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Casualty-free beauty

While steps are being made to achieve a cruelty-free industry, your favorite make up product could still be tested on animals.

When it comes to shopping for makeup, we tend to go toward the label we feel most comfortable using. What would make you break away from a makeup brand?

Animal testing is a current issue faced in the makeup industry as more brands begin to label themselves as “cruelty-free.” “We estimate that approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer and die just for cosmetics every year around the world,” said the Humane Society International.

With an increase in the makeup industry using this method of experimentation, is the risk of breaking budget worth the cost of ethics? Are you willing to sacrifice a little bit extra from your wallet to save the life of an animal? I believe that cruelty-free makeup is worth the price.

To be honest, I didn’t know a lot of the brands I used were cruelty free. As a slightly more than average fan of makeup, I started examining the philosophies and morals of the cosmetics I represent. As I dug further into my research, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who was unaware.

Jade Kwiatkowski, a freelance makeup artist based in Chicago, is an advocate for Aveda products because of her mom. “My mom inspired me to go into makeup,” said Kwiatkowski. “She works in the industry so I’ve always grown up around it.”

Growing up in a household that represents a cruelty-free brand, Kwiatkowski didn’t realize such until we sat down and researched on our phones. According to, “Aveda’s products are not tested on animals, so if you use them, you can be sure that you’re beautiful inside and out.”

Kwiatkowski doesn’t only use cruelty-free products in her work but also when it comes to her everyday makeup look, she tends to go toward Tarte. “They have really good quality products,” said Kwiatkowski. “They’re always releasing new products, and it looks great on most skin tones.”

Whether it be because of the shiny packaging or the crisp price tag attached, we are creatures of habit. Brand loyalty is an important aspect of any company, specifically when it comes to makeup labels. When you buy the newest shade of blush, you’re more than likely to return to the same brand for additional purchases.

Kwiatkowski uses their eyeshadows “everyday” when it comes to her favorite palette, Tartelette In Bloom. Tartelette In Bloom retails at an average price of $46, but there’s a less expensive alternative available to the public. Maybelline’s The Blushed Nudes eyeshadow palette, which retails at an average price of $9.99, can almost pass off with the same shades and variations.

The only contrast, besides name recognition and pricing, is how they market themselves in regards to cruelty-free. When you go to, they encourage their consumers to “Shop the vegan friendly and cruelty-free makeup collection for the beauty we are proud to offer that is PETA certified by Tarte Cosmetics.” When you scroll to the Maybelline page, they make a statement, but some consumers may not read between the lines.

Rebecca Overman, a visual makeup artist and blogger, uses social media platforms (such as Instagram) to promote brands that advertise as cruelty free. She is very active in her research of makeup brands and their code of ethics in regards to their stance on animal testing. Overman says she was inspired to go cruelty free because “animal testing is so unethical.”

“The animals that undergo these tests end up with skin irritation and infections so severe often times they aren’t treatable,” Overman says. “After the animals are tested on they are typically euthanized because the company won’t pay for the tests to treat them.”

With this public knowledge of this abuse to animals, why do makeup companies continue to do so?

“Any brand that sells its products in China, automatically is not cruelty free because by law, China requires that every product must be tested on animals before being sold in retail, “ Overman says. “Some brands claim to be cruelty free, but they’re owned by a parent company that is not.”

The Humane Society International discusses the impact of cosmetic testing in further detail, stating that, animals are forced to “swallow massive amounts of a test chemical” to determine the amount of dosage that would cause death. “These tests can cause considerable pain and distress including blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding and organ damage, birth defects, convulsions and death. Pain relief is not provided, and at the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.”

“So, even if the makeup you’re buying in America wasn’t tested on an animal, you need to decide if it’s important to you that your money isn’t going toward a company that tests on animals in any country,” Overman says.

“What other information do we gain from testing on animals,” Overman says. “We’re in such a crucial time to save our planet. I wish more brands would take a stance on this.”

With over 200 makeup brands publicly announcing themselves as cruelty free, the cosmetic industry is starting to break away from testing on animals. Widely known companies, such as Kat Von D, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Kylie Cosmetics and Lush, are providing a platform of change for other major labels to follow. Smaller start-up makeup companies are beginning to grow as the label of “cruelty free” is starting to catch on with current trends. The fight to make all makeup brands discontinue animal testing is still going on as more information is discovered everyday about the ethics of certain labels in the makeup industry.

“If someone really cares about straying away from cruelty-free makeup, my advice would be to do your research,” Overman says.

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