The EU prohibited the sale of animal tested cosmetic products and ingredients on 11 March 2013 following its ban on animal tested cosmetics just four years earlier. We explored if these regulations are truly practised in the UK.
Walking down the aisles at Boots, you would assume the cosmetics brands you see are vegan and cruelty-free because of this law. Yet upon inspection, we found that the UK has plenty of makeup brands that practice neither.
Cruelty-free products are products created without the use of animal testing while vegan products simply do not use any animal-derived ingredients in their formulas, such as beeswax, carmine, or collagen. Brands such as e.l.f cosmetics and The Body Shop prove it is possible to be both cruelty-free and vegan. However, there are brands that practice neither such as L’Oréal, NARS, Chanel, and MAC – some of the biggest beauty names on the market.
Compared to the results of the survey, other responses we got might be seen as contradicting. Jacob Sultan, 22, told Westminster World: “I personally wouldn’t stop using a product if I found out it wasn’t cruelty-free, especially if it works well for me.” While our research found that the majority of people are willing to make the switch, putting it into practice may be more difficult than expected.
The UK government provides rigorous guidelines about the necessary steps that makeup brands have to take before distributing their products within Great Britain. None of these rules include any information about animal testing.
According to Finder UK 2020 statistics, cosmetics were named the third-largest market operating in the UK. Globally, the country has the seventh-largest cosmetics market, with the US and China taking the top two places.
There have been many radical protests on the topic of animal rights. High profile figures have used their platforms in an effort to bring attention to these important causes. In November 2021, singer Will Young chained himself outside a beagle breeding facility that supplies beagles for the sole purpose of being used in experiments.
We reached out to Animal Aid but they could not provide us with a direct statement, instead, they pointed us towards other helpful information on their website.
Many activists are sharing petitions or creating Instagram pages dedicated to promoting cruelty-free products and urging consumers to make the switch to ethically sourced brands.
Here are some influencers you could follow if you’re interested in ethical consumption: @demicolleen, @kristenxleanne, @beckyaddams.
The solution seems to boil down to shopping consciously and making an effort to read up about the products and companies you use. If they’re not making necessary changes to be more ethical, it may be time to ditch them.
PETA has a feature that allows users to search brand names and see if they are vegan and cruelty-free. Leaping Bunny, the internationally recognized logo stamped on cruelty-free products, also had a list of approved brands you can find here.
You can also look at the cruelty-free checklist below.