Cruelty-free makeup – what you need to know

When selecting makeup, many things have to be right, from the color shade and texture, to price and quality. Lately cruelty-free makeup has become something of more and more importance for consumers worldwide.

As a European you might wonder, “isn’t all makeup in the EU cruelty-free according to the law?”

The answer is both yes and no.

Let’s look closer at what cruelty-free really means…

Why not all makeup in Europe is Cruelty-free

The EU law that bans animal tests have quite a few exceptions that allow tests on animals, and they are:

  • Under EU law, they can only apply where there is a connection with the EU – i.e. testing within the EU or sale within the EU where the testing took place elsewhere
  • The European Commission argues that the bans only apply to cosmetic products and ingredients which are only used in cosmetics
  • It also argues that the bans do not apply to testing to determine if there is a risk to the environment (so-called ‘ecotox testing’)
  • Moreover, it argues that the bans do not apply to worker safety tests
  • Rather, it says that the bans only apply to tests specifically aimed at consumer safety.

There are for example many countries that sell their products in China, where they are required to hand over samples to the Chinese authorities who will then test these in different ways on animals as part of the registration process. L’oreal is one of these companies.

What to look for

There are three symbols that guarantee a product is cruelty-free, and this is what they look like:

Non-official Cruelty-free makeup

Every time a company wants to showcase that their products are cruelty-free they need to pay a license to the organisations who hand these labels out. Some companies can’t afford or for other reasons don’t want to pay for them, so they make their own labels or write on their products that they are cruelty-free.

You will then need to decide yourself whether you trust their word or not. PETA has decided to trust the companies and have created a list of products who claim to be cruelty-free here.

Photo: Brian Hoffman

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