Cruelty-Free All The Way

Cruelty-Free All The Way

I am embarking on a grand mission to go Cruelty-Free and 100% Vegan with the beauty products I use, one brand at a time. Resistance is futile when it comes to not supporting those who still test their products on animals, both directly and indirectly, and use animal-derived ingredients and by-products.


“If you really care about animals, then stop trying to figure out how to exploit them ‘compassionately’. Just stop exploiting them.” Gary L Francione


My journey started in 2000 when a friend dared me to read “The Silent Ark” by Juliet Gellatley. Twenty-one years ago, he stood in front of me with the book in his hand and said, If you carry on eating meat after reading this book, I’ll buy you a motor car. I already had a car, I said. Well, you could keep the better one and sell the other. He clearly knew me very well. I stopped eating dead animal flesh and dairy before I had reached the last page of The Silent Ark. This lasted for ten years. I returned to eating dairy on the odd occasion, believing it was healthy and my body needed its nutrients, despite my allergies. In 2015, I believed essential oils from fish were missing from my diet and started eating fish again. It turned out that it was the highly stressful job I had at the time that was doing the damage and once I had quit, a few months later, my body rebalanced itself. In 2018, I stopped eating all forms of animal products and embraced veganism when it came to food.

What Is Veganism?

A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.

Only recently, I realised I had not paid the same attention to the beauty, toiletries, and household cleaning products that I use as I did the ingredients list of the foods I consumed.

When an article on squalane, an ingredient derived from sharks’ liver oil, popped up, it sent me along this minefield path that’s opened my eyes and caused me to pay attention to everything I consume.

Where… have I used squalane before…? I had to think hard for a minute or two. Oh yes! The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser.

First, I searched if The Ordinary brand is vegan and cruelty-free.

According to a few sources, such as Ethical Elephant “The Ordinary is cruelty-free, but The Ordinary is owned by Estee Lauder, a parent company that is NOT cruelty-free.” And “All of The Ordinary products are 100% vegan and don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.”

Okay, so at least I wasn’t using a product that included sharks in their ingredients. I don’t like the fact that Estee Lauder, the parent company of The Ordinary, is not cruelty-free.


Second, I delved ever so deeper into if squalane came from shark liver oil.

According to Oceana: “Sharks use oil in their livers to help regulate their buoyancy. Sharks that live in deeper water tend to have more oil in their livers. One of the main components of shark liver oil is a compound called squalene.

“Squalene and its derivative squalane can be found as ingredients in cosmetic products, ranging from anti-aging cream to lip gloss. Sharks, especially deep-sea sharks, are targeted for the high concentration of squalene found in their livers.”

So, if the product containing squalene is not 100% vegan then it could possibly come from sharks’ liver oil.

Knowledge is Power

In writing this blog I hope to make more people aware of how far cruelty to animals unwittingly extends into our daily lives.

Of course, I felt guilty for not having checked a beauty product that was both cruelty-free and 100% vegan before I supported them. Guilt can be turned into a positive after all. Who said a Catholic upbringing was all bad?

Cruelty-Free Kitty

I have since discovered the thorough Cruelty-Free Kitty, founded by Suzana Rose.

“At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we’ve vetted 550+ brands as being cruelty-free, and you can easily find the best products they have to offer. All approved brands are truly cruelty-free, and you can refine our list by your values, budget, and more.”

Can a Brand Be Cruelty-Free If…?

Something I am struggling to understand is how can a brand be cruelty-free if all its products are not 100% vegan? Or their parent company is not cruelty-free?

If a brand produces products that contain animal-derived ingredients, doesn’t that mean they are not cruelty-free? Were all animals humanely treated and slaughtered before being added to each beauty product? Do the brands ensure this before selecting each animal-derived ingredient?

I proposed the above questions to Suzana at Cruelty-Free Kitty and her response was:

It’s purely based on the words used. Cruelty-free refers to animal testing only (it’s a convention we agreed on so it’s easier) and vegan refers to the ingredients typically. Technically products that are cruelty-free but not vegan may still be cruel, but they’re not tested on animals. Hope this makes sense!

I asked PETA (PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS) “Why does PETA support Dove if Unilever (Dove’s Parent Company) is not cruelty-free?”

 “…Thank you for contacting PETA regarding Unilever and its subsidiary brands’ animal testing policies. Unilever’s brand Dove—one of the most widely recognized and conveniently available personal-care product brands in the world—has banned all tests on animals anywhere in the world and has been added to PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free list.

Unilever has taken significant steps to reduce the number of animal tests that it conducts and to contribute funds and scientific expertise to the development of non-animal test methods. The company has banned all animal tests not required by law for all the rest of its products. Unilever has been added to PETA’s “Working for Regulatory Change” list. This category recognizes companies that test on animals only when explicitly required by law, that are completely transparent with PETA about what tests on animals have been conducted and why, and that work diligently to promote the development, validation, and acceptance of non-animal methods…

Sincerely, Drew Chodash

Membership Correspondent

PETA Foundation

Are You Aware of What’s In Your Skincare & Makeup Products?

Below I created a few lists, by no means extensive, of beauty brands I have looked up using both Ethical Elephant and Cruelty-Free Kitty websites to check which brands are CRUELTY-FREE (CF) (a product or its ingredients have not been tested on animals by a supplier, manufacturer, producer or any third-party entity and do not sell in China where testing on animals is required by law), NOT CRUELTY-FREE (NCF), VEGAN (V) and/or INDEPENDENTLY OWNED (IO) and/or *PARENT COMPANY (PC)that is NOT NCF brands. The first list consists of UK brands as that’s where I live and desire to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. Yes, I am going the whole hog!

Have a look at Treehugger’s 7 Gross Ingredients Found in Cosmetics.

CF & 100% V & ID (UK)

Aesop Facetheory SBTRCT
Barry M Happy Skin True Skincare*
Bloomtown Isle of Paradise Wild Science Lab
Conscious Skincare Pai UpCircle
Evolve Organic Beauty Pestle & Mortar  

*True Skincare endorsed and supported by Deborah Meaden – Dragons Den

Cruelty Free UK is a great site to search for cruelty-free brands in the UK, including a category for Pet Care.

International CF & 100% V & IO

Alpyn BYBI Herbivore Botanicals
Attitude Edible Beauty Olaplex
Beauty Cleanse Ethique Versed

International NOT CF

(The brands engage in animal testing themselves, through a 3rd party, as required by law, or use ingredients that are tested on animals. Also, if they state that they do not verify or check with their suppliers or affiliates about animal testing. And they sell their products in China.)

Avene Dior  L’Oréal  SkinCeuticals
Bobbi Brown Elemis MAC Vaseline 
Caudalie  Elizabeth Arden NARS VICHY
CeraVe  Eve Lom Neutrogena  
Chanel Kérastase Nioxin  
Clarins  Lancolm  Shiseido   
Clinique  La Roche-Posay Shu Uemura

International CF BUT Owned by a *PC that is NCF & NOT All 100% V (WIP)

Aveda * Estée Lauder Hylamide *Estée Lauder Paula’s Choice *Unilever
Dermalogica *Unilever Liz Earle *Walgreens Boots Allianance REN *Unilever
Dove *Unilever Molton Brown * Kao The Inkey List *Unilever *John Mills
Drunk Elephant *Shiseido  Murad *Unilever The Ordinary *Estee Lauder
Garnier *Loreal NIOD *Estée Lauder  
Grow Gorgeous *Estée Lauder No.7 *Walgreens Boots Allianance  

International CF, IO BUT NOT All Products 100% V (WIP)

Joico  Pixi Ultrasun
John Masters Organics Polaar  

International CF, 100% V BUT Owned by a *PC that is NCF (WIP)

Pureology *Loreal

All The Rest…

And then there’s the rest of the toiletries and household cleaning products to consider, which I am busy looking into.

For household products, Astonish is a top brand in the UK that is both cruelty-free and 100% vegan, which was a surprise as I had been using most of their products without knowing their status.

Oh, and sunscreen… There is also Reef-Safe that needs to be included.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein

The problem is that humans have victimized animals to such a degree that they are not even considered victims. They are not even considered at all. They are nothing; they don’t count; they don’t matter. They are commodities like TV sets and cell phones. We have actually turned animals into inanimate objects – sandwiches and shoes.” Gary Yourofsky

3 Replies to “Cruelty-Free All The Way”

  1. Dear Cressida,
    Your article reads well, you have thoroughly researched the subject with your usual passion and determination. Thank you. I used to use after shave to attract members of the opposite sex to me, to make me more desirable and have “Mmmm, you smell adorable” whispered into my ear … the good one. Finding that, in the tropical climate I live in, it actually attract more mosquitoes so I have stopped using it.

    I was surprised to see a big sign in a cosmetic store in Dubai highlighting cruelty free products. There must be more communication of this and products branded accordingly so it is easier to choose or find them.

    Now that I discover my brand is on the “black list”, no pun intended, I won’t be using it again. Your post deserves the widest audience but who will publish it when so many journals and internet magazines are funded by advertisers who may not support your views?

    Keep up the research, Cressida, very well done.

    1. Dear Peter,

      Thank you for your comment and for appreciating my thorough research.

      I would never have thought a 21st-century man would ever want to be called ‘adorable’ when his lover breathes in his scent. So, not just the mosquitos that put you off…?

      Perhaps mosquitos are not attracted to cruelty-free and vegan aftershave brands? You could always give one, such as Aesop’s Marrakech Intense Eau de Parfum, a go. “A raw, unorthodox fragrance distinguished by woody, spicy notes and fresh florals—a deep, rich and alluring homage to the city of the same name.”

      How wonderful to hear that a store in Dubai is advertising cruelty-free products. I last visited around six years ago and never spotted anything of the sort.

      That is the problem. There are too many journals and online magazines funded by advertisers who promote cruelty-free brands.

      Did you know that most toilet paper is not vegan or even cruelty-free? They use gelatine as glue to bind the fibres. Gelatine, of course, is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows, pigs and fish. I am about to try out luxury bamboo toilet paper by Panda Soft. Perhaps I could let you know how I get on…;-)

      I have been researching another blog post titled “Animals Inhumanely Reared For Human Consumption” and will be posting it this very evening. Please do return and let me know your thoughts.

      Take care,

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