By Anna Barry
With the sudden outburst of advertising and opinions on social media in recent years, it’s no wonder the cosmetics industry is as big as it is. We are constantly bombarded with ads on Facebook and Instagram through influencers, with videos on TikTok and YouTube informing us about all the new “must have” cosmetics every day. Seeing as there are 365 days in a year, except for leap years of course, and there are approximately 7.9 billion people in the world, this equates to various ‘must have’ cosmetic items being purchased by billions of people every day because of ever changing, daily trends. Unfortunately, the background of these products tends to get overlooked, and the only thing that matters is that you have it. For example, CereVe blew up in recent years, with Tiktok creating a CereVe craze among viewers. However, did you know that CereVe still tests on animals?
A large majority of the cosmetics on our shelves are unfortunately NOT cruelty-free and contain harmful ingredients such as microplastics and sulphates. We can call this “Toxic Beauty”. What are microplastics, you may ask? Microplastics are tiny plastic pieces less than 5 mm in length which are very harmful to our ocean and aquatic life. Lush and Maybelline are among two of the worst cosmetic brands in terms of microplastics. What we want to support is “Clean Beauty”. So, what is clean beauty? Clean Beauty incorporates ethically sourced products created and produced without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. Clean Beauty holds the health of our bodies and the environment as a key priority. It sounds a lot better than “Toxic Beauty”, doesn’t it? So why do people still purchase cosmetics from these toxic beauty brands? The answer is convenience and a lack of information. These brands advertise so much that we inadvertently build a rapport with and trust them and thus, continue to use them. They also use deceptive terms that try to suggest that they are ‘clean’ when in fact, they are purposely misleading the customer. Take, for example, Benefit. I always thought Benefit was a cruelty-free brand as they always promoted a clean outlook and claimed to not test on animals, but then fact NOT cruelty-free and contain nasty ingredients. They allow their finished products to be tested on animals where required by law and allow third parties to perform animal testing as well.
Other well-known brands that are NOT cruelty-free include: Maybelline New York, L’Oréal, MAC, Benefit, Lancôme, Always, CeraVe, Colgate, Estée Lauder, Pantene, Head and Shoulders…. just to name a few. If you are ever unsure whether a brand is cruelty-free or not, check out Cruelty-Free Kitty. It is a fantastic online resource that allows you to quickly and easily search up any brand and unearth any ambiguous claims they may have made. Now the challenge is to find the cruelty free brands that will work for you. You might think, “that’s a lot of effort, and I like the products I’m using at the moment”, but if you know what to look for, it is so easy to make the switch.
Firstly, look for a cruelty-free symbol:
Then, look through the ingredients and look for these nasty ingredients to avoid, such as; parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Toluene, Phthalates, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Formaldehyde, Diethanolamine, Triclosan, Artificial Parfum. There is evidence to show that these ingredients are harmful to our bodies and the environment.
Finally, you can use the “Beat the Microbead” app, which allows you to scan the ingredients of a product to check for microplastics.
I know this sounds like a lot of effort but putting that little bit of extra effort in will make a huge difference in the fight against animal testing and, in turn, help our environment and our own health. You may not think that buying a clean beauty item rather than a toxic beauty item would make much difference, but in fact, yes, it will. Every change adds up, and when all added together, they can have a huge impact. Once you increase the demand for something, companies will always follow demand to make as much money as possible. Don’t give the companies the power. Support clean beauty and join the revolution.