Was This Tested on Animals or Not? Decoding the Confusing Labels

Like most people, I feel that it's wrong to blind and poison animals in order to test cosmetics, especially when superior non-animal test methods are readily available. So I buy only cruelty-free makeup and personal-care products. But going into a store and trying to pick out what is tested on animals and what isn't is about as easy as getting up at six in the morning to work out. Europeans have it easy. The European Union just banned sales of cosmetics that were tested on animals anywhere in the world. Problem solved. But on this side of the pond, we are still turning bottles and packages around in our hands, squinting confusedly at the fine print and giving ourselves crow's feet that we will soon need non-animal-tested wrinkle cream for. So, to save a few dollars on retinol, I researched the various product labels. Here's what I found.

PETA Logos
To help consumers distinguish products that are manufactured without harming animals, PETA introduced its bunny-and-heart logo. Companies that want to use this logo must refrain from conducting, commissioning, or paying for any tests on animals for their products, formulations, or ingredients and must also buy from suppliers that don't test ingredients on animals. And those ├╝bercompassionate companies whose products meet the standards of being both not tested on any animals and free of any animal products can proudly display PETA's "Cruelty-Free and Vegan" logo.

PETA_logo PETA-Cruelty-Free-and-Vegan-Logo

'This Finished Product Not Tested on Animals'
I have always been baffled by the phrase "This Finished Product Not Tested on Animals." Does it really indicate that a product is cruelty-free? Were the ingredients tested on animals? Confused, I've usually just avoided products labeled this way. And as it turns out, the phrase actually can mean different things.
It may mean that some of the ingredients or formulations were tested on animals, or, as in the case of Bath & Body Works, a company may use the phrase because it sells products in the same packaging in the UK, where labeling laws are different—but the products are nevertheless totally cruelty-free.

Other Logos
Then there are the myriad of other "cruelty-free" logos and phrases that the cosmetics companies themselves design and slap on their own products. If shoppers think that they look suspect, it's because they may be. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate these types of labels, so companies can claim virtually anything they wish. Although some of the companies may truly be cruelty-free, many likely test at least some ingredients on animals.

Making It All Make Sense
So, aside from the PETA logo, how can a conscientious consumer tell what's cruelty-free and what isn't?
PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies database maintains lists of companies that do and don't test on animals, and it is easily searchable by company name or product type. Shoppers can download printer-friendly "Do Test" and "Don't Test" lists or request a free cruelty-free shopping guide to make shopping for new products as easy as giving a carrot to a bunny—a bunny who's thankful not to be in a laboratory, that is.

(Guest Post from PETA)

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  1. do you know if "not your mother's" tests on animals? it doesn't show up on either the not cruelty free or cruelty free list. i have a detangling spray of their's, though, that says "this finished product is not tested on any animals, only our human staff" or something along those lines...i thought it was worded strangely, but assumed it was fine. i'm wondering if i should avoid this brand from now on?

  2. I'm trying to find out this answer myself. I've posted the question to LogicalHormony.net in hopes they can find get the answer. There cruelty free list is updated weekly as far as I understand. http://www.logicalharmony.net/cruelty-free-vegan-brand-list/


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