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Want cruelty free beauty products? Start here!


Photo: Lipstick (Flicrk/1950’s Unlimited)


Lisa Edney gives her take on the why and how of cruelty-free beauty products, with tips on what to buy and where to get them.

Are you wanting to make the switch to cruelty free beauty products but don’t know where to start? Or have you ever bought a product believing it to be cruelty free, then found out the label was misleading? Are you unsure about what labels you can trust?

Whether you’re new to cruelty free cosmetics, or have been on the journey for some time, you can find great beauty products that meet your cruelty free hopes – yes, even in your local supermarket!

Why should I go cruelty free?

…alternatives to these tests already exist and have proven to be more predictive of human reactions. (Humane Research Australia)

According to Humane Research Australia, there is no longer a need for cosmetic manufacturers to test on animals. Cruel and painful tests are not necessary to check the irritancy, toxicity, carcinogenicity and teratogenicity of a product. CHOICE suggests that alternative methods don’t yet exist for a small number of animal tests, however ingredients that require these tests can be avoided.  

Despite this, the testing of cosmetics on animals still occurs in many countries around the world. Generally speaking, cosmetic and product testing is no longer carried out in Australia, but the many products tested outside  Australia have not necessarily  been tested free of animal cruelty. Further, with there being no legally binding definition of  ‘cruelty free’ or ‘not tested on animals’, companies are free to make their own claims depending on how they view the process their product has been through. One problem, for example, is that while a company may claim, “We do not test on animals,” it could still contract other companies to do the testing for them. Australian consumers can’t assume that their cosmetics are cruelty free.

For more information on why we need to think about going cruelty free,  Otter highlighted recent developments in animal testing in an article last year,  and this Choice report reveals that some cosmetics products you know and trust may not be living up to their animal friendly claims.

Ok, I’m convinced, but how do I know when something is really cruelty free?

The best way to be sure that a product hasn’t been tested is to refer to the beauty products currently listed on the PETA, Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) and/or Leaping Bunny websites. These organisations have rigorous application processes to ensure the companies they list are adhering to strict guidelines.

If you’re on the go, the CFF mobile phone app allows you to quickly check a brand or product so you can make a purchase (or walk away if it doesn’t fit the cruelty free bill) and best of all, it’s free!

I’m busy, where can I easily buy cruelty free products that fit my lifestyle?

The good news is cruelty free has come a long way, and with consumer demand increasing, mainstream stores such as Coles and Woolworths are starting to stock products as well.

Many products can also be found in your local pharmacy (Natio is stocked at most pharmacies), beauty salon (Endota Spa stock a wide range of Dermalogica products), or beauty store (Priceline Stores stock a range of cruelty free cosmetics including Australis and Nude by Nature).

Plus, with the advent of online shopping, you can get nearly any product you desire delivered straight to your door.

My top picks

If you’re keen to try some products, and still don’t know where to start, here are my top picks of the cruelty free beauty brands currently listed on the PETA, CCF and/or Leaping Bunny websites:

Cleanser – Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel is a great cleanser I use morning and night. It’s suitable for all skin types (even sensitive) and helps remove all the grime of the day without drying out my skin. A cheaper alternative is the Australian Pure Face Wash, which you can find in most supermarkets.

Moisturisers- Again, any of the moisturisers from Dermalogica are great (I use Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF30 ). A budget friendly alternative though is Natio Daily Protection Face Moisturiser which has the added benefit of SPF15 included.

Extra Care – Rosehip Oil from Trilogy or Sukin are a great addition to your normal moisturiser. They soften the skin, help with reducing marks/scars and aren’t oily despite being an oil!

Makeup – Natio has a range of purse friendly makeup and I can’t say enough good things about their new Invisible Blend Foundation (which offers non-greasy natural coverage in a range of shades) and their Extreme Volume Mascara in Black or Black/Brown.  If you want to try a mineral powder then Nude by Nature Natural Mineral Cover offers coverage in a range of shades, is suitable for all skin types and has SPF15 included. Their start up kit is a great way to try out the other products in their range (go easy on the bronzer as it can be quite dark!). Australis is also a really inexpensive ‘one stop shop’ for all your cosmetics.

Hair Care – For a low budget shampoo and conditioner, you can’t go wrong with any of the Natures Organics range – and their antidandruff shampoo left my hair so soft. If you want something a bit more upmarket, then the whole range from Paul Mitchell delivers amazing results – try their Hot Off The Press thermal protection spray if you’re a hot iron user!

By Lisa Edney


Personal care products and the environment

Good Environmental Choice Australia offers independent certification for personal care products that meet its whole of life environmental and social sustainability standards. 

We’ve all been there — standing in front of a shelf full of products at the supermarket trying to figure out which one to buy. And looking at the packaging or the ingredients can sometimes make it more confusing. A picture of a leaf or the use of the word eco doesn’t ensure that a product is sustainable and can sometimes be misleading. As a consumer, how do you know that the item you want to buy truly considers the environment? How can you be sure its ingredients are safe? How do you differentiate between companies that are really making sustainable products and those who aren’t?

Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) runs Australia’s only independent, not-for-profit, multi-sector ecolabel program and is the only Australian member of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN). GECA’s stamp of approval, which can be found printed on certified sustainably preferable personal care products, is a valuable tool to help you.

GECA awards a tick of approval to products that are more sustainable. It creates standards, which consider the entire lifecycle of a product, and sets environmental and social criteria a product must meet. In order to receive GECA certification products must be independently audited to confirm they meet these criteria – which includes visiting the factory.

If you are looking for personal care items — anything from shampoo to toilet paper to hand sanitiser, make sure you look for the GECA ecolabel on the pack. If you can’t find it on the product you want, ask the manufacturer to get certified. Or encourage your retailer to stock more GECA certified products. If the manufacturer is already adhering to environmental standards, then GECA’s stamp of approval will enable it to demonstrate this with confidence. If not, then perhaps your request will encourage them to think about making better environmental choices in the future.

GECA has many already certified products to choose from. Take a look at or visit GECA’s Pinterest page to browse products.



3 Responses to Want cruelty free beauty products? Start here!

  1. Lisa February 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    You should also check if your makeup contains mica ( as if it’s not sustainable sourced then you’re inadvertently supporting the slave trade.

    Eco Minerals is a good cruelty free product (I don’t work for them, just a happy customer)

  2. Gordon February 12, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Great point Lisa. We’re looking at a story on Mica soon.

  3. Gordon May 14, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Our story about mica in cosmetics is now available at

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