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let's chat: cruelty-free beauty


Hi gang! I’m COOKIEHEAD. It feels amazing to collaborate with my favorite web magazine -- I hope you all like this article!

はじめまして!COOKIEHEAD といいます。大好きなhoneyhandsとコラボすることになってすごく嬉しい。みなさんよろしくね。

I’ve been based in NYC since 2013, and I run my own lifestyle blog called “THE LITTLE WHIM”, focusing on sustainable ideas, tips, and inspirations in beauty, fashion, diet, etc. Today, I would like to discuss the concept of “cruelty-free” with you all on honeyhands. I got to know this concept when I moved to the States, which also made me aware of the animal testing that is implemented as a regular procedure for a lot of daily consumer goods. I love makeup in particular, and the more I learned about how much animal cruelty is out there in the beauty industry, the more strongly I felt determined that I do not want to be part of ANY of this wrongful practice.

私は2013年よりニューヨーク在住で、THE LITTLE WHIMというライフスタイルブログを運営している。ビューティ、ファッション、食、様々なエリアで少しずつ始められるサステナビリティに注目していて、その中でも今日は「クルエルティーフリー (cruelty-free)」という言葉とそのコンセプトをhoneyhandsでも広めたくって。私自身、クルエルティーフリーという言葉はアメリカに来てから知った。 そしてこの言葉を通して、毎日使う化粧品などに動物実験が関わっていることも。私は特にメイクアップが大好きなんだけど、自分の楽しみのために動物が犠牲になっている事実を知れば知るほど、こんな間違ったことに加担したくない、と思うようになったよ。

So first of all, what is “cruelty-free”? Literally, it means “no cruelty”, but according to the Oxford Dictionary, it particularly means “(of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods which do not involve cruelty to animals.”

クルエルティー(残虐性)がフリー(無い) - この言葉は広義で「動物への残虐性を排除した」ということを意味するのだけど、現代社会では主に「(化粧品や消費財において)製造や開発の過程で動物実験を必要とする手段がとられていない 」ということを指す。(オックスフォード辞書

Cosmetics consist of various ingredients, and the industry tests on animals to prove product safety. For example, let’s say there is a face moisturizer with an innovative skin plumping ingredient. Labs use bunnies or rats and apply the concentrated formula on their shaved skin countless times, and make a record of progress and effectiveness. If it is a mascara, eye contact safety is also on the checklist, and it if is a lipstick, body toxicity has to be determined. During testing, animal objects are restrained, and their skin, eyes, mouths -- all tested areas -- get fatally irritated, and in the end, when the testing is over... you know what awaits them. I am not gonna insert lab images here, but I believe just reading this is heartbreaking and horrifying. Please remember that this is all for our human egos such as ”Go away, my dry patches!”, “I wanna amp up my lashes!”, and “I need a super long-lasting lipstick!” However, none of the animals have such desires, but their organs and lives are sacrificed for our selfish and egoistic greed.


There are some certain industries such as the pharmaceutical industry where required animal testing is widely acknowledged. I personally think, unless there are potential alternative methods involving artificial human tissues and cells, it is difficult to avoid animal testing in medicine in today’s world. However, if you compare cures for cancer or ferocious epidemics versus skin plumping cream, obviously we are talking about two completely different things.


After all this consideration, my cruelty-free journey had begun. Whenever I found something new and exciting at Sephora, I came home and looked up the “About Us” and “FAQ” sections on the brand’s website to learn about their ethical standpoint. I read numerous blogs and watched YouTube videos in order to make sure the product was truly cruelty-free. As a result, the lesson I learned was that it is actually not a black and white issue, and that there are certainly grey areas. Please refer to my article, “Cruelty Free and Animal Testing 101” on THE LITTLE WHIM for details, but I will sum up two major points today for my honeyhands friends to help determine whether product or brand is 100% cruelty-free or not.

そんなぐるぐるした思考を経て、私のクルエルティーフリージャーニーは始まった。お店で欲しいものを見つけても、家に帰ってそのブランドのサイトの 「About Us」とか「FAQ」をくまなくチェックし、ブログを読み漁り、ユーチューブを観まくって、そのブランドがクルエルティーフリーなのかどうか判断するのに時間をかけた。そこで気づいたのが、クルエルティーフリーの基準は実はややこしく、白か黒かだけじゃなくグレーな部分もあるっていうこと。THE LITTLE WHIM の「クルエルティーフリーについて知ってもらいたい4つのこと」という記事でこのことは詳細に書いているので、時間がある時に読んでみて。今日ここでは、白か黒かを見極める上で重要なポイントを2つ、簡単にまとめるね。

The EU and some states in the US have started banning animal testing in beauty products, and also animal testing is not required in Japan. But then why does the beauty industry still test on animals?


The first point is “Does this product contain a new-to-the-industry ingredient?” For already pervasive ingredients that are approved to be safe, the industry can waive animal testing requirements, but new-to-the-industry ingredients have to be tested on animals to prove that they are safe for the human body. When you find a new cosmetic release, sometimes the ad will say "formulated with a newly-developed, innovative ingredient". In this kind of case, chances are that this new ingredient has been tested on animals before going to the market.


The second point, which is actually very major, is “Has this brand entered the Chinese market?”. China is the ONLY country in the world that mandates animal testing on all imported cosmetic goods as of June 2019. Even to sell products that don’t require animal testing in any other country, the Chinese government requires paperwork to prove that the products are tested on animals. China is definitely the fastest growing market, and a lot of companies and brands decide to go with animal testing to pursue the revenue in this prosperous market, over animal rights.


There are a lot of confusing cruelty-free status descriptions on brands’ official websites. “We do not test on animals unless required by law” is a good example. When you see this, it is most likely that they test on animals to sell in China, where animal testing is required by law, although it is not elsewhere. This “unless required by law” thing cannot be overlooked. The other tricky example is “We do not test our products on animals.” Sure, they as a company do not test on animals, but some companies commission or outsource animal testing to a third-party company, and say “We don’t”. What a scam!


When I decided to go only with cruelty-free cosmetics, I was truly shocked at how much of what I had was actually tested on animals. Chanel, Dior, Lancome, Nars, MAC, Shiseido, etc. -- a lot of products that I splurged on seemed to be such dirty stuff. However, the fact that I spent my money on them and used them could not be changed. The fact that I took part in animal cruelty could not be wiped out. Rather, throwing those products away would waste the sacrifices of those animals that went through horrible lab testing. Therefore, I tried to use them up. For the ones that were still in good condition, giving away, selling, and donating to women’s shelter were better options. If you want to make a switch to cruelty-free beauty, please please do not toss them away but look into other options. Let’s make better choices going forward, because that means a lot.


I have mainly discussed beauty products so far, but we can also make a cruelty free shift in other consumer goods such as household, dental care, etc.


“Well, even if I change, that doesn’t eliminate animal testing, man.” I hear you. It is indeed a baby step, but as a consumer, I believe we all should carefully consider which brands we would like to give our precious money to. Some Americans say “Vote with your dollar”. This is actually a strong statement that empowers the consumer behaviour of each and every one of us. The more cruelty-free votes, the more impact we can make onto the current businesses.

「だけど私が変えたからって、別に動物実験がなくなるわけじゃないし」って感じる人もいると思う。確かにすごく小さな一歩だけれど、私は一人の消費者として、自分で稼いだお金をどのブランドのどの製品に投じるかをしっかり考えるべきだと思う。アメリカで言われる、「vote with your dollar (自分のお金で投票しろ) 」という考えは消費者の持つパワーだと思うんだよね。動物実験に反対する人がクルエルティーフリーのブランドを買うその一票一票が増えていくことで、いつかビジネスに影響を与えることができると信じている。

Cosmetics are genuinely enchanting and give me confidence on a daily basis. I strongly hope that more people understand the reality and start making the change, and one day we can completely demolish animal cruelty in the beauty world.


Lastly, below are the lists of popular beauty brands that are 100% cruelty-free, according to one of the most trusted cruelty-free websites in the States, Logical Harmony. I hope this helps :)

最後に、アメリカで最も信頼されているクルエルティーフリーサイトの一つ、Logical Harmony認定の100%クルエルティーフリーブランドをいくつかリストアップするね。少しでもお役に立ちますように。

High-end (ハイエンド):

Anastasia Beverly Hills, Becca, Charlotte Tilbury, Hourglass, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Stila, Tarte, Tata Harper, Tatcha, Too Faced, Urban Decay

Affordable (プチプラ):

Colourpop, Covergirl, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Mario Badescu, Milani, Physician’s Formula, Trader Joe’s Brand

Available in Japan (日本で公式購入可能):

Alima Pure, Aveda (日本語), bareMinerals (日本語), The Body Shop (日本語), Deborah Lippmann (日本語), Diptyque, Dr. Bronner’s (日本語), Dr. Hauschka (日本語), EO (日本語), Giovanni (日本語), Koh Gen Do (江原道) (日本語), KORRES (日本語), Lush (日本語), NYX (日本語), RMS Beauty (日本語), Weleda (日本語)


U.S. FDA Animal Testing & Cosmetics

The New York Times - "E.U. Bans Cosmetics With Animal-Tested Ingredients"

Bloomberg Law - "INSIGHT: New California Law Will Ban Sale of Cosmetics Tested on Animals"



THE LITTLE WHIM / Instagram / Twitter

COOKIEHEAD is a Japanese woman who grew up in Tokyo via London. She moved to NYC in 2013 where she lives with her husband and adorable cat, Petticoat. She is a full time fashion professional, but also from time to time, she is a makeup enthusiast, art lover, amateur photographer, plant mom, burgeoning sustainability advocate, and vegan chef. The best word to describe her is … whimsical.


Images by Cookiehead

Edited by Hikari, Eli, and Kiara

English Edited by Kiara

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