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Cruelty Free in California, and BEYOND

by Valeria Cole |

A big part of the Clean Beauty movement addresses not just the ingredients used in cosmetics and where they come from, but also how the ingredients are collected and how products are tested for use. Anything that involves testing on animals is not ‘clean’, and clean beauty is leading the charge for getting animal testing out of cosmetics completely.

The Clean Beauty movement had a big win late in the summer, when California lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (Senate Bill 1249). This bill will make it illegal for cosmetics manufacturers to sell or import beauty products in the United States if that product was developed using any animal testing on or after January 1st, 2020.

person holding small yellow bunnySenator Cathleen Galgiani, the author of the bill, said, “I’m proud of California lawmakers for moving science, industry, and ethics forward today. Cruelty-free cosmetics are good for business, safe for humans, and don’t harm animals.”

In light of this positive development for animals and the Clean Beauty movement, we want to keep the momentum going! Let’s dig a little deeper into what it means when cosmetics are cruelty-free...

What does cruelty-free mean?  

Simply put, ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics are never tested on animals, throughout the entire production sequence. Check out PETA2’s guide and directory of certified cruelty-free cosmetics companies.

What is the difference between different cruelty-free certifications?  

In addition to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the other trusted cruelty-free certifier is Cruelty Free International (also well known as The Leaping Bunny Program). However, a cruelty-free certification from Leaping Bunny has been found to be more reliable than one from PETA for a couple of reasons:

  • PETA does not require an audit to actually determine if a company and/or its manufacturers are actually cruelty-free - companies need only submit a simple questionnaire. To get certified by Leaping Bunny, a brand must undergo a rigorous process that requires independent audits from both the cosmetics brand and its manufacturers. Every single ingredient is scrutinized.
    • Certified brands are routinely audited on an ongoing basis to ensure they continue to be genuinely cruelty-free.
  • Cruelty-free certification from PETA does not mean the brand is vegan.
  • Leaping Bunny is the only internationally-recognized program for cruelty-free cosmetics, which is important because laws regarding cruelty-free practices are different in different countries.
red berry growing among bright green leaves

Does vegan mean cruelty-free?  

It may come as a surprise for some, but the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are not actually interchangeable. While they are similar, ‘cruelty-free’ means that the product was not developed with any animal testing, while ‘vegan’ means that the product doesn’t contain any ingredients derived from animals. The only real way to be sure that a cosmetics brand is both cruelty-free and vegan is for it to be certified by PETA or The Leaping Bunny (preferably Leaping Bunny) AND be certified vegan by either or The Vegan Society.

What about habitat destruction, how does that factor into cruelty-free initiatives?  

Habitat destruction is connected to the production of cosmetics when the process of producing the cosmetics involves significant impact on the habitats where the ingredients are found and/or processed. It’s a severe problem, because the destruction of a habitat makes it less habitable (or even uninhabitable) for the native animals, plants and other organisms. Populations often decline when habitats are destroyed or significantly altered, making extinction more likely.

While the destruction of habitat for the production of cosmetics is certainly cruel to the ecosystems affected and in some cases for the environment as a whole, levels of habitat destruction don’t factor into whether a cosmetics company gains cruelty-free certification or not. At Teadora we care deeply about animal welfare and the environment and we make very deliberate choices about our ingredients to preserve the vibrant ecosystems around our planet. Through an official partnership with the Rainforest Foundation we and our customers are able to help directly conserve and restore the Amazon Rainforest. Our rainforest superfruits are natural, organic, vegan,  sustainably harvested, and our products are never tested on animals. This partnership with the rainforest foundation allows us to further that commitment and protect a vast area of the Amazon rainforest that is home to many endangered species, such as the rare Amazon wild-dog.

terraced waterfall in the amazon rainforest

What is the role of government, e.g. California, in promoting cruelty-free cosmetics?  

We’re very excited about California’s progress toward banning animal testing for cosmetics production, but there’s a long way to go. Only four states in the U.S. have banned animal testing for cosmetics: New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and of course California. Animal testing is still legal in 80% of countries around the world, including China, where it’s actually a legal requirement for many products.

Several countries including the U.S. are working to have animal testing banned for cosmetics development. Canada, Guatemala, India, New Zealand and Taiwan have already passed national bans against cosmetics animal testing, and Australia, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. are involved in government-level efforts to either ban animal testing or require non-animal testing alternatives. Even China has changed its regulations to end animal testing requirements for cosmetics manufactured in China, and the effort is now focused on ending post-market animal testing as well.

What is the role of the consumer in getting states like California to do such things?

teamwork collaboration handshakeConsumers can contact their state government to get involved with or begin initiatives to get animal testing for cosmetics banned in their state. But it’s more effective to get active with a campaign that’s already active. The Body Shop launched their Forever Against Animal Testing campaign in June 2017. They had already collected more than 4 million signatures at the start of this year, making it the biggest campaign for cruelty-free cosmetics in history. The Body Shop has partnered with Cruelty Free International (a.k.a. The Leaping Bunny) on this campaign and once they reach 8 million signatures they will petition the United Nations for an international convention to ban animal testing.

You can get involved in the cruelty-free movement by taking the following action:

  1. Sign the global petition at, and share it with your circle.
  2. Support only those brands that are certified cruelty-free by PETA, or better yet, The Leaping Bunny.
  3. Spread the word by collaborating with those beauty companies who are dedicated to this cause and participating in their fundraising efforts if you can.

Let’s make this industry cruelty-free!

Love yourself, find your joy, share your passion.

Cheers, Val


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