Shopping with the guide – Frequently Asked



If a product says ‘Cruelty-free’ or has a picture of a rabbit on it, does that mean it wasn’t tested on animals?

Sadly not. It would be great if it was that easy, but committing to cruelty-free shopping often takes a little more investigation. Labelling terminology isn’t legally defined or standardised, which means companies can get away with misleading statements that might make you believe a product and its ingredients have never been tested on animals.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • We do not test on animals
    This sounds great until you consider that companies can contract others to carry out the testing. They may not test on animals, but they could be paying others to do it on their behalf.
  • Against animal testing
    Again, a nice sentiment, but it tells you nothing about the specific product you’re thinking of buying.
  • This product is not tested on animals
    Perhaps the most deceptive of all – a product and its ingredients are not the same things. Your washing up liquid may not have been tested on animals directly, but an ingredient that’s key to its production may have been.

Why don’t you endorse companies who carry similar certifications like Leaping Bunny, Vegan, Vegetarian?

Not all endorsement schemes are created equal but that’s ok because each endorsement scheme aims to highlight a particular issue – ours is animal testing and #crueltyfreetoptotail. Companies can only feature in the guide if they follow a cruelty-free policy across their whole range (parent company and subsidiaries), which means absolute confidence for shoppers that they are buying from genuinely cruelty-free brands.

If a brand sells cruelty-free cosmetic products in the EU, aren’t their products cruelty-free everywhere?

Yes and no. On 11 March 2013, the EU Cosmetics Testing Ban came into force, which means any company that wants to sell cosmetic products within the European Union must ensure none of the ingredients or finished products have been tested on animals anywhere in the world since that date.

However, even though companies have to abide by the EU Cosmetics Testing Ban for products they sell within the EU, they may sell newly-developed products outside of the EU, in countries that require animal tests by law.
If you buy from companies that don’t have a cruelty-free animal testing policy, unfortunately, you’re indirectly helping them to fund animal testing activities for their international market.

Isn’t animal testing of cosmetics banned in EU and UK law?

It is illegal to sell or market a cosmetic product if animal testing has taken place, on the finished cosmetic or its ingredients, before being sold in the UK or EU.

A ban on animal-tested cosmetic products was first implemented in the UK in 1998. In 2013, EU Regulation 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation) was introduced to ensure that a cosmetics product can be safely brought to market across the EU, without relying on animal tests.

Sadly, these restrictions do not always prevent the carrying out of tests to comply with other requirements of the EU’s pan-industry chemicals regulation called REACH. Whilst animal testing is not needed to meet all REACH requirements, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) may deem a test necessary in some cases.
A brand which considers itself to be cruelty-free should take into account if it is known that a certain cosmetic ingredient, requires animal testing under REACH. Whilst these conflicting regulations are very confusing, a brand may wish to use a different ingredient in the formulation of the cosmetic, to remain cruelty-free.

Cruelty-free campaigners such as Naturewatch Foundation strongly support the ban on animal testing and are calling for clarity on when the chemicals regulation REACH creates conflict.

Why is a previously endorsed company no longer endorsed in the latest edition of the Naturewatch Foundation Compassionate Shopping Guide?

In some cases, companies may have changed their operating practices in a way that no longer complies.

However, it’s also possible that the company has been taken over by another operation. There have been a few high-profile takeovers in recent years and new owners don’t always share the values of the brands they acquire.

Do household products and their ingredients use animal testing?

At the moment, yes. Without a full ban in place, experiments will continue to inflict pain and suffering upon defenceless animals for the sake of adding more household products to the shelves.
We’ll continue to push hard for the full ban on testing household products and their ingredients that was promised by the UK government.

Why isn’t the company I’m searching for featured in the Naturewatch Foundation Compassionate Shopping Guide?

We’d love to include every cruelty-free brand and company out there, but putting the guide together takes a lot of work and we’re not always aware of the good work that brands are doing. You can help us to make the guide even better by contacting those companies and letting them know that they can be included free of charge if their policy on animal testing measures up.
Even if the company in question doesn’t have a cruelty-free policy in place yet, you could make the difference. We know companies are more likely to commit to being cruelty-free if their customers ask for it. After all, they don’t want to lose your business.
Every effort counts because the more customers contact these companies, the more likely they’ll be to adopt a cruelty-free policy.
You can use our contact companies template letter to get started.

More about cruelty-free shopping

Brick by brick, we’re dismantling the system that allows animal testing to continue today​

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