Going Cruelty Free: Advice From People Who’ve Been There

Recently I’ve noticed a shift in attitudes when it comes to ethical living.

Partly fueled by the brilliance of Blue Planet, partly fueled by the blogger/influencer fur scandal (you’re wearing and promoting real fur in this day and age? Really?), a lot of us have been looking at our own lifestyle choices and what we can do better.

Whether it’s cutting down on the amount of animal byproducts we consume, going completely vegetarian or vegan, or only buying cruelty-free products from now on, people are taking steps to reduce the impact they have on animals and the environment. Even famous YouTubers like Louise Pentland are getting stuck in, which could have a significant impact on people’s buying habits.

These changes have also led to the unfortunate but also unsurprising chorus of ‘Why are you interested in cf beauty when you eat meat?’ and other such questions. While I agree that the two don’t fully match up, everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s counterproductive to criticize people for not being cruelty-free enough when they’re trying to do what they can. One thing will often lead to another, but it takes time to adjust.

With all of this in mind, I thought it was about time for another Going Cruelty Free post, and this time I’ve compiled some of the best advice I’ve heard about switching to a cruelty-free beauty routine, including some thoughts from members of the Love Lula Natural Beauty Club. I’m still learning about leading a more ethical lifestyle, but I hope you find this guide useful, and please feel free to add any other nuggets of wisdom in the comments.

Start slowly

It can be so tempting to fling everything out and make a fresh start once you decide to go cruelty free. But you don’t need to.

“Personally, I’d say don’t chuck out everything you own,” says Sarah. “As each item starts to run out, read blogs and do your research on the individual item, rather than be overwhelmed by the feeling of having to choose lots of products.”

Depending on the products on your bathroom shelves and the contents of your make-up bag, you might have a lot to replace, so take it slow. When I first decided to go cruelty free, I mostly owned make-up by Revlon, L’oreal and Max Factor – all brands that test on animals. I threw out everything that had expired, used up the rest, and gradually started refreshing my collection until I was happy.

Bryanna agrees: “Don’t throw away what you have – either use it up or give it to someone who wants it (or swap it in a Facebook group). While finishing what you have, start to build up your essentials – skincare, make-up etc. If you’re not sure where to start, do a quick Google search. By replacing what you need slowly you won’t break the bank!”

Do your research

Speaking of Google, it’s especially handy when scouting out cruelty free brands to try. But if you don’t have the time to scout out each individual website and read all the ethical policies (or if you notice the lack of an ethical policy  that’s normally a solid clue a company tests), then don’t worry. You can head to an online database instead.

“Cruelty Free International have a complete list of brands that are Leaping Bunny approved,” notes Joanna. Companies who have earned the Leaping Bunny logo will have passed a strict set of standards  you can find their Little Book of Cruelty Free here.

Or why not try a blog like Logical Harmony? Tashina has a cruelty free list with vegan options, a brands to avoid list… I always find what I’m looking for when I visit her site.

Find your go-to shops

It’s good when you’re able to sit down and plan what you’re going to buy, but what happens when you need to dash into a shop and buy toothpaste or deodorant?

If you’re on the high street, head into your local Superdrug and look for their own-brand products, which are all Leaping Bunny-certified and sold at budget prices. Or try ordering from a website like Love Lula, which only stocks cruelty-free brands.

Try natural brands too

“I tend to choose natural brands/products first and foremost,” says Rena, “and their hearts are usually in the right place.”

I don’t think I could ever go completely natural with beauty, but Rena’s right  natural brands are normally more switched on when it comes to animal welfare. My favourites include Alchemy’s gorgeous hair oils, Sukin’s gentle skincare selection, and Lyonsleaf’s do-it-all multipurpose balms.

It’s okay if you can’t do everything

A common piece of advice (and the most important, in my opinion) is to be kind to yourself.

“Appreciate and celebrate every new purchase you make that is supporting a cruelty-free brand,” says Jo, “but don’t beat yourself up when you’re not able to. We still buy cat food from a brand that tests on animals, as it’s medicated and suits out cat’s needs as a diabetic. So although I’d rather make a different choice to support a more ethical company, it’s more important for me that he stays healthy and stable.” (Check out Jo’s blog here and her Twitter account here.)

This brings me back to the one thing I would say to anyone and everyone who’d like to go cruelty free: do what you can. All you can do is your best, and doing something is better than not doing anything at all.

Want to catch up? You can read previous posts from my Going Cruelty Free series here: