Going Cruelty-Free: Why to do it, How to do it, & Products I Love

I am so excited to be handing the reins of today’s post over to my good friend Breanna! I started working with Breanna a few years ago and we immediately bonded over our love for animals. Breanna was one of the first people I went to when I was first researching and thinking about going cruelty-free. Since then we’ve actually had a ton of fun finding new, awesome products that we love, made by brands that are committed to an animal-testing free world. With that said, I’ll let Bre, take over!

I’m Carrie’s friend and co-crazy-animal-lover friend and I’m super excited to have a guest column on this awesome blog. Animal welfare is a big passion of Carrie’s and mine and this is a topic we’ve been exploring a lot recently….I started making the switch to cruelty-free and natural products…and you can, too!

The Stages of the Switch

As an animal lover from birth, a longtime pet shelter volunteer and advocate, and currently a proud pet mom of four cats and one dog, animal testing is something that I don’t like to think much about. I had a friend in grade school that plastered her folders with PETA stickers and soapboxed about the cruelty taking place in labs throughout the world. I thought she was crazy. “There’s no way adults would let that happen to cute kitties, surely?” my young brain surmised. As it turns out, she was decades ahead of most of us.
As I grew up, I realized that lab testing obviously happened, and with the ignorance stage out of the way, the next step for me was denial. With help from our consumer-driven culture, I forced the labs from my mind. I had my first part time job, I liked buying products, and I didn’t hear about animal testing that often. If I simply didn’t think about it, I wouldn’t need to feel responsible. I couldn’t do anything about it anyway, so what was the point of stressing about it? I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind.
A few years later, I became active in my local animal shelter. While extremely rewarding, it was also about that time that I transitioned from the denial stage into the anger stage. There are a lot of great pet owners out there, but there are also way too many people doing unspeakable things to animals. For anyone volunteering or working with animals, this is an ongoing frustration.
It was also at about this time, thanks to a full-time job and some disposable income, that I developed one of my favorite pastimes: roaming the aisles of Target, scrolling the Cartwheel App, and trolling the end caps for a bargain. Finding that fancy brand lip gloss at 30% off or some bubble bath for just $2.00 off the regular price were the little thrills that made my day. I’d pick up the essentials, and some “not-so-essential-but-oh-well-it-was-on-sale!” miscellani and journey home excited to open some of my new products.
These bargains led to the bargaining stage. My then-boyfriend and future husband told me about a former job he’d had in a nearby bigger city. While he worked in an entirely different part of the company, there was a lab-testing department that tested on animals. Sometimes when he’d come to work, there would even be protesters on the street. Clearly, the issue was literally closer to home than I liked to admit. Still, I bargained: I volunteer with animals, I help them. I’m doing what I can.
The bargaining stage soon transitioned into depression. I was doing what I could to help animals and yet knew that there were horrible things happening to many. An article in a magazine here, a story on the news there…over time I realized that I couldn’t in good conscience be a self-declared animal lover while supporting companies that did unspeakable things to thinking, feeling creatures just so I could feel pretty at the lowest hit to their bottom line.
In the traditional Stages of Grief model, the next stage would be acceptance. In this situation, it’s research, education, action, and empowerment. I don’t know exactly what flipped the switch, but after combining a gradual desire to do something more with an encouraging conversation with my friend Carrie, I made the switch to cruelty-free. For good measure, and because the two often work in tandem, I tacked on “going natural,” too!

Why the Switch?

Cruelty-free means no animal testing is done at any point in the process of creating the product. I’ve switched makeup, bath products, laundry detergent, and some cleaning products (so far)..and here’s why I’d encourage you to, also.
It’s better for your body
Read the ingredient list on the back of your current shampoo bottle. Chances are, some of them are ridiculously difficult to pronounce. So many chemicals, artificial colors, and fillers go into our day-to-day products. We’re slathering them onto our skin, soaking our clothing in them, and ingesting them into our bodies – often times with little known about the effects of prolonged usage.
I’m not a scientist and I couldn’t tell you what exactly a “paraben” is without googling, but with some online research it’s easy to find independent studies cautioning against the use of certain ingredients like that. If there’s a product that offers a natural alternative, I’m going to take advantage of that.
An added bonus for me – my skin, which is prone to irritation and breakouts, has been softer and clearer than ever…and feels great.
It makes you happy
For me, not only have I enjoyed knowing that the products I’m using are natural and clean, but that no living thing had to suffer for my enjoyment of them. I don’t know the exact data on how many animals are killed annually for the beauty industry. I could find it, but I really don’t want to stumble across any more photos of animals suffering. In my opinion, if even one is suffering, it’s not ok. We all know it happens and that it doesn’t need to. There are alternatives.
As a bonus, I’ve discovered that many products that are cruelty-free are also environmentally and globally conscious. Labels such as “fair trade” and “locally sourced” make me feel like I’m doing my small part to make the world a better place. I used to think that I couldn’t
do anything about animal testing, but by not supporting brands that engage in it, I am at least doing something, and that’s empowering.
Synthetic and toxic ingredients are cheaper to buy than natural, effective substances derived from plants or food grade nutrients, which means that natural and cruelty-free products can often be a few extra dollars. However, there are fewer fillers. I’ve found that I can get away with less product, so over time, it balances out. Plus, the peace of mind is worth every penny.
It’s fun
There are so many amazing products out there that are cruelty-free and organic, and not to mention, smell incredible! I am not sacrificing quality or enjoyment. Sweetening the deal is the growing presence of cruelty-free and natural brands at everyday, small town stores. It used to be that in order to enjoy these products, you’d need to order online or spend a fortune at a specialty shop in a bigger city. Now, you can pick up cruelty-free organic products during a casual Target run.

Making the Switch

I made the switch to natural and cruelty-free products pretty quickly and affordably, and it was easier than I thought it would be. With a little bit of research and with the encouragement of some great friends (thanks, Carrie!) and the complete support of my husband (love you, Brett!), I feel inspired to continue making conscientious choices about the products I use and the brands I support.
That being said, I would encourage you to make the switch at a pace at which you are comfortable. You don’t have to change everything at once, or all of them if you don’t want to. If everyone bought just a few more products that were cruelty-free, it would make a big difference. Money talks, and as a group we can make a difference. Along those lines, be supportive of those making the switch at their own pace. If a friend embraces cruelty-free lotion but can’t quite give up their favorite hair product, give them credit for doing what they can.
Other ways you can help include advocating! Consider signing THIS petition by The Body Shop. In 2013, the European Union banned animal testing. I’d love to see the U.S. follow suit!

My Favorite Products So Far

Pacifica Island Vanilla Body Butter – Found it at Target.
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sheer Mineral Moisturizer – Have to order…my splurge item!
Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap – I found it at Target but it’s widely available at almost any drugstore.
Every Man Jack Citrus Body Wash – Husband’s pick- “I smell like oranges! It’s good!”

Great resources for more information on cruelty-free initiatives and products

Cruelty-Free Kitty – This entire site is a great resource!
Cruelty-Free International – This organization’s goal is to create a world where nobody wants or believes we need to experiment on animals. They’re doing some great things!
PETA – Short for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world.
Leaping Bunny – I love the Leaping Bunny! Products and companies apply for Leaping Bunny status (meet their standards for being 100% cruelty-free) and then they get to display the Leaping Bunny logo on their bottle. It makes it super easy to find cruelty-free products while browsing the store. See the Bunny? = Cruelty free!
Disclaimer: Breanna is not a scientist, not an expert, not a doctor, etc. The opinions is this piece are her own. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without seeking additional research. The information in this blog may not apply to every reader. Links to other websites do not imply an endorsement of the materials disseminated at those websites, nor does the existence of a link to another site imply that the organization or person publishing at that site endorses any of the materials at this site.

If you have any questions about going cruelty-free please reach out via e-mail or in the comments below! I’d love to answer any of your questions!

If you’ve already made the switch to cruelty-free tell me what some of your fave products are!


GREAT post! I buy only non-animal tested products (although I need to sort this with a couple of perfumes I have been gifted). I use Method and Pacifica as well – Method is really good – and it is so nice not to be breathing in all the fumes. The furniture polish smells like almonds, the Lavender laundry liquid is delish, even the glass cleaner smells of Mint! Europafox x

Thanks for featuring this subject Carrie! You know I use, share, and love L’BRI PURE n’ NATURAL Skincare, Hair, and Body Care. It’s an All Natural Hydrophilic Aloe Based product line based in Wisconsin. They also have an amazing Makeup line. Seriously, after trying L’BRI, I never want to put anything else on my skin! I love that they use no animal testing, ingredients are pharmaceutical grade, and it’s free of harmful chemicals, preservatives, SLS, and artificial dyes!

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