Why should I only buy cruelty-free cosmetics?
Updated: Apr 14
Animal ingredients in cosmetic products
By-products from slaughterhouses are not only disposed of in food but also find a new purpose in cosmetic products. The problem: these animal components are hardly recognizable to people who are not in the industry, like you or me. In order not to discourage customers, manufacturers avoid naming ingredients such as "hydrolyzed animal protein" and use "hydrolyzed collagen" instead. This is frustrating for the consumer, who is often unsure of the technical terms and thus insecure. Today, collagen products are used in cosmetics in the form of creams, where they are mainly used to reduce skin aging. The collagen used for this purpose is mostly extracted from pig skin but jellyfish can also be used for collagen production.
Other animal products
Other animal components that can be found in cosmetic products are amino acids and fatty acids, which are obtained from cell tissue. Another hidden name for fatty acids that can be of animal origin is linoleic acid. Stearic acid is a fatty acid obtained almost exclusively from pig stomachs. Cysteines, which are obtained from horns, hair and bristles among other things, are frequently used amino acids in cosmetic products. But the cosmetics industry does not only mix amino and fatty acids in creams and lotions. Behind the term "amniotic fluid" lies placental water which normally surrounds the fetus in the placenta and utilized by pregnant slaughter animals.
Why do cosmetic manufacturers use such unappetizing ingredients? Do they perhaps work better than herbal alternatives? Animal products are not used because they are better than ingredients of plant or synthetic origin but rather because they are generally cheaper. Slaughterhouses sell so-called "by-products" made from the billions of animals murdered every year.
Those who want to do without hidden animal-made ingredients will quickly find their way to natural cosmetics. However, even if more skin-friendly substances are often used, this is not automatically free of animal products. Often, natural companies use ingredients that promise a natural image. Like royal jelly, for example. This is a very special secretion with which the queen bees and their larvae are nourished. To isolate the feed, not only the queen but also all queen larvae have to be removed. The removal of the queen means an extreme stress situation for the colony and a massive intervention in the balance of the colony but only in this way can the nurse bees be persuaded to produce more of the special secretion for the cosmetics industry.
Beeswax (Cera Alba), which is used by the bees to build the combs, and lanolin (wool fat), the secretion from the sebaceous glands of sheep, which is obtained from the shorn wool of the animals, as well as milk powder (for creamy soaps or baths) are also animal components that are used in conventional and natural cosmetics alike.
What about animal testing?
When dealing with cosmetics, conscious consumers also attach importance to the fact that they are free from animal testing. Although animal testing for cosmetic products has been banned throughout the EU since 2013, there is still no such ban in Switzerland.
However, Switzerland failed to play a pioneering role here. Since animal testing for cosmetics (and cosmetic raw materials) is now banned in the EU, the subject is no longer so urgent in Switzerland because every company that wants to sell its products to the EU - and presumably all of them - must also adhere to EU laws and are therefore not allowed to carry out animal testing. Numerous ingredients of cosmetic products - the AGSTG claims to be up to 90% of the ingredients - are considered chemicals or pharmaceutical preparations. They do not fall under the cosmetic regulations and will, therefore, continue to be tested on animals. The AGSTG is trying to achieve a ban on animal testing on such substances, but this is still a long and difficult road.
Those who want to be on the safe side primarily buy cosmetic products with a seal for animal-friendly cosmetics. I recommend those products that are declared with the following labels.
This European V-Label will be placed on more cosmetic products in the future, not just in food and drinks.
The vegan flower is awarded by the Vegan Society in Great Britain. The label guarantees that products of animal origin are neither used in the ingredients nor in the manufacturing process. According to the criteria, animal testing is also prohibited.
Rabbit with a protective hand
The rabbit with a protective hand is a label of the International Association of Manufacturers against Animal Experiments in Cosmetics (IHTK). The strict guidelines are laid down by the German Animal Welfare Association. No animal tests may have been carried out on the substances used, either directly or indirectly or via an outsourced company. In addition, ingredients of dead animals or those from cruel animal extraction are excluded (e.g. mink oil, marmot fat, silk, cochineal scale insects, bear bile, etc.). However, certain animal ingredients, such as lanolin, are permitted under IHTK.
The leaping bunny
The leaping bunny is awarded by the CCIC (Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics) to non-animal cosmetics. The criteria are subject to those of the Human Cosmetic Standard (HCS). The CCIC carries out annual inspections. In order to be allowed to use the jumping rabbit, companies must specify a date from which animal testing will no longer be carried out on products and their ingredients. The label is the internationally most widely used label for animal-free cosmetics. However, animal ingredients are not criteria, so consumers must inform themselves about them.
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