Conscious living seems to become more and more of a hype now, and for the better: Every single step towards being more appreciative of our environment is one in the right direction. But until there is more information on the lasting effects of our habits and laws are formed appropriately, these are all options we have to consider as individuals. I made one of the biggest choices on conscious living about a year ago: I decided on going cruelty-free, which resulted in cleaning up my entire cosmetics collection. Read all about the how’s and the why’s in this personal Want for Wellness article!
I always felt appreciative of nature and our environment. I can name exotic animals like a five-year-old can list umpteen generations of Pokemon, I have a fondness for survival shows* on the Discovery Channel, and during our trip to Costa Rica we stayed in more eco-lodges than regular hotels.
* Honestly I could devote an entire article to my favorites alone! What about the new hosts of Dual Survival, huh?
Nonetheless, I’m no saint when it comes to my environmental choices. For instance, I never felt the slightest need to become a vegetarian. I love traveling, and going for long drives. And even though we started a rigorous recycling regime after we moved houses, I have to admit I’m sometimes too occupied (or lazy) to peel the paper manuals from plastic packaging to sort them accordingly.
Why I chose for cruelty-free cosmetics
Yet when it came to animal-testing, I felt differently. I’m your typical girly-girl, with a fondness for foamy baths, facial masks and a frivolous cosmetics stash. Nonetheless, I’d be the last to say I couldn’t go a day without make-up. That’s because I feel that cosmetics are a luxury. It’s stuff we don’t need to stay healthy or remain happy. The more aware I became of animal cruelty in one of life’s least important area’s, the more I started to struggle with the concept of buying items which condone these sort of actions.
I always knew animal testing was a regular habit in the cosmetics industry, and I knew there were brands that made very particular statements against them (even as they progressed into major house-hold names). But the matter felt unreal, and the goal of switching to an entirely cruelty-free stash unreachable. And if I started purchasing the right kind of cosmetics, shouldn’t I also pay more attention to my cleaning products? Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to go cruelty-free on one thing, and remain a regular consumer in other areas?
My favorite (Dutch) cruelty-free beauty blogger Sophie from Naoki.nl wrote an interesting article about the matter a couple of years ago. She had readers comment exactly the same thing (including some vegans and vegetarians she rather looked up to), and she decided to share her opinion on the matter and to encourage discussing it. Yet her answer was easy and clear:
“No, it isn’t hypocritical to make a difference!”
She states that even the smallest choices have an impact on the message you’re carrying out. When you buy a natural or cruelty-free mascara, you consciously show the world that you support companies which don’t test their products on animals. This also counts for other areas which might be important to you, like opting for faux-leather instead of the real thing, grabbing the train rather than buying a car, or picking the vegan option on the menu. Whatever your choice is, you don’t make a difference by doing nothing at all.
How I went cruelty-free
So I decided it was time for a change. Although the message of the last paragraph is to allow yourself some slack on the matter – and that every step to change is a good one – I decided I wanted all my cosmetics to become cruelty-free. And although I was planning to ease myself (and my stash) into it, rather than throwing everything out and starting anew, it did take some effort.
1: Researching cruelty-free brands
The cliché is true: Knowledge is power, also in this matter. You got to know which brands should be on your A-list, and for instance if the brands you plan on buying also sell in China. In my case, this also meant learning which of my favorite brands I had to let go. You wouldn’t believe how often I was saying “No, not this one too!” while clutching a favorite lipstick to my breast. Luckily it was fun to read into all kinds of new products all the same. As soon as I knew which products I had to (eventually) replace I started looking for specific alternatives, and online beauty reviews helped me a lot by accomplishing that!
Pro-tip: Look for a good list or blog that features a list of cruelty-free brands. Peta has a dedicated page, Cruelty Free Kitty manages a list, and if you’re Dutch I can highly recommend Naoki‘s list as well.
2: Sorting out your stash
A couple of months into my challenge, I decided to haul all my cosmetics into my home-office to sort them out. Needless to say the concept of “cosmetics” goes a lot further than just your lipstick and favorite moisturizer. By the time I was done I had gathered baskets full of bath foams, deodorants, perfumes, toothpastes, suncreens, bodylotions, lipsticks and nailpolishes. I made four piles, one of which was “keeping, because cruelty free”. I was happily surprised this pile had turned a lot bigger since I had decided on only purchasing these products from now on*! The other piles were “finish and replace”, “give away” and “throw away”, the products of the latter being simply too old to still use with a straight face.
* I decided on trying out a couple of particular brands I felt might meet my needs. These include Burt’s Bees, Treacle Moon, Catrice, The Body Shop and naturally one of my all-time favorite brands Rituals. I was also amazed to find out that some chemists’ own labels are cruelty-free as well, which made the transition all the more cheap!
3: Keeping it up
Although changing your go-to brands might not sound hard, going cruelty-free isn’t easy. Easy is making a grab for everything you like, instead of grabbing your phone at the store to check if the product really meets your standards. Easy is not being able to part from your favorite brand, despite how they still test their products and ingredients on animals. And although I should remind myself to cut myself some slack once in a while (just like Sophie recommended) I’m trying my best to live by my own, new set of rules.
What are the most important conscious choices you made?