologists today to learn more about how to make sure your skincare routine is aligned with your ethics.