We try it!

We Try It: Going Cruelty Free

Lately I have been making the effort to make our house a little greener. No huge changes – if I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that big dramatic changes don’t last – but a little bit of something every day to make the world a better place. With my new greener lifestyle in mind, I was taking a shower one day and out of the blue I thought, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know if my shampoo is cruelty free!” I used organic, not tested on animals shampoo for years, but when they stopped making my preferred brand I was out of the habit of checking labels so I just started buying whatever looked good. I checked, and sure enough, there was no happy rabbit on the bottle.

It really bothered me. As soon as I was clean and dry, I did a little research and realized that almost all of our personal care products were probably tested on animals. If you look, nearly every shampoo, lotion or soap is made by Johnson & Johnson or Proctor & Gamble, both of which still use animal testing. Even toothpaste gets tested on animals. So I decided then and there we were making the switch.

Again, there would be no big sweeping changes. Throwing out everything we were using seemed both wasteful and disrespectful somehow. Like, if I just threw it out then the cats and rats and bunnies had suffered for nothing (does that make sense?). I reasoned that if I just started replacing stuff as it ran out, we could make a more gradual transition. Easy, right?

Seriously, it's some awesome soap

It has been surprisingly difficult. Some changes were easy. I like Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and bar soap, and we always have Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap in the house. Dr. Bronner’s is a little too strong for my taste as a soap, but it makes a fantastic shaving lubricant. I also found a shampoo that I liked right off the bat. Where I am running into problems is with conditioner, moisturizer and deodorant. Every single conditioner I have seen in the organic section has alcohol in it. When I use hair products that contain alcohol, my hair starts out dry as straw, and then, at about the twenty-four hour mark, I blink and it gets uncomfortably oily. I have been treating the last half-inch of my Aveeno conditioner, that makes my hair all soft and smooth and pretty, like precious, precious gold.

Aveeno also makes the best facial moisturizer I have ever used. I have sensitive skin, and it was a huge revelation to me that there was such a thing as a lotion that didn’t leave my face all pink and aggravate my acne (how totally unfair is it that you can still get zits when you are over 35?). I have tested some different moisturizers, but I have yet to find one that doesn’t leave my skin flushed and/or slightly sticky feeling. The remainder of my Positively Radiant has also joined the precious, precious gold club.

As for deodorant, it seems that the people who make organic, cruelty-free odor protection don’t believe in antiperspirant. It may not be necessary to smell good, but I like sweating less. Nobody feels fresh with big ole’ pit stains.

I hadn’t realized how attached I was to my beauty products until I found myself trying to rationalize keeping them. If it is a proven product, they won’t still be testing it on animals, right? But then I feel totally shallow. I made the commitment to myself that I would go cruelty free and I don’t want to make a group of animals miserable just so I can have soft skin. And so the search continues.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Have you found the perfect, affordable, organic beauty product? Please tell me what it is and where you got it. If I don’t find a new conditioner soon, it won’t be pretty.

(Author’s note: I made this choice about my own personal habits, for my own personal reasons. While I think it would be great if everyone went cruelty-free and forced the big companies to change their practices, I will not judge you or anyone else for the products you choose to use.)


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Dr. Bronner’s soap image from

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

24 replies on “We Try It: Going Cruelty Free”

I just switched to all-natural soap and shampoo bars, and my body apparently loves them (my ridiculously thick hair doesn’t even need to use conditioner when I use the nettle bar). I only mention this because they are alcohol and chemical free – so maybe you could look into shampoo bars? I buy ’em from Chagrin Valley Soap and Craft, but there are lots of other stores out there that you can buy them from. They also have deodorants, moisturizer, conditioners, and other stuff, so… yeah.

ETA: all natural definitely doesn’t mean cruelty free, something I hadn’t thought about until I read this article. My point was being, shampoo bars (like some people talking about Lush below) are really great and you might like them – and places like Lush DO have the cruelty free option.

Yay! I’ve been anti-animal tested products since way back the first time it was cool in the 90’s, and have tried to keep up. It’s hard to find information on every company, which is annoying when you find something you may like reviewed and can’t find anything on the company website. Sometimes emailing customer service helps, sometimes not. Just remember that “natural” and “organic” have no meaning when it comes to whether or not animal testing was done on a product. I love Method cleaning products for the home; they smell good, are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, and are safe even if my elder bunny licks the floor after I’ve cleaned with them (he’s odd about licking the floors). Trader Joes and St Ives make very inexpensive body washes and lotions, and for fine hair the TJs Nourish conditioner is magic. The Organix line of shampoo and conditioners have different formulas for different hair types and are at drug stores and such nationwide, and are also inexpensive. The Selma Hayek line at CVS is cruelty free, everything is under $20, it has skin, body, cosmetics, and haircare, and they take returns if something doesn’t work. Her My Secret body cream cleared up my stress eczema when nothing else I tried, even an RX cream, worked. The entire Boots line at Target is cruelty free, as are their Pixie, Jemma Kidd, and NP Set lines. Burts Bees is still safe, reportedly, despite being bought out, and with it in the “natural” aisle at Target are the Yes To, Ahava, and a couple other non-animal tested lines (just check the labels as they move things around). Boots has all kinds of facial care, and if you go when they have someone working that section, they even have samples. And they’re also good about returns. Makeup wise, Revlon, Almay, Wet and Wild, and NY Color are all safe, which also means Almay and Mitchum’s (by Revlon) antiperspirants are good, too. For department store lines, any owned by Estee Lauder are safe (Clinique, MAC, Bobby Brown), Also Urban Decay, Smashbox, Tarte, and benefit that I can think of offhand. (Anything Loreal is off the list, sorry, so no Lancome or Maybelline either, and Cover Girl and Neutrogena are P&G so they’re no-go). Sephora salesfolk are unreliable about knowing where to look for information on if a line is or is not animal tested, so I usually have to find out for myself first. Fresh is good, as is Kate Sommerville (her Anti-Bac lotion is $40, but lasts forever and clears up every zit on my sensitive skin without frying it so I am never without a bottle).

Excellent point about “natural” and “organic” having nothing to do with animal testing. Products can be loaded with synthetic or petroleum-based products and still be cruelty-free. (I have a similar rant about the marketing terms “natural” and “chemical” and such. If you mean “contains no petroleum byproducts,” say that. If you mean “more than [x]% ingredients derived from plants,” say that. “Natural” and “all-natural” are so nebulous and overused that they’re completely meaningless at this point. The ingredient I care about is mineral oil and its byproducts; it makes me break out in huge volcanic eruptions wherever it touches. I would love it if some company actually advertised that their product was mineral oil-free instead of “all-natural.”

wow, thanks for all the info! So glad Urban Decay is cruelty-free… *clutches all her Urban Decay products close to bosom*.

In the EU I’m not sure what kitemark/standardised cruelty-free sign I should be looking for on products, since we don’t have the happy rabbit.

You probably won’t find a cruelty-free antiperspirant easily, because most, if not all, effective antiperspirants require some form of aluminum, and there’s a lot of unproven pseudo-science and half-knowledge about aluminum floating around that most earthy/crunchy companies and consumers choose to base their product selections on. Plus, there’s a lot of, “Plugging up your sweat glands isn’t natural and we were made to sweat! Our bodies wouldn’t do it if we didn’t need to!” Well, our bodies produce bad breath and dry skin, and we use products to combat those things.

I say all of this as someone whose bathroom is made up almost entirely of Tom’s of Maine, Aveda, and Dr. Bronner’s. But you can pry my CertainDri from my dead, stinky, sweaty pits. The first company to make a cruelty-free, synthetic-scent-free, and mineral oil-free effective antiperspirant will have a customer for life. And I’m not talking about those useless-ass crystal things.

I was going to say something similar.  Sometimes you have to choose between being animal-friendly and using a product that actually works.  For those of us who sweat or have bad skin or whatever else to the extent that it’s a borderline medical issue, there’s no real hope of avoiding products that haven’t been tested on animals.

For cruelty-free haircare products, I love Aveda and Trader Joe’s shampoos and conditioners.  I know Aveda’s products tend to be expensive, but I find that I use less than cheaper brands so maybe it sort of evens out?  (Aveda’s Smooth Infusion pretty much changed my life, so it is a worthy addiction, IMO.) TJ’s makes a tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner that are great (also sulfate free).

E.L.F. ( has very affordable cosmetics. I’ve tried a few of their products (eyeshadow, blush) and been satisfied.

Eep. My suggestion is Lush. I’ve loved them for years and they’ve been very kind to my low maintenance needs. They can appear expensive but (we’ve found, at least) that their products tend to last forever and i’m only having to shop from there about four times a year.

Otherwise: good luck! Can be very hard getting things cruelty free. We try and think about our household things too and, oh my, it can get difficult.

Not yet, I’m giving Trader Joe a try first.

The fragrance thing is pretty consistent with Lush. I love their stuff, but I am allergic to a lot of fragrances. Since they tend to make everything super extra good smelling, I have to be careful about what I get. If possible, I test everything out before I buy it because there are a lot of scents that I enjoy for a little while, but after an hour or two I have a nauseous headache and I never want to smell it again.

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