Who Owns that Cruelty-Free Brand… And What Are Their Values?

You want your cosmetic buying habits to reflect your ethics and values, but how can you be sure the company that you are buying from is truly as ethical as they seem? Successful small cosmetics companies are often acquired by larger corporations; in fact, this report from Business Insider shows that 182 beauty companies are owned by just seven major leaders. You should know who owns the seemingly-small brand you’re making purchases from, and what their values are, before you commit to a cruelty-free product. Otherwise, you could ultimately end up supporting an organization that still uses animal testing.

Who Owns that Cruelty-Free Brand?

Many boutique brands start out with their own labels, testing methods, and formulas. However, as they grow increasingly successful, oftentimes they catch the eye of one of the larger conglomerates. These eight mega-companies – L’Oréal, Shiseido, Estee Lauder Companies, Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, LVMH, and Coty – employ thousands and make billions in revenue every year. They’re also the forces shaping how consumers think about the beauty industry.

Why Ownership Matters

It’s important to know which umbrella the beauty brand you’re buying from falls under because if you support them, you’re also supporting their parent company – and their values surrounding animal testing may not always align. For the most part, giant cosmetics companies are not certified cruelty-free and still engage in some animal testing. Additionally, when you buy a product that specifies that it is free of animal testing, that label refers only to the item in question, not the brand as a whole. A brand that has only two to three percent of its product line registered as cruelty-free could potentially still secure your business… despite testing the rest of its products on animals.

Check Labels for Clues

The label on your cosmetics must contain several pieces of information. If your long-time favorite brand’s ingredients, certifications, or manufacturing country of origin have changed, it could be an indication that the brand has been sold to a larger company. Chances are that you’ll also see the logo of one of the big names on the label itself, confirming the true owner of the brand. Once you know who is ultimately profiting from your hard-earned dollars, you’ll be able to make a more informed purchase decision.

Watch for Changes

Businesses transform all the time, and a chosen stance on animal testing could potentially change along with it. It’s a good idea to periodically review the products you’ve used for a year or longer to make sure that they’re still just as ethically-minded and cruelty-free as you expect them to be.

Support True Indie Brands

Another option is to check for “indie brands,” or independent beauty companies such as Glossier, Jouer Cosmetics, and Milk Makeup, that produce amazing cruelty-free cosmetics but are not owned by a huge conglomerate. You’ll have complete peace of mind that the cosmetics you’re buying are truly in line with your values.

Do Your Research

As consumers, we like to think that we’re making conscious decisions when deciding to purchase from certain brands – especially when it comes to something as personal as cosmetics. But when you take a step back, it can be challenging to tell what and who you’re actually supporting when brands are so interconnected. That’s why the most important thing you can do is review the facts in order to get a better picture of what’s happening behind the scenes. When you have the transparency and information you need, you’ll be equipped to make well-informed purchase decisions that align with your ethics and values.

Beyond the Label: 6 Signs a Brand Still Uses Animal Testing

Can you spot the signs of animal testing? While reading labels is a good place to start, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Understanding how animal testing works, and how companies use it, can help you choose the most ethical brands to support.

An Ethical, Cruelty-Free Lifestyle

When you know what the signs of animal testing are, you can determine which brands and products you should use and which you should avoid. Committing to an ethical and cruelty-free lifestyle has many benefits – such as safer, non-toxic cosmetic ingredients and an emphasis on eco-friendly qualities – and learning about labeling and animal testing helps to ensure that you only use products that fit with your personal morals and values.

Animal Testing of Cosmetics

Millions of animals, including dogs, cats, mice, and rabbits, are exposed to animal testing every year; much of the testing is cruel and unnecessary. As defined by Humane Society International, “Animal testing” refers to procedures performed on living animals for purposes of research into basic biology and diseases, assessing the effectiveness of new medicinal products, and testing the human health and/or environmental safety of consumer and industry products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals and industrial/agro-chemicals.

Although not required by law, several tests are commonly performed to test cosmetic ingredients on animals, including the Draize test. This method is used to measure the danger posed by a product or ingredient to the eyes and vision. In this test, rabbits are subjected to deliberate application of the testing substance to their eyes, and then the effects are monitored. This is done repeatedly until the experiment is concluded. At the end of testing, most of the animals are killed.

After learning about the inhumane practices that comprise animal testing methods and understanding that animal testing is not required by U.S. law and there are plenty of non-animal testing methods available that get more accurate results cheaper and quicker without causing harm — it’s no wonder that many consumers have committed to cruelty-free shopping and product use.

Signs a Brand May Not Be Cruelty-Free

If a brand exhibits any of the six aspects below, it may be a sign that they still use animal testing.

Their labels: If a brand’s labels feature images of happy animals and nature, but don’t include the words “cruelty-free” or “never tested on animals,” then chances are that they do engage in animal testing. Brands that don’t test on animals are proud of their cruelty-free practices and tend to share them freely.

Their website: The brand’s website should indicate their stance on animal testing; you may have to do some digging, but if you don’t see a page with specifics on their stance, you can assume they most likely incorporate animal testing.

Their parent brand: Buying a product labeled “cruelty-free” is a good start – but you need to know who makes the item in question. A lot of smaller brands are owned by large conglomerates, and many of those organizations have failed to take a position on animal testing. If you buy a cruelty-free product from a brand whose parent company is still using animal testing methods, you’re not really investing your money in an ethical brand.

Their commercials: Commercials and ads for ethical brands can use the terms “never tested on animals” and “cruelty-free” in their advertising. Brands that still test on animals cannot make these claims.

Third party apps and sites: Apps and websites like Cruelty-Free Kitty can help pinpoint cruelty-free products and brands, and maintain updated lists that include details about which brands still use animal testing. Third parties with an objective viewpoint can help provide you with the information you need to make a savvy decision.

Where the product is made: Some countries do not have the same protections as others when it comes to animal testing. Products imported from China, or K Beauty products from Korea, most likely involve animal testing – and if the label is in another language, it could be hard to tell for sure.

Identifying ethical companies and products that use animal testing takes a little extra time and research, but if you’re committed to an ethical lifestyle, it’s well worth the effort. Over time, you’ll be able to create a list of ethical products and trusted brands that you can rely on and support in good conscience.