Cruelty-free body care products are the ethical choice
A recent national poll showed that 71% of adults oppose animal testing, and in another poll respondents said they would stop buying their favorite skincare and makeup products if it involved any form of animal testing. These views highlight the importance of turning your massage practice into a cruelty-free space.
The problems of animal testing
Carbon dioxide chambers, electro-ejaculation devices, guillotines, restraint chains, shock plates, dissection (without anesthesia) and lethal dose testing are not the first practices that come to our minds. mind when we think of body care.1. The reality is that these torture devices—yes, that’s how they should be defined—are strongly tied to the manufacturing practices of all kinds of cosmetic products.
PETA states that “every year more than 110 million animals, including mice, frogs, dogs, rabbits, monkeys, fish and birds, are killed in American laboratories” 2. For the sake of beauty, we are willing to traumatize and kill innocent, helpless creatures.
Even though the FDA advocates the development and implementation of alternative tests, it also justifies the use of animal testing methods if and whenever companies deem it necessary in order to ensure that ingredients and final cosmetic formulations are safe for humans.3.
The emphasis is on making these methods as “ethical and humane” as possible by obtaining the maximum amount of applicable scientific data with a minimum of animal sacrifice.3.
The question remains how to reduce the pain and damage that personal care companies inflict on living beings. Judging by the graphic evidence that has bombarded all media, this feat seems next to impossible.
A much different story is playing out internationally, with the European Union leading the way in the cruelty-free movement in 2013. Today, 41 countries, including Australia, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey4, followed suit and completely banned or limited animal testing for cosmetic purposes. It’s hard to believe the United States is so far behind in this area given the incredible testing innovation available across the country.
Although consumers are not legislators, we have the power to reverse this unfortunate situation. In an effort to achieve this goal, we will dedicate this article to explaining what truly cruelty-free means and why it is essential that cruelty-free products are part of every massage therapist’s business plan.
Cruelty-free: the definition
Cruelty free means that the ingredients or products in question have not been tested on animals. It’s so simple5. What is not simple is the process to achieve such status. Many companies have designed their own cruelty-free logos, which usually include a rabbit, in an attempt to convince customers that no animals were harmed in the manufacturing process of their products.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, as no one should ever fall prey to claims that cannot be backed up by a third-party assessment. These logos are very misleading and do not guarantee anything except to make money from uninformed consumers.
While there are a few cruelty-free accredited logos on the market, the one you should look for in every cosmetic packaging is the Leaping Bunny Standard. This logo is regulated by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) in the United States and Canada, and Cruelty Free International (abroad). Because these logos are standardized, they require brands to engage in a rigorous supplier vetting system to certify that their supply chain management is free from animal testing.6:
• Submit to independent audits.
• Recommit to the program each year.
• Suppliers must submit documentation proving compliance with the standard.
• The final product must never be tested on animals.
• Companies will not be allowed to sell their products in markets that require animal testing.
• Ingredients of animal origin are allowed as long as their extraction/manufacture does not involve any form of cruelty, such as beeswax.
• Leaping bunny states that brands owned by a parent company that test on animals can be certified, but they “must promise to operate as self-contained subsidiaries with their own supply chains and must continue to meet Leaping Bunny Standard requirements in order to remain on our list.”
Interestingly, there is no legal definition of the term “cruelty-free”,seven but relying on a standard like Leaping Bunny guarantees the cruelty-free status of an ingredient or product6.
Why is it crucial to be cruelty-free?
The most compelling evidence against animal testing comes from the fact that 95% of drugs that are shown to be safe and effective in animal testing provide no human benefit or cause serious harm.8. Of the remaining 5%, half must be relabeled due to side effects that could not be predicted in animal testing.
This shows that at some point ingredients or end products will need to be tested on human subjects8Additionally, modern science has enabled humans to develop non-animal testing methods such as computer modeling, in vitro testing, human-patient stimulators, and research with human volunteers that are more accurate, affordable, and rapid.9.
Those focused on sales should know that cruelty-free products increase both loyalty and purchase intent; this phenomenon is known as ethical consumptionten.
The reason for such behavior is that customers believe they are making a socially responsible purchase.ten. In 2021, the demand for cruelty-free cosmetics has reached the staggering number of $5.45 billion and should touch the $9.9 billion by 203111.
All of this data is consistent with a national poll two years ago in which 71% of adults oppose animal testing.12. In another survey, respondents claimed they would stop buying their favorite skin care and makeup products if they involved any form of animal testing. 13. Customers’ position on this issue is crystal clear and highlights the importance of making your massage practice a cruelty-free space.
There is no justification for animal testing in the beauty care industry. There is no real benefit that we as humans can derive from such a practice, and it is impossible not to exercise some form of torture while performing the various forms of animal experimentation.
More importantly, animals have no way of consenting to it. We have absolutely no right to make that decision for them either. All species have an equally important role to fulfill in this world. The idea advanced by the theory of speciesism that other living beings are inferior to man – and therefore “in his service” – is unethical.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel, however, as seven states: California, Nevada, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, Maine and New Jersey14– followed in the footsteps of the EU, as well as other countries, and recently banned animal testing in almost all cosmetics14.
Your mission as a massage therapist is to use only certified cruelty-free body care products in your services and to demand that companies that still rely on animal testing change their policies. These actions will benefit the planet and your business, and improve your reputation and as a healthcare professional.
About the Author
Ishtar Mubarak wrote this article on behalf of Sekan Beauty, a San Francisco-based family business that is consciously reinventing skincare and beauty. A certified medical esthetician and aromatherapist with 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, she earned a bachelor’s degree in cosmetology as well as a bachelor’s degree in cosmetology and clinical psychology. Mubarak holds multiple certifications in advanced medical aesthetics and holistic nutrition. She specializes in sensitive skin and clean beauty. She also wrote “Aromatherapy: The Fragrant Path to Health”.
3 FDA: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/product-testing-cosmetics/animal-testing-cosmetics. Accessed March 30, 2022.
4The Human Society of the United States: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cosmetics-testing-faq#banned. Accessed March 30, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022.
6 Leaping Bunny Program: https://www.leapingbunny.org/frequently-asked-questions. Accessed March 30, 2022.
9 PETAs: https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-animal-testing/. Accessed March 30, 2022.
10 Cadete, B. How cruelty-free logos influence consumer purchase intent. The effects of brand image, logo awareness and moral obligation. 2021; 25-36.
13 Statistics: https://www.statista.com/statistics/753451/consume-attitudes-makeup-animal-testing-age/. Accessed March 30, 2022.
14 Animal Legal Defense Fund: https://aldf.org/article/california-bans-the-sale-of-most-cosmetics-tested-on-animals/. Accessed March 30, 2022.