I don't think I've said this explicitly here on the blog, but roughly around April this year, I decided to go cruelty-free. Basically what that means, for me at least, is that with all new cosmetic and skincare purchases, I'm pledging to only buy products not tested on animals.

Since creating derpinaMODE, a beauty and fashion YouTube channel I share with my friend Sanne, my interest in makeup and skincare has skyrocketed. What first got me thinking about the effects my new-found hobby had on animal testing was a video made by my friend Lex.

I've been a vegetarian for nearly five years. I never considered this dietary lifestyle choice of mine exclusively for the sake of animal welfare. It was a balanced combination of that, the environmental impact of the meat industry, personal health and just not enjoying the taste of meat. I'm by no means judgemental of people who eat meat, fish, or what have you. And I'm not offended by going out for a meal with a friend and them ordering a steak. I'm of the opinion that you do you and I'll do me. You respect my decision and I'll respect yours. Right, so vegetarian morals aside—I began looking into the realities of animal testing in the cosmetic industry. Bottom line, it brings unnecessary suffering upon a living creature. A living creature that is never going to wear that kissable balm stain. There are alternative methods to testing the designer toning water on rats, rabbits, and dogs. Makeup, skincare, body wash—yes, this is stuff I use every day. But it is a luxury. I don't need these things to keep me alive. They are nice to have but I could live without them (contrary to the popular beauty blogger tag :P). So I'm voting with my money. And with my voice. Here's how I've approached the cruelty switch in my life:

Use up what you've got.

I haven't thrown out every single product I own that comes from a company that tests. Because if I did, my makeup and skincare and haircare collection would be pretty much gone. I already spent that money. And I'm not made of money. Throwing it out on principle is wasteful. So I am using up what I have and will replace it with a cruelty-free equivalent when I run out. I also won't honour the product with a review. And if I do mention it, on whatever platform, it'll be prefaced by the fact that it is not cruelty-free. 

Don't cut the parent company any slack.

There is debate within the CF community about brands like Urban Decay and NARS. They themselves are cruelty free. But their parent company (often big names like L'Oréal, Shiseido, Unilever) do test. My thought process is that the money that goes to the smaller, cruelty-free brand benefits their parent company. And a benefit to the parent company allows it to continue testing. So I'm choosing to not buy from these companies – parent or subsidiary – period. 

Try to give brands the benefit of the doubt.

Just like with my vegetarianism, I don't want to spiral into militant cruelty-free whistleblowing, on a crusade to expose all companies as bad. The golden CF hallmarks are generally: 1. brands that do not sell in China, 2. brands not owned by a larger, testing parent company, or 3. brands circulated in the EU (where there is a ban on testing of all ingredients and finished products on animals). When a brand ticks those three boxes but don't reply to emails, or perhaps have unclear answers on their website, I still want to believe they aren't testing. I want to believe they just haven't picked up on the cruelty-free movement and the transparency it seeks.
And in the future? I want to buy vegan products when possible. I want to integrate buying cruelty free beyond simply my makeup collection. With continued research, I'm looking for alternatives for toiletries and household goods as well. Last month, I attended the LUSH Prize Conference in London. Scientists from all over the world gathered to present research and discuss the state of toxicology and how far we still need to go to eradicate animal testing in the cosmetic industry. Basic takeaway from that day: the technology is here. Bureaucracy and laboratory politics is holding us back.